Euro Offroad Series 2WD Championship points leader Martin Bayer has topped seeding for Round 3 at the Hudy Arena, the Xray fastest from team-mate Kája Novotný. A former winner at his home event, Bayer had a clear advantage over an otherwise closely match field, his best 3-consecutive laps of 1:13.601 almost a full second quicker than Novotný’s. Behind the pre race favourite and Novotný, it was last year’s winner Michal Orlowski who was third quickest with Schumacher looking the best of the rest on Xray’s home turf as Joern Neumann posted the 5th fastest time. Lee Martin set the fourth fastest time, the Yokomo driver unable to improve on his time from the first of the two counting timed practice rounds. Coming into the event on the back of his first EOS victory last month, Team Associated’s Neil Cragg will be seeded 7th for qualifying, all four rounds taking place later today.
Commenting on his pace, Bayer said, ‘Since the last EOS even though I finished on the podium I was not happy with the car in Daun so we went to all the local races to be better this round and now it is really good’. He continued, ‘The track is very different here and you are at double the speed every corner but I’m very happy with the set-up we have’. With all drivers feeling the high speed nature of the track layout will make it hard to not crash, he concluded, ‘Qualifying is going to be completely different, doing 5-minutes without crashing will be difficult’.
‘Perfect’ is how Novotný summed up practice. The Czech driver continued, ‘I haven’t changed anything since the first run, the car is amazing. We raced at the Mibo Cup last weekend and found a set-up that worked there and it is working here too’. Describing the times as ‘super close’, Orlowski only 4/100ths of a second off him, he expects qualifying to be challenging. He said, ‘I think it will be hard to not crash. When I was following behind drivers in practice and tried to catch someone I made mistakes, the 5-minutes will be hard’.
‘It went well, the feeling of the car is pretty good’, was Orlowski’s thoughts on how practice had went, drivers starting the day with two rounds of free practice before going into seeding. The Polish teenager continued, ‘We made small changes every run and have the car good. Obviously we are lacking speed to Xray but with Joern also up there in the times we are the best of the rest. We need to find something in the set-up to catch Martin (Bayer) but we will see on 5-minutes how it is as it might mix it up’
Lee Martin summed up his practice pace by saying he was ‘lacking corner speed’. He continued, ‘It feels slow in the corners, the jumps are OK but we are still losing time to Xray but I think this is confidence on the jumps, nothing else’. Describing the track layout as ‘pretty flat out’ he added, ‘It going to be hard to catch Martin unless he has a bad experience’. Asked if he had changes in mind to improve corner speed he replied, ‘we are kind of running out of ideas but there are little things we can keep changing but it is going to be tough’.
Neumann was pleased with his early pace adding his Schumacher is ‘pretty consistent over a 5-minute run’. The former champion continued, ‘It is really close from 2nd to 6th-7th, just Martin Bayer is faster’. Happy with the feeling of his car in the final practice he said, ‘we are still discussing car set-up but I think I will keep it the same for Q1 to get more comfortable with the track. The angled jumps mean the car can jump funny’.
‘Car feels better than lap times are telling me but it’s pretty close out there’, was Cragg’s thoughts after the conclusion of practice. Without regular mechanic Craig Drescher, who was due to fly out with his driver yesterday but couldn’t after coming down with a fever, the former World Champion said, ‘as a qualifying car it’s not too bad and it’s not too far off. We just need to find a little magic’.
Name – Hudy Racing Arena Club – Private Track Country – Slovakia Location – Trencin (120 km North East of Bratislava) Direction – Clockwise Surface – Carpet tiles Previous key events hosted – 4 X EOS rounds, 5 X ETS rounds
The Euro Offroad Series reaches the half stage this weekend with the Hudy Arena in Slovakia hosting the 1:10 Offroad Championship for a 5th time with the majority of drivers now familiar with the world class facility and the local city of Trencin in which it is located. In terms of the facility little has changed from the EOS drivers’ perspective however outside located between the Hudy Arena and the Xray factory the new indoor dirt track is looking even closer to completion, many drivers excited about the prospect of having a new indoor dirt venue to race on, such luxuries a rarity in Europe compared to them being standard practice in the US.
In terms of the track, the layout as normal utilises a 34 metre long by 28 metre deep area. Taking the 2WD win here last year Michal Orlowski described this year’s layout as ‘casual’. He added, ‘it doesn’t look difficult but the angled jumps can catch you out. The other main thing of the track is the table top because the timing is tricky for getting the down jump right, otherwise it’s just a standard track’.
Having secured his first EOS race victory at the previous round in Daun, Germany, Neil Cragg was also not overly impressed with this year’s layout. He said, ‘last year’s layout was so crazy, this year it’s a bit mundane. If you look at the times everyone is the same speed’. He continued, ‘It’s a nice flowing track but for lack of a better word it’s a bit simple’. Asked if any elements stood out as challenging he replied, ‘the jump section at the end of the straight is a bit shitty. It feels like they just chucked it in there. It doesn’t really have a rhythm to it’.
