February 4, 2017

No surprise as Coelho leads Xray 1,2,3,4 in opening quali

There was no surprise in the opening round of 4WD qualifying at the Euro Offroad Series as Bruno Coelho led an Xray 1,2,3,4 at the Hudy Racing Arena.  Having topped seeding, the reigning Champion’s biggest challenge would come from Martin Bayer as the former event winner swapped the TQ pace with him throughout the 5-minute but in the end Coelho had the advantage by 1.3-seconds.  With Martin Wollanka and Kája Novotný setting the third and fourth fastest times, the best non Xray driver would be Lee Martin, the Yokomo driver fifth fastest but almost 7-seconds off the TQ pace.  Taking the 2WD win earlier in the day, Schumacher’s Michal Orlowski would complete the Top 6 running an almost identical time to Martin.

Reporting a lack of steering in the final practice after he made a shock change to his XB4 and saying he obviously had done something wrong, Coelho would find that he had but the C-hubs back on the car on the wrong sides.  With them corrected for Q1, he said, ‘the car was much better but it felt strange at the beginning as it was too aggressive compared to practice but I got back my feeling as the run went on and everything was good again’.  His returning confidence in the car highlighted by the fact he set the fastest lap of the qualifier on his penultimate lap and based on that he plans to ‘leave the car the same’ for Q2.

Setting the 8th fastest time in seeding practice, Bayer said he found afterwards that his drivetrain was too tight and with new bearings fitted for qualifying the car was ‘perfect’.  A two time 4WD EOS winner at the Hudy Arena said, ‘Leading Bruno was hard for me and I drove way too safe in the last laps but I’m still super happy with second’. Looking to Q2, which will bring Day 2 of the action in Trencin to a close, he said ‘the car is perfect so I just need to drive and enjoy it’.

Adjusting his speedo setting for more power for the opening qualifier Wollanka described his opening qualifier as ‘really good’.  The Austrian who finish runner-up to team-mate Coelho at the event last season, said he is preferring the track layout with 4WD having finished 7th in 2WD. Feeling his XB4 has too much steering he plans to change the front flex for Q2. Posting the 4th fastest time backing up his strong pace in practice, Novotný was pleased with his opening run. Getting ‘super close’ to a Top 3 run, the gap to Wollanka just 1/10th of a second, he said having ‘had a few small bobbles but nothing critical’ the plan for the second round was to ‘change nothing on the car and hopefully have a few less bobbles’.

‘I don’t have the instant power & pace out of the corners, in the curve of the turn its nice and smooth’, was Martin’s response to being so far off the Xrays. The former champion hopes modifying his slipper will help but added, its the Xray chassis layout that is giving them the distinct advantage they have over their rivals in 4WD but added the rest would soon catch-up but not this weekend.

Orlowski declared himself happy with 6th adding he didn’t drive very well leading to a couple of mistakes.  Admitting to feeling tired, the 15-year-old feels that his car has the pace to match the Xrays. With the car aggressive in practice a change for Q1 had made it ‘easy & fast’ and the aim for the day’s final qualifier was to make a clean 5-minute run and with a good nights sleep put in more of an attack in the morning’s remaining two qualifiers. With Hupo Honigl next up behind Orlowski, Neil Cragg would be the only other non Xray driver to make the Top 10 with his first ever qualifier with the Team Associated’s new B64 netting the 8th fastest time but the British driver did show strong early pace and but for a 26-second lap was on target to be best of the rest behind the Xrays.

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