Joona Haatanen came off the winner of an exciting opening 2WD A-Main at the Euro Offroad Series season finale in Austria this morning. Lining up 4th on the grid, the Finn drove an impressive race, capitalising on mistakes from the Top 3 starters to lead home an Associated 1-2. With the first key mistake of the race coming from Ryan Maifield, one lap later Haatanen would get by Maifield’s Yokomo team-mate Lee Martin with 2nd place looking the likely outcome of the race for the teenager as Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho pulled out a comfortable lead. However at the half way mark Coelho would traction roll his Xray off the front jump allowing Haatanen to close right up. Following the EOS Round 3 winner for 4-laps, the Arena 33 Top Qualifier would go to the front when Coelho went flying off the track at the end of the straight. With Martin and Neil Cragg also getting through, it was the fight for 2nd between the battling Brits that would provide the closing entertainment. While Martin would run a tight line to try defend his position, on the penultimate lap he hit a corner dot which pushed him wide which was all Cragg needed to make the pass to claim 2nd with Martin finishing as he started. Crashing on his final lap, Coelho would end up fourth with Maifield’s first ever EOS race ending with a 5th.
‘It was a super good race, my car was super good on new tyres’, was how Haatanen summed up his A1 win. He continued, ‘I was 3 or 4 laps behind Lee and then he made a mistake. Then Bruno crashed and I was right behind him and maybe after 3-laps he crashed at the end of the straight away and I passed him with 1-minute to go’. With his B6 particularly strong on new tyres, him using his single set of extra tyres allocated for the finals in A1, when asked about his A2 he replied, ‘I will use the same tyre, I hope they will be good’.
‘I just drove smart’ was Cragg reaction after the final. Starting from 5th on the grid, he continued, ‘I waited to pick up the pieces and at the end I was able to put pressure on Lee and he left me a little gap’. Also running on new tyres, he said ‘my car has been good all weekend but I am a little concerned about tyre wear but there is nothing I can do about it’. ‘Super pleased’ with the Associated 1-2, team-manager Craig Drescher’s delight when Cragg made the pass on Martin echoing through the hall, Cragg said hopefully A2 would be a ‘crash fest’ so he could again pick up the pieces.
Commenting on his race, Martin said, ‘I ran used tyres and didn’t have the grip needed’. He continued, ‘I thought I was on for 2nd, even 1st at one time, but tried to go tight but hit a dot which let Neil slip through’. Maifield summed up his race by saying, ‘whatever magic my car had is gone. I had zero corner speed which made it really tough’.
‘It was a little bit of a disaster’ was how Coelho summed up the first of the triple finals. He added, ‘There is much more traction than yesterday and in the warm-up I flipped 3-times. In the race I had a comfortable lead and traction rolled without reason and then again at the end of the straight’. He ended by saying, ‘I hope used tyres are better’.