January 5, 2013

Neumann fastest in 4WD practice

Team Durango’s Joern Neumann will be the top seed for the first round of 4WD qualifying after he set the pace in both Buggy and Short Course over the three rounds of controlled practice that brought Day 1 of the Euro Offroad Series in Germany to a close.  Having TQ’d the first round of 2WD Buggy qualifying earlier in the day, Neumann topped the 4WD Buggy time sheets with a time of 1:01.659 for his three fastest laps ahead of Yokomo’s Naoto Matsukura with team-mate Hupo Honigl posting the third quickest time.

Undefeated in 4WD Buggy since the inception of the EOS, Neumann said his DEX410 was ‘good as always’ with having to make no set-up changes over the three runs.  Instead, having had his dominant run of victories in Short Course ended by TLR’s Dustin Evans in Poland, his priority was his truck set-up.  Having done a lot of set-up work on the truck since their defeat at Round 1, Neumann tried two different lenghts of shocks with the new shorter version giving him the better feeling around the technical track layout.

Trying a different set-up in each of his three practice runs, Matsukura said he still has a little to find in his set-up as he looks to make the buggy a little easier to drive.  Preferring 4WD over 2WD, in which he made an impressive debut by setting the third fastest time in Q1 on his carpet surface debut, the 6-time Japanese 4WD National Champion was despite only 15 minutes of track time just 6/10th off the pace of Neumann, who is widely recognised as the best driver in the world on the uniquely European style off road tracks.

Setting the fourth fastest time, 4/10ths off the pace of Team Durango’s Hupo Honigl, TLR’s Darren Bloomfield was very happy with his pace.  Admitting that they are never going to be in contention for the win in the class he said his buggy actually felt good to drive adding that a podium finish is a realistic target. Team-mate Dustin Evans set the 10th fastest time in 4WD Buggy but was more concerned at the improved pace of the Durango drivers in Short Course.  Having caught Durango by surprise at the season opener, the American said he is struggling in the tighter sections of the track and right now Durango have regained their advantage.

Making Team Xray’s official EOS debut with the company’s first entry into the EP offroad market, factory driver Martin Bayer was very happy to set the fourth fastest time with the new XB4.  Only running one class, the Czech driver is at a major disadvantage to his rivals in terms of track time but declared himself ‘pretty happy’ considering he only ran three batteries today.  Classifying himself as still somewhat of a novice in electric offroad, the 1:8 Offroad ace said having no team-mate is making the challenge greater but the target for the weekend is to try qualify for the A-main with anything after that being a bonus.  Xray have confirmed that from the next round of the EOS Bayer will be joined by French offroad star Renaud Savoya adding further to the increasing high level of competition of the burgoening series.

Despite having problems keeping the wheels on his Tamiya, Lee Martin set the sixth fastest time.  Struggling with tightening the wheel nuts which kept coming undone the addition of a washer appears to have cured the Brtitish Champions problem.  Describing his buggy set-up as ‘ok’ Martin said when he is in a good rythm it feels good but he is having trouble with the consistency of putting together clean laps lap after lap.

Behind Martin fellow countryman Tom Cockerill set the seventh fastest time at the controls of the new Schumacher Cat K1.  The factory driver made a few changes over the course of practice including running a softer front which was better but with everyone else also improving he said he will change the buggy further for the opening quailfier.

Day 2 of the TLR/Spektrum kicks off with the second of 4 scheduled 2WD qualifiers with 4WD qualifier set to bring proceedings to an end tomorrow evening.

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January 4, 2013

Neumann tops first qualifier in Langenfeld

Team Durango’s Joern Neumann got his 2013 season off to a good start with the German posting a TQ run in the opening round of 2WD Buggy qualifying for Round 2 of the TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series in Langenfeld, Germany. The defending champion and current standings leader took his DEX210 around the Gerd Strenge built track in a time of 14/5:12.707 almost 5-seconds clear of arch rival Dustin Evans with EOS debutant Naoto Matsukura putting in an impressive first qualifying on a European carpet track to set the third fastest time.

Having struggled with too much steering in early practice, Neumann was much more confident with his buggy in the opening qualifier with changes made in the final practice giving him a set-up that was a lot less aggressive for the technical track layout.  The Top Qualifier & winner of the opening round of the second season of the EOS in Poland, he admitted that in the early part of the run Lee Martin had a similar pace to him until the Tamiya came to a halt just before the 4-minute mark.  Despite Martin’s pace, the European Champion being the only driver to have beaten Neumann to date in the 2WD Buggy class of the EOS, the Reedy Race Champion said he will leave his set-up the same for tomorrow’s second qualifier.

Martin, who was the early pace setter in the 5-minute run before crashing, suffered a broken cooling fan which would caused the speedo on his Vega converted TRF201 to thermal out.  Feeling under the weather, the Brit said his buggy feels Ok but he can’t push super hard but he plans to leave it the same for Q2 hoping that with a good night sleep he will be feeling better and thus drive better in the morning.

