Team Durango’s Joern Neumann will be the top seed for the first round of 4WD qualifying after he set the pace in both Buggy and Short Course over the three rounds of controlled practice that brought Day 1 of the Euro Offroad Series in Germany to a close. Having TQ’d the first round of 2WD Buggy qualifying earlier in the day, Neumann topped the 4WD Buggy time sheets with a time of 1:01.659 for his three fastest laps ahead of Yokomo’s Naoto Matsukura with team-mate Hupo Honigl posting the third quickest time.
Undefeated in 4WD Buggy since the inception of the EOS, Neumann said his DEX410 was ‘good as always’ with having to make no set-up changes over the three runs. Instead, having had his dominant run of victories in Short Course ended by TLR’s Dustin Evans in Poland, his priority was his truck set-up. Having done a lot of set-up work on the truck since their defeat at Round 1, Neumann tried two different lenghts of shocks with the new shorter version giving him the better feeling around the technical track layout.
Trying a different set-up in each of his three practice runs, Matsukura said he still has a little to find in his set-up as he looks to make the buggy a little easier to drive. Preferring 4WD over 2WD, in which he made an impressive debut by setting the third fastest time in Q1 on his carpet surface debut, the 6-time Japanese 4WD National Champion was despite only 15 minutes of track time just 6/10th off the pace of Neumann, who is widely recognised as the best driver in the world on the uniquely European style off road tracks.
Setting the fourth fastest time, 4/10ths off the pace of Team Durango’s Hupo Honigl, TLR’s Darren Bloomfield was very happy with his pace. Admitting that they are never going to be in contention for the win in the class he said his buggy actually felt good to drive adding that a podium finish is a realistic target. Team-mate Dustin Evans set the 10th fastest time in 4WD Buggy but was more concerned at the improved pace of the Durango drivers in Short Course. Having caught Durango by surprise at the season opener, the American said he is struggling in the tighter sections of the track and right now Durango have regained their advantage.
Making Team Xray’s official EOS debut with the company’s first entry into the EP offroad market, factory driver Martin Bayer was very happy to set the fourth fastest time with the new XB4. Only running one class, the Czech driver is at a major disadvantage to his rivals in terms of track time but declared himself ‘pretty happy’ considering he only ran three batteries today. Classifying himself as still somewhat of a novice in electric offroad, the 1:8 Offroad ace said having no team-mate is making the challenge greater but the target for the weekend is to try qualify for the A-main with anything after that being a bonus. Xray have confirmed that from the next round of the EOS Bayer will be joined by French offroad star Renaud Savoya adding further to the increasing high level of competition of the burgoening series.
Despite having problems keeping the wheels on his Tamiya, Lee Martin set the sixth fastest time. Struggling with tightening the wheel nuts which kept coming undone the addition of a washer appears to have cured the Brtitish Champions problem. Describing his buggy set-up as ‘ok’ Martin said when he is in a good rythm it feels good but he is having trouble with the consistency of putting together clean laps lap after lap.
Behind Martin fellow countryman Tom Cockerill set the seventh fastest time at the controls of the new Schumacher Cat K1. The factory driver made a few changes over the course of practice including running a softer front which was better but with everyone else also improving he said he will change the buggy further for the opening quailfier.
Day 2 of the TLR/Spektrum kicks off with the second of 4 scheduled 2WD qualifiers with 4WD qualifier set to bring proceedings to an end tomorrow evening.