Sint Maarten – August 8th 2010 Dutch Open Report

Dutch Open Heats

In stark contrast to last years Dutch Open, on arrival at the track, dark clouds ominously filled the sky with the pits being full of black, sticky wet clay.

BriSCA F1s Geoff Nickolls 215 and Adam Slater 214 in Sint Maarten pits 2010. Photo Carl Hesketh

When the cars struggled to get onto the track from the pit lane for the first heat, they set off single file style as the racing line after the initial track preparation and a shower was quite slim.

Tom van den Heuvel 667 in the Dutch Open 2010 heat 1. Photo Stephen Cording

Kees van Randwijk (68) led them away with Ron Vervek (172) making a purposeful drive through the sludge to take the win with Peter Ruig (55) and Sandor Manjie (535) coping with the conditions to take second and third. The second heat saw the first appearance of Adam Slater (UK214) who managed fifteenth, with his car looking quite small in comparison to some of the Dutch built for dirt F1 stock cars.

BriSCA F1 stock car Adam Slater 214 behind Dutch dirt racer Toon Vronik 2 at St Maarten 2010. Photo Colin Casserley

Feite Visser (23) drove to the front and stayed there with Axel Nijs (32) making a spirited drive from the rear to take second as the track line was starting to reappear. Heat three saw mechanical problems for Geoff Nickolls (UK215) and he failed to finish with what looked like a drive shaft issue. Pablo Brandenburg (51) and Martijn de Veij (97) made their way quickly forwards but were unable to reel in eventual winner Bas Stolk (840).
Heat four was quite action packed with veteran Sandor Mantjie (535) taking the win with white top Maarten Broekman (87) doing well to take third. Heat five saw the return of Adam Slater (214) who set off well but slipped down the order in the closing laps. Peter Koorn (41) slickly made his way to the front taking the lead from Feite Visser (23) near the end.

BriSCA F1 Geoff Nickolls 215 alongside Dutch F1 Sjors de Jon 53 at St Maarten 2010. Photo Colin Casserley

Geoff Nickolls (215) resolved his mechanical gremlins to make it back out for heat six, dropping down the order at the start, to take fifteenth. Pablo Brandenburg (51) again looked well in his heats, moving up the field to take second following Lourenz de Vries (86) home.

St Maarten Dutch Open 2010 Heat winner Lourenz de Vries (86). Photo Colin Casserley

Heat 7 saw Adam Slater (214) get stranded on the outside of the home straight, looking for a moment like he would find the dyke. Maarten Broekman (87) took the flag, followed by Ouwe Bijlsma (3) and Weird Gietema (76) with Axel Nijs (32) being bumped down the order.
Rob Hink (46) briefly took the lead in heat eight before Roy van Zuilen (132) took over and took the flag. Further down the field, Geoff Nickolls (215) in his final chance at qualifying for the Dutch Open, took sixteenth place.

Close racing at Sint Maarten Dutch Open 2010. Photo Colin Casserley

The last heat before the Dutch Open saw Haye Dijkstra (43) storm to the front of the field with lower grader Piet Scholtanus (98) doing well to keep second. Pablo Brandenburg (51) again found himself in the places, meaning that he won pole for the following Dutch Open. The track itself had been worked to perfection, with only the first two heats suffering from the earlier bad weather. Full credit goes to all the track staff in making an excellent racing surface for the record eighty-one F1 stock car competitors, in front of a crowd of almost 5,400.

Ailsa Haigh

Dutch Open Race

The Dutch Open Championship was staged at Sint Maarten Raceway on Sunday 8th August, where veteran racer Fred Hink (35) reclaimed the title that he had previously won in 2001. After a cool and measured approach to the heats, Hink came out for the Final and gave a virtuoso performance with a simply stunning display of pure stock car driving, throwing the car wildly into the corners, diving through the tiniest of gaps, and anybody who got in his way was given the front bumper in no uncertain terms.

Dutch Open pole winner F1 stock car Pablo Brandenburg 51. Photo Colin Casserley

The grid for the Final was based on points scored during the 9 heats, with pole position occupied by Pablo Brandenburg (51) in the former Lee Robinson car. The three abreast line up meant Fred Hink was on the inside of row 3. Surprise non-qualifier was current points champion Durk Griedanus (29), who had suffered all sorts of problems during the heats. Also not qualifying were British drivers Adam Slater (214) and Geoff Nickolls (215), who had travelled all the way from England to take part.

Sint Maarten Dutch Open 2010 three abreast start. Photo Colin Casserley

The race started when the front row was about three quarters of the way down the back straight, and there was an immediate pile up around the first turn. Hink managed to avoid getting caught up by diving over the banking and across the infield and rejoining further down the order.

Sandor Mantje (535) had emerged from the carnage in the lead, but he lasted only until the next bend when he span and was collected by the chasing pack. The waved yellows came out to remove some dead cars from the track, and some drivers from cars that had ended up in the ditch. Mantje then retired with a flat tyre, one of the few drivers to do so – racing with flat tyres appears to be quite acceptable at Sint Maarten.

Yellow grade driver Piet Scholtanus (98) was in the lead for the restart, and he got off to a great start. Behind him were Haye Dijkstra (43) and Brandenberg, but these two only survived another couple of laps before coming to grief. Peter Koorn (41) was now second, but he was about the length of the straight behind Scholtanus and had top driver Ouwe Bijlsma (3) behind him. Hink was rapidly moving up the order, and after only a couple of laps was up with Bijlsma. A well timed nudge put the number 3 car wide, and Hink was up to third.

Ouwe Bijlsma 3 under pressure from Fred Hink 35 in the early stages. Photo Colin Casserley

With Bijlsma still not very far behind, Hink was in no mood for messing about, and the moment he was in striking distance of Koorn, the number 41 car was planted firmly into the ditch. Up front, Scholtanus was amongst backmarkers, which allowed Hink to close the gap. Just before the halfway point of the race, the number 35 car eased ahead and Hink took up a lead that he would not relinquish.

Piet Scholtanus 98 at Sint Maarten Dutch Open 2010. Photo Colin Casserley

Scholtanus was doing well at holding Bijlsma at bay, with the number 3 car unable to find a way past for much for the race. But with about five laps remaining, Bijlsma lost patience and planted the number 98 car firmly into the banking and out of the race.

Up front, Hink was flying, and hitting backmarkers wide on virtually every bend. Going into the final turn, he found himself behind another couple, including the defending champion Axel Nijs (32), but instead of taking the safe option of following them around the bend, he planted them wide and took the chequered in fine style. Despite the race still going on behind him, he went straight into celebratory donuts on the next bend.

Sint Maarten Dutch Open 2010 winner Fred Hink 35. Photo Colin Casserley

This will certainly go down in history as a classic race, and more remarkable is that is appeared doubtful that the meeting would run at all. Heavy rain over the weekend saw the track in a sorry state on Sunday morning, but the rain abated just at start time. Tremendous work by the track crew saw a decent racing surface emerge, and after a couple of races the once boggy track was dry and fast.

Carl Hesketh

Video

First few opening laps of the St Maarten Dutch Open 2010 HERE

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