The fourth round of the Belgian Electric On-road nationals was held at the fast and flowing track of the MAC De Baanbrekers club in Rucphen this past weekend. Most drivers already arrived on Saturday for the open practices and in the Touring Stock class, Vincent Van Gansen was just 0.2 seconds shy of the track record whereas both Olivier Bultynck and Florian Joos slightly improved Florian’s 13.950 track record so Sunday’s racing promised to be exciting. Q1 of Touring Modified was a bit of a bombshell when Florian Joos smashed the track record to an astonishing 13.775 and the first 22 lapper in the history of the track. His new Xray prototype car seemed to be ideally suited for the track. Newly crowned European Stock Champion, Olivier Bultynck wasn’t far off with his Awesomatix as he too scored an amazingly fast 13.869 lap time. With new tyres, his pace over 5 minutes was a bit slower though. Mitchell Van Es, who was running his older electronics and batteries wasn’t far off, but couldn’t quite keep up on this power hungry track.
The other qualifiers were more or less the same story, except for Q3 when a setup change didn’t work for Florian and he decided to pull off after three laps and save his tyres. Florian Joos took the overall TQ, followed by Olivier Bultynck, Mitchell Van Es, a very strong Liam Van de Wouwer (ARC) and local hero Eddie Rombouts.
The finals would prove to be a nail biting affair because of the tyre tactics. Olivier decided to use his three runs old tyres to start A1 with. Florian made a last minute call to switch to old tyres as well whereas the rest of the field started on new rubber. When the buzzer went off, Florian’s car slid into the grass, probably because of the short tyre prep time. Olivier powered his Awesomatix into the lead and never looked back. He was followed by Mitchell and Liam. Both Eddie and Dimitri let Florian by as he tried to make up his 2.5 seconds deficit. Liam Van de Wouwer drove a magnificent race in his ARC mid car, but he lacked a bit corner entry steering. There was nothing he could do to keep Florian behind him. Olivier cruised to an easy victory and saved his tires in the process. This allowed Mitchell to finish within 1.5 seconds off Olivier with Florian, Liam and the former Belgian 200mm champion Dimitri de Baeker in 5th place.
The tyre strategy game continued for A2. In order to maintain his chances for overall victory, Florian used his new set of tyres whereas Olivier decided to start on his now four run old Volante tyres. This time Florian started perfectly whereas Olivier struggled a bit to keep Mitchell on the newer rubber behind him at the start. Mitchell pushed his Awesomatix hard, but had to yield after about eight laps. In the back, Dimitri passed Eddie for P5 and Liam again did everything to keep within striking distance of Mitchell. At the front, Florian took it easy, didn’t accelerate hard and let off the throttle early in order to save his tiyres. Olivier pushed his car to the limit and came within 3 seconds of Florian.
A3 would thus decide the overall result. Olivier had both the mental and on-track advantage with his new tyres. Unfortunately there was a lot of confusion at the start. One of the back markers made a false start, but the race directors only intervened after four or five laps. The drivers decided not to enter the pits for a restart and continued the race. On his newer rubber Olli managed to take the lead on the first corner and left Florian trailing in his slipstream. Mitchell again took P3, but had to retire his car with faulty electronics after only 17 laps. Liam also suffered from electronic gremlins and had to settle for P5 with Eddie Rombouts (Xray) and Dimitri de Baeker (Xray) both in front of him. At the front, a great battle went on between Olli and Florian. Florian seemed to be able to really push his one run old tyres to the limit, while Olli struggled for grip on new rubber. After a couple of tries, Florian placed his car on the inside line when Olli ran a bit wide at the 90 degree corner preceding the start/finish line. Florian took the lead and went on to win A3 and the event.
The overall ranking was Florian Joos (Xray), Olivier Bultynck (Awesomatix), Mitchell van Es (Awesomatix), Liam Van de Wouwer (ARC) and Dimitri De Baeker (Xray).