Having topped the times in all three rounds of practice at the Euro Offroad Series this morning, Lee Martin finally posted a TQ run in the third qualifier at Arena33. Kicking off qualifying with an error on his opening lap but managing to salvage a P2 for the round, on his second attempt further errors left him with a P4. Improving his car for the penultimate heat, he would set a new fastest qualifying time to push the decision of Top Qualifier in Germany out to the final round of qualifying. With Joona Haatanen having taken the opening two qualifiers, only Martin can deny the Team Associated teenager his first overall TQ of the EOS but in order to achieve this the former Champion must top Q4. With Haatanen third in the penultimate round, it was early pace setter Bruno Coelho who would finish second, a roll half way through the heat ending his chances of the overall TQ.
Making a number of changes to his RC Concept powered YZ2 and finding the half second he lost between practice and the first two qualifiers, Martin said ‘it all worked a bit better now’. Moving the battery position and changing his front shock oil he also used a different set of tyres but added, ‘I don’t know if that (the new set of tyres) helped’. Describing his car as ‘nice in the end’, he said ‘now I have just got to win the last round’. With the potential to end up first, second or third on the grid he added, ‘I’d like the extra point (for the TQ) but I don’t think it is critical for the win on the track so the plan is try not be an idiot’. With the fastest qualifying time, this is one less pressure on him as if he can get to the top of the time sheets he can control his pace as he already holds the tie-breaker with his quicker time.
Reacting to having again been on the TQ pace only to lose it to another error, Coelho said ‘I can’t say it was my mistake this time. The car jumped crazy and I was not able to correct it in the air so it landed wrong and rolled. It was quite strange.’ The 4WD Champion & current points leader, continued, ‘the car has been amazing all day, I’m just driving bad on this track’. Openly not comfortable with 2WD, he said ‘we have worked a lot on 2WD and I have felt it working as good as it is here, its just my driving that needs to get better now’. Team-mate Martin Bayer would take his similar Hobbywing powered example of the XB2 to fifth for the round.
Making a last minute decision to continue with his first set of tyres for a third run, Haatanen said they left the car ‘too loose’ leading to ‘a few mistakes’. Pleased to be able to recover for a Top 3 for the round despite the tyre being ‘now almost slicks’, he said the strategy should stand to him come the finals as he will have two good sets of tyres at his disposal with most of his rivals having started to run their second set of qualifying tyres. For team-mate Neil Cragg, the round would net a P8. The EOS Poland podium finisher said, ‘I thought it was a decent run but in the end it was not quite there’. He added the ‘car felt pretty dialled but I had to dodge a few cars because I’m not running in the top heat’. Karri Salmela would make it three B6 in the Top 6 with his best run so far setting the 6th fastest time.
Setting his first competitive run with a P4 for the round Marc Rheinard said, ‘I need more practice on this layout’. Winner of the season opener at the Nurburgring, the Yokomo driver said, ‘this time I just tried to get a clean run. I struggled a bit in the middle of the run but got back into a rhythm for the end. I still crashed but it was a lot better than before’. Currently sitting in a B-Main position he said ‘this track is all about driving so I’ll try again for a clean run and hopefully that will be enough for the A-Main’.