Martin Bayer claimed a surprise TQ in the second round of 2WD qualifying at the EOS Slovakia. Posting a clean 5-minute run, the Xray driver took advantage of a first lap mistake from Q1 winner Michal Orlowski which in turn forced Bruno Coelho into a mistake. While Orlowski would fight his way back to the front to knock Bayer off the top of the timing screens it was only temporary as the reigning champion once again got things wrong at the table top on the penultimate lap. The mistake dropping Orlowski back to third, Lee Martin was able to go one better than Q1 and take a P2 for the round. With his run filled with errors as he tried to make up the time lost on the opening lap, Coelho would set the 4th fastest time ahead of Joona Haatanen with Polish youngster Bartosz Zalewski again completing the Top 6.
With his wife and son arriving at the Hudy Arena just in time to watch his Q2 performance, Bayer said afterwards, ‘The first two made mistakes while I made a run without mistakes. It was a really good run for me.’ The former event winner continued, ‘I know I am not as fast as these two guys (Orlowski & Coelho) but if I make no mistakes maybe I can come into the fight. I feel confident with my the car’. He concluded, ‘I know my pace so I just need to try and not over drive’.
Explaining his run, Martin said, ‘the car was pushing a lot because of the extreme front tyre wear so keeping your fronts good is going to be hard work’. Running a lower ride height for Q2, the Yokomo driver said the car ‘felt pretty much the same’ as Q1 but added ‘I could have snook a TQ run but I had to let Bruno go by a few times which helped Bayer to take it’. With a 2 and 3 on the board, 2 of the four qualifiers to count, former champion said, ‘I hope I can push on in the last two’.
‘I threw it away’, was Orlowski’s reaction after Q2. Yet to register a 2WD win this season, the Schumacher driver continued, ‘the car felt amazing but I cased the table top and rolled. I lost loads of time. I had another error when I flipped the car but I still got back on the TQ pace and then with 2-laps to go I crashed again at the table top’. Losing over 3-seconds in this error but finishing only 1.5-seconds off Bayer’s time he said, ‘I was the only driver to do a 22-second lap so I know my pace is quite high but now we have to see who goes when on new tyres. The difference is quite high’.
Commenting on his P4 for the round, Coelho said, ‘I had bad luck with Orlowski at the beginning. I jumped the wrong way to go avoid his crash and flipped. Then I forced way too much to recover the time I lost. I made a lot of mistakes’. The EOS Poland winner concluded, ‘there is still 2 more to go and with Bayer taking that one everything is completely open’.
‘Making progress’, was how Joona Haatanen summed up his P5 in the second qualifier. Securing his first EOS victory at this season’s championship opener at the Nurburgring, the Team Associated driver continued, ‘our car is not working like we want. Before at this stage of the race me and Neil would be fighting for Top 3. At least now we found some pace and I can get a 5, it is a hard race for now’. Asked where the improvement over Q1 came from, the young Finn explained. ‘We made my car lighter for Q1 but it was way too nervous so we went back for Q2 and along went higher with the rear camber link. It was better but still not fast enough’.