Bruno Coelho is the top seed for 2WD qualifying at the fourth round of the Euro Offroad Series in Slovakia. The Xray driver set the fastest 3-consecutive laps on a tighter than usual Hudy Arena track layout in the 2nd of the two controlled practices run to top the seeding from Michal Orlowski and Martin Bayer, with championship leader Lee Martin sixth fastest. It was a somewhat controversial start to the weekend when it was discovered a high number of laps were completed on the track yesterday. On EOS race weekends the track is not open until the first free practice on Friday morning kick starts the weekend for all drivers in order to create a level playing field. On investigation of the laps and transponder numbers, it was discovered the car completing the greatest number of laps was that of Daniel Kobbevik. Race Director Scotty Ernst raised the issue with Xray team manager Martin Bayer who explained that Kobbevik’s car was being used to finalise the layout of the jumps and was driven by a number drivers including Xray boss Juraj Hudy but none of the team’s championship contenders. The other cars were driven by non EOS competitors. With Bayer confirming Kobbevik still drove approximately 30-laps in total, albeit not on the final race layout and many in the opposite direction, the decision was taken that the Norwegian would be forced to sit out CP2 – the matter still having been under investigation during CP1.
‘All is good. The car is looking good and I also like the layout’, was Coelho’s reaction after practice. The Portuguese driver added, ‘I just now need to try do 5-minutes without mistakes. The pace is there but it’s super close with Orlowski’. Asked how much of challenge running a clean 5-minutes was going to be, he replied, ‘the table (top) you can jump it or not. With a perfect landing you can make 2/10ths (of a second) but you can also easily make a mistake there and flip. You also need to pass super close to the curbing so 5-minutes without any kind of mistake is going to be super hard’.
Chasing his third consecutive win at the home of Xray, summing up his practice Orlowski said, ‘we came here with the set-up we created at last weekend’s XRS race (held at Hudy Arena) but had to make some minor changes for the tighter layout.’ The Schumacher driver continued, ‘I broke in the first (free) practice after the first lap which wasn’t a great start but the car is good now and I will probably not change anything for Q1. The pace is there. Bruno is a little quicker on 3-laps but I feel confident about my 5-minute pace’.
Summing up his P3 seeding Bayer said, ‘I managed to make 3-laps but it is very difficult to do 5-minutes’. A former winner of his team’s home event, the Xray Offroad Team Manager said, ‘the layout is easy and this allows you to go to the limit but then the problems come and you hit the boards. As always I am not the fastest but I hope I can do 5-minutes with no mistakes’.
Runner-up at Round 3 in Daun, Kobbevik reported his car as feeling ‘difficult to drive’. Setting the fourth fastest time, the teenager explained, ‘it’s stable but has no steering but I think I will play safe for the first quali and then maybe for Q2 we can try changing the set-up’. Behind Kobbevik, young team-mate Max Götzl took his XB2 to the 5th fastest time.
A multiple winner at the Hudy Arena and having achieved his first EOS win in more than 3-years at the previous round in Germany, reacting to his P6 seeding, Martin said, ‘the 5-minute feeling is ok. I’m just a little too slow on my best lap’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I need more steering but the car is eating front tyres. I have a few ideas to try but I don’t want to change it for Q1 because it’s got 5-minute pace. Maybe it’s not TQ pace, Orlowski is very fast over 5-minutes, but I think I’d be close.’