Vanluchene and Van Den Bogaart close in on the title with Stelpe next up
Round ten of twelve takes place this coming weekend 28/29th July at the popular Stelpe track in Latvia. Whilst Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van den Bogaart are cast-iron favourites to take the crown, it is far from a done deal. Even at this late stage in the championship, there are five crews who are still in with a shout for title honours.
The most realistic contenders have to be Koen Hermans and Nicolas Musset, who trail the leaders by sixty-six points. With one hundred and fifty points still up for grabs, both they and Etienne Bax/Kaspars Stupelis must stay focussed and hopeful. Bax clawed a few points back last time out in Germany, but he knows that nothing short of outright victories will get the job done this late in the season.
Realistically, he can certainly take second place from Hermans, but the main prize is going to take a superhuman effort, and some bad luck for Vanluchene. Once again the title has eluded French Champion Valentin Giraud and his compatriot Johnny Badaire. A disastrous start to the season robbed him of the momentum needed to compete with the youngsters Vanluchene and Hermans.
Both teams scored handsomely whilst the established royalty of Giraud, Bax and Daniel Willemsen floundered in a sea of misfortune early in the season. Surprise debutants at the championship party are Kert Varik and Lauris Daiders. The Estonian/Latvian duo have shown astonishing speed and reliability, and are rewarded with a fine fifth place in the standings going into this next round a mere fourteen points behind Willemsen/Bax.
Stelpe is a favourite with the fans, so expect a big crowd when qualifying gets under way on Saturday. The majority of them will be rooting for Varik and Daiders.The pressure is all on the young shoulders of Marvin Vanluchene, but his vastly experienced co-driver Ben Van Den Bogaart, who has been there and done it all before, will be whispering words of wisdom in his ear as the day approaches.
From Barry Nutley