Joona Haatanen has won the opening 2WD A-Main at the Euro Offroad Series in Germany. Top Qualifier for Round 4 of the championship at Arena33, the Team Associated young gun took the win the hard way after an error lost him the comfortable lead he had built up over the opening 3-minutes. Allowing Lee Martin to slip through to the front as Haatanen rejoined the track, the Finn would push hard forcing a mistake from the Yokomo driver 2-laps later. Once back in front, the 14-year-old wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip again holding on for the remaining four laps to finish 4/10ths of a second in front of Martin. Behind them it was Joakim Nicolaisen who came out best of the battle for third place, benefiting from a late error from Bruno Coelho and a last lap mistake from his Associated team-mate Neil Cragg who would finish 4th.
‘After I hit the curb and Lee passed me I was so nervous he would run away but luckily he made a mistake’, was Haatanen’s reaction to the race. Starting out as a rather uneventful race as he made light work of his rivals, helped by an early error from 2nd place qualifier Coelho, he continued, ‘At the start I was not nervous, my car was super safe and fast enough so I was just driving my own race and pulling away until I hit the curb’. While setting the fastest lap with his Reedy powered B6, running behind Martin for two laps after his own mistake he said, ‘It would have been difficult to pass Lee without him making a mistake’. Having successfully converted his first ever EOS TQ start into a win, this cool operator goes into A2 confident he can wrap up his first ever EOS win.
Summing up his race Martin said, ‘the car was just a little too nervous again’ . He continued, ‘seems to be at other EOS races we worked on corner speed and at this one we need to take that away’. Still looking for a win as the reigning 2WD champion he said, ‘after Joona’s crash I was thinking here is my chance but then I threw it away’. He added, ‘from the corner of my eye it looked like he was more pumped than me but we’ll change a few things for A2 and see what we can do’.
Continuing to enjoy a very strong return to the EOS, Nicolaisen said, ‘after Bruno’s mistake at the start I was just trying to keep up with Lee but then messed up myself and almost threw it away’. With a minute and a half to go a mistake would allow Coelho to pass him before the Xray driver’s car went flying off the track putting the Portuguese driver out of the race. Keeping his third, then on the penultimate lap another error would let Cragg through until the reigning European Champion got himself into trouble letting Nicolaisen to slip back into third. Summing up his performance the 20-year said, ‘I think the best thing is to sit behind and hope for a mistake. It would probably help if I drove a little calmer’.