Also I had mentioned that my Championship chances were over. Well not quite just yet..
Not only I enjoyed good luck, my main rivals had all the crap luck I've had in so many occasions.
So let' s take things one at a time.
Saturday's tests went quite well. I had not changed anything from the set up I used at the last race in Crete. I had only rebuilt my car with the usual care and patience I devote when assembling my car, which I find it very enjoyable, specially since it is an Awesomatix, which has the most interesting design.
What I usually look for when I do a pre-race test on Saturday is to have a good balance between the front and rear axle. I don't like sudden movements while breaking or while changing direction. I do like the car to have a 'hover' feel, meaning that the rear axle is quite loose. This allows me to carry a lot of corner speed.
So the car felt quite well and I did just 3 packs on the same set of tyres and left from the track. When I left the track I was 2nd fastest. By the end of the day though, I had dropped to 7th fastest with Nick Georgiadis having blasted the lap record to a 13.3.
That did not worry me much though as all other racers had done their fastest runs on new tyres.
Qualifying. 5 rounds. Best 2 rounds count with combined time, not points.
First run was a solid one, not great but not bad. It was on new tyres and my car always feels bit twitchy on new rubber.
Then the 2nd and 3rd runs followed. This was my absolute best I can drive. Knowing I had a good run in the bag from Q1, I was free to push. I immediately got into full punch mode and was fully concentrated. The result was remarkable.
Qualy run Nr. 2: 22 laps in 5'09"539
Qualy run Nr. 3: 22 laps in 5'09"533
All runs were done in the same set of tyres. The car just felt awesome. It was super accurate, very good steering feel, very smooth break feel and sharp acceleration.
I knew right away that I had secured overall TQ, even though two more rounds were remaining for anyone to improve.
If anyone had managed to improve on this time, then fair enough for him to take TQ honors, but it did not happen. TQ was mine!
My main title rival, Nick Georgiadis (Xray/Orca), also had very good runs and was 1.7 seconds behind me in the overall standings. Then Jim Mitropoulos (TOP/MuchMore) followed very close behind in 3rd place who in turn was also followed by Filippas Isaakidis (TOP/Advanced Electronics).
Local favorite, Michalis Kyrazis (Yokomo/LRP) who I was expecting to be in contention for Pole, had some unfortunate runs with a bit of lack of concentration and ended up 5th. I had a look on his practice runs on Saturday and I knew that his car was very well set up. It just did not work out for him in qualifying.
Round 1 winner in Crete, George Andreadakis (Xray/Orca) had a really tough luck with a broken servo (I've heard that before..) and ended up 11th, first in the B-main.
Video of Qualy Run Nr. 5. I am recording so not running. Yellow car is Nick, white/dark is Jim, green is Michalis
Now on to finals.
Amain Nr. 1.
Good start, but not perfect. New tyres and car feels again twitchy. I go wide and through the inside storms by Michalis Kyriazis who had a hell of a start from 5th on the grid to 1st place in just a couple of laps.
I managed to stay close behind and did many attempts to pass him but he was flawless and could not find a gap and make it stick. In the end we made small contact and I had my body stuck in the rear wheel. I lost 2nd place and only just managed to secure 3rd place thanks to the 'optimistic' release of my car by the turn-marshal.
Complete brain fail and a total mess. I ended up 8th with a broken car after being T-boned by Michalis who was at no fault since I just spun right in front of him when he was coming down the back straight at full speed. He was out too.
To my surprise when I went back to my pit bench I saw Nick Georgiadis as well who was also taken out form lap 1.
A solid drive from Filippas Isaakidis would earn him the 1st place, followed by Takis Papadopoulos (Yokomo/Orion) and Nick Nikolakopoulos (TOP/Much More) in 3rd.
Amain Nr.3 - the decider..
Good start but then some sliding and bad driving allowed Nick Georgiadis to pass me. A tried to regain ground and stay close until I heard on the front straight Nick's tyres making funny noises.
The next lap his tyre exploded!
That was a 2nd DNF for Nick and allowed me to cruise to victory.
I was followed by the one and only Takis Papadopoulos who held at bay Filippas Isaakidis and that granted me the overall victory. Thanks Takis!
Bmain Podium with the very unlucky George, winner of Round 1 in Crete
3rd place award to Takis Papadopoulos. My hero since his 2nd place in Amain Nr.3 secured me the win!
2nd place Filippas Isaakidis. Great drive from him in only his 6th Nats race ever.
(εδώ απλά λέω στον Φίλιππα ότι έτσι και πέρναγε θα έτρωγε σφαλιάρα!)
Final podium: 1st Awesomatix/Orion, 2nd Top/AE, 3rd Yokomo/Orion
So not my greatest performance in the main finals, but a win is a win and following the miserable time I've had recently, it very much welcomed.
With all the bad luck that hit Nick, George, Michalis and Jim and the great result of Filippas it means that now there is a three way tie at the championship with myself, Nick and Filippas all with 178 points.
Next and final round is in Athens in September and this should set the stage for an epic finale!
Photos thanks to RCdevil.gr
Video thanks to Dimitrios Koutras.