EMX Quad European Championship: delight for Walker as he stamps authority on in The Netherlands

EMX Quad European Championship:
Turrini takes the red plate

The EMX Quad European Championship was back to action in Heerde, in The Netherlands, for the second round of the season.

Qualifying Race

The bellow of a full grid of 4-stroke quad machinery reverberated around the woods as the gate dropped, and it was the fastest qualifier, Karl Robin Rillo, who raced into the lead to take the holeshot ahead of Harry Walker, with hard-charging home heroes Mike van Grinsven and Joe Maessen looking to impress in front of the supporting fans. Veldman completed the opening lap in 6th position, however, the big news at the completion of lap 1 was that the championship leader of Patrick Turrini was languishing outside of the top 10 – plenty of work ahead for the reigning champion.

Rillo certainly had the hammer down as he had his eyes set on increasing his advantage over Walker in the early stages, but this was not to come to fruition as Walker stormed by the Estonian teenager to take the lead, with van Grinsven and Maessen going with them – this quartet seemingly finding more speed in the deep sand than the chasing field, as the gap stretched to seven seconds between Maessen in 4th position, and Tarald Hellebust in 5th position. Tarald Hellebust, despite not having raced in the European championship since last year, was fighting for the top five positions, albeit 10 seconds away from the leading pack.

Only a handful of laps later, and Rillo slipped to the rear of the quartet, now doing the chasing as opposed to being chased as he had done in the opening laps. A mighty battle was brewing for 5th position, and Hellebust, Mike Verboven and Julian Veldman all looked to put themselves in prime position. In the meantime, Patrick Turrini was trying with all his championship-winning might to clamber back as many positions as he could, to give himself a better gate pick for tomorrow’s races – by the completion of lap 7, he was up to 7th place and less than two seconds behind the fight for 5th.

Walker was metronomically consistent, setting the pace at the front of the race to increase his lead over van Grinsven and Maessen. What once was a quartet, soon became a 2-way fight for 2nd position between the Dutch riders of van Grinsven and Maessen, with Rillo losing momentum as the race drew on. Verboven climbed to 5th position, to make it three Dutch riders inside the top five positions, but Turrini was on the charge and gaining ground with each passing lap. The amount of time left was crucial, and no one knew this better than Turrini at this stage. Veldman, who was showcasing his talents in the sand with a strong start, would drop way back to 24th position in the closing stages – a difficult day at the track for the likeable local.

The board was shown to signify that only 2 laps were remaining in the race, and with a 5 second advantage over his nearest rival, all Walker needed to do was hit his markers, and this would surely be enough to see him take victory in the qualifying race. Compatriots van Grinsven and Maessen had drifted apart on circuit as the amount of time between them opened to, what would become, an insurmountable amount for Maessen, however, a 3rd place finish would be key for the racing tomorrow. Rillo would take the chequered flag in, what developed into, a relatively lonely 4th place, with Verboven completing the top 5. An inspired ride from Turrini would see him climb up to 6th position ahead of Dutchman Richard Ruttenberg.

Race 1

The gates dropped and the fight was on for the lead of the race, with Karl Robin Rillo, Mike van Grinsven, Joe Maessen, and Patrick Turrini locked together contesting the lead – Harry Walker and Mike Verboven were only a small distance behind the dicing quartet. Just a couple of laps later, and Mike van Grinsven, who has not contested a round since the SQMXoN in 2019, led the way around this 2km circuit ahead of Karl Robin Rillo, who seemed to lose momentum in the early stges of the race, dropping back to as low as sixth position. Harry Walker was a man on the charge, as he picked off the opposition one-by-one, to place himself firmly in the wheeltracks of van Grinsven.

After a poor result in the qualifying race yesterday, Julian Veldman was carving his way through the field and, after his 24th gate pick, was knocking on the door of the top 10 by a mid-point of the event; a fantastic start for the Dutchman, but he wasn’t done yet!

