Jan Magnussen wins twice at Jyllands-Ringen; the championship is now down to a duel between Jason Watt and John Nielsen. The number of title candidates for this year's Danish Touringcar Championship was narrowed down to just two drivers...
Jan Magnussen wins twice at Jyllands-Ringen; the championship is now down to a duel between Jason Watt and John Nielsen.
The number of title candidates for this year's Danish Touringcar Championship was narrowed down to just two drivers following this weekend's double-header at Jyllands-Ringen. Before the weekend three drivers had realistic chances of lifting the coveted title, but having broken a drive shaft twice BMW driver Casper Elgaard now only has a mathematical chance. Rival Jason Watt also had his share of trouble. Twice his Peugeot 307 GTI ran into problems with fuel starvation, but a win in Saturday's first race means that he still holds the championship lead from John Nielsen, who was having a weekend running just outside the top three positions with lots of lead in his BMW 320i.
Honda driver Henrik Larsen took the lead in race one from Jason Watt, but within a couple of laps it was evident that Watt was faster. Following a few attempts Watt finally succeded in passing the diminutive driver who then did not have any problems in holding on to second place. Third place was more hotly contested. Initially the position was held by 2000 European Rally Champion Henrik Lundgaard, but midway through the race the tyres on his Toyota started to go off. He then tried in vain to keep Michael Carlsen at bay, but on lap 10 the reigning champion found a way by, while youngster Martin Jensen did the trick one lap later.
Watt's teammate Jan Magnussen had started race one from the back row after having his qualification time disallowed for a yellow flag infringement, but a superb lap saw him start race two from pole. With zero ballast in his car the ALMS regular took the lead into the first corner, where he was initially challenged by previous winner Mike Legarth. But then the latter was punted into a spin and all hell broke loose with a total of six cars retiring as a consequence of the accident.
When the safety car again left the circuit, Magnussen soon opened up a sizeable lead to Watt, who midway through the race was under heavy pressure from Lundgaard, who had previously demoted both Henrik Larsen and Martin Jensen. Lundgaard also had in mind that he did want to ruin his tyres again, but with a few laps to go the pair got closer, with Lundgaard finally getting by with two laps to go. But as Watt also had to let teammate Martin Jensen as well as Jesper Sylvest and the Team Essex Invest pair of John Nielsen and Casper Elgaard by, it was apparent the he had a technical problem.
"My engine suddenly did not want to pick up the fuel properly and instead it took in to much air, so it started to misfire," Watt explained.
For Lundgaard the two first races did not have a happy ending either. The after race scrutineering showed his Toyota to be equipped with wheels which did not comply with the regulations, so he was excluded from race one and two.
For race three, however, the ex-rally driver had qualified on pole position, and he made a perfect start to lead from Henrik Larsen with Kurt Thiim and Jacob Kristensen next up. Again Magnussen was an also-ran with gearbox problems, thus his race turned out to be a qualifying session.
On lap two Thiim found a way past Henrik Larsen, who was finding life difficult with his understeering Honda Civic. Behind him was teammate Jacob Kristensen, until the latter was demoted by Jason Watt and Michael Carlsen on successive laps. For three laps Larsen, Watt and Carlsen ran like a 12 wheeler, but then Larsen couldn't hold them at bay any longer and had to let both slip by. At the front Lundgaard was enjoying a huge margin, and even though Thiim managed to close it towards the end of the race, he could finally take his first race win in the Danish Touringcar Championship.
For race four Magnussen was again on pole, and even though he made a good getaway, Thiim equalled him. Halfway round the first lap the latter had his best possibility of taking the lead, and even though the pair ran side by side through several corners, Magnussen managed to defend the lead.
Now it was Thiim's turn to defend himself, as Jason Watt and Henrik Lundgaard lay close behind. But within a couple of laps Thiim had built a small cushion to them, and as Magnussen also had made a mistake or two, the gap between the leading pair was down to just four tenths midway through the race. But then the gap opened up again, and it was apparent that Magnussen would take his second win of the weekend.
Third place looked liked going to Watt, but then on lap 12 his Peugeot started to slow and eventually drive into the pit, the fuel problem having reoccured. This promoted Lundgaard to third, but he was not having an easy time. Towards the end of the race a whole queue had gather behind him, with Michael Carlsen leading the attack from John Nielsen and Casper Elgaard.
The latter had made the drive of the day. For the second time in a weekend a drive shaft had broken on his BMW in heat three, and he thus spent heat four driving from 25th on the grid to sixth at the chequered flag. His championship chances, however, went down the drain due to this problem, and even though Watt also had to retire from race four, the battle is now between Watt and John Nielsen, the latter spending a weekend carrying a lot of lead in his BMW.