Bruno Coelho is looking on target for a home TQ for Xray after he posted a second TQ run in the third round of qualifying at EOS Slovakia. After errors in Q2 left with him with a P3, the Portuguese ace put in a clean consistent Q3 to top the times despite Joern Neumann setting the pace for a time before crashing and eventually going out due to a broken C-hub. Behind Coelho, Michal Orlowski would put in another strong result despite his heat, again tenths off the TQ pace. For Lee Martin an early crash put an end to any chance of him repeating his Q2 TQ as a rear spring got knocked out of his mounting, the compressed spring leaving the Yokomo a struggle to drive and he ended up 20th. The penultimate qualifier would see a big improvement for Neil Cragg, the Team Associated driver completing the Top 3 thanks to a ‘steady round’.
‘After the previous round I just tried to drive without mistakes, I was super careful’, was how Coelho summed up Q3. He added ‘even when Neumann was in the lead I just tried to keep a safe pace and with this I was able to TQ when he crashed’. Describing the track as ‘super difficult’, he continued, ‘it is possible to go super fast but not every lap’. With this in mind and going into the final round looking best poised to secure the overall TQ he will ‘take the same approach’ as he did in the last heat – be super careful. Asked about tyres, he said he was experiencing ‘a lot of tyre wear’ and they would need to look at a strategy for the finals but with two TQ runs, the tyre wear was more of an issue for his rivals than him.
Reacting to his P2 for the round, Orlowski said, ‘again just a few tenths so actually I’m a little disappointed’. Setting the fastest lap of the round, the factory Schumacher driver continued, ‘I want to try take second on the grid so I need to TQ the last round, we’ll see how it goes’. Running a new set of tyres on his new Cougar KC, the Polish driver said he was lucky to not break the car in the warm-up after the new tyres caught him out at the end of the straight. After that warning he said he had to be very careful at the start of the qualifier but that shouldn’t be an issue for the fourth & final qualifier.
‘It was a steady round so I can’t complain’, was Cragg’s reaction to getting 3rd ahead of Xray’s Martin Bayer and Martin Wollanka. Having made a breakthrough with his first EOS podium at the previous encounter in Poland, the European Champion said they have been ‘improving the car every run’ but they ‘need to find a little magic somewhere’. He added ‘we are stuck in the middle, it’s not fast enough to win but it’s decent. We’re not quite there yet’. Aiming for another Top 3 to end out the opening day to better his grid position, his prediction is the ‘finals will be absolute chaos’ and he’e hoping to be there to pick up the pieces.
Chassis: Xray XB2 ’17 Motor: Hobbywing V10G2 6.5T ESC: Hobbywing Xerun XR10 Pro Batteries: EZ Power 5300mAh “Graphene” Radio/Servo: Sanwa Remarks – Xray factory driver Bruno Coelho is running the 2017 version of the XB2 equipped with a number of option parts here at the team’s home track. Fitted with graphite arms on a carbon fibre chassis plate, his car features aluminium uprights, camber link plates and steering system, a brass front bulkhead and a 50g steel under-LiPo weight. The Portuguese driver is also using steel differential gears and Hiro Seiko screws.
Lee Martin came good on his practice topping form to TQ the second round of qualifying at the Euro Offroad Series in Slovakia. Opening qualifying at the Hudy Arena with an almost immediate mistake and ending up with a P4 for Q1 behind an Xray 1-2, this time the Yokomo driver put in a strong drive with the heat containing nothing more than a few bobbles. Behind the reigning champion, current championship leader Michal Orlowski turned around a terrible practice to post the 2nd fastest time despite having to run in the third fastest heat. Having made it look like he might dominate qualifying with his drive through the field to TQ the first of the four qualifiers, Bruno Coelho would trip himself up with a number of mistakes including one like Martin in the previous round on the first lap. He would manage to get 3rd for the round but the deficit to Martin’s TQ time, the faster of the two rounds, was almost 5-seconds.
Commenting on his 14-lap run, Martin said, ‘I had a couple of bobbles but nothing crazy. I didn’t push too hard, it was a nice run’. Having felt his YZ-2, which is running a new 3D printed rear end, had lost pace between practice and Q1, he would change to his second set of tyres for Q2. This resulted in the a car that ‘felt good again, but the Brit said he couldn’t be sure it was down to the tyre or a change in the track conditions. Planning to stay the same in terms of the car set-up, he said he will consider switching back to the first set of tyres to check if this was actually his issue adding with drivers having just two sets of the handout Schumacher tyre he might also be wise to save the second set if it turns out to be a good set.
Getting an 8th in the opening qualifier, Orlowski said ‘after the bad practice I wasn’t so upset with that but after a rough start to the heat I knew I could improve on it’. While getting a better start to Q2, the EOS Poland winner said, his pace was a little slower than normal as he dealt with traffic something he said is always one of the issues of ending up in a slower heat. Finishing only 35/100ths off Martin’s TQ time he said another problem he faced was ‘it is difficult to pace myself and know whether to push or not and in the end it was very close’. Describing his all new Cougar KC as being ‘really good’ even for practice, he said finding himself in the heat he is in is ‘completely my own fault’. Looking to the remaining two qualifiers, the former Hudy Arena race winner said, ‘I think this (his Q2 result) was a good confidence boost’.
