Magnificent Arne Dierckens and Robbie Bax do the business in Stelpe
The weather was even hotter than for qualifying, and with so many huge jumps on this tight complex, race conditions were set to be very testing for drivers and passengers alike. In many ways, the fact that a handful of key teams were missing from the action, gave those further down the rankings much more incentive to go for big points.
Furthermore, at the top of the table, all eyes were on the slender five point margin between third place Koen Hermans/Nicolas Musset, and the lightning starters Arne Dierckens and Robbie Bax.
Would third place change hands this weekend? Well, we were about to find out.
Race One – This race was all about two important sets of circumstances which would prove to decide the outcome.
Firstly, the hole-shot was absolutely vital, and secondly the nature of the track after the opening European Quad race, made overtaking all but impossible.
True to form, Arne Dierckens and Robbie Bax made the start their own, and streaked into a lead they would never forfeit.
Koen Hermans and Nicolas Musset spent thirty-five minutes trying to find a way past, but no matter what they tried, it was to no avail.
The frustration was visible, as time and time again the number two crew rubbed the back wheel of Dierckens in the turns, but time and time again the Dierckens/Bax outfit stayed ahead over the jumps.
Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart were right in the mix at the front, and at one point there were five outfits all within a few metres of each other.
Their challenge was to fade when they had a front wheel problem, which stopped them momentarily, and finally dropped them to ninth place.
Bad starters included Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis, who found themselves in ninth place on the opening lap. The inside start line was a gamble which did not pay off, but in true Bax/Stupelis style they fought through to take third.
Stuart Brown and Josh Chamberlain were less successful from an even worse start, and had to haul themselves from fifteenth place to an eventual seventh.
Zeno Compalati and Bastien Chopin were right up there with Dierckens and Hermans early on, but gradually fell victim to an onslaught by Jake Brown and Joe Millard, Julian Veldman and Glenn Janssens, and finally Varik/Daiders and Stuart Brown.
Nonetheless, the Italian Champion had once again shown his credentials as a man who can start well and cause problems at the front.
Brett Wilkinson and Ryan Humphrey crashed out, giving Brett a bash on the head as well as a cut on his shoulder.
This was a tough race in very hard, hot conditions, but was definitely a great spectacle.
Result – 1/ Dierckens/Bax, 2/ Hermans/Musset, 3/ Bax/Stupelis, 4/ Veldman/Janssens,
5/ Brown/Millard, 6/ Varik/Daiders, 7/ Brown/Chamberlain, 8/ Compalati/Chopin,
9/ Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart, 10/ Santermans/Beleckas.
Race Two – Almost unbelievably, Arne Dierckens and Robbie Bax did it again and flew into the lead from the gate. This time though, Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis went with them, along with the Hermans/Musset and Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart pairings.
These four then began a repeat of the earlier fight, except that on lap four, Etienne Bax threw caution to the wind, and shot alongside and past over a series of jumps.
He and Kaspars forged ahead, and opened up an eight second gap, but not without incident.
Kaspars, like the other passengers, was beginning to feel the heat and exhaustion factor.
Once he got tangled getting back in on an overtaking move, and the next time had to scramble to stay in after he lost his footing.
The Brown family, Stuart and Jake were having a private battle over seventh place, with Stuart finally making good fifth place and a solid overall position.
Kert Varik and Lauris Daiders were battling through very well, and steadily moved into contention with the top four, just as Marvin Vanluchene began to slow.
Ben Van Den Bogaart was another of the top flight passengers feeling the pace, and Vanluchene had to nurse it home to sixth, losing more points to Bax in the process.
All this time, at the front, Etienne Bax was away, with Dierckens once more fighting off a persistent Koen Hermans.
Julian Veldman and Glenn Janssens had another good points scoring ride to eighth, ahead of Santermans/Beleckas.
This entire event was a credit to the organisers, the crews, and in particular the passengers who hung onto these incredible outfits, taking whatever was thrown at them.
With eighteen jumps each lap, they handled the ups and downs three hundred times each race. No wonder some of them could barely stand post-event.
Result – 1/ Bax/Stupelis, 2/ Dierckens/Bax, 3/ Hermans/Musset, 4/ Varik/Daiders,
5/ Brown/Chamberlain, 6/ Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart, 7/ Brown/Millard,
8/ Veldman/Janssens, 9/ Santermans/Beleckas, 10/ Hroch/Hroch
Standings – Bax 439, Vanluchene 378, Dierckens 330, Hermans 330,
S. Brown 282, Sanders 252, Varik 240, Compalati 199, Giraud 185, Van Werven 152,
J. Brown 151, Santermans 145.
The next round comes from Roggenburg, Switzerland 24/25 August.
Stay with all the news and results, plus the highlights shows on www.fimsidecarcross.com
From Barry Nutley