Today has turned out to be a day for Offroad’s European Champions with 4WD Champion Joern Neumann wrapping up the TQ honours for 4WD Buggy at the Euro Offroad Series much like 2WD Champion Lee Martin did this morning in the 2WD Buggy class. Driving his Speed Passion powered Durango DEX410, Neumann secured pole position for tomorrow’s triple A-Main at the Black Country Arena when like Martin he made it four TQ runs from four qualifiers. Looking like he might complete the clean sweep, the German made a mistake in his fifth & final qualifier allowing team-mate Hupo Honigl to TQ the round which means it’s will be an all Team Durango affair at the front of grid.
Behind the duo, who dominated the first opening race of the inaugural EOS season last month, 2WD Top Qualifier Lee Martin will line up 3rd for Tamiya. The British ace admits that Neumann has a distinct advantage thanks to the corner speed his buggy is able to carry on the astro turf track but added he still thinks he can challenge the Reedy Race Champion for the overall 4WD win.
A man who has tasted success here in Charleroi already this year having won the Euro Indoor Race, Schumacher’s Tom Cockerill starts fourth ahead of American stars Mike Truhe and Dustin Evans. Driving TLR’s aging XXX-4 they are joined by the teams lead European drivers Miguel Matias, who was a podium finisher in the Czech Republic and starts 7th, and Darren Bloomfield, who many expected to be a stronger force, but only lines up 9th.
Mixing it with the World class line-up of team drivers in the final will be France’s Sebastien Wartelle whose Kyosho will carry the No.8 and British driver Nathan Ralls. A regular racer with the host club, Ralls takes the final spot of the grid after a tie break with Round 1 finalist & TLR supported young gun Oskar Levin.
In 4WD Short Course Hupo Honigl secured his second overall TQ of the series again taking pole position ahead of team-mate Neumann whom he will be hoping he can keep behind him in the finals this time. Truhe will line up third with his Losi Ten-SCTE followed by Evans and Czech teenager Kája Novotny.
While Lee Martin has sewn up the top spot on the grid in 2WD Buggy, the rest of the grid will not be finalised until the morning when the last round of the five rounds of qualifying will take place.
Winner of the opening round of the Euro Offroad Series in the Czech Republic, Joern Neumann had picked up where he left off by topping the opening two 4WD Buggy qualifiers by a substantial margin. The Team Durango driver TQ’d Q1 by 9 seconds from TLR’s Mike Truhe and in the second heat was almost 6 seconds clear of Tamiya’s Lee Martin.
A driver who likes to do most of his talking on the track, Neumann said his DEX410 was perfect and the only thing he needed to do was ‘just drive’. Team-mate Hupo Honigl, who was 8th and 4th fastest respectively in the opening heats, was also happy with his buggy adding he just need to drive better.
Failing to finish his first 4WD qualifier due to a problem with his speedo, Martin fitted a new speedo and motor for Q2 which he said transformed the drivability of his TRF502X thanks to a much smoother power delivery. Looking to gain a little more steering for Q3, the back to back British Champion said he didn’t know how he was going to achieve this without making the buggy want to grip roll.
Improving on his Q1 time which was good enough for 5th, Tom Cockerill was third quickest second time out after he cut the outside spikes on his dBoots tyres halfway down. The Schumacher driver said his SX3 feels horrible to drive but he can still get good times with it. For his third heat the British driver will try a shorter wheelbase in the hope of getting the buggy to turn in better through the 180 degree corners.
Despite running fractionally faster in his second heat Truhe only ended up 5th. The American said his buggy is getting better each run and he hopes changes to his front shocks will allow him to push harder next time out. Team-mate Dustin Evans got his qualifying off to a solid start in Q1 with 3rd but next time out failed to finish the run. Describing buggy as ‘awesome’ he made a mistake just before the 3 minute mark which resulted in a broken front caster block.
Evans wasn’t the only TLR to break as Darren Bloomfield ‘wrecked’ his XXX-4 in the first round. Only 13th fastest in Q2, he said he is finding his 4WD very hard to drive and he hopes by running a similar set-up to Evans for his next run he can post a decent round. Sixth fastest in both rounds, Portuguese 1:8 Offroad ace Miguel Matias said he does not think he can improve his Nosram powered TLR but his driving needs work as he made mistakes each run.
After an impressive opening heat that left him 4th for the round, French driver Sebastien Wartelle couldn’t match his pace in Q2 but once again was fastest of the non-team drivers in 8th spot separating the TLR Team Sweden drivers Oskar Levin and Otto Ausfelt.
In the 4WD Short Course class Hupo Honigl took the opening two qualifiers from Neumann with Truhe third in Q1 while in the second round young Czech driver Kája Novotny made it a Durango 1-2-3.
Lee Martin is Top Qualifier for 2WD Buggy at the the TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series in Belgium after a perfect morning by the Tamiya driver netted four TQ runs from as many heats. Despite one round of qualifying remaining for the class which will take place in the morning ahead of the finals, Martin has put pole position beyond the reach of his rivals irrespective of the out come of the final qualifier as each driver must count their best two scores.
The European Champion produced the fastest run of the day in the penultimate qualifier but only by 6/10th of a second as a much improved Joern Neumann became the only other driver to run a 15-lap heat around the Black Country Arena track. Setting the third fastest time of Q4 was Darren Bloomfield but with the action for the rest of today now switching to the five rounds of 4WD Buggy qualifying he along with the rest of the drivers will have to wait till the morning to see where they will ultimately line up for the 2WD finals.
Qualification Ranking List After 4 Rounds of 5
1. Lee Martin (GB) – Tamiya – 0 pts
2. Jörn Neumann (DE) – Durango – 2
3. Darren Bloomfield (GB) – TLR – 3
4. Dustin Evans (US) – TLR – 3
5. Tom Cockerill (GB) – Schumacher – 6
6. Mike Truhe (US) – TLR – 7
7. Hupo Hönigl (AT) – Durango – 8
8. Oskar Levin (SE) – TLR – 9
9. Nathan Ralls (GB) – MCS Kyosho – 12
10.Miguel Matias (PT) – TLR – 17
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.