Young guns rule again as Hermans and Vanluchene share the spoils
Race One – The track had been watered in key places to keep dust at bay, and everyone was up for this one. There was a big crowd full of anticipation ahead of the start. Weather conditions were perfect, and this is always an adrenaline moment.
Away they went with a roar from the crowd and it was a frantic charge into the first turn. It was a very mixed start not without incident. A difficult first turn caused chaos for many. Very quickly the Giraud/Badaire pairing grabbed the lead. It was short-lived however as Koen Hermans/Nicolas Musset slipped by, pulling one second at the end of lap one. Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis once again had an appalling start, caught up in the confusion, and down in tenth place on lap two.
Very quickly, Daniel Willemsen and Robbie Bax also moved past the Frenchmen into second place. It was a frantic pace, with much work to do for several of the top runners. Stuart Brown and Joe Millard were having a disaster down in seventeen place having had an even worse start than Bax who now was marooned in seventh place behind Brett Wilkinson and Dan Chamberlain.
Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart had made it up to fourth and were closing on Giraud. Etienne Bax was sixth on lap seven, just fourteen seconds adrift of the race leader. Hermans had pulled six seconds on lap eight but the scrap for third was fierce. What a race this was, as Bax edged ever closer to the front. Vanluchene then astounded Willemsen and flew past into second place. Sure enough, the youngsters again ruled here at half-distance.
Brown and the Cermak brothers were both in the points, in thirteenth and fourteenth places, whilst Julian Veldman and Glenn Janssens were having another nightmare, having gone missing on lap six with gearbox problems. Then Bax/Stupelis were third, having passed Willemsen on lap eleven. The gap to the front and Hermans, now a massive sixteen seconds.
Into the final two laps and it was Hermans from Vanluchene and Bax. Willemsen was fourth ahead of Giraud, Dierckens and Wilkinson. Brown was now through to tenth, pulling the Cermaks to twelfth. On the final lap, Daniel Willemsen had a last gasp lunge at Bax, and to Bax's dismay made it stick.
Sadly, after the race, the multiple champion Willlemsen was disqualified for outside assistance in regard to the noise test. Once again he courts controversy, and is in conflict with the authorities. So everyone behind him moves up a place.
Brett Wilkinson and Dan Chamberlain are definitely back – rewarded with a brilliant and hard fought sixth place.
Race Two - From the gate it was another busy first turn. Vanluchene had been early to the line, so he meant business from the word go.
Ambient temperature was very high, and it would be tough in the heat as they sorted themselves out on lap one. The Kunnas brothers led the charge alongside Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart, but immediately the young Belgian took control. Dierckens/Rostingt went through as well, but the Finns stayed third. Then it was Veldman, Hermans and Bax having a much better start this time out.
Vanluchene really got stuck in and put the hammer down. He eased away steadily from Arne Dierckens and Luc Rostingt who were riding really well. The Kunnas brothers slipped back almost into the hands of Bax/Stupelis, and then the reigning champion made the move through to fifth place behind young Veldman. Such was the pace at the front that Vanluchene had a ten second lead at half distance. Giraud appeared to be struggling down in ninth – almost a shadow of the Valentin Giraud we saw last year.
Brown and Millard were tenth just ahead of Brett Wilkinson and Dan Chamberlain. This was a long tough race and with twenty-five minutes gone, the top five had settled. Wilkinson then went past Brown as he appeared to slow. Giraud also moved ahead. With three laps to go, Bax was third and looking good. However the gap to the front was just too far and Vanluchene was flying.
The Kunnas brothers maintained a good pace and were in a solid sixth, with Davy Sanders pressing. But in the final analysis, it was the red plated Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart who march on at the top of the table with victory. Koen Hermans/Nicolas Musset held second both in the race and the standings with Bax some twenty seconds behind in third, and Willemsen fourth.
Some big names were in lower positions with Giraud eighth, Wilkinson ninth, Brown tenth and Dierckens dropping to eleventh. They had stopped losing valuable time.
Veldman again went out four laps from the end – heartbreaking stuff.
From Barry Nutley