The championship battle is again wide open Leader Elgaard suffered transmission trouble, while rivals gained many points For the second year in a row the Danish Touringcar Championship's annual visit to the challenging Ring Djursland turned...
The championship battle is again wide open
Leader Elgaard suffered transmission trouble, while rivals gained many points
For the second year in a row the Danish Touringcar Championship's annual visit to the challenging Ring Djursland turned the series on its head. Last year eventual champion Casper Elgaard re-fired his title ambitions with a win, while original series leader Henrik Lundgaard suffered his first non-score of the year and eventually lost the title he had looked set for.
This year it was the completely opposite situation for Casper Elgaard. The Team Essex Invest driver entered the weekend with a healthy 23 points lead, but a broken gearbox in the first of Sunday's two races meant two nil-scores. Instead his rivals were highly effective in bagging points, and now the quartet of Casper Elgaard, Jens Edman, Jan Magnussen and John Nielsen are covered by a mere 11 points! But despite having his championship lead virtually wiped out, Casper Elgaard was positive about the event, despite ending up as a spectator.
"If I had to choose a race as a spectator, I think that I chose the right race, because it was a really good race," he said. "When things like these happen, you cannot do anything about it. But now I have given my rivals the opportunity to catch up by scoring a zero two times, but still they did not manage to move by. And they won't get another chance!"
It was the Toyota Corolla duo of Jan Magnussen and Henrik Lundgaard who had dominated the Super Pole shoot out, and they also took the two leading positions at the start of the first race. However, Henrik Lundgaard was dodged a penalty lane for having made contact with John Nielsen, which dropped him to eventual third place.
Behind the leading trio Martin Jensen had a lonely race to fourth place, while the battle for fifth ended with a true photo finish. Michel Nykjær held the upper hand down the straights with his powerfull Seat Toledo, while Jens Edman was better under braking with his Peugeot, and when Michel Nykjær left the door slightly open for the very last hairpin, Jens Edman dived into the open space. The pair rounded the corner side by side and then headed for the finishing line in an acceleration which saw Michel Nykjær hold the upper hand by just 0.03 second.
Thus Michel Nykjær secured pole position for the final just as he had done at the previous race at Sturup Raceway, and the final looked very much like a repeat of that race. The yellow Seat led from John Nielsen, who had made a brilliant start from fourth to pass Martin Jensen and Henrik Lundgaard before the first hairpin, while Jan Magnussen made a disastrous getaway as he suffered engine troubles and lost many positions in the process.
"I got a minor gap to John Nielsen, and thing went well, and as the number of laps started diminishing, I thought I could keep the lead," Michel Nykjær explained afterwards. However, on the penultimate lap he was passed by both John Nielsen and Martin Jensen.
"In the Paddock Corner I chose to close the door, and that gave me a wide exit, which John exploited to get marginally on the inside, and when we turned for the following corner, he moved by. At the end of the straight, I then tried to go round him by the outside, as he was holding the inside line, and unfortunately by doing that I opened up a gap for Martin Jensen to get by, which really was my mistake."
The results of the Ring Djursland round now means that Casper Elgaard's championship lead has been reduced by Jens Edman to a mere two points, while Jan Magnussen and John Nielsen are also within striking distance. The Danish Touringcar Championship will resume again in three week's time with the traditional double-header at the Grand Prix Denmark at Jyllandsringen.