V8 Oval Series season opener at Raceway Venray: Verberkt with strong performance
After the long compulsory break, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, things got going again at Raceway Venray. The V8 Oval Series kicked off its championship with the first club race of the 2020 season and it were Ralph Verberkt and Joy Kuypers who dominated the action. In the midfield there were hot fights for important points in the Dutch Championship.
A total of 13 drivers took part in the races, including debutant Eric Sliphorst in the #56 car. What else had happened during the long break? Yevgen Sokolovskiy presented his car in a new, brightly coloured graffiti-look design: definitely an eye-catcher in the new season. The characteristic Dodge Challenger silhouettes of Jos Kuypers and Jeroen van Eerd were also given a new flame design during the break.
For the first time not only the well-known tyres from American Racer were used, but also the tyres from Hoosier, which are allowed to be driven in the new season. However, it was impossible to see significant differences between the manufacturers after only one day of racing.
Big challenges for some drivers
After the devastating fire during the winter break at the Bachor Racingteam, in which the #21 car was completely destroyed, the team bought the #88 Chevrolet from Patrick Heckhausen as their second car, which was driven by Gil Linster.
Originally Linster had planned to compete in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series in the USA this year, but he was slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic. So the event in Venray was a good opportunity for the Luxembourger to gain further racing experience in the oval.
Hans-Jürgen Hummen and Barry Maessen also had a lot to do: Hummen was plagued by technical problems again and again last season, so for him strong results were not the main focus. His main goal was to finish all races.
“I have had confidence in the car again for a long time and was able to improve my lap times from race to race and I hope that this upward trend will continue in September”, said the German with the nickname Hummi.
Maessen had a serious accident at the 2019 season final and had throw his car into the trash bin. Over the winter a new car was built, which now had to be tuned and set up. In the first race the Dutchman was involved in a crash again, but in races 2 and 3 he was already back in the front midfield.
Verberkt and Kuypers at the top
The jump at the top reveals which two drivers were at front at the season opener: Verberkt and Kuypers presented themselves and their cars in top form and splitted the race wins among themselves.
In the first race Verberkt sped to victory with a 0.265 second advantage over Kuypers. The top 3 were completed by van Eerd. All top 3 drivers burned top lap times of less than 20 seconds into the asphalt. Behind them a lively battle group raged with Stephan Driessen, Bachor, Champion Jentsen Adriaenssens, Dennis J. Sargent Jr. and Linster.
Sokolovskiy had a moment in the first race when he lost control of his car due to a problem with the brakes in turn 1 and spun during a caution. Luckily he didn’t hit the wall and was able to avoid major damage, but his spin resulted in a “Green-White-Checkered-Finish” – an extension of the race by two laps.
Kuypers strikes back
In the second race of the day, Kuypers quickly grabbed the lead, while Verberkt was initially stuck in the midfield. Once again, the race was characterised by exciting duels in the midfield. In the end Kuypers crossed the finish line as the winner with a two-second lead over Verberkt, followed by van Eerd, Adriaensens and Linster, who achieved his best result of the day with this 5th place.
Verberkt won the final again. Second was van Eerd, ahead of Adriaenssens and Kuypers. Jentsen’s brother Darragh Adriaenssens caused a caution by having an incident in turn 4 and therefore he did not finish the race.
The day’s victory thus also went to Verberkt, who scored 244 points, while Kuypers earned 220 points and van Eerd 219 points. Jentsen Adriaenssens finished fourth in the overall standings with 201 points and also secured victory in the ASCAR classification.
Mixed feelings for the Bachor drivers
After the races, Bachor said in an interview with ‘Leadlap.net’ that the team still has a lot of work to do, but that they now know that the setup was not really working yet. However, the racing team sees hope to be well-positioned again in September.
Moreover, Bachor was not very satisfied with his performance: “It started in the first race. After the start, when I passed the #51 car, I did 10 to 15 laps on the bottom line and that’s when I broke my tyres. They became too hot. That always ruined my races.”
His team mate Linster came to a far more positive conclusion: “It was a completely new challenge with the new car. We had a few problems at the beginning, but I had great guys at my side who gave me a strong car. We always found something we could do something with.”
“I got faster and faster every race and for me it’s a huge success,” said the Luxembourger. “Every meter I can drive on a race track, especially in the oval, is good for my progress. Today was not the day to get the big results, but the next races should be. Today was for tuning the cars properly, getting a better pace and seeing what the competition is doing.”
Linster confirmed his intention to continue to race at Venray as long as traveling to the USA is not possible due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The next race is planned for September 27th – always provided that there will be no further restrictions due to the COVID-19 situation. Especially Verberkt seemed to be extremely well positioned, which is why he is likely to be the driver to beat.