Michal Orlowski has taken the opening round of 2WD qualifying at the Euro Offroad Series, the Schumacher driver having the upper hand on top seed Bruno Coelho over the 5-minutes. With both Orlowski and Coelho the only drivers to manage 22-second laps of the Hudy Arena track, the duo were clearly on a different level to their rivals despite both drivers having multiple mistakes in the first of the four rounds of qualifying. Behind it was championship points leader Lee Martin who was best of the rest, the Yokomo driver almost 6-seconds off the TQ pace. Third fastest in seeding, Martin Bayer got a 4th from Q1 followed by Daniel Kobbevik with 12-year-old Polish driver Bartosz Zalewski pulling off an impressive Q1 to complete the Top 6.
Reacting to his TQ run, Orlowski said, ‘It started off very good and I was able to put pressure on Bruno and he had a small error. Then I did a small one but he had another mistake and after that I could drive nice and easy’. The reigning Champion, who has a good track record in Slovakia, added, ‘I was very happy with my driving for the 5-minutes as I had a couple of mistakes but I was the driver with the fewest mistakes’. Happy with his car and planning no changes for Q2, the Pole did flag the extra tyre wear drivers are experiencing saying, ‘the tyre wear is quite high here and I think that will be a major factor in the qualifying but I plan to stick to my normal tyre strategy’.
Coelho said, ‘It was an OK qualifier. I started slowly as normally in 2WD with new tyres my car is aggressive. I did a mistake, then Orlowski did a mistake, then I did another mistake and he passed me. It looks easy but you need to take risks to make the difference. I will try to do less mistakes the next round’. Pleased with his car saying it has the same pace as Orlowski’s, when asked how he was finding tyre wear, the Xray driver replied, ‘tyre wear is a little higher than normal. This is because there is a lot more speed in the layout. You have two big sweepers but in the end I think it will be the same and we will do three runs on the first set’.
‘It was not the best run in the world but it was not a bad first run’, was how Martin summed up Q1. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I had a few driver error. They did not cost me a huge amount of time but they threw me off my rhythm a bit. Third was the best I could have done given the speed of the first two’. Asked about changes for Q2, the British driver said, ‘the car feels pretty good so obviously it’s lacking corer speed so we will try to find more of that for the next one’.
Bayer joked, ‘when the clock starts it’s different but 4th place is OK’. The Czech driver added, ‘Like I said before I am not the fastest. Michal and Bruno are very quick but I think the rest are much closer and I will try to fight in that battle’.