It might be his first time racing on Europe’s indoor carpet style tracks, but Ryan Maifield has got his Euro Offroad Series debut off to a strong start be TQ’ing the opening round of 2WD qualifying in Austria. Sixth fastest in seeding practice, the American was to lead a Yokomo 1-2 as Lee Martin took his YZ-2 to the second fastest time. Behind them Neil Cragg would complete the Top 3 but for Team Associated team-mate Joona Haatanen it would be a DNF. Having set the pace in controlled practice, the teenager would run wide coming onto the main straight with the contact with the boards causing the screw which mounts the shock to the rear arm to sheer off. Another front runner failing to finish Q1 was Bruno Coelho. Three laps into the qualifier a mistake at the end of the straight led to heavy contact with boards resulting in a broken servo.
Summing up his TQ run, Maifield said, ‘I changed a bunch of stuff but had no idea how or even if it would be good, so at the start I just cruised around. Then I heard from Scotty (Ernst) that I was in the lead so I just tried to keep the tempo up and I finished strong’. He continued, ‘the car was easy to drive and predictable but for the next we’ll make one change to try get more on power steering’. In addition to the set-up change, the Arizona driver said his focus now was on learning ‘what to do with the tyres’, drivers getting 2 sets of race tyres with A-Main drivers getting an extra set for the triple Mains.
Reverting back to his ‘original steering set-up’ having not liked changes made for the final practice, Martin said his car was ‘easy to drive but now maybe too safe’. With Maifield running a different rear toe in and liking it, he said, ‘I’ll try that but other than that its good to go again for Q2’. Please with the teams 1-2 result he added, ‘it should have been a one, two, three if Marc didn’t crash on the first lap’. Setting the fastest lap of Q1, Rheinard would end up 7th fastest, the German saying his lap 1 error was only one of many he would have.
‘I’m pretty happy with that round. It was a steady run everywhere’, was Cragg’s reaction after the first qualifier. The European Champion continued, ‘the car is super easy to drive and I’m driving pretty well’ adding ‘I thought I’d be all over the track because I was racing 1:8 for the last month but its going really good’.
Setting the fourth fastest time after struggling in practice, Martin Wollanka put his improvement down to running ‘consistent laps without mistakes’. Running in the second fastest heat, the Xray driver added, ‘after practice it didn’t look like this and if I can get one more like this I should be ok’. Behind the Austrian, Xray team manager Martin Bayer would post the fifth quickest time with Associated’s Karri Salmela completing the Top 6.