Lee Martin is on target to become the overall Top Qualifier of the 2WD Buggy class at the Euro Offroad Series in Belgium with the Tamiya driver topping the times in each of the opening three rounds of qualifying. Setting the fastest 5-minute run of the event so far in Q3, the British driver still remains the only driver to post a 15-lap run at the Black Country Arena astro turf track. Describing his Vega converted Tamiya as ‘handling really well’ Martin said the remaining two qualifiers, of which he only needs one more TQ run to secure pole for tomorrow’s finals, will be all about getting his tyre combination right. Limited to 2 sets of front tyres and 3 sets of rear tyres from controlled tyre supplier dBoots, he said he needs to work out whether or not to continue with used fronts or switch to a brand new set in preparation for the finals.
Enjoying his best run of the day in Q3, setting the 2nd fastest time, fellow Brit Darren Bloomfield said changes after Q2 transformed his TLR22. Having changed to thicker front shock oil expecting it to take away steering he said it actually had the opposite effect giving him the little extra turn in he needed on one of two corners of the track. Also raising the gearbox of his buggy by 1mm this allowed him to get on the power better on the landing off the jumps inturn helping him to carry more corner speed.
The driver with the fastest lap in qualifying, Dustin Evans said he has the speed but has ‘just got to stop crashing’. Second fastest in Q1, the American took 3rd in both Q2 and Q3 with mistakes in each round costing him potential TQ runs. Very happy with his TLR22, the 26-year-old said the mistakes are due to him pushing too hard because even though he is running fast laps it feels like he is going to slow.
Schumacher’s Tom Cockerill ran his best time in Q3 setting the 4th fastest time. The winner of the Euro Indoor Race here back in February, the UK driver said his day is getting better but he is still making too many mistakes. Looking to calm down his Sv2 a little, Cockerill will stiffen up the buggy for Q4.
Another driver to put in his best run in Q3 was Oskar Levin. The 17-year-old Swedish driver said after changing the wing and wheel hexs on his TLR22 he was very happy with his pace and now he just needs to put in some clean runs. Running a smaller rear wing this gave him better steering through the sweeper off the main straight while wider wheel hexs made the buggy easier to drive.
Describing his Q3 run as ‘alright’ Mike Truhe said he had one mistake. Despite it being his fastest run of qualifying the time netted him 6th, his lowest points hall so far having secured 4th and 5th in Q1 and Q2 respectively.
Elsewhere Joern Neumann, who was second in Q2, pulled up early in the third round after a very edgy buggy led to a number of mistakes ending any chance of a quick time.
European Champion Lee Martin has TQ’d the opening qualifier for 2WD Buggy at the second round of the TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series presented by Horizon Hobby. The only driver to run 15 laps of the Black Country Arena track the Tamiya ace topped the time sheets ahead of practice pace setter Dustin Evans and dominator of the opening round of the new series Joern Neumann.
‘I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the day’ was how Martin summed up his TQ run adding that his only problem today is that he has started to get a head cold. Having stiffened up the rear of his Speed Passion powered Vega converted TRF201 since official practice yesterday, he said it felt better but with a fresh set of dBoots on for the first of the five rounds of qualifying it felt a little edgy. Not planning to make any changes to his set-up for Q2 he expects that as the tyres wear he should be able to drive harder but said this wont necessarily mean a faster overall time.
Evans, who yesterday got to grips with his first experience of astro turf, was very happy with his run to second in Q1. Running a very close on time with Martin during the 5-minute qualifier, the US Champion said he knew it was going to be very close as to who would TQ the round and he pushed that little bit too hard which led to two costly mistakes. Still learning what is a totally alien surface to the American, he said the key is not to push harder but to focus on being more precise with his driving.
Having struggled yesterday Team Durango’s Joern Neumann was much happier with his DEX210 today. The Top Qualifier & winner of Round 1 of the EOS in the Czech Republic last month, the German said running used tyres improved his buggy although he would like to reduce the grip a little more. Running behind TLR’s Mike Truhe, Neumann had one mistake over the run. Trying to pass the US star he took a different line which caused caused his buggy to roll and lose over 2.5 seconds. Truhe said his run was clean but brand new tyres meant his Orion powered TLR22 was edgy. Running a 6.5T motor he said he is considering ‘motoring down’ to a 7.5T for Q2.
Just making the Top 10 in practice yesterday Team Losi Racing’s Darren Bloomfield was pleased with his improved pace this morning. Setting the 5th fastest time, the British driver said having been ‘so slow yesterday’ as a result of driving too hard he made use of last nights open practice to adapt his driving, backing off 10% all round. Running slower into the jumps he said he is confident he can now build on his first run of the rest of the qualifiers.
Hupo Honigl completed the Top 6 but the Austrian said he drove ‘too safe’. The multiple European Champion said his LRP powered DEX210 could have been pushed a little harder without too much trouble but with a few small changes planned for Q2 he is confident he can improve his pace by quite a bit.
