By Mike Garrison
Race Report from EFRA:
Max Machler led away from his pole position in leg one, with an early mistake from Jan Ratheisky dropping him down the field and allowing Olivier Bultynck to pick up the chase. Despite Olivier’s best efforts he was unable to pass Max who took the first leg win.
Leg two saw a clean first lap for Max, Jan and Olivier, with the lead two breaking away. As the race entered its final lap Max looked to have done enough to seal the title despite immense pressure from Jan, but then a small mistake from Max entering the straight for the final time allowed Jan to take the leg win and the battle for the title into the third leg.
Into the third leg then, with all still to play for. Max led away from Jan and Olivier once more, until a slow third lap from Jan dropped him to the back of the field and out of contention. After five minutes close racing Max crossed the line to take the win from Olivier, or so it appeared - just as the drivers were leaving the rostrum, the call came from the referee that Max was to have a time penalty applied for his car leaving the marked area of the circuit after the race had finished, the team managers having been warned of the penalties for this during their meeting at the start of the event. The rule was designed to prevent drivers throwing their car at the finish line at full speed with no intention of making the corner, while Max had thrown his arms into the air in celebration as he crossed the line, allowing his car to coast outside the track boundary as a result. After a nervy wait for Max his five second penalty was confirmed, promoting Olivier to the leg win, but Max’s earlier scores were enough to secure him his maiden European title from Olivier, with Jan’s scrappy finals allowing Martin Hofer to secure the final podium position.
Jan Ratheisky set out to make up for his disappointment in the stock class by comfortably winning the first leg of this set of finals, and after Olivier Bultynck ran onto the grass on lap two Martin Hudy had an uninterrupted run to second place from Andreas Stiebler who had a great race from seventh on the grid.
Leg two presented Jan with the opportunity to seal the title and he duly delivered, soaking up the pressure from Olivier for the first half of the race before edging away and crossing the line to secure his title.
Leg three saw Jan take the start and lead the first lap, but a mistake in the sweeper saw him pull into an early retirement - no matter, as the title was already sealed. Olivier took the leg win to secure his second podium spot of the weekend, with Andreas Stiebler occupying the last podium position.
Ronald Volker headed the field round from pole position in the first leg and in a great display of controlled driving soaked up all the pressure from a charging Alexander Hagberg to take a step towards retaining his title. Bruno Coelho had a quiet race by his standards to finish a couple of seconds behind the lead two.
Into leg two and we saw a carbon copy of the first leg, with Alex trying to pressure Ronald into a mistake, with Bruno keeping a watching brief a couple of car lengths back. Alex was to be denied again, as an error free run from Ronald saw him become the only driver to make the extra lap, Alex just missing out on it by three thousandths of a second! Two leg wins sealed the deal for Ronald, meaning he did secure the title again.
With two leg wins Ronald decided to sit out leg three, so it quickly distilled into a winner takes all battle for second overall between Alex and Bruno. In a repeat of the earlier legs Bruno was unable to overtake Alex, meaning Ronald won the title with Alex second overall and Bruno third.
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