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King of Europe Round 3 - Anneau du Rhin, France
June 14, 2018
The picturesque high-speed circuit of Anneau du Rhin in France is undoubtedly one of the most popular tracks on the King of Europe calendar for both the drivers and fans. There was no shortage of action for the spectators as they witnessed over 120 pilots from across Europe battle it out under the summer sun!
After a morning of throwing down precise lines and laying down huge smoke clouds, the Pro Series drivers took to the track to show how it’s done in qualification and for the third consecutive time series leader Marco Zakouril secured the top spot with 92.75 points!
Rick Van Goethem proved that he is still here to fight for the top spot as he secured 90.52 points, also clocking one of the highest attacks speeds of the day at 152km/h.
Yves Meyer had managed to resolve the car issues which caused an upset in Round 2 and a solid lap earned him the third place spot.
As the driving standard increases with each Pro2 round, Quentin Regairaz achieved the top spot in qualifying using a borrowed car with 83.67 points. Alexandre Strano narrowly missed out as he took second place with 83.34 points and Simon Wuthrich took third with 77.98.
As the drift girls fought it out in the Queen of Europe series, Denise Ritzmann took first place in qualifying with Karolina Pilarczyk in second and Ionita Lenuta in third.
As the drivers returned to the track for battle day, the fans eagerly awaited the opportunity to watch their heroes fight it out as they bathed in the summer sun.
Fan favourite Axel Francois unveiled his stunning brand new 1UZ turbo Toyota GT86 for the event, much to the delight of the fans. However, after finishing the build just a day before, Axel struggled to adapt to the demanding circuit as he bowed out in the Top 32 to Philip Jager after a one-more-time call from the judges.
As series leader Marco Zakouril faced last years’ Anneau du Rhin winner, Laurent Cousin in the Top 16, it was a battle which could go either way. Eventually, Marco Zakouril narrowly edged past the Frenchman with a 6-4, 5-5 advantage to secure his spot in the Top 8.
In-form Alois Pamper also ended Norbert Kovacik’s return to the Pro Series early as he lined up his Top 8 battle against Zakouril.
Nicolas Maunoir’s return to the series certainly didn’t go as planned as car issues ensured second place qualifier Rick Van Goethem his spot in the Top 8. It was a similar fate for Jeremy Merires as the engine gave way on his R34, allowing Denise Ritzmann to progress.
A crazy Top 8 battle between Zakouril and Pamper was too close to call as the judges called a re-run before Zakouril once again narrowly edged past his opponent.
Despite a 6-4 advantage on Benjamin Boulbes lead run, a great chase run from Manuel Vacca ensured his spot in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, in the other Top 8 battles, Mike Kauffmann was forced to retire as Rick Van Goethem progressed and issues for Roger Stockli as Denise Ritzmann took her chance to represent the Queen’s in the Top 4.
After a challenging lead-up to the semi-finals for Zakouril, he managed to breeze past Vacca to seal his spot in the final after a rare mistake from the Italian driver.
A close battle between Rick Van Goethem and Denise Ritzmann eventually allowed Rick to once again seal his place in the final battle.
In the small final, it would be an initial 0-0 scoreline handed to both Ritzmann and Vacca, however as the pair returned to the start line, Manuel Vacca edged past with a 6-4 advantage to secure his spot on the podium!
As Rick Van Goethem and Marco Zakouril went head-to-head in the main event, it was too close to call in Zakouril’s lead run after an impressive chase from Rick. However, as the pair once again pushed as hard as they could, it would be a mistake from Rick which handed Marco Zakouril his second win of the 2018 season.
In the Pro2 series, a tough one-more-time small final between Sofiane Yazid and Jan Blaser eventually saw Swiss driver Jan Blaser take the third place position on the podium.
Pro2 series leader Sebastian Matuszewski’s incredible form this season fired him to the top of the overall series rankings as he defeated Austria’s Gunther Denk with an 8-2, 5-5 advantage.
Matuszewski now sits 10 points above second place Pavlin Penev in the overall series rankings.
In the Queen of Europe series, Tessa Whittock yet again returned to the podium after taking third place in her win over Ionita Lenuta in the small final.
After an emotional victory...
The Queen of Europe top spot for this round was handed to German drift girl Denise Ritzmann! A close final against Karolina Pilarczyk handed her a 6-4, 5-5 advantage, handing her the top spot in the overall rankings.
There's just over two weeks until the next round of the calendar as the King of Europe series prepares to head to yet another epic French track as the series heads to Tours Speedway for the first time! With solid walls and steep banking on the Nascar-style track, this is undoubtedly going to be one of the most incredible rounds of the year!