Race 1 of Northern Talent Cup Round 4 didn't disappoint, with the battle going down to the final chicane and almost nothing deciding it at the line. But it was Belgian rider Lorenz Luciano (Junior Black Knights Team) who came out on top, just 0.044 ahead of Stepan Zuda (Motoracing23 Klub V ACR) over the line as the Czech rider took his first podium of the season in second. His compatriot and points leader Jakub Gurecky (JRT Brno Circuit) took third, incredibly from P20 on the grid.
It was home hero Loris Veneman (Kahuna Security Racing) who took off like a shot from the front row, with some of the track wet and some dry but the Dutchman flying early. Behind him a group formed quickly though, with six riders initially battling for supremacy in the lead and Gurecky already one of them early on, the Czech rider shooting through from P20 on the grid to get in the mix.
Some were stronger in the wet, some in the dry, some around some sectors and some others, but the outcome was another classic freight train fight at the front. Zuda and Damian Boessenkool (Team KNMV) were making up ground hand over fist before they also joined the battle, making it eight riders vying for three places on the podium... and one win.
It all came down to the final chicane and a shootout to the line in the end, with Luciano playing it to perfection to gas it towards the flag and stay ahead. Zuda took second and his first podium of the season, with the fight for third then just as close as four riders fanned out across the track after a final chicane shuffle - but Gurecky was just ahead to make it a clean sweep of podiums so far this season.
Veneman was forced to settle for fourth but it's nevertheless an impressive race and qualifying for the Dutchman as he leads a trio of home heroes: Beekmans took fifth, with Boessenkool sixth. Only just over a tenth separated the number 65 from Gurecky on the podium, it was that close.
Lennoxx Phommara (Phommara Team) was back at the front again and the Swiss rookie took his turn leading before coming home in seventh a little off the group ahead, with Niklas Kitzbichler (Racing-Team-Kitzbicher) also a force to be reckoned with before ending up eighth after a couple of dramatic excursions late on that the Austrian was able to just about get back under control.
Ninth place went to polesitter Rossi Moor (FAIRIUM Next Generation Riders Team) as the Hungarian had a harder race day nearly a week after his first win. He was shuffled right back early on before recovering good ground, beating Jonas Kocourek (JRT Brno Circuit) to P9 by only a couple of tenths.
That's it from Saturday as Luciano reels in a few points, but Gurecky remains impressive. He's got it all to do from P20 on the grid once again in Race 2, however, with that tough qualifying in which the rain put paid to a fast lap coming back to haunt twice. Tune in for another battle at Assen for the NTC on Sunday at 16:30!