Such is the nature of racing in the sand, the local riders were showing their prowess with the six of the top 10 positions being occupied by Dutch competitors, much to the delight of the home supports. Norwegian rider Tarald Hellebust held on to the seventh spot for much of the event, however, he was to soon find himself relegated to 11th by the cheqeured flag, as Ricardo Phoelich, Richard Ruttenberg andValentino Roks each saw individual opportunities to promote themselves a position.

Back to the front, a six-way dice was unfolding before us, with Turrini doing everything in his power to close the gap to Walker, who had stretched his lead to 2.5 seconds at its maximum, however, it would prove to be effort spent for no reward as his Yamaha started smoking, which seemed to be a manageable problem initially, but would soon be enough to force him to retire from the race. He watched Walker and Rillo dice for the lead from the sidelines, both disappointed and frustrated that the Yamaha had let him down on this occasion.

Mike van Grinsven, who is still not quite 100% race fit, would soon slip down to fifth position, as his compatriots Maessen and Verboven moved ahead, however, the fight on circuit that had the fans gripped was the one for the lead as, in what appeared to be a second-wind for the Estonian, Rillo was putting in a hard-charge in the dying stages of the race, and back on the rear wheels of Walker. This charge seemed to be offset by backmarkers being in between himself and Walker, and this would be enough to see Walker open his advantage once more, to 3.5 seconds by the chequered flag.

A victory for Walker would see him take the lead of the championship, however, it is all the play for in race 2 as Turrini seeks to make amends for his unfortunate retirement. An aggressive race for Julian Veldman saw him take the chequered flag in 6th place.

Top five

  1. Harry Walker; 2. Karl Robin Rillo; 3. Joe Maessen; 4. Mike Verboven; 5. Mike van Grinsven.

Race 2

A lightning start from Manfred Zienecker, who was not in the opening race, saw him storm to the front of the pack to lead them around on the opening lap until, in what was an inspired move, Louis Pinchon took over the reins of the race to lead the German and Harry Walker, who was looking to confirm himself as the leader of the championship. Turrini was languishing outside of the top 10 positions in the opening laps, but he was to soon pick them off one-by-one until he was into 8th position. EMX Quad European

In the meantime, Julian Veldman was once again carving his way through the field from the back row of the gate, in a case of déjà vu for the tall Dutchman. The field had spread out quickly, much quicker than it did in the first race, which would make it more difficult for Veldman to make up positions, however, he did so with style and commitment. Walker set about hounding Zienecker for the race lead, but it was to no avail for the young Brit as Zienecker pulled the pin to increase his lead with every passing lap, but the main story of the race was that, at the halfway point, Turrini was seen stranded on the outside of the circuit, with what appeared to be yet again, a mechanical issues – a highly disappointing end to the weekend for the already down-trodden Turrini. Disaster was to strike once more for one of the top competitors, and this time it would be for Rillo, who was forced to retired after completing only 9 laps. It is unsure at this stage whether Rillo will be contesting the remaining three rounds, however, a big blow to his potential championship hopes, nonetheless.

Early race leader, Louis Pinchon, would slip down the order as the race progressed to the closing stages, as he came under pressure and was relegated by Joe Maessen, Keveen Rochereau, Mike Verboven and Julian Veldman, but a 7th place finish was a fine way to round off the weekend for the Frenchman.

The chequered flag was to be greeted by Zienecker, who took his first race victory of the season by an impressive 13.9 seconds over the new red plate holder, Harry Walker, with Joe Maessen completing the podium once more. EMX Quad European

Top five

  1. Manfred Zienecker; 2. Harry Walker; 3. Joe Maessen; 4. Keveen Rochereau; 5. Mike Verboven.

Overall top five

  1. Harry Walker, 47 points; 2. Joe Maessen, 40; 3. Mike Verboven, 34; 4. Keveen Rochereau, 32; 5. Julian Veldman, 30.

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EMX Quad European Championship