20 drivers signed up for the season’s first races at the Slovakiaring, 18 started on Friday for the free practice. This was a respectable field, given the difficult circumstances. It was already evident in first-race qualifying that the quality of drivers this season is extremely high. The time differences were very close, the lap times, compared to last year, very fast, all of which promised great excitement for race one, set for Friday afternoon.
Former X-BOW BATTLE Champ Holger Baumgartner (CCS Racing) secured the pole position; Adam Galas (Poland) drove the fastest GT4 into second place on the starting grid, and the fastest rookie was newcomer Tamino Bergmeier. The race got underway on time at 17:10 hours, and in contrast to last year’s action-packed start on the Slovakiaring, everything went smoothly through the first corner – no collisions and no spins. But pole-sitter and pre-race favorite Holger Baumgartner was in the pits already after the first lap when the Lambda sensor of his Elite-class X-BOW quit working, depriving him of a potential good result. Meanwhile, a very tough four-driver battle developed for the lead in which the two Austrians Georg Silbermayr and BOB BAU fought it out for a win in the Elite class. Close behind them, Adam Galas and the Swiss newcomer Martin Koch from Motorsport Zentrum Ried were chasing the GT4 class victory. In the end, first across the line was reigning BATTLE Champion BOB BAU, Silbermayr was second, and Galas, in the Automotive Performance KTM X-BOW GT4, took third. Christian Schäfer was behind Martin Koch to finish third in the Elite class and was overall fifth. Meanwhile, close behind them, the young drivers of the X-BOW CUP EUROPE were delivering exciting racing action. Newcomers Dutch driver Rick Bouthoorn and the German Tamino Bergmeier put the pressure on more experienced competitors like Austrians Jan Rihs and Daniel Drexel, and German driver Leon Wassertheurer. Polesitter Tamino Bergmeier set the pace for much of the race, but Rick Bouthoorn, with Jan Rihs in tow, took the lead in the final third of the race. ‘Man of the Race’, however, was Leon Wassertheurer, who had technical problems in Qualifying and had to start from the back of the field. At the end of the race, he almost managed to overtake Tamino Bergmeier in the fight for third place. Following a shifting error, he crossed the line in ‘only’ fourth place, behind winner Bouthoorn, Rhis, and Bergmeier. ‘Best of the rest’ was Mathias Pelzmann, who finished just in front of Daniel Drexel. Drexel also earned some extra praise. He managed to get through the race despite pain in his left leg after a nasty high-speed crash in practice. Thomas Schlack, Stefan Grafetstetter, Christoph Schwarzlmüller, and Thomas Wallasch completed the top ten of the X-BOW CUP EUROPE.
The front of the starting field for the second race on Saturday was very similar to Friday. Overall on pole was again Elite class driver Holger Baumgartner with Adam Galas in the fastest KTM X-BOW GT4, behind him. There was a new polesitter in the X-BOW CUP EUROPE class after Leon Wassertheurer put in the fastest lap to make up for his bad luck in the first Qualifying. Although there were threatening storm clouds hovering over the start, the race stayed dry throughout, apart from a few drops of rain. Once again, there was a clean start with no bumps or incidents, but the excitement kicked in at the end of the first lap. X-BOW CUP EUROPE driver Rick Bouthoorn was in the class lead, but slid into the gravel. He stayed in the race but dropped right back in the field. At the same time, Holger Baumgartner was once more in the pits, and his Elite class X-BOW was again going nowhere. With that, Baumgartner’s second race was over. Fortunately, there were no more incidents, but there was plenty of spectacular racing action. Out in front, event organizer Georg Silbermayr tried to break away from the rest of the field, but BOB BAU closed in and overtook him to secure a double race victory for the Trencar-Racing team. Behind Georg Silbermayr, Adam Galas was again the winner in the GT4 class, Christian Schäfer (third in Elite), and Martin Koch (second in the GT4) completed the top six. Once again, the X-BOW CUP EUROPE youngsters delivered the toughest fights. After Rick Bouthoorn dropped down the order, Leon Wassertheurer held onto the lead for a long time, while behind him, Jan Rihs, Tamino Bergmaier and Daniel Drexel fought it out for every centimeter. The Austrian Rihs made a surprise attack on Leon Wassertheurer, and despite many counterattacks by the young German, he managed to stay in front until the finish line. Tamino Bergmeier saw the intense two-driver battle ahead if him, but at the same time, he had to defend himself from Daniel Drexel, who he finally managed to fend off. Behind them, Matthias Pelzmann was a good fifth, while Rick Bouthoorn worked his way up to sixth to earn himself some points. Places seven to ten went to Christoph Schwarzlmüller, Stefan Grafetstetter, Thomas Wallasch, and Thomas Brebeck.
The second round of the X-BOW BATTLE will be on September 11-13, 2020, at Austria’s Red Bull Ring.