Joona Haatanen will go into the 2WD qualifying at the season finale of the Euro Offroad Series as the top seed. Unable to better his opening time in the second & final controlled practice in Austria, the Associated driver will lead away the first qualifier ahead of Lee Martin who also failed to better his opening time. Having failed to post a time in CP1, Neil Cragg would be the biggest improvement in CP2 with the Associated driver posting the 3rd fastest time. With Bruno Coelho unable to improve his time, this pushed the Xray driver back to fourth ahead of Marc Rheinard who was the only driver in the Top 5 after CP1 to improve on their time. Rheinard’s improvement moved him ahead of Yokomo team-mate Ryan Maifield.
‘Too aggressive out of the corner’ was how Haatanen described his B6 after the final controlled practice. Having made changes to his car to try to get more steering, the Finnish talent said, ‘we will go back to what he had before for qualifying. The car was easier to drive and the steering I was looking for is not a big issue to work around’. Planning for a safe first qualifier if it goes well he said, then we will try something after Q1 (to improve the steering)’.
Setting the second fastest 3-consecutive laps of CP2 behind fellow countryman Cragg, Martin ‘tried a different steering arrangement and didn’t like it’. He added, ‘time wise it was not terrible but I’ll go back to what we had before’. With the third fastest time of the final practice and sightly quicker than his own CP1 pace, Rheinard said his YZ2 was a little easier to drive after refreshing the diffs and shocks but felt the car had less forward bit. Putting this down to his tyres being on their second run, he plans to leave the car unchanged for the first of the four qualifiers with his target ‘a clean run’.
Not even completing a lap in the first controlled practice, Cragg was pleased to put his B6 into the top heat. Hitting the track’s unloved end of the straight bump on his opening lap, it ‘caught (him) out’ sending him flying off into the barriers and out on the spot with a broken car. He said, ‘it put me under pressure for the last one but the car has been pretty good all day. We found a good set-up at the last round and since I put it down on the track here it feels like I could drive this pace all day’.
8/100ths slower than his CP1 pace, Coelho said, ‘my car was a little better now’. He added, ‘It was more consistent and easier to drive and we will see now over 5-minutes how it goes’. Having reported a lack of speed in the 180 corners after the first controlled practice, he said it was now better but it wasn’t sure if that was all down to running new tyres, having run used in CP1, or due to changes to his set-up. Set to run on a new set of the handout Schumacher tyres again in Q1, he said after that then they will then see what to do.
Summing up his final practice, Maifield said, ‘It was OK. We tried to make it faster but it was slower’. The US Offroad star added, ‘overall I had to drive too hard to go fast’. He continued, ‘we have a new theory on what to do so we are going to go down that rabbit hole’.