Driving a Kyosho with an MSC conversation which he himself helped to develop, British driver Nathan Ralls backed up his solid practice performance with 7th in the opening qualifier ahead of Schumacher’s Tom Cockerill. Ralls, who is a regular at the Belgian track, said he was very happy with his run calling it ‘safe and sensible’. Cockerill, who ended up third in official practice, was on for a good opening time until he got it wrong leading to a series of mistakes that lost him over 6 seconds.
Despite a big impact with the wall on the main straight during the warm-up for his heat, Round 1 podium finisher Oskar Levin managed to take his battered TLR22 to the ninth fastest time. The talented young Swede said the buggy was a little hard to drive which was not surprising as afterwards it was found that the crash had broken the bulkhead, cracked the servo mount and bent one of the turnbuckles like a banana. Fellow TLR driver driver Miguel Matias rounded off the Top 10 despite making a few ‘stupid’ mistakes.
Current British Champion Lee Martin has topped 4WD Buggy in official practice for the second round of the inaugural TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series. The Tamiya Racing Factory driver set the fastest three consecutive laps at the Black Country Arena in Belgium, ahead of the Schumacher of fellow Brit Tom Cockerill and series leader Joern Neumann.
Running a thicker prototype Tamiya top deck on his TRF502 along with new braced camber link mounts from LMR/Rudebits, which turns the links mounting upside down and gives the buggy greater rigidity, Martin ended the day 7/10ths of a second faster than his rivals. Feeling his buggy is lacking a little steering he said he doesn’t want to make any adjustments for this for fear that it will cause it to start flipping on the high bite astro turf track. Having switched to heavier front arms and moved his shocks to the maximum laydown position possible over the course of the 4 practice rounds, the 2010 European Champion said qualifying is now going to be all about optimising how much your tyres are scrubbed in for each round of heats.
Cockerill was very happy to end up second fastest in practice admitting the times were much better than the buggy felt around the track. Switching to a heavier shock oil in the third practice it improved the aggressiveness while still leaving the CAT SX3 safe to drive. Planning to run stiffer wishbones the Schumacher engineer said this should give him a more consistent buggy on new tyres which he will use this evening’s open practice to scrub in for qualifying.
Winner of the opening EOS race in the Czech Republic last month, Team Durango’s Joern Neumann said his DEX410 was very good. Running his stock astro turf set-up he said unlike his 2WD buggy it is working fine and he has made little or no changes to the buggy today. Asked if he was concerned at being almost 9/10ths slower than Martin, the man he beat to become European Champion, the German ace said it was no problem and he is sure over a full 5-minute run it will very close between the Top 6 drivers. Team-mate Hupo Honigl, himself a former multiple European Champion, said his buggy felt good and he just needed to drive cleaner tomorrow.
In between the Team Durango drivers was TLR’s Mike Truhe and Dustin Evans, both of whom are experiencing 4WD on a European style indoor track today for the first time. Opting to sit out 4WD at Round 1 of the series, Truhe said being faster than Hupo was good enough for him right now as today was like starting all over again. Having mainly run the XX-4 back in the US lately he said he is having to adapt back to the XXX-4 along with contending with a surface that is totally alien to him. Evans, who did a great job in the morning’s 2WD practice to top the time sheets, said he was pretty happy to end up 5th fastest. Running the XXX-4 on the track for the first time in first official practice he said considering from where he started out to where he is now after just four runs with the aging buggy he is extremely happy as they have made huge improvements each run.
Mixing it up among the strong line up of team drivers present in Belgium for the second round of the Euro Offroad Series, France’s Sebastien Wartelle set the seventh fastest time in front of the TLR’s lead European team drivers Darren Bloomfield and Miguel Matias, who was a podium finisher at the season opener. British driver Nathan Ralls completed the Top 10 outpacing young Swedish talent Oskar Levin who after starring in both 2WD and 4WD qualifying at Round 1 is so far struggling to get to grips with the track here in Charleroi.
In 4WD Short Course the time sheets at the end of practice was a copy of the final podium in the Czech Republic with Joern Neumann fastest from Hupo Honigl with Mike Truhe third. Dustin Evans took his Ten-SCTE to the fourth fastest time but some 4 seconds off Neumann. In 2WD Short Course the pace was set by Team Durango designer Gerd Strenge.
Despite having never before seen an astro turf track until he arrived in Belgium yesterday, US Champion Dustin Evans has topped 2WD Buggy practice at the second round of the inaugural TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series presented by Horizon Hobby. The factory TLR driver was the surprise of the four rounds of practice as he ran the fastest three consecutive laps ahead of Tamiya’s Lee Martin and Schumacher’s Tom Cockerill, both of whom have plenty of experience on astro turf.
The winner of 2WD Buggy at the EOS Pilot Race last year in Sweden on dirt, Evans’ was delighted with his practice pace and said the high bite of his local track back home where he does most of his practicing really helped him to adapt to the astro turf surface here at Black Country Arena. His first outing of the 2012 EOS, the 26-year-old said in preparation for the event he put what he thought was a stiff set-up on his Orion powered TLR 22 but after a few runs of open practice yesterday he discovered he needed, and it was also possible, to make the buggy even stiffer.
