Saturday - 69th Z6s Daagse Vlaanderen Ghent
by Steve Penny
The rain is still falling but while the weather is so bad what better way to spend and evening than watching the racing on Saturday night at the Ghent Six.
There are just two sessions left in the Ghent Six career of Bruno Risi (although he doesn't retire until February) and his official Flanders farewell is set for Sunday afternoon. The Swiss veteran is going to be impossible to replace as he really is the patron of the Sixes being the voice of the riders with the organisers as well as being well respected. Who will take on this role? It appears it will be Danny Stam as the oldest guy but he doesn't seem like a natural leader in the way Risi was.
From a 41 year old set to retire to the next generations, and if this race is a guide, it seems like the future of Six Day racing is in good hands. We've seen strong talented guys like Morkov, Rasmussen, De Ketele, Kluge, Howard, O'Shea and Vermeulen all 24 or under. Then don't forget Iljo Keisse and Leif Lampater are both only 27 next month. But the results here hide the fact that Kluge, Howard, Morkov and Rasmussen will probably be lost to the road for at least the next few years. With many of the Six Day races having trouble with money, i.e. lack of sponsors, the future for guys making careers in this way such as Keisse, Lampater and De Ketele is less secure. It could be that in 12 months time another 2 or even 3 Six Day races will be lost - Munich is likely to go, Zurich seems to have no future without Bruno Risi and I also heard a rumour (and its only a rumour) that Bremen may not survive after 2010. The new Sixes that come along may have to be in small halls with small crowds and small pay cheques.
So it may be that Bruno Risi is indeed the last ever real Six Day star.
The unofficial news was that Peter Schep would ride with Kenny De Ketele and that Jeff Vermeulen was out of the race. During the introductions though Robert Bartko was alongside De Ketele but there was no sign of Vermeulen.
Standings at the start of Saturdays racing:
Keisse - Kluge 298 points Rasmussen - Morkov 282 Risi - Marvulli 260 De Ketele - Bartko 178 @ 1 Lap Stam - Lampater 191 @ 3 Laps Vermeulen - Schep 112 @ 12 Laps Aeschbach - Marguet 107 Van Bon - Muller 98 @ 13 Laps O'Shea - Howard 140 @ 26 Laps Jonkman - Hester 83 @ 33 Laps Depoortere - Cocquyt 52 @ 40 Laps De Neef - Schets 78
The opening point's race was won by Steve's, De Neef and Schets, a rare bouquet and a chance to take some applause for the guys popping up the standings.
The team elimination offers the first 20 point prize of the night and Alex Rasmussen wanted those points for his team and attacked Keisse-Kluge with 3 teams left. He managed to get a ride with the Belgo-German pair but left himself short of energy for the final one to one sprint and was bested by Franco Marvulli. Much needed points for the Swiss who had slipped back a little during the 2nd half of Friday's programme.
Like the last race the flying lap time trial (TT) was expected to be another showdown between Rasmussen and Marvulli. However Roger Kluge took last lap duty from Iljo Keisse tonight and posted what was up to that point the best time of the Six so far 8.76 (68.571 kmph) only to see Franco Marvulli go even better in 8.71 (68.886 kmph). The Danish dynamite Morkov-Rasmussen posted a fantastic time too but 8.72 (68.807 kmph) was only good enough for 2nd place on this occasion.
The first Madison saw little in the way of real fireworks as all the top teams watched each. But Stam-Lampater and Risi-Marvulli had enough to nip away close to the end and steal a lap and Risi out sprinted Lampater for the win. That win was significant for Ris-Marvulli who have really made a charge taking 50 points over the last 3 races to now stand alone at the top of the standings 1 lap clear. Bad news for local fans was that Robert Bartko had again been neutralised so De Ketele was paired with Peter Schep. The new team inherited some of the lap losses from Scheps partnership with Vermeulen and so went out of contention at 3 laps down.
The last half of the programme started with the Derny races and Steven De Neef took his 2nd win of the week behind Michel Vaarten. As always the second round was for the teams placed between 1st and 6th and unsurprisingly Iljo Keisse gave the crowd what they wanted with a last gasp win on the line from Risi.
Tonight's individual elimination race saw Marc Hester repeat his Thursday performance this time pipping Steve Schets.
The 500 metre TT again saw some great times and a close competition. Tonight it was won by Keisse-Kluge with 27.80 (64.748 kmph) from Risi-Marvulli 27.84 (64.655 kmph) and Rasmussen-Morkov 27.99 (64.309 kmph).
The last Madison before the 'finale' tomorrow saw Danny Stam and Leif Lampater again take a lap from the field which hoists them into 2nd place overall, albeit with a much inferior points total. Recognising his teams lap deficit on Risi-Marvulli, the local matador Keisse tried in vain to gain a lap but he was chased down for a number of laps by the Swiss from the front of the bunch, and was caught.
As ever we should expect a grandstand finish tomorrow. Keisse-Kluge will be trying to clock up enough points to get a bonus lap before the 'finale' and go back into the driving seat.
Risi-Marvulli have the experience and it seems the legs, should they arrive at the last laps of the 'finale' still a lap ahead.
Stam-Lampater came on strong tonight but still need a mighty effort tomorrow to gain the other lap they'll need to win the Six.
The Danes Morkov-Rasmussen have started to look tired and they may also need to gain a lap in the finale. To get to a bonus lap before then may take too much effort but they are game and will surely try to do whatever they can.
As reported sadly Kenny De Ketele is out of the running due to the injuries sustained by Bartko in Munich. He'll have taken heart from his strong showing and will surely return to win here one day but it won't be tomorrow.
Leaders at 01.15 local time:
Risi - Marvulli 333 points Stam - Lampater 237 @ 1 Lap Keisse - Kluge 359 Rasmussen - Morkov 346 @ 3 Laps De Ketele - Schep 179