Joern Neumann has topped 2WD seeding at the first ever outdoor race of the Euro Offroad Series, the Schumacher driver putting in the fastest three consecutive laps on the new astro turf track at Arena33 in Germany. A hot sunny day in Andernach, Neumann would top the two rounds of controlled practice from the Yokomo of Lee Martin and with Xray’s Bruno Coelho completing the Top 3. The concluding round of the championship with the title undecided, contenders Neil Cragg and Michal Orlowski would put down the 5th and 7th fastest times.
With drivers starting out the day with three rounds of free practice after which he was fourth fastest, Neumann said, ‘we have been making little changes to the car for the low grip of this astro and now the car is very good’. Asked about the astro turf surface, the German replied, ‘My home track is astro turf and I only do about five races a year but its better than carpet. You can drive more aggressive to make time, on carpet its almost impossible.’ He continued, ‘here the car slides a little so the timing of the jumps can be different. To drive it is not the same every lap because here you have bumps’.
‘That was a not a bad run’, was Martin’s reaction at the end of practice adding, ‘it was fun because me and Neil were running together and it felt like a final in England’. In terms of his car, the former champion said, ‘the track is little loose in spots so I have been tweaking the car for that. The tyre wear is quite high so for the second run you need to find even more traction’. With the find practice taking place at lunch time he said, ‘the sun was at its optimum which would make the astro more loose so it should be better the rest of the day. Also the astro is still running in and it is losing a lot of fluff’.
Coelho described his performance as ‘ok but not perfect’. He went to say, ‘we are still working on the car and getting more rear traction but I think, I hope, we are now on a good way’. Looking to the first of the four qualifiers, all of which will be run today, he said, ‘I think doing 5-minutes without mistakes will be super hard because I already struggle to do three laps’.
Posting the fourth fastest time Joona Hataanen felt practice had gone ‘pretty good’. The young Finn said, ‘I have run the same set-up everytime because I am getting used to astro turf as this is almost my first time running on it’. Asked what he found was the biggest difference between the astro and carpet, the Team Associated driver said, ‘You have to drive smooth but I am still so aggressive from running on carpet but I’m improving every run’.
Team-mate Cragg, who needs a win this weekend to take the title, said, ‘we tried a few things that run because the track is getting more slippery and I am quite happy with the car’. Winner the last time the EOS was in Germany, then indoors in Daun, the former World Champion said, ‘I think we have good race pace and the car seems consistent out there’.
Putting his P7 time behind Marc Rheinard down to not getting three good laps together, reigning champion Orlowski said ‘so far so good. We got lots of practice and have used that to try lots of stuff and get used to the track and traction’. Needing to prevent Cragg from taking the win in Andernach to retain his 2WD title, the Pole believes they have a ‘good set-up’ for their cars adding ‘both of us (he and Neumann) are really fast just I didn’t get three laps. Also our car looks good on 5-minute pace’.