Bruno Coelho is the 2WD Top Qualifier at the Euro Offroad Series season finale in Austria. One of four drivers in contention for the overall TQ honours going into the fourth & final round of qualifying, the Xray driver would post his second TQ run with the fastest run of the day ahead of Lee Martin and Neil Cragg. One of the those in with a chance of pole position for tomorrow’s 2WD finals, Martin was running at the top of the timing screen but a mistake at the double double followed by contact with a crashed car would end the Yokomo driver’s chances. While the final two qualifiers would see him struggle, thanks to two impressive opening qualifiers, EOS debutant Ryan Maifield will start second on the grid ahead of team-mate Martin. The other of three drivers to post a TQ run in Wels, Joona Haatenan will line up fourth after a mistake while on Top 2 pace in the final qualifier cost the Arena 33 Top Qualifier from lining up second for the finals.
Only the back to back 4WD Champion’s second TQ in 2WD, Coelho was pleased to back up his first 2WD win last time out by putting his XB2 on pole but he was quick to point out 2WD hasn’t become his new favourite class. Commenting on his final qualifier, the Portuguese ace said ‘it was very good’ although he highlighted one mistake halfway through the run when his car got up on two wheels but somehow didn’t flip. Taking the heat by over 3-seconds despite his moment, he continued, ‘my car is really good, it’s easy to drive ad fast so I am confident for tomorrow even on new tyres’. Asked about the layout in terms of racing, he replied, ‘It looks super tight so I think to overtake will be super difficult but when you are following a car you don’t always think this’.
‘We are making changes but they’re not working’ was Maifield’s reaction to his drop in performance over the final two qualifiers. With the EOS running limited hand out tyres, he continued, ‘If you have a bad run you have got pull off to save tyres. I don’t know what is normal but for me the tyre wear is super high’. Pulling off in both Q3 & 4, he said, ‘we will put the car back to how it was for Q1 & Q2 but right now we have a 2nd place car but we are not at Bruno’s pace’.
‘It was OK’ was how Martin summed up the final qualifier. He continued, ‘I got in the lead but then had a bobble at the double double and then after that hit some crashed cars and it was over after that. The former Champion, whose season has been void of a win, added, ‘Bruno had a little more pace but I think I could have hung with him’. Planning to ‘pretty much leave it as is’ in terms of his new Scorpion Power powered YZ-2 for the finals, in terms of the racing the British driver feels ‘the end of the straight is going to be sketchy, and dangerous, because of the bump when you’re running with someone’.
Running new tyres in the final qualifier, Haatanen said ‘new tyres are so much better for me’. In the mix for the TQ the Team Associated young gun said, ‘I was running second but then had a little mistake and that cost me second on the grid’. Hoping to take full advantage of his B6 when he will run the extra set of new tyres allocated to A-Main drivers, the EOS Round 4 Top Qualifier said while the track is ‘tight’ the jumps are places he thinks overtaking will be possible.
Despite Top 3 runs in 3 of the 4 qualifiers, Haatanen’s team-mate Neil Cragg will start 5th, an outcome the European Champion said is ‘unbelievable’. While frustrated by his grid position, the EOS Poland podium finisher was ‘pretty pleased with the consistency’ of his Reedy powered B6. A fan of the track layout this weekend, he feels it should make for good finals adding ‘there are always crashes so should be able to pick up the pieces’. Behind Cragg, Martin Bayer lines up 6th with Martin Wollanka, EOS Round 1 winner Marc Rheinard, Kája Novotný and Karri Salmela completing the final 2WD A-Main line-up of the sixth season of the Euro Offroad Series.