If there is one thing that has become abundantly clear this season as far as the Bodo Schmidt racing camp is concerned, it is that you can press on the button of the team’s spearhead, Romain Febvre, and week after week, without fail, he will give his all. As the team’s gleaming race truck made its way up north to the sandy battlefield of Tensfeld, he was ready, willing and able to do his duty yet again. Set him on a bike, guide his hand to the throttle, and he knows what to do. Romain went into the event holding on to second position in the championship standings. The race was significant for the home fans, for local favourite Max Nagl made a popular and much-anticipated return to the racetrack after a long injury lay-off.
Nagl obviously had a raging racing hunger to feed, for he was unstoppable on the weekend. He qualified fastest, and Romain did his bit as well, bringing his KTM to the third spot on the qualifying grid. Sunday morning started off well for the young Frenchman, with the second fastest warm up time, and every indication that he was ready to rumble. He did not get the most satisfactory of starts in the first race, but battled like a Trojan, and by lap 10 he was in a well-deserved second position. He held this position until two laps from the end, and looked set for a very memorable finish, when disaster struck. A crash slammed him back to fifth position, and by the time he could remount, all his rhythm was gone, and he crossed the line in fifth position, bitterly disappointed at the way fate turned the tables on him.
Another less-than-optimal start in race two had more clouds of gloom gathering for the young man. He does not take setbacks lightly, though, and fought back with his whole being. After a hard slog, he made his way up to fourth position, for a well-deserved 18 point haul in the race. After having tasted podium champagne on a number of occasions during the season, Romain was bitterly disappointed at how his day had turned out. He was sixth overall, and this grated even more, for the six points he lost as a result of the crash would have easily helped him to yet another podium spot. What rankles most, is the fact that he has lost his grip on second position in the championship standings. He now shares the position with Filip Neugebauer, with the Czech ride being credited with second spot by dint of his better result at the last event. Still, Romain is determined to come back fighting , and reclaim the spot he has worked so hard to secure.
The team’s Youngster Cup riders, Calvin Vlaanderen and Henry Jacobi, were never going to enjoy the easiest of weekends. Mounted on 125cc bikes to keep them in fine fettle for their European championship campaigns, the deep, power-sapping sand of Tensfeld was always going to leave them at a major disadvantage compared to their 250cc – mounted opposition. Henry and Calvin qualified 10th – and 13th in their groups respectively, a fair enough showing considering the power deficit they were labouring under in the deep sand.
A sand track becomes, of course, rougher and more intimidating the more it gets hammered by the passage of hordes of bikes, and so, on race day, the track was resembling a moon landscape more and more. The two youngsters tried gamely, but after they both had to recover form bad starts in race 1, Henry just edged into the points in 20th position whilst Calvin stranded just shy of the points. The second race was altogether more satisfying with Henry and Calvin coming home in 16th and 18th positions respectively. Though this may, at first light, not look like much, it really is a decent performance considering the circumstances.
Romain will be packing his stuff for the flight across to Riga next. The world championship series heads for Kegums in Latvia, and the young man is keen to see if he can continue in his points-scoring ways and maybe bag that elusive top ten overall result. The sandy experience he picked up in Tensfeld will stand him in good stead at Kegums, which has similar ground.
Reporting by Tinus Nel