Vanluchene and Van Den Bogaart head for Germany in control, with Bax and Hermans still in the hunt
If Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis have any aspiration to claw back the ninety point deficit on the series leader Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart, they have four rounds and eight races in which to do it. For that to happen, they need to continue their winning form from Belgium, and must also hope that some of the bad luck which has been so evident in the 2018 season, befalls their young rival.
They are not alone in this challenge. Just twenty-four points ahead of them sit another young crew having a great season, although their supremacy has faltered in the last couple of rounds. Koen Hermans and Nicolas Musset trail the leaders by sixty-six points, with only twenty-four between them and the chasing Bax. The young Dutch/French team are vulnerable in that position. If Bax turns on the magic in Strassbessenbach, and they have a mixed day, then he will pounce. Having already clinched the Dutch National title, he is in great form. Vanluchene though, has been a revelation this year. The ice-cool approach he has taken to his racing belies his tender years, and he is undoubtedly assisted in his quest by the immensely talented Van Den Bogaart, himself already a triple world champion.
Looking at the table, you could be forgiven for assuming the title was as good as won. This sport however, is one of the most unpredictable in the world of motor-sport, and one hard tumble can turn the ranking on its head. In fourth and fifth, Kert Varik/Lauris Daiders and Stuart Brown/Joe Millard are split by just three points. The Estonian/Latvian pair have improved immeasurably in recent races, and Brown knows he will have a fight on his hands to reclaim his fourth place. The German track will suit the British pair however, so watch this space.
Ten times world champion Daniel Willemsen with Robbie Bax is just five points behind Brown, and ahead of another surprise package Arne Dierckens and Luc Rosingt. Willemsen has had a torrid 2018, but despite all the misfortune, brushes with authority, and some mechanical issues, he comes out fighting every time. He must accept the fact he will not win the title this year, but quitting is not an option for the immensely tough Dutchman.
The final four Grands Prix are on hard-packed surface with minimal sand, so expect to see reigning vice-champion Valentin Giraud try to redeem himself after a mixed season. Stay with us here on www.fimsidecarcross.com for live reports and news items across the weekend, and the usual highlights show following later on Motorsport TV
From Barry Nutley