‘Just too many mistakes, my car is very good’ was how Coelho summed up Q2. Setting the fastest lap of the qualifier, such was the 4WD World Champions pace that his team-mate Bayer opened up to let him passed but again the speed was undone with two further bad laps. Having got second on Q1, Bayer would get a 5th in his second qualifier ahead of the Yokomo of Marc Rheinard, the latter still struggling to show signs of his EOS Nurburgring winning form. Behind the 3-time Touring Car World Champion, who has yet to announce who he will race Touring Car for in 2017, Neil Cragg was the best of the Associated drivers improving slightly on his P9 for Q1.
A crash on the last double of the lap would prevent Joern Neumann from another Top 3 result. The Serpent driver started out good but midway through landed the jump wide and flipped his car eventually getting a P4 for his efforts. Hoping to get rid of the mistakes, the German will also make a small set-up adjustment to get more rear grip. The former champion feels the tyre wear for him is a little more than that of his rivals and he needs to adapt his set-up for that.
Chassis: Team Associated B6 Motor: Reedy Sonic 6.5T ESC: LRP Flow Batteries: Reedy 5300mAh Radio/Servo: KO/Reedy Remarks – Team Associated Factory Driver Neil Cragg is running a B6 equipped with aluminium steering bellcrank and rear arm mount, Schelle rear uprights and titanium top screws (the chassis screws remaining the standard ones issued in the kit). He is also using a steel weight plates under the servo, the ESC and the battery, with the addition of a brass front bulkhead. The former WC also opted for mounting a Pro-Line front wing at the bottom of the front shock tower.
Bruno Coelho opened qualifying at EOS Slovakia with an impressive TQ run dealing a blow his rivals who in practice looked to have had the slight upper edge over the Xray’s on their home grounds. Rolling off the start line 6th, Coelho would work his way through the field with apparent ease to head an Xray 1-2. Surviving a significant late mistake, the Portuguese ace end up almost 4/10ths quicker than Martin Bayer with Serpent’s Joern Neumann completing the Top 3 some 2-seconds off. Having set the pace in seeding practice Lee Martin could only manage fourth ahead of his impressive young Yokomo team-mate Daniel Kobbevik while Team Associated’s young star Joona Hataanen completed the Top 6.
Admitting that he had even impressed himself with his TQ run, Coelho said, ‘the track is really difficult so I started slowly because my goal is first to make the A-Main because I missed it last time’. Having 2 mistakes over the 5-minutes, putting the bigger of the 2 down to being over-safe with his driving. Jumping short his Hobbywing powered XB2 cased the jump with the lost time temporarily resulting in Bayer moving to the top of the timing screens. Setting the fastest lap of the busy layout with a time of 22.583, he said his car was perfect and the only thing he need to change for Q2 was to cut out the mistakes, a task that is admittedly easier said than done on this particular track.
‘Excellent’ was how Bayer summed up his opening qualifier adding, ‘as a team you cant get a better start so I’m very happy’. Having moved to Trencin to fulfil his role as Xray’s Offroad Team Manager, making this even more a home for the Czech driver, he said ‘I wasn’t the fastest, I was cruising and had no mistakes and that worked out perfect’. The only driver to have given Xray a win in 2WD of the EOS, that winning come at the Hudy Arena, he said he is ‘really comfortable with the car’ adding ‘this track is about self control, you can’t push’.
‘Third is a really good start’ was Neumann’s reaction to what has been his most competitive start to 2WD qualifying since the days of his reigning as champion in the early days of the championship. Despite losing close to 3-seconds when he landed sideways on the table top causing his car to flip, he is confident ‘that there is room to push a little harder’ and with this he ‘should be fine’ in terms of getting on pace with the Xrays.
Lee Martin said, ‘I made myself nervous at the first corner when I hit the pipe and that had me scared for a few laps’. While his driving for the early part of the qualifier was not up to scratch he felt overall he had ‘lost time compared to practice’ adding ‘I don’t know why’. Looking to Q2 the reigning champion said, ‘we’ll have another go and try not to be so stupid’, the stupid a reference to him driving his RC Concept powered YZ2 into the piping at the first corner. Kobbevik said he was very happy’ with his start to qualifying feeling that refreshing the diff oil had made the car ‘a little faster.’ Set to leave his car unchanged, he said his goal for Q2 is to eliminate some of the driver errors.
Hataanen was content with his P6 result but said his car not 100% to his liking. Describing his B6 as being ‘super edgy all day’ he said adding weight for the first qualifier had made it more easy but it was ‘still hard for me to drive’. While the car is ‘getting better all the time’ the 14-year-old said they don’t know if adding more weight would further improve the current level of edginess. Hataanen’s senior team-mate Neil Cragg, having had a good practice to end up second fastest, would finish 9-seconds off the TQ pace something the British driver said was the result of ‘too many crashes’.