Race 1: TT Junior Track Assen, 9 april
4 seasons in 1 day at season opener in Assen
On Saturday April 9th the NK Junior Moto Racing season was opened at the TT Junior Track in Assen, where also this year the Puchshop Racing Cup will participate. April does what it wants was proven once again, and therefore it was not only a battle of the riders against each other, but also against the weather elements. That there is always a healthy battle was once again proven by the fact that both winners did so with thanks to their colleagues: Henk Minnen won the Expi class on a machine made available by Chris Snijder while winner of the Standard class Pascal Mussche got an exhaust from Paul Hendriks on loan.
The Puchshop Racing Cup had 21 competitors and was the class with the largest field. The class is alive and kicking and can welcome a number of new participants this season, including Jesse van Zante, Jannick Vos, Hugo Satter and Gertjan Meijer. There were also Swiss guest drivers, including the fast Kenny Buchser who managed to conquer pole position. He was the only one to clock a lap time of less than a minute, almost two seconds faster than Bart Dijkhof who managed to stay ahead of his brother Mark. Henk Minnen recorded the fourth fastest time, but he had already shown that he was the fastest on the wet track. Minnen had trained on his brother Jordi's machine two weeks earlier during the Puchshop Racing Cup prologue and went so fast that he was interested in a wild card. For the race at Assen Chris Snijder made his racer available, the plan is that he will ride his own Puch from Veldhoven on. Henk's brother Jordi competes in the Standard class and set the second fastest time, Pascal Mussche was too fast for him. Pascal Mussche was too fast for him. It didn't go without a struggle because Mussche had to borrow an exhaust and didn't have faith in his newly built engine. As a precaution, he decided to use the engine he won the championship with last season for the second qualification.
After qualifying, the sun broke through and the track dried quickly. Unfortunately the weather gods were not kind to the Puchshop Racing Cup, because just before the riders were about to line up for the start, hail came down. The start was postponed, and not much later the sun broke through again, but the track was soaking wet. Henk Minnen took advantage of it, and was soon unable to be kept up by anyone. Bad luck for Bart Dijkhof, who had to watch from the sidelines as Minnen took victory over Buchser due to a faulty starter. Mussche put in a great performance as a Standard driver holding on to third place in the field ahead of Expi drivers Robert van Steenis, Jesse van Zante, Mark Dijkhof and Michel Scheurer. In eighth place we find the second man in the Standard class, Paul Hendriks.
For the second race, the track had dried up and this time the winter precipitation would be absent. It seemed that the winner of the first race, Henk Minnen, would have to watch on a dry track as Bart Dijkhof and Kenny Buchser battled for victory, but soon Buchser was felled by mechanical problems. Smoke came from his machine and before any intervention from the sidelines, he crashed over his own oil. There was no danger for the other riders and Dijkhof could ride unhindered to victory. Minnen managed to keep Swiss Silvan Hofmann behind him and secure second place. With that he assured himself of victory in the day's standings. In the race, Mark Dijkhof finished third ahead of Pascal Mussche, who was again the fastest Standard driver and claimed victory in his class for the day. Jordi Minnen, who crashed out in the first race, was now second ahead of Paul Hendriks.
Both Henk Minnen and Pascal Mussche can be called unexpected winners. Perhaps Mussche was not entirely unexpected because he is the reigning champion, but due to a lack of sponsors and busy exams it looked like he would not be able to participate in the full season. That seems to be the case now and after a great start to the season, he is going to defend his title. Henk Minnen had thought until a fortnight ago that he would only be active off the track, but that soon changed. He will do everything he can to have a competitive machine ready for the second race, with which he can compete with the fastest in the dry as well. The second race will be held on Saturday, May 7 at kart circuit De Landsard in Veldhoven.
Results Assen 9 April
- Henk Minnen
- Robert van Steenis
- Bart Dijkhof
- Pascal Mussche
- Paul Hendriks
- Jordi Minnen
Photos and text by Mariska Grob from Motografie.nl