Vanluchene wins his first GP and retains Red plate. Giraud crashes out, Bax misses race one.
Sunday race day was overshadowed by a serious crash involving the French superstar Valentin Giraud and his Latvian passenger Elvijs Mucenieks. In morning warm-up, the intrepid pair attempted the triple jump and crashed in the process.
Mucenieks was immediately taken to hospital for examination and a possible MRI scan. The entire Giraud team was visibly shaken by the incident, and packed the truck for the homeward journey. We will bring you the latest on Mucenieks condition as we hear the news.
Race One – A brilliant holeshot saw Stuart Brown and Joe Millard lead the first Grand Prix from Hermans/Musset. The handful of British supporters went wild as the Britons fought off the attentions of Hermans. Etienne Bax had failed to make the start, as he had engine problems. So they were another high profile crew who would not score, at least in race one. Five laps in, and Brown/Millard held a good second place with Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart closing. Daniel Willemsen/Robbie Bax were by now up to fourth, but the leaders were very quick indeed.
Hermans/Musset were enjoying a fourteen second lead at half-distance, with the red plate of Vanluchene looming large behind Brown/Millard. Tomas and Ondrej Cermak were having a fantastic ride in fifth place. This would significantly bolster their flagging confidence, and give them good points.
Lap ten, and Vanluchene was on Brown and looking threatening. It seemed just a matter of time before the youngster made his move. Brown would need all his experience and stamina to hold second, but he was fighting hard. Hermas/Musset were lapping two seconds faster than the pack, and their lead had now doubled to twenty seconds. Behind them it was terrific action, and Brown/Millard were having the most amazing ride fending off the Belgian threat. He actually stretched the gap on lap twelve and was suddenly looking in control of that precious second place. Could it be that Vanluchene was tiring?Closing stages and Varik/Daiders were up to sixth, but too far behind the Cermaks to make a move.
This was a cracking race all round, particularly for Hermans who was looking supreme. If Stuart Brown and Joe Millard could bring this one home, it would be a recent career best for them, and justly deserved. The top three were now clear of Willemsen, with Vanluchene getting second wind.
It was all to play for on the final lap. Brown and Vanluchene had closed down the leader, but he was safe. Then it happened. Vanluchene prevailed, and was past the heroic Brown/Millard pairing as they met a back-marker. Failing a mechanical disaster, they were now destined for third place. That's exactly how it finished, with a dominant display by Hermans/Musset at the front. Willlemsen/Bax finished fourth, with the Cermaks a fine fifth ahead of Varik/Daiders.
Race Two – Daniel Willemsen and Robbie Bax got the drop in this one, as a great gaggle of crews got tangled up on the bend. To get caught at the start is always bad news, because as we've seen before, a good start is vital. Brown and Millard were fourth behind Van Werven and Vanluchene. Then just as Vanluchene overtook Willemsen for the lead, Brown went third. Etienne Bax was trailing Brown, and the pair of them flew by Willemsen to go second and third.
Brown was riding like a man inspired, in full knowledge that he had ground to make up in the standings. Willlemsen was now going backwards as Koen Hermans was the next to pass him. Brett Wilkinson and Dan Chamberlain were going great guns up to eighth place on lap five, with the Cermaks tenth. Once past Arne Dierckens and Luc Rostingt, Wilkinson moved seventh, going like a train.
Then Bax/Stupelis were past Brown/Millard, with young Hermans closing in fast on the English crew. Wilkinson was now sixth, just three seconds off Willemsen. All bets were off the table as he homed in on the ten times champion. At the front, Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart were protecting their lead in the standings with a fine ride sixteen seconds clear of the chasing Etienne Bax.
The Cermak brothers were again storming through and sat in seventh behind Wilkinson until lap eleven. They then had a superhuman push to claim the place. A great performance from the Czechs saw them now sitting sixth. Towards the closing lap, Brown seemed to have the measure of Hermans, and was on target for a double top-three. Wilkinson hit trouble and dropped back to tenth, but at the front, Vanluchene was supreme and celebrates his first ever GP victory!
From Barry Nutley