Dustin Evans also hopes to benefit from a good nights sleep.  The American summed up Q1 by saying the ‘result was good, driving not very good’.  Starting to suffer from the onset of jetlag, the Team Losi Racing star said his 22 felt pretty good but he just made too many mistakes.  With the track open for free practice in the morning ahead of the second 2WD Buggy qualifier, Evans said he plans to use the opportunity to run a few small set-up changes and see what effect they have.

Getting his head around running offroad on a high grip carpet track and starting to really enjoy the experience Matsukura was pleased to set the third fastest time.  The Japanese National Champion said while he had to save his Yokomo a number of times from traction rolling overall he was happy with how the buggy is performing, his B-Max2 MR setting the fastest lap of Q1.  Losing over 4 seconds when he collected a buggy that had crashed ahead of him, he said he plans to leave everything the same for Q2 as there is still a bit of time to be found in his driving.

Having set the early pace in practice Darren Bloomfield would set the fourth fastest time after moments with both his fellow Brits cost him time.  On the opening lap factory Schumacher driver Tom Cockerill crashed on the table top costing the TLR driver 2 seconds and when Martin’s Tamiya came to a halt in the middle of the track in front of the 1:8 Offroad European Champion he lost further time.  A bad last lap brought the total time lost to around 7 seconds but the birthday boy said he has the buggy to challenge for a TQ run and the plan for Q2 is to ‘just charge up the battery and put it back down on the track’.

Behind Bloomfield team-mate Oskar Levin set the fifth fastest time.  Running in the second fastest heat, the Swede said he tried to drive a clean run and while his 22 felt ‘great’ he didn’t quite manage the error free run he was looking for.  Planning on leaving his set-up as is for tomorrow, the 18-year-old is confident if he can clean up his driving he has the pace to run a Top 2 time saying on carpet beating Neumann is not so easy.  Fellow countryman and TLR team driver Otto Ausfelt took his example of the 22 to the seventh fastest time just behind Cockerill’s Cougar SV2.

Having missed the opening two rounds of practice due to work commitments, factory Kyosho driver Christopher Krapp was very happy to set the 8th fastest time on only his second battery around the challenging track.  Driving his Orion powered RB6 the German, who is better known for his Touring Car achievements which include an ETS race win and being twice a Worlds finalist, said he just needs more track time. Gluing up the walls on his set of dBoots controlled front tyres for Q1, he said the buggy felt really good.  Getting seeded on his first and only practice run on the track he said running in the third fastest heat is a slight disadvantage due to traffic but the German is confident he can build on his Q1 performance tomorrow.

Former multiple European Champion Hupo Honigl set the ninth fastest time the Austrian saying he just made too many driver errors.  Making it five TLR22s in the Top 10 young Dutch driver Wesley Van Helmond set the 10th fastest time ahead of factory Team C driver Oliver Scholz.  The German National Champion was on a Top 4 pace until a crash lost him a massive 10-seconds and he will certainly be one to watch over the remaining 3 rounds of qualifying.

2WD Buggy Q1 times
1. Joern Neumann – Durango – 14/5:12.707
2. Dustin Evans – TLR – 14/5:17.570
3. Naoto Matsukura – Yokomo – 14/5:18.321
4. Darren Bloomfield – TLR – 14/5:18.629
5. Oskar Levin – TLR – 14/5:21.374
6. Tom Cockerill – Schumacher – 13/5:01.184
7. Otto Ausfelt – TLR – 13/5:01.717
8. Christopher Krapp – Kyosho – 13/5:01.759
9. Hupo Honigl – Durango – 13/5:02.433
10.Wesley van Helmond – TLR – 13/5:04.769

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January 4, 2013

TLR set early pace at EOS Round 2

The first major event of the new 2013 season kicked into life this morning with a record entry descending on the town of Langenfeld, Germany, for the second round of the ‘TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series presented by Horizon Hobby’.  Getting the New Year off to a promising start as they chase their first EOS win for the TLR22, Team Losi Racing set the early practice pace with Darren Bloomfield heading the time sheets ahead of team-mates Dustin Evans and Otto Ausfelt with Tamiya’s Lee Martin the best of the rest with the fourth fastest time over three consecutive laps.

In contrast to the fast track layout of the opening round of the EOS held in Poland back in October, the Gerd Strenge designed track is providing drivers with a much greater challenge.  Featuring a crossover section, Strenge and members of the AMC Langenfeld club worked in the to early hours of this morning finishing the track build, the Durango designer’s engineering background very evident during the process as everything was accurately measure out and built to the German’s original plans.  The hard work has paid dividends with drivers giving the layout a very positive thumbs up.

Running his fastest three laps in a time of 1:07.815, birthday boy Bloomfield said the slower technical layout of the track was much better suited to his driving style than Poland with the British driver adding it requires a ‘neater’ driving style. Describing the layout as ‘fun’, the 1:8 Offroad European Champion said the TLR22 has been good from the first time they hit the track.