TLR team-mate Mike Truhe, who contested the season opener in the Czech Republic last month, is also having his first experience on astro turf which he said his way more grippy than the carpet, a surface the America ace said he prefers. Setting the fourth fastest time in practice, Truhe feels while a few other drivers ran a quicker three-consecutive laps than him he was focusing on putting in a clean five-minute run and is confident he’s in good shape for tomorrow’s qualifying. Also running an Orion powered TLR22 he plans to run a thicker front shock oil which should allow him to drive a little harder.
Martin said after a few runs yesterday his Tamiya felt pretty dialed and today’s practice was more about playing with around with the controlled dBoots tyres, drivers having to use the Nanobyte ‘A’ compound on the rear and any 2WD front tyre from the dBoots range. Just over a second off Evans pace over the three consecutive laps, the European Champion said he has ‘1 or 2 things’ he wants to try on his Speed Passion powered TRF201X in this evening’s open practice to fine tune the buggy for qualifying.
Schumacher’s Design, Development & Race Engineer, Cockerill described his morning as ‘alright’. A driver with experience of the track, having won the Euro Indoor Race here earlier this year, the 23-year-old said he used practice to run in front tyres for tomorrow so as to make it less aggressive. Running a longer front link, he said his Cougar SV2 is almost there but he will try a few more small things ahead of the first qualifier in the morning’s open practice.
The man that dominated the opening round of the Euro Offroad Series, Joern Neumann set only the fifth fastest time with the German ace saying his buggy is ‘not too good and too slow’. Experienced at running on astro turf, the Reedy Race Champion said the DEX210 is normally very good on the surface but today just has too much grip making it very edgy to drive. Unsure what to do he said he hopes his team-mate Hupo Honigl, who was only 11th fastest, has some ideas as to how they can improve things for qualifying.
Setting the sixth fastest time Belgian driver Wouter Wynen was surprised by his own pace in practice. Driving an Associated C4.1, the driver from Antwerp who, although this is not his local track, races at the Black Country Arena regular said having to run a dBoot front tyre took a bit of getting used to but he is now very happy with how his buggy is performing. Just 3/10th behind the Belgian, was another driver who has experience of the track despite not being a local. Having worked out that it is cheaper to travel to Charleroi than his closest winter series back home in the UK, Dover driver Nathan Ralls is a regular competitor in the club’s own championship and even has his own VIP parking spot for his camper van right outside the main door to the hall. The club also provide his home from home with a free power lead during is stay.
Driving a RB5 Vega, well known nitro racer Sebastien Wartelle set the 8th fastest time. Only racing electric for the winter, the French driver has two wins to his credit in the club championship and so is hopeful of a good result his weekend against the World class international line-up. Completing the Top 10 behind Wartelle was TLR pairing Darren Bloomfield and Miguel Matias. Winner of last year’s World Championship Warm-up race, Bloomfield is struggling with the consistency of his LRP powered TLR22. The British driver believes this is down to his front tyres and so plans to run in open practice a set of tyres with the wall glued up. Matias, who has been winning all around him in his home country of Portugal, said his astro turf knowledge is worse than carpet but with each run he got better and better.
With the morning set aside for official 2WD practice, the afternoon will see drivers switch to their 4WD chassis’ for four rounds of both buggy and Short Course truck practice.
Current American 2WD Buggy Champion Dustin Evans is to contest the rest of the inaugural TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series presented by Horizon Hobby. The 26-year-old, who took the then newly launched TLR22 to 2WD victory at the EOS Pilot race in Sweden last year on his first ever visit to Europe, will join fellow American Mike Truhe and Portugal’s Miguel Matias to strengthen Team Losi Racing’s EOS campaign with their main focus being on securing the 2WD Buggy title.
Commenting on the announcement that he will travel to both Belgium next weekend and to the season finale in Germany in April, the former Reedy Race Champion said, ‘I’m super excited about racing in Europe again as the pilot race was awesome. The track is a surface I have never even seen before so its going to be a new challenge. Mike (Truhe) has warned me that its going to be a pretty difficult learning curve but by the end of the opening round in the Czech Republic he was able to run on the pace so hopefully together along with Miguel’s (Matias) input we can mount a strong challenge for a win in Charleroi.’
Last month’s opening round of the Euro Offroad Series was dominated by Team Durango’s Joern Neumann who traveled to the Czech Republic fresh from taking over the Reedy Race of Champions title from Evans. In Belgium the young German will face much tougher opposition not just from the expanded TLR squad but also from Tamiya Racing Factory’s electric offroad ace Lee Martin. The back to back British 4WD National Champion, who successfully defended his European 2WD title last year ahead of the Durango driver, was confirmed for Round 2 last week and coming from the UK has plenty of knowledge of racing on astro turf. Another British driver who will be looking to mix it at the front at the March 9-11 event is factory Schumacher driver Tom Cockerill, the British Championship front runner having already tasted success at the Belgian venue winning an international event there earlier this year.
Following tests on behalf of official EOS tyre supplier dBoots by leading drivers from the host club, the controlled tyre for Charleroi will once again be the NanoByte. During the evaluation of a number of different options the NanoByte produced faster lap times than the well known tyre regularly used at the track with the drivers also reporting very good performance even after 40-minutes of running.
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