Lee Martin will start the new season of the Euro Offroad Series from the TQ, the Yokomo driver just doing enough in the final qualifier to deny reigning champion Michal Orlowski pole position on the tie break. With Orlowski having two TQ runs to his name and his Q3 time the fastest of the day, Martin needed not only to TQ the fourth & final round but also better his rival’s time. With Orlowski traction rolling on his opening lap, Martin only had to worry about his time. Setting off with a strong pace, a mistake with just over a minute to go looked to have ended his chances but pushing on his final lap, almost matching his fastest lap, it was enough to give him the fastest TQ by a 1/10th of a second. Behind Martin, Joona Haatanen ended with his first 19-lap run, a result that secures the Team Associated driver third on tomorrow’s A-Main grid behind Orlowski and ahead of team-mate Neil Cragg.
Reacting to his TQ run, Martin said, ‘I was easily on it and then crashed in the middle. I was trying to be a bit too fast. I knew then I had to push at the end’. The former Nurburgring winner went on, ‘the car felt really good. Shin (Adachi) done a really good job making new bits and improving the car for this season. I’m looking forward to the finals tomorrow’.
‘Close’, was Orlowski’s reaction at the end of qualifying. The Schumacher driver continued, ‘I was on new tyres and traction rolled at the end of the straight. I lost it right there but it is still open for the finals. Looking at last year’s results all my wins where from 2nd.’ Chasing his 6th EOS career win in 2WD, Martin having the same number of wins to his credit, the Polish driver said, ‘me and Lee are quicker than the rest of the field so I will try to put pressure on him. It’s a tight track and easy to make mistakes so we will see but I will do my best to get the win’.
Haatanen described Q4 as ‘better’, adding ‘my driving is getting better every time’. The young Finn who is a former Top Qualifier but has yet to pull off his first EOS win, is particularly confident for tomorrow having managed to do all four qualifiers on the same set of tyres meaning he has one in hand over his rivals. Asked about his car on new tyres, he replied, ‘I only drove one time on them but I think the car will be good on new tyres. I am going full attack tomorrow’.
‘The car was better but the driver was terrible’, was how Cragg summed up his final qualifier. Last season’s championship runner-up he added, ‘I have just not got on with the track at all. I’m really surprised I ended up 4th on the grid. Tomorrow is a new day and hopefully we have a bit of luck in the finals. You never know what will happen’.
On his 5th on the grid, Joern Neumann described it as ‘so, so’ adding, ‘in the last round I crashed too many times and then had to open for many drivers over the run’. Looking to the finals, the Schumacher drivers said, ‘The Top 2 are too fast but maybe 3rd is possible. Everyone is making mistakes so we will see’. On his car he added, ‘I need to find a little more steering’. Behind him Daniel Kobbevik will start 6th as the top Xray driver with Swede Elias Johansson 7th, Bruno Coelho 8th, Martin Bayer 9th and Sworkz’s Micha Widmaier completing the A-Main line-up.