Vanluchene and Van Den Bogaart do the Czech double in style
There was huge anticipation ahead of the two grand Prix races in Kramolin, with morning warm again showing Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart to be on super form. The ultra-fast track, having been graded overnight had some massive downhill jumps which pounded the crews mercilessly.
Spare a thought for the defending champion Etienne Bax with two injured shoulders. The sun was beating down, and this would be very hard work indeed.
Race One - From the gate, a blistering start from the far right side took the red plate holders Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart into the lead at turn one.
That side was the chosen departure point for all the fast crews, except the Frenchman Valentin Giraud. Always one to try something different, Giraud, along with Johnny Badaire, came from the extreme left side and slotted into third place ahead of Stuart Brown/Joe Millard. Vanluchene made the most of a clear track and set about opening a gap from Julian Veldman and Glenn Janssens, They had basically followed Vanluchen into the first turn and stayed with him as best they could. In fairness, Vanluchene, Veldman and Giraud were virtually locked together lap after lap.
Stuart Brown was definitely not at ease with a left-hand sidecar, and the circuit played into the hands of the leaders, and all with the sidecar on the right. Nonetheless, he stuck at it, eventually succumbing to an attack by Koen Hermans and Nicolas Musset fighting up from the back. Then, Joe Millard got his foot trapped, delaying the pair fractionally, until a split water hose caused severe overheating of the Husqvarna. They managed to bring it home, but had also been passed by a charging Etienne Bax in the process. The man is a machine. Nursing two broken shoulders, goodness knows where he finds the determination.
He made a hard move on Giraud, and then caught and passed Veldman. With a six second lead though, Vanluchene was home and dry. He claimed the twenty-five points and extended his series lead over Koen Hermans. Brown retained sixth, ahead of Kert Varik/Lauris Daiders, the Kunnas brothers, and Davy Sanders Andreas Haller.
Race Two - Again, like a carbon copy of the first outing, Marvin Vanluchene flew from the gate into the lead. But this time there was a reigning champion up his exhaust pipe. Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis went second and then the chase was on. There was rarely more that five metres between the pair the entire thirty minutes plus two laps. Time and time again Bax closed with an attempted pass, and each time he was thwarted, either by back-markers, or simply an error of judgement. Vanluchene seemed to sense his every decision, and moved over accordingly.
Behind these two, there was a great ride throughout from the Estonian/Latvian duo of Kert Varik/Lauris Daiders. They maintained their pace, although they were threatened by Valentin Giraud/Johnny Badaire, until the Frenchmen got it wrong on the climb onto the straight and almost capsized. Koen Hermans made great progress from the back row, and bit by bit picked them off. He was eventually to finish a fine fourth ahead of Giraud.
Stuart Brown and Joe Millard, after changing an engine between races, had a poor start, giving themselves work to do. They were fourteenth first time round, but plugged away to make sixth at the flag. There were many individually strong performances, but the men of the match were unquestionably Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart. They now have a thirty-two point lead over Hermans/Musset going into the next round.
From Barry Nutley