The nearly man is no more.
A major international title that so elusively eluded Elliott Boots is finally his – winner of the 35th EFRA European Championships held in Sacile, Northern Italy. The story started out in the semis as TQ man Boots started on pole only to suffer a minor flame out in the pits whilst refuelling, he would fall back into a tight fight but recover enough to take 2nd behind Ronnefalk. The 2nd semi was one of the most eventful races we’ve ever witnessed, with 7 drivers in contention of taking 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th – bump positions in the final. It proved messy with Alessandro Stocco losing out, as well as Martin Bayer, having made an
opportunistically robust move up the inside of Marco Baruffolo driving towards the line on the last lap, he hit Baruffolo who went flying and the referees deemed it Bayer’s fault, handing him a penalty and promoting Baruffolo to the main. Subsequently having seen replayed video footage of the incident, Bayer had his nose infront when contact was made and the exclusion penalty seems very very harsh indeed…
The Drama didn’t stop there, as Ref Dallas gave an impromptu lesson to the final marshals, on how to marshal, but rather for Robert Batlle who himself had suffered a flameout but just after the loop managed to recover – as his father Carles set his car down on the grid, he immediately knew something was wrong – a grub screw in the front center driveshaft coming out – DNS for Batlle.
Major title favourite OUT already…
David Ronnefalk would lead them round with Elliott Boots gapping him and Zanchettin, Ongaro all in the mix, the track at this stage had taken a huge battering, and no drivers were risking a small double on the left side – it started out pretty fair and square, Ongaro looking very racy indeed but making small mistakes.
Ronnefalk would hold the lead, briefly challenged by Boots, before Boots dropped back, Zanchettin in the mix, but despite his rather thirsty engine, Boots kept himself in the fight, Ronnefalk out front but only gapping the others via their mistakes, not looking faster – it would play out as Ronnefalk had a pitstop in hand over Ongaro and Boots.
Halfway through Boots made a big error, followed by another one – advantage Ronnefalk, a 3rd Euro title looked a possibility, until 15 secs where a costly mistake reduced the gap back down, after that, Boots was able to keep a faster pace, Pro-Line’s Fugitive tyres coming into their own – the X2 compound his team chose hanging on remarkably better than his competitors. Boots would pass Ronnefalk and start sailing away into the distance to a very deserved first European Championship title – behind him Alex Zanchettin grabbed the last podium spot as Boots passed the loop for a victory lap, Ronnefalk missing out on a 3rd consecutive title and home track boy Davide Ongaro coming home in 4th to the delights of the crowd.