April 21, 2017

Haatanen tops first controlled practice at EOS

Joona Haatanen has set the early pace at the Euro Offroad Series season finale in Wels, Austria.  In the first of the controlled rounds of practice, the Team Associated driver set the fastest three consecutive laps by 0.029 of a second over Yokomo’s Lee Martin.  Taking his first 2WD win at the previous round in Germany,  Bruno Coelho would complete the Top 3.  Making his EOS debut Ryan Maifield set the 4th fastest time, with the Yokomo driver calling the carpet surface track ‘a lot of fun’.

Coming into the weekend on the back of his best EOS performance in which he claimed his first EOS career TQ, Haatanen summed up the first controlled practice as having gone ‘very good’.   Suffering from understeer in free practice, he said adding swaybars to his B6 had made it ‘better’.  Looking to find a little more steering, the Finn will change the steering block arms to give the car more ackermann. In terms the track, the 14-year-old said ‘I don’t like the jumps, they don’t flow like at Arena 33 but I will get used to it so then it wont be too bad’.

‘Not bad’ was how Martin summed up his performance.  Winner last time the EOS came to Wels, he said the track layout was one on which it was ‘going to be difficult to be ultimately faster than anyone else’ adding ‘the hardest part was the bump at the end of the straight’. Caused by a cable tunnel in the exhibition hall floor, it is right on the turning in point at the end of the main straight with most drivers reporting it as an annoyance. On the track, the former champion also said the grey carpet is ‘a little loose’ compared to the black but he ‘kind of like(s) it’ but added ‘you can forget there is a difference and then end up with the car coming around on you’.  Spending yesterday testing at an indoor track in Salzburg along with the rest of Yokomo team,  Martin joked for him the test ‘provided he can’t see very well in the dark’, the track lighting not very strong. Having just switched to new electronics sponsor Scorpion Power ahead of the race, he said the test was a good opportunity to get familiar with his new speedo, motors and batteries.

‘Very good but missing steering off power in the 180 corners’ was how Coelho described his CP1 performance. The back to back 4WD Champion continued, ‘the car is stable and easy to drive but its not fast in the 180 corners’. A driver who also highlighted the bump at the end of the straight as the biggest challenge of the track, when asked about changes to improve his XB2’s corner speed he replied, ‘all the team are trying different things in the next run so we should find a solution from that’.

Maifield was particularly surprised by his first experience on EOS carpet saying, ‘I have never run on the carpet before and its much better than the astro turf in Japan’.  His only previous experience on a non dirt based track being the 2015 1:10 World Championships at Yatabe Arena.  The American continued, ‘this is a lot more fun.  The car is predictable and you can feel set-up changes’.  In terms of his YZ-2, he said it was ‘missing a little steering but the comfort level is good’. Half a second off Haatanen’s pace, he said ‘I will go for a speed set-up for the next one and see what it does’.

Setting the 5th fastest time, Marc Rheinard summed up practice as ‘not too bad’ but the German added ‘for the controlled practice it felt like it pushed too much’. He continued ‘if we can find a little steering it should be OK’.  Apart from the ‘stupid bump’, the winner of the season opener said the track is ‘nice but the double double not easy’.  Behind Rheinard, Martin Bayer would complete the Top 6.

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