Michal Orlowski has started out the final day of the Euro Offroad Series in Daun, Germany, in the best way possible by taking the third round of 4WD qualifying. Having taken yesterday’s opening qualifier but having had Q2 snatched from him by Bruno Coelho on the last lap, the Schumacher driver would top Q3 by over 4-seconds from Coelho with Joona Haatanen, a challenger for the TQ until being hit by another car, completing the Top 3. Joel Valander would put in a clean run to set the fourth fastest time with Neil Cragg making it a positive morning for the Associated team ending up 5th fastest from the second fastest heat.
Describing his run at ‘decent’, Orlowski explained, ‘I was on my 3rd run with the same tyres and the first run of the morning is always sketchy. I felt I drove better yesterday. My first few laps were sketchy and I lost a bit of time at the beginning’. Chasing his 3rd consecutive win of the season, the reigning champion continued, ‘After the first few laps I was driving pretty good but I had traffic again like in Q2 and rolled over trying to avoid hitting it and lost the lead but then Joona also encountered traffic problems and it worked out for me but I didn’t beat Bruno’s time’. With Coelho having the advantage of the fastest time going into the final qualifier, Orlowski said, ‘I will be on new tyres for the last round and will try to secure the TQ. This will mean my tyres are also bedded in for the final. Hopefully I will not repeat 2WD’ – the 2WD Top Qualifier making a mistake on the opening lap and ending up with only 4th overall after the triple Mains.
Summing up his performance, Coelho said, ‘The round was OK but the car was really slow now. I used the tyres from Q1 & 2 and maybe that was not the correct choice. I had no traction. When I punched it for the jumps I was losing traction’. He continued, ‘I had to open twice for Joona because I didn’t have the speed, and I had one mistake which cost me around 1-second. I will put on new tyres for the last one so it should be better’.
Haatanen explained, ‘that was my third run with the same tyres and the car felt very good. We added 1/2 mm under the steering rack and the car felt easy to drive and fast’. Asked about AE’s marked 4WD improvement this weekend, the Finn replied, ‘I don’t really know what has changed but we have gone through the car and come up with something that has made the car much better to drive’. Having run at the top of the timing screens in Q3, he said, ‘I heard I was leading but then I caught traffic and one of them pushed me into the wall. Still it was good to fight for the TQ. I will put new tyres on for the next one and see what happens but hopefully I can get another good run’.
Managing a best run of 9th in Q2 yesterday, Valander was pleased with his run saying, ‘I tried to have a clean run because I expected others to make mistakes as it was the first run of the morning. I’m happy to get fourth place’. The Finnish Xray driver continued, ‘I had a couple of bobbles and had to give way to Joern (Neumann) but I made no major errors over the run’. Looking to the final qualifier, he said, ‘I think I will put a little more glue on the side walls because I think have too much steering’.
Looking at his watch and joking ‘you do know it’s Sunday’, a reference to his 4WD performances not normally attracting attention from Red RC, Cragg said, ‘Actually I’m pretty pleased with that to be honest’. He added, ‘It no secret we struggle in 4WD and we were quite far off the pace at the start but we’ve made quite a lot of changes every run and the car & driver are getting better each run’. On Q3 result, Q1 starting with a P12 and Q2 a P8, he said, ‘I had to deal with some traffic but 5th is a good result for 4WD. I hope I can get another good run. Let’s see what we can do’.