Three down – eleven Grands Prix to go
It seems almost impossible that we have enjoyed three amazing Grand Prix rounds already in the new season. Travelling from Central Europe to Spain and back again, our valiant charioteers have endured an exhaustive trio of consecutive race weekends. Unlike last season, with one exception, all the main protagonists have stayed out of trouble, and such is the quality of the crews, we have seen four different winners across the six races.
The exception I mention is the massively unfortunate Brett Wilkinson and Ryan Humphrey, who had a very heavy crash at the opening round in Lommel. Wilkinson sustained serious back injuries from which mercifully, he is making a good recovery.
This type of mending cannot be hurried, but he is already up and about, and visited us in Oldebroek at the last round. His absence is felt by the whole paddock, because the Wilkinson colour scheme, and his competitive riding, is a popular addition to the grid.
We certainly look forward to the return of messrs. Wilkinson and Humphrey.
Someone who does know all about early season injury, is the crew who currently head the table by ten points.
Former double champion Etienne Bax, with his Latvian superstar passenger Kaspars Stupelis, have taken three victories, and are looking in formidable form this year.
The reigning champions, Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart have yet to take a victory, despite lying second in the table.
They need to break that duck, and the sooner the better for Vanluchene's confidence and inspiration. Van Den Bogaart will be less perturbed, because he knows titles are won and retained on consistency, and he will be whispering words of wisdom in the ear of his young driver.
Also looking threatening, and sitting third in the chase is the veteran Daniel Willemsen. He and Luc Rostingt have enjoyed solid rides and podium places, all of which build a good foundation for a full onslaught as the season unfolds.
Koen Hermans and Nicolas Musset, runners-up last year are in the hunt too, and these four crews have eked out a small margin over Stuart Brown, Davy Sanders and Valentin Giraud.
The latter three teams have only three points between them, and are well placed to benefit should the leading quartet slip up.
This new season is seeing an unprecedented amount of TV and press exposure, with tens of thousands more spectators around the globe witnessing the spectacle of sidecar cross for the first time.
When we arrive at Kramolin in the Czech Republic over the weekend of 11/12 May, we will be gearing up for our second bout of LIVE coverage across the entire event.
The qualifying and Grand Prix races will be streamed non-stop to those fortunate enough to have a full pass, or who take up the option to dip into that weekend with a “weekend ticket”.
I see round four in Kramolin as a pivotal Grand Prix, where the young guns will know they need to score big, and those further down the order will also strive to maximise the potential the spectacular Kramolin track offers.
I for one, am very excited about the prospect of the Czech Grand Prix, and will be there to bring you live commentary along with our WSC expert Steve Randall.
Make sure you have signed up for your season pass if you have not already, so you will not miss a thing.
Join us for all the news as it unfolds, and the TV highlights show from each event on www.fimsidecarcross.com
From Barry Nutley