Following an extended stay in France, the series returned to the legendary Nurburgring circuit, set in the picturesque Eifel mountains, for round three.
Remi Pochauvin is the man to beat in 2011, with a clean sweep of victories so far, however with all of them taking place in his home country, would his dominance end here? Jon Walker won at this circuit last year and has hopes of lasting the distance this time round, whilst the Rasse brothers intend to improve upon their early season results, as does Christophe Lisandre. David and Rob Fenn aim to continue their form in the Open class, whilst Adam Bewsey and Dan Plant join in with Production regulars Nigel Ayres and Jose Vaslin.
Practice & Qualifying
Walker was dominant in the practice session, lapping a second faster than Thierry Humbert, with Gregory Rasse leading Karl Vivion and Pochauvin.
When qualifying started, Karl Vivion was one of the first to post a competitive time and sat on top of the timesheets at the session’s midpoint. However Phillippe Loup and Lisandre soon displaced him, followed by John Rasse. Meanwhile Jon Walker was getting ever quicker, his 2-Eleven much more to his liking this weekend.
With just a few minutes left Jon was on provisional pole, and aiming to repeat last year’s win here. Pochauvin, expected to be the pacesetter, languished some way back until the dying seconds, when he popped into the top ten, with a lap good enough for sixth place, behind Vivion. Then he went third quickest and as the flag came out, all eyes were on his final lap. However it wasn’t quick enough and he stayed on row two for the races, but not in third, for Jean-Pierre Genoud Prachex had pipped him for that place by a third of a second.
So at the flag Jon Walker held pole by half a second from Loup, Prachex, Pochauvin, Lisandre, John Rasse, Vivion, Gregory Rasse, Thierry Humbert and Olivier Severini.
The Fenns held fourteenth and pole for the Open class, from David Harvey just behind and Xavier Georges in eighteenth. Meanwhile the Production pole was claimed by Adam Bewsey in 28th place, with Dan Plant 30th and Jose Vaslin 32nd.
As the leading six jockeyed for position for the first half of the race, Lisandre decided it was his turn to lead. Sensing a weakened Pouchavin, Walker claimed second as the former started to fall off the pace, eventually losing two more places to Loup and John Rasse.
Walker then worked on the leader, taking the place from Lisandre in the later laps. Loup tried to capitalise but as they crossed the line it was Walker from Lisandre and Loup. John Rasse just missed the podium but claimed the Exige Cup win, whilst Pouchavin held off Vivion and Greg Rasse, the Evora class winner. Prachex finished in eight place.
In the Open class and ninth overall, it was a clear victory for David Fenn over Harvey and Georges, the lead never in dispute. Severini was the final top ten finisher in the 2-Eleven class. Meanwhile Bewsey held a comfortable lead over Plant in Production, whilst third place was keenly fought over by season-long rivals Jose Vaslin and Nigel Ayres, the latter prevailing this time.
Loup, meanwhile had lost the lead to Pochauvin and was soon taken by Lisandre and Walker. He held onto the latter for a while, whilst Vivion and John Rasse, who had passed Prachex, followed closely. By lap 5, Walker went for second and on the start of the following lap had a go for the lead, bumping Pochauvin as they rounded the hairpin, before running a little wide. By the final corner, though, he was through and Lisandre followed him past Pochauvin.
Lisandre, Pochauvin and Vivion then fought together for second place, leaving Walker the perfect opportunity to get away. Lisandre ended up at the back of this bunch and with Walker taking the win by nine seconds, Vivion stole second place from Pochauvin at the flag. Lisandre held on for fourth, from class leaders John and Greg Rasse, then Loup, who spun earlier and recovered well, Feve, Severini and Prachex for the top ten.
In the Open class, Rob Fenn found himself behind his rivals in the early stages but fought back well to pass Georges and Harvey by the end of the race and take a clear win.
Production class was Bewsey’s for the taking but he got caught up early on, going three-abreast with faster cars at one point, and found himself at the back of the field. A strong performance saw him pass Patterson, Ayres and Vaslin, before latching onto the back of Plant. Try as he might – and he tried very hard – he was unable to wrest first place, which went to a delighted Plant.
Pochauvin’s dominance of the season has ended, and whilst it took the once-dominant Walker to end his winning spree, the French veteran racer only stood on the podium once this weekend and even then in third place. Lisandre and Vivion were once again strong performers as the Rasse brothers were crowded out of the podium. However they were very much on the pace once more, with two very competitive races at the front of the field.
The Fenns remain the class of the Open field, whilst Bewsey and Plant had very productive weekends. The next round of the season is at Brands Hatch in three weeks’ time, joining the busy Lotus Cup UK field and footage from this race can be seen on Motors TV very shortly.
Photographs courtesy of Andrew Crafter