The 31st European Championships get going on Monday 1st August in Sand am Main in the heart of Germany and marks only the 3rd time that Germany have hosted a Euros ‘A’ event. The host club of MSC Sand traces its roots back to 1951 and judging from the warm up they along with the German federation know how to put on a good show.

This year’s Euros track presents a challenge quite different to previous years; 2010 the broken up & bumpy track in Guarda, 2009 the fast & flat track in Wolbling, Austria the year prior Heraklion in Greece offered dust & heat. To find a track that compares with Sand is difficult, perched on a hillside with the drivers stand at the bottom of the hill and the furthest point at eye level for the most part you are almost always driving uphill or downhill, throw in a couple of jumps for good measure and tricky downhill to uphill corners not to mention an astroturf section.
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The track at the warm up Gallery

At the warm up it was clear during practice that the increasing incline of the hill at the top made it tougher for drivers to manage clean runs. Another unique feature of the Sand track is the downhill straight; cars missing braking points and understeering into the pitlane were a common occurrence but perhaps more amusing is the noticeable and in some cases unavoidable ‘creep’ by a few cars during the start procedures. Whilst at the warm up many German drivers expressed the feeling of surprise that the Euros went to Sand, hinting that there were tracks that offered ‘more’ in terms of layout, space, facilities etc. En route to Sand for the warm up we stopped by the Rhein Main circuit in Frankfurt – a great facility close to the airport, but perhaps held back as a Worlds host candidate in 2014? Time will tell.

Having visited many tracks on behalf of NeoBuggy I quite like Sand as a Euros host, the track is different, has many distinct sections that offered a combination of different challenges – its not a simple case of grouping it into the ‘Euro’ style track category, nor is it remotely close to being a ‘US’ style one, it has it’s own particular character which makes it a perfect Euros host. The surface is predominately hard packed dirt with small rocks mixed in, this over the course of the Euros week is likely to break up quite quick judging by the warm up. The astroturf jump section, corner & table top look straightforward but catch people out. This leads onto a right to left and an uphill double – a popular place to land short and crash, a flat cobble stone left hander follows and then it’s a nice fast short downhill straight with an off camber right hand kink in the middle of it, this is where things start to go wrong and slowing down the car whilst still turning right for the hairpin is tricky – crashing here is a minor disaster with the lack of a nearby marshal.

Whist Guarda set a new standard with the permanent paddock tent hanger, we should expect some good old German military precision style organisation at this year’s Euros. Facility wise warm up highlights included the beer van – proving all day was beer o’clock; cleverly located to maximise foot traffic as well as the constant stream of drivers admiring the various cakes & delights the trackside bakery offered!

In part two of this preview we’ll take a look at some of the candidates vying for victory at this event, in the mean time some history: