The recent European Championships held at the Sand-Am-Main track in Germany, saw Darren Bloomfield make it on to the podium in his 1st year with the team, Agama/Beta/Bullitt & Piranha's 1st at a Euros A event.
The small and technical track is always a challenge, but produces incredibly close racing and times, meaning mistakes are punished very heavily. In qualifying apart from the top 6 or so drivers, the rest were so closely matched, that a mistake of 3 or 4 seconds could easily cost you 20 places in the overall round placings.
The track conditions as usual were different from the warm up race, the track taking on a glassy texture on its direct sections that didn't have the traction that was available at the warm up. This caused the drivers plenty of headaches trying to find the right tyres for a given round, with the sun coming in and out changing the track temperature.
Practice showed that the usual suspects were all in contention to be in and around the top of the leader board and Darren was feeling pretty comfortable with his pace compared to the competition.
Fellow Agama drivers Jerome Sartel and Dani Vega were converting to a similar set up to that of Darren, and were finding their feet as they went along, slowly improving.
Qualifying was a bit up and down and it is an indication of how far the Agama programme has come that Darren was actually a little bit disappointed to be only 5th. In clear air and without errors, Darren was quick enough to be 2nd easily, but a few runs where he made an error early in the run and an unfortunate incident in round 4 where his transponder failed to work correctly.
Jerome and Dani were quick at times, especially Dani but they didn't quite string the good runs together to force themselves into the semi finals, Dani just missing out in the 1/4 finals. Bullitt driver Carsten Keller produced an excellent series of qualifying runs to place himself in 8th overall, a fantastic result for the German driver. BETA driver Ari Heinonen from Finland was another driver who was a little unlucky, he had the pace to run right up in the top 10 and even took an excellent 5th in one round of qualifying, but some bad luck with traffic and some small errors prevented him from making taking a direct spot jn the semi finals that his pace deserved.
The finals were got underway and NEMO Racing's Jon Hazlewood was out on Saturday evening after a terrible series of qualifiers and with him paying far more attention to the other drivers cars than his own, he set out just to "try and enjoy driving my car round the track" while the pressure of not having the top guys racing for a while was off. He easily pulled through the 1st and 2nd finals he was involved in and would be out on sunday morning to continue his drive through the finals. Sadly his charge came to a halt when leading his 3rd final with a dead battery, a real shame as his pace and consistency was easily enough to see him progress to the 1/4 finals had all gone well. Oliver Currie taking part in his 1st Euro A Championships bumped up 1 final and was unlucky not to progress again, but he will have learned a lot from the experience.
Unfortunately Jerome Sartel was not able to get himself into a bump up position in his final, and Dani Vega although fast enough and in contention throughout was unable to take a top 4 place at the flag to progress to the semi finals. Heinonen was used a punching bag at the start of his 1/4 final and this put paid to his chances of progressing to the semi finals also. This left Darren to uphold the Agama honour and he was comfortable in his semi final, taking 2nd place early on and keeping it safe and secure all the way to the flag. The pace of this side of the semis was enough to ensure that Darren would line up 2nd on the grid for the main final. Bullitt driver Carsten Keller drove an excellent semi final, running in the top 3 for much of it before a few nerves saw him drop to 5th at the flag, but he safely made his 1st ever European Main Final.
The main final got underway and the early stages saw the lead change between pole man David Ronnefalk, Darren and Renaud Savoya, with Martin Wollanka always in close proximity and keeping himself in the game. About a quarter of the way through the final Darren made a few errors whilst leading and this saw Ronnefalk hit the front and gain a lead he would never lose. Darren battled throughout the remainder of the race with Savoya and Wollanka, the 3 drivers swapping places regularly and with the ebb and flow of fuel stops. A poor ten minute segment left Darren back in 4th and coming under attack from a recovering Robert Batlle. In situations like this Darren usually gets the best out of himself, and this was no different and he knuckled down over the last 5 minutes of the race to secure a hard earned place on the podium. After an excellent performance, Carsten Keller would come home in a fantastic 5th place overall, a sensational result for the young man from Germany.
We must thank all the NEMO and Agama drivers for the efforts during the week, and also JORacing for their fantastic support of the BETA and Bullitt brands during the event….
In a congested period in the calendar, we now dive straight into another BRCA National, followed by the BETA GP over the next couple of weeks.