Vanluchene opens his winning score-sheet in muddy Kramolin and takes back the red plate
Anyone who witnessed qualifying yesterday could be forgiven for thinking race-day would be a shambles. Nothing could be further from the truth, and despite the hammering the track took in the torrential rain during qualifying, it was actually very rideable.
There were still several areas where the deep ruts dictated the racing line, but for these highly skilled sidecar exponents, it's all in a day's work.
Morning warm-up gave them the opportunity to analyse how much the track had changed since first they set foot on it. Given the fact that veteran solos and sidecar outfits had been out practising and racing, that was considerable.
We had no idea what was about to transpire, as Arne Dierckens and Robbie Bax took a flying hole-shot, to lead Marvin Vanluchene and the chasing pack round the opening lap.
Dierckens was riding really well on a track which required total concentration.
In a brilliant third was the Zeno Compalati/Bastien Chopin duo, and they gave a great account of themselves all race long. They were eventually to drop back to eighth, but still scored good strong points.
They were actually a key factor in the fantastic scrap between third placed Davy Sanders/Lari Kunnas, Etienne Bax/Kaspars Stupelis and Koen Hermans/Nicolas Musset. These crews all closed down Arne Dierckens, and it was then his place to lose. He defended every move, keeping his cool and holding
second place to the flag.
From the back row Daniel Willemsen/Luc Rostingt worked hard all race long to a creditable tenth, given the difficulty in passing anyone on this deeply rutted track. Their back row start was a huge handicap in these conditions, and they will have no less of a challenge next time out.
Stuart Brown/Josh Chamberlain also started fairly well, and true to Brown's dogged form kept a good place, finishing seventh at the flag. In there too and always fighting, Valentin Giraud and Andres Haller maintained their recent form and brought it home sixth to collect respectable points, and stay in the championship hunt.
The scrap at the front though was nothing short of amazing. With Vanluchene and Van Den Bogaart out in the lead, the four-way fight behind them raged lap after lap, with Bax unable to improve on his fourth place. That is where he finished, losing seven points to his young rival. with everything to fight for in race two.
A repeat performance by Vanluchene, could see the red plate change hands. That, Bax would try to prevent at all costs.
Race Result -
1/ Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart, 2/ Dierckens/Bax, 3/ Sanders/Kunnas, 4/ Bax/Stupelis,
5/ Hermans/Musset, 6/ Giraud/Haller, 7/ Brown/Chamberlain, 8/ Compalati/Chopin,
9/ Van Werven/Beunk, 10/ Willemsen/Rostingt
Race Two – It was another flier from Arne Dierckens/Robbie Bax who certainly have got the knack of getting off the line. Davy Sanders was right with them, along with Hermans and Etienne Bax.
The track had improved measurably since the early race, but there was still really only one racing line.
Race one winner Marvin Vanluchene found himself in sixth behind Etienne Bax on lap one, and it looked like he was going to struggle such was the pace.
These six outfits pulled away and were so close, lap after lap. Then, Bax began to glance sideways at his sidecar floor. There was a mechanical problem which turned out to be a fractured exhaust system. Despite continuing and fighting to third, he was penalised to eighth, resulting in the loss of his title lead.
Vanluchene meanwhile, was charging hard and eventually fought his way past Dierckens, then Koen Hermans to take the lead.
Arne Dierckens hung in there after Bax passed him and that was to his advantage, because he was to claim second overall in what had been a great weekend for him.
Then Vanluchene visibly slowed, and Hermans/Bax were away for victory number two this year. It transpired that Vanluchene had lost his front brake, but second was good enough for overall victory and the red plate again.
Another strong ride by Valentin Giraud/Andres Haller and Stuart Brown/Josh Chamberlain rewarded them with good points and overall position.
Man of the match would be an impossible choice. There were so many individually heroic performances, that competition must go to the next round.
1/ Hermans/Musset, 2/ Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart, 3/ Dierckens/Bax,
4/ Sanders/Kunnas, 5/ Giraud/Haller, 6/ Brown/Chamberlain, 7/ Heinzer/Betschart,
8/ Bax/Stupelis, 9/ Compalati/Chopin, 10/ Willemsen/Rosting
1/ Vanluchene, 2/ Diercken, 3/ Hermans, 4/ Sanders, 5/ Giraud, 6/ Bax, 7/ Brown,
8/ Compalati, 9/ Heinzer, 10/ Varik
The next round is in one week in the Ukraine, and is set to be a cliff-hanger.
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From Barry Nutley