Having but in a below par performance that was full of errors in the opening qualifier at EOS Poland, Bruno Coelho made amends leading an Xray 1-2 in the second and third rounds. Fastest in practice but only managing a P12 in Q1, Coelho drove much cleaner in Q2 topping his team-mate Martin Bayer by 1.6-seconds. Further improving his driving for the penultimate qualifier he took that one by over 5-seconds with the final qualifier in Warsaw set to decide whether he or Q1 pace setter Michal Orlowski will claim the first championship point of Season #7 of the Euro Offroad Series for securing the overall 2WD TQ. Behind the Xrays, it was Lee Martin who gave best chase, the Yokomo driver completing the Top 3 ahead of David Ronnefalk in Q2 and Orlowski Q3.
Summing up the three qualifiers completed, Coelho said, ‘Like I said after practice it would be important to make no mistakes which is completely the opposite to what I did. I crashed many times. I was forcing too hard maybe’. Describing his driving in Q2 as ‘safer’, the Portuguese driver added, ‘but I still had mistakes’. Able to ‘improve more’ for his third attempt, the reigning 4WD Champion said, ‘this time last year we were not able to fight for the win but now with the 2018 XB2 we are right there. We have 5 cars in the Top 10 so far so it is looking very good’. Holding the advantage of the fastest TQ time so far meaning Orlowski must TQ the last round in a faster time to deny him the TQ, Coelho said his aim for the decider is to ‘keep smooth’ and ‘don’t do stupid mistakes’.
‘I’m very happy to be fighting for the Top 5 on the grid’, was Bayer’s reaction to posting a second P2 run in the third qualifier. Having been delayed by Coelho’s mistakes in Q1, Bayer said he had one small mistake of his own doing in Q2 and a similar 1-second mistake in the third but overall he was pleased to have ‘good pace’. Responsible for heading up Xray’s Offroad programme, the former European Champion said, ‘the new car is very good. I didn’t change anything since getting here. It very comfortable to drive’. Unfortunately for Ty Tessmann, having been the lead Xray with a P3 in the opening qualifier, Q2 and Q3 have proven more challenging with the Canadian suffering a DNF in the second and a mistake filled third attempt that left him with a P16.
‘It could have been better but I crashed’ was how Martin summed up his latest two qualifiers. The former back to back 2WD Champion continued, ‘I just didn’t drive amazing. I was leading Q2 and crashed and in Q3 I crashed early on but was able to catch back up to 3rd’. While not overly pleased with his driving, the Brit was more positive about progress made to his YZ-2 set-up saying, ‘we improved the car for that last one so thats a step forward’. Looking to the fourth & final qualifier he said, ‘we will try a more radical set-up to go for a TQ run and be ready for the finals’.
Top Qualifier at his home event last year, Orlowski said, ‘the second one was a rough round and in the third round I was coming back from a crash but crashed again’. Running new tyres in Q3, the Polish teenager said now he has two good sets of tyres for the finals tomorrow and his target is that he will be starting on pole. Happy he has the car to deny Coelho the overall TQ, he said, ‘I just need to eliminate the crashes and then I can challenge Bruno’.
Also having a rough Q2, Joona Haatanen said, ‘I had too many mistakes but now (for Q3) we changed the (shock) pistons and the car is much better on the landings’. Getting a P5 for his efforts, locking himself into the A-Main thanks to his P2 in the first qualifier, the Finn said the set of tyre he’s been using are done and so he will have to run the final qualifier on a new set of the championship’s hand out Schumacher tyre. With this meaning his car will be difficult to drive the teen said the positive to this was that he would have a set of tyres race ready for the finals.