All scenarios were taken into account for the final round of the European Classic Series, which took place on October 29th at the Aragon track in Spain, both for the stage win as for the overall ranking and the coveted title.
Thirty crews came over to Motorland Aragon for this third and final stage of the championship for classic endurance machines. Among them, the contenders for the final victory were still numerous.
The tone is set from the qualifying session since the first eight crews are separated by less than two seconds. There is even a small surprise with the "pole" signed by the team Edge RST Racing from Nick Edgeley and Jonny Towers who set the fastest combined time before the No. 1 (Sweatshop Phase One II) Stéphane Mertens / Ian Simpson and the No. 56 (Team Force) Richard Hubin / Gregory Fastré on their Suzuki Harris. Following these three are the other Sweatshop Phase One (Peter Linden / Hugh Brasher), the Italians from Team Taurus (Giorgio Cantalupo / Alex Martinez Mas / Sandro Caprara), Team Alf's Endurance (Michael Godfrey / Michael Edwards / John Barton), the second Team Force (Mathieu Lagrive / Bruno Le Bihan / Eric Brown) and the English team Neate Racing (Steven, Sam and John Neate) on the first Honda. "There are a lot of teams and fast drivers, but we have a good average and we are delighted to start," they confide the day prior to the race. At this time, they are leading the provisional championship, but they only have a few points ahead of their pursuers ...
The start of the race start is given on Saturday at around 17:30. A smooth departure, with Team Taurus taking the lead. The first crash is reported in the opening round. It is the Kawasaki of Meltings Potes, at that time ridden by Bruno Langlois. They succeed in proceeding but have to abandon a little later. The first mechanical problem is for the No. 80 team Vulcanet (Mark Detournay / Arnaud Lair): broken rear wheel bearing, and a long pit stop preventing them from being included in the final classification. Too bad, because the Belgians had signed their best practice time in their category (Classic 1000) and could hope for a place on the final podium.
In the front line, the Taurus team has to leave the leadership to Team Force II (Mathieu Lagrive / Bruno Le Bihan / Eric Brown), but they cling to the second place for a good hour. Team Force 'One' Hubin / Fastré moves in quickly and takes charge of operations in the 40th lap. They continue on their own till they pass the chequered flag. An important victory for the Verviers crew, although it does not allow them to win the title. "Tonight I turn an important page in my life," explaines Richard Hubin on arrival. "It was my last speed competition and it ends with a win and a second place in the championship." A nice way to end in beauty for the 1983 endurance world champion.
Both bikes from Sweatshop Phase One team take turns in animating the race, but it's the number 1 from Stéphane Mertens and Ian Simpson that seems to be gaining the upper hand. They are regularly second but are forced to abandon the race due to a crash after 3h30 in the race, leaving the second place to the Neate family, who came back in the leading pack after making a cautious start. As for the other Sweatshop Phase One team (Linden / Brasher), it fails to end on the Aragonese podium, finishing behind the Italian trio of Team Taurus (Cantalupo / Martinez Mas / Caprara), and to collect the fifth place in the championship.
Team Force II Lagrive / Le Bihan / Brown are burdoned with electrical problems after having led the debate. They are also forced to abandon, as are the authors of the pole position (Edge RST Racing).
Regular and quick, the brothers (Steven and Sam) and father Neate (John) finish second in Aragon, but what is more, they take the 2016 European Classic Series title. A great reward for this family that is entirely devoted to motorsports, they eventually win with just one point ahead (51 points) on the duo Fastré / Hubin (50 pts). Third place on the podium is for Taurus team (43 pts), before the Dutchmen from Roadrunner Team (Henk Van Der Mark / Dirk Brand), sixth in Aragón.
In the Classic 1000 category, the race victory goes to the Dutch crew 4Q Racing (Stef Hollands / Kenneth Felter) on their Suzuki Martin. They finish before Team 85 Classic (Kevin Fournier / Hadrian Demierbe) on a Kawasaki and the BMW from the Germans of Classic Boxer Endurance (Tobias Kage / Andreas Kollmann). In fourth place we find Team AML Racing, who take the title in the category, before Classic Boxer Endurance and 4Q Racing. The Belgians from Team Vulcanet finish fourth in the ranking.
In 750 TT, there was only one team at the start, the No. 22 from the Italians of Amici Miei (Giancarlo Maestrini / Giorgio Gabellini / Roberto Catani). But they didn't have an easy race, since they returned nine times in the pits and crashed at merely half an hour from the end of the race. Thankfully they were able to continue and finish the race, like 22 other teams.
In the team rankings of the ECS 2016, the Legend podium is formed by Team Taurus (56 points), Team Force (50 pts) and Roadrunner Team with 36 points, with an equal amount of points but one more win than Sweatshop Phase One. In the Classic category we find the Neate clan in first place (75 points) before the Swiss of Nocki Classic Team (47 pts) and the Italians from Braghi Corsica, marking 33 points on their Ducati .
So many teams that will be present once again in a few months for the opening of the European Classic Series version 2017, of which the organizers will soon unveil the outline. For now, they relish the outcome of this summer. "We are happy," says Carolane Jupsin at the finish. "We had a great atmosphere and beautiful fair play on the track, just like every year. Emotion wise, we also had our share here at Aragon with the last race in the career of Richard Hubin. "
Information and complete rankings: www.europeanclassicseries.eu