Joona Haatanen has taken the opening round of qualifying at the Euro Offroad Series in Germany, the Team Associated driver putting in an impressive but more importantly a relatively clean run on the challenging Arena33 track. Third quickest in practice, the Finn went to the top of the time sheets after Bruno Coelho hit a curb, sending his Xray crashing into a roll door while holding a comfortable lead, and took the qualifier by over two and a half seconds from Lee Martin. Top seed for qualifying, Martin would make a mistake on the opening lap with the Yokomo driver never looking comfortable after that. Having impressed with a P5 in practice, Joakim Nicolaisen would back that up by completing the Top 3 in the first of the four scheduled qualifiers ahead of Coelho.
‘Super good, the car was dialled’, was the reaction Haatanen gave to his TQ run. The 14-year-old continued, ‘I changed nothing just the tyres’. While the fresh set of Schumacher handout tyres left his Reedy powered B6 ‘a bit edgy at the start’, but they improved over the 5-minute heat. Planning to use the same set of tyres again for Q2 he said while wear is low, based off of his practice tyres two runs was going to be the limit to get the best out of the tyres. While overall pleased with his own driving, making only ‘little errors’, he said ‘there were a couple of drivers that didn’t give me room but it was nothing major’.
‘I crashed on the easiest jump’ said a frustrated Martin adding, ‘My aim was to make a clean first lap but I jumped long at the last one and the nose dug in and I rolled’. The former champion continued, ‘I didn’t push after that. I was on new tyres and all round the it felt nervous as did I. I hate the first run when you’re starting first’. Looking to improve his YZ-2 for the second qualifier he plans to redo his shocks as well as ‘maybe dial out a tiny bit of steering’.
Summing up his first qualifying attempt, Nicolaisen said it went ‘better than expected’. Like team-mate Haatanen, he was more than happy with his B6 describing it as ‘awesome’ once the fresh set of tyres lost their edginess. Suffering a number of errors as he tried to close the gap to Hataanen and needing to be marshalled, he said ‘the mistakes where just from driving too hard’. His first EOS outing of the current season he also admitted the pressure of his strong run contributed to the mistakes saying ‘my nerves got to me a little for sure’.
‘Was stupid from my side’ was Coelho’s thoughts on his error while having a comfortable advantage over the field. The Portuguese driver continued, ‘I was 3-seconds in front but hit a curb and then the marshal didn’t see the car. After that it was impossible for me because I was pushing too hard to make back the time and was flying off the track everywhere’. Setting the fastest lap of the race on his second lap while leading, he said his XB2 was fine and it was just the driver that needed to be improved for Q2.
Running in the second fastest heat, having been only able for the 13th fastest 3-lap in practice, Joern Nuemann would get a P5 for the opening qualifier. The Serpent driver said the run ‘was clean, not super fast, but I had no mistakes at that was my goal’. The German continued, ‘I need to find a little more pace from the car’ and asked where he felt he was lacking replied he needs ‘more steering’. Having run Q1 with uncut tyres, the former champion plans to run with the outside rear pin cut from the rear tyre. Behind Neumann, Martin Bayer would complete the Top 6.