This weekend (23-25 February) marks the half way stage of the Euro Offroad Series as championship leaders Xray welcome their rivals into their back garden as the Hudy Arena in Slovakia hosts the third round of Season #7.Bruno Coelho leads the way in the 4WD standings but the winner of the season opener will be absent this weekend due to his preparations for the defence of his TITC touring car title in Thailand next weekend.In 2WD, Martin Bayer sits at the top of the points table having enjoyed podium finishes at the opening two rounds and the on form previous Hudy Arena race winner will be aiming to complete the full set of podium step positions by becoming the third different winner this season at what is now a ‘home race’ for the Czech native.
With the season opener dominated by Coelho, Round 2 at the new Daun venue in Germany last month threw up a more interesting result in particular in 2WD as Neil Cragg finally added his name to the EOS’ Roll of Honour.After a disappointing start in Warsaw, the Team Associated driver came into the second race of the season having racked up plenty of testing mileage on carpet during the Christmas/New Year layoff with that work immediately paying dividends as he took only his second ever EOS career TQ.Able to convert that to maiden victory to leave Daun with maximum points, the former World Champion together with AE team manager Craig Drescher would love nothing more than to add win number 2 in Xray’s own back garden.
Beating Xray on the very track on which they develop their cars was something Michal Orlowski achieved last season en-route to becoming 2WD Champion, the Pole taking race victory ahead of Lee Martin and Coelho. The Schumacher driver didn’t have a successful home race when Warsaw hosted Round 1, him not even making the podium, but in Daun he was back on his game taking the win in 4WD over Top Qualifier Coelho and finishing second in 2WD to get his title defence back on track.Making his EOS debut as a Schumacher driver last time out, Joern Neumann should be well settled in with his new team this weekend and will be determined to deliver results.Still the EOS’ most winning driver he will be looking to step out of the shadows of his younger team-mate Orlowski and finally become a regular contender for race wins once again.
For reigning World Champion manufacturer Yokomo, the opening two rounds haven’t delivered the results team leader Lee Martin would have hoped for.Now the only one of the big four manufacturers in the championship yet to register a win this season, former double champion Martin declared his 4th place in 2WD as an ‘unlucky’ result having shown good pace in the finals. Going on to make the podium in 4WD, the European Champion was pleased with the progress made with their YZ-4, and encouraged by the podium will be looking to lead Yokomo to their first win of the season this weekend.Qualifying 3rd in Daun, one spot ahead of Martin, team-mate Marc Rheinard’s frustrating run of results in the EOS since taking a victory at last season’s opening race continued. One of only 7 drivers in the championship to register multiple wins he plummeted to 8th in the final 4WD result and so will be hoping the trip to Trencin, which means he will arrive later than usual in Bangkok for the TITC, sees an end to his podium drought.
Michal Orlowski has taken the overall 4WD victory at Round 2 of the Euro Offroad Series in Germany. The Schumacher driver claimed only his second ever 4WD win when he once again took advantage of a mistake from Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho in the second of the A-Main encounters. Taking the win from Coelho in A1 following a late mistake from the reigning champion, this time the mistake came on the opening lap allowing Orlowski to lead at the end of the first lap, a lead he wouldn’t relinquish despite Coelho’s best efforts. Posting the fastest lap of the race by 3/10th over Orlowski’s best, three more errors from Coelho prevented him from catching his rival. With the large track at the new venue seeing no one manufacturer having a distinct advantage, like the result in 2WD, the podium was made up of drivers representing all different manufacturers with Yokomo’s Lee Martin filling the final step in Daun.
‘No words’, was Orlowski’s reaction to what is his fifth EOS win, three of which the reigning 2WD Champion took in 2WD. He continued, ‘I was fast all weekend but qualifying didn’t start like I wanted and I was worried I might not even make the A-Main. I got my confidence this morning (final two qualifiers) and my strategy for the final was to just stay behind Bruno. I remembered from Warsaw (last season) that he can make mistakes’. Orlowski’s maiden 4WD win came at his home race in 2016 when he also started behind Coelho who had taken the TQ but made mistakes in the finals. Running a prototype CAT, the 16-year-old said, ‘using 3D printed parts with the big jumps here was risky but the car worked all weekend. I am so happy to show the car works and to win after 2WD being so close is great. It was almost a double, maybe next time’.
Finally managing a win in A3, Coelho summed up his 4WD performance, ‘the track was quite difficult this weekend and we struggled a little with the car. Yes I made many mistakes but these came from how the car was. All the time I was forcing to be on the top and pushing led to mistakes that cost me many seconds on the track. Orlowski was one step higher than both me and Lee (Martin) here. Our car was not on point this weekend and we need to work harder for the next one’. Retaining his lead in the championship standings, on his A3 performance, having lost the lead in A1 and A2 through mistakes, he said, ‘it was a good final. I made no mistakes. Lee forced a little but I was able to pull away’.
‘That was the most fun race I had all weekend’, said Martin on finishing 2nd in A3 to secure his first podium of the season. The former Champion continued, ‘I was just starting to catch Bruno a little and then messed up in the triple. I took too long to get going at the start so that let him get away and he drove well out front but I’m still happy because I think we now have a good set-up for the next round’. Summing up the weekend, he said, ‘Obviously I want to win but I’m happy get back onto the podium having missed it at the last round. The car is still new and it only the 4th time to race it on carpet so we are learning all the time’. Behind Martin and also having his best race in A3, David Ronnefalk would finish 4th ahead of Hupo Honigl and Joern Nuemann.