Euro Offroad Series 2WD Championship points leader Martin Bayer has topped seeding for Round 3 at the Hudy Arena, the Xray fastest from team-mate Kája Novotný. A former winner at his home event, Bayer had a clear advantage over an otherwise closely match field, his best 3-consecutive laps of 1:13.601 almost a full second quicker than Novotný’s. Behind the pre race favourite and Novotný, it was last year’s winner Michal Orlowski who was third quickest with Schumacher looking the best of the rest on Xray’s home turf as Joern Neumann posted the 5th fastest time. Lee Martin set the fourth fastest time, the Yokomo driver unable to improve on his time from the first of the two counting timed practice rounds. Coming into the event on the back of his first EOS victory last month, Team Associated’s Neil Cragg will be seeded 7th for qualifying, all four rounds taking place later today.
Commenting on his pace, Bayer said, ‘Since the last EOS even though I finished on the podium I was not happy with the car in Daun so we went to all the local races to be better this round and now it is really good’. He continued, ‘The track is very different here and you are at double the speed every corner but I’m very happy with the set-up we have’. With all drivers feeling the high speed nature of the track layout will make it hard to not crash, he concluded, ‘Qualifying is going to be completely different, doing 5-minutes without crashing will be difficult’.
‘Perfect’ is how Novotný summed up practice. The Czech driver continued, ‘I haven’t changed anything since the first run, the car is amazing. We raced at the Mibo Cup last weekend and found a set-up that worked there and it is working here too’. Describing the times as ‘super close’, Orlowski only 4/100ths of a second off him, he expects qualifying to be challenging. He said, ‘I think it will be hard to not crash. When I was following behind drivers in practice and tried to catch someone I made mistakes, the 5-minutes will be hard’.
‘It went well, the feeling of the car is pretty good’, was Orlowski’s thoughts on how practice had went, drivers starting the day with two rounds of free practice before going into seeding. The Polish teenager continued, ‘We made small changes every run and have the car good. Obviously we are lacking speed to Xray but with Joern also up there in the times we are the best of the rest. We need to find something in the set-up to catch Martin (Bayer) but we will see on 5-minutes how it is as it might mix it up’
Lee Martin summed up his practice pace by saying he was ‘lacking corner speed’. He continued, ‘It feels slow in the corners, the jumps are OK but we are still losing time to Xray but I think this is confidence on the jumps, nothing else’. Describing the track layout as ‘pretty flat out’ he added, ‘It going to be hard to catch Martin unless he has a bad experience’. Asked if he had changes in mind to improve corner speed he replied, ‘we are kind of running out of ideas but there are little things we can keep changing but it is going to be tough’.
Neumann was pleased with his early pace adding his Schumacher is ‘pretty consistent over a 5-minute run’. The former champion continued, ‘It is really close from 2nd to 6th-7th, just Martin Bayer is faster’. Happy with the feeling of his car in the final practice he said, ‘we are still discussing car set-up but I think I will keep it the same for Q1 to get more comfortable with the track. The angled jumps mean the car can jump funny’.
‘Car feels better than lap times are telling me but it’s pretty close out there’, was Cragg’s thoughts after the conclusion of practice. Without regular mechanic Craig Drescher, who was due to fly out with his driver yesterday but couldn’t after coming down with a fever, the former World Champion said, ‘as a qualifying car it’s not too bad and it’s not too far off. We just need to find a little magic’.