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.
Entry is currently open at MyRCM, so if you want to compete against the best in the World at an awesome venue with a great atmosphere then sign up now.
Having been forced to miss the opening round of the inaugural TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series presented by Horizon Hobby due to 1:8 Offroad commitments, Tamiya Racing Factory’s Lee Martin has confirmed his entry for the second encounter of the exciting new 1:10 electric offroad series that will take place in Belgium over the weekend of March 9-11. The current back to back European 2WD & British 4WD Champion will go head to head with factory driver line-ups from TLR and Team Durango on the indoor astroturf track in Charleroi where he will be aiming to deny Jörn Neumann a repeat of his domination of the opening race in the Czech Republic last weekend.
Round 1 of the EOS saw German ace Neumann win both 2WD and 4WD buggy along with 4WD Short Course, each time finishing ahead of his Durango team-mate Hupo Honigl. Team Losi Racing could only manage the third step of the podium in each class but with the event being their American offroad ace Mike Truhe’s first experience of a European style indoor track, the 2010 US National Champion is confident the steep learning curve of Hrotovice will stand to him in Belgium.
Taking the knowledge gained at the opening race back to the US and combining it with set-ups from team-mate Darren Bloomfield, who has a wealth of experience on non-clay surfaces, Truhe believes he can challenge for the top step of the podium at Round 2 particularly in 2WD Buggy setting the stage for an ultra competitive weekend of race action.
The organisers of the TLR/Spektrum sponsored Euro Offroad Series, legendary race announcer Scotty Ernst and Uwe Rheinard, expect to confirm more high profile entries to join Lee Martin, Mike Truhe, Joern Neumann, Hupo Honigl and Miguel Matias for Round 2 in Belgium.
Entry is currently open at MyRCM, so if you want to compete against the best in the World at an awesome venue with a great atmosphere then sign up now.
Joern Neumann completed the perfect result on the opening weekend of the TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series taking TQ honours and overall victory in both buggy classes at the Czech Republic event along with success in 4WD Short Course. The pre-event favourite started his day of by lifting the 2WD title with victories in Leg 1 & 3 of the A-Main but went on to make even lighter work of the 4WD Buggy class wrapping up the overall win in the second of the three legs.
Dominating the first 4WD Main with a very convincing win, the European Champion gave himself a little more of a challenge in Leg 2 as he rolled his DEX410 at the same spot twice during the race handing the lead to Durango team-mate Hupo Honigl but each time the Austrian made his own mistakes allowing Neumann back to the front. While the final result shows the perfect weekend for Neumann, who was joined on all three podiums by Honigl, we did see the Reedy Race winner make more than his fair share of mistakes. In the final race of the event he had a comfortable lead over the chasing pack but again rolled allowing Honigl to get on his tail before the pair touched a few corners later with Honigl coming off best to take the Leg 3 win.
Behind the Durango duo TLR’s Miguel Matias had a very steady day finishing third in all three Mains to secure himself a place on the podium with his aging XXX-4. Having qualified his XX-4 ahead of the Portuguese driver and secured a podium finish with his TLR 22 in 2WD, Oskar Levin had a contrasting run in 4WD with his strong qualifying performance coming to nothing after a difficult afternoon left him 10th in the final standings.
An encouraging start to the new TLR/Spektrum Euro Offroad Series presented by Horizon Hobby, preparations for Round 2 are already underway with more top name drivers set to join the series In Belgium and challenge Neumann’s early domination of proceedings. Race director Scotty Ernst declared the opening race a tremendous success paying special thanks to all the drivers who made the trip to the Czech Republic, the Bok family for hosting the event and to TLR, Spektrum, Horizon Hobby, dBoots, Vampire Racing, Proline and Tonisport without whom the staging of the new series wouldn’t have been possible.