Former US National Champion Dustin Evans, who is one of four 2011 2WD World Championship finalist’s competing this weekend, said he was really happy with the start to his event.  Having evaluated his TLR22 following Round 1 he came to Germany with an all new set-up and he is really pleased with how it is working.  Only 2/10ths off Bloomfield 3-lap pace, Evans was another who said the more difficult track was more suited to his driving style.  Driving too hard in the opening practice he said the second run was a lot more consistent adding that the approach for the rest of the weekend due to the track layout had to be ‘go slow to go fast’.

Feeling under weather due to suffering from a cold, reigning European Champion Martin said when he can get it right the track flows well but he needs to work a little on his driving to get to that point.  Running his Vega mid motor converted Tamiya TRF201, the Brit who is so far the only driver to beat defending EOS Champion Joern Nuemann in the 2WD Buggy class since the creation of the series said he is pretty happy with the feeling of the buggy and his focus for the moment is on improving the consistency of his driving.

Living just 10-minutes from the new hall in which the event is being hosted and a member of the AMC Langenfeld club, Neumann set the fifth fastest time.  The Durango star said while the track is very different to Poland, where he got his title defense off to the perfect start by taking the win, he likes what Strenge has created.  Suffering with his DEX210 being too aggressive in the faster corners, the German said they have a little work to do in terms of set-up.

Despite this only being the sixth ever Euro Offroad Series race, the concept of the burgeoning series is proving to be a draw for manufacturers with Yokomo making their series debut in Germany.  Heading the team is 4-time reigning Japanese National Champion Naoto Matsukura with reigning back to back Euro Touring Car Series Champion Ronald Volker also racing.  World Finalist Matsukura has never raced on a carpet based offroad track but said he is so far enjoying the experience.  Happy with the set-up on his mid motor configured B-Max2 MR, the 18-year-old said he needs a little more time to adjust to the high traction.  Volker, who last raced a 2WD Buggy as a kid back in 1997, said he is not sure what to expect this weekend but added the track was ‘challenging’.  One of the best Touring Car drivers in the World, the German said his EOS debut was not a sign of any addition program to his already very busy schedule but none the less being a racer he wants to try and do well this weekend.

Elsewhere one driver who could spring a surprise and mix it with the international pro drivers is factory Team C driver Oliver Scholz.  Becoming German National Champion when he beat none other than Neumann to the title, he has already put himself on the radar of the top drivers with Lee Martin predicting Scholz as ‘one to watch’ this weekend.

With the first part of the day dedicated to 2WD action, drivers will have a third practice session which will be followed by a single round of qualifying before the 4WD classes get their first run on the track with three rounds of practice which bring Day 1 of the event to a close.

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December 5, 2012

Lee Martin confirmed for EOS Round 2

Tamiya Racing Factory’s Lee Martin has been confirmed as an entry for the second round of the ‘TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series presented by Horizon Hobby’ in Langenfeld, Germany on January 4-6. The reigning 3-time back to back European 2WD Buggy Champion was the only driver during the inaugural season of the EOS to beat the champion elect Joern Neumann when he took the 2WD buggy win at the second round in Belgium.

The second race of the four round 2012/13 Euro Offroad Series, the German event has already attracted a record 240+ entries and will see Martin do battle with a growing line-up of factory drivers not just in 2WD & 4WD Buggy but also 4WD Short Course, a class that produced a thrilling race between Durango’s Neumann and TLR’s Dustin Evans at the opening round in Poland, the American eventually taking the win.

Champions of all four classes in the EOS, Team Durango will once again be represented by Neumann, who will be looking to keep his unbeaten record in 4WD Buggy intact, and Hupo Honigl. TLR, who ended Durango’s domination of 4WD Short Course last time out, will continue with Evans, 1:8 Offroad European Champion Darren Bloomfield and Matt Castellano. Evans came close to taking TLR’s first 2WD Buggy win at Round 1 only to get a much debated penalty in Leg 2 of the Main, and the former US National Champion will be out to set the record straight in Germany. The Polish EOS encounter was Castellano’s first time racing on a European style carpet surface track and the American acquitted himself well and should be a lot more competitive in Langenfeld.

Other team entries for Round 2 include Schumacher’s Tom Cockerill, who will debut the company’s new CAT K1 4WD Buggy, factory Kyosho driver Christopher Krapp, who was a finalist on his EOS debut at last season’s finale, and Xray’s Martin Bayer. The latest manufacturer to enter the electric offroad scene with their new XB4 4WD Buggy, Xray are set into increase their presence in the series for Round 3 and 4 with Czech off road ace Bayer set to be joined by 3-time European 1:8 Offroad Champion Renaud Savoya.

Hosted by Langenfeld AMC, the club have secured an all new venue for their first Euro Offroad Series event and series promoters have brought onboard Gerd Strenge to design and build the track for this and subsequent rounds. Strenge’s Langenfeld design features a crossover section, a first time for the EOS, and it has been met with a hugely positive response from competitors.