Neil Cragg has topped 2WD practice at Round 2 of the Euro Offroad Series in Daun, Germany. A new venue on the Season #7 calendar, the Team Associated driver set the fastest two consecutive laps of the large track from reigning 2WD Champion Michal Orlowski with championship leader Bruno Coelho completing the Top 3 times in seeding. Behind them Yokomo’s Lee Martin made it four different manufacturers at the top of the time sheets ahead of Cragg’s young team-mate Joona Haatanen.
Opening his weekend in the best way possible after a tough time at the season opener in Poland, Cragg put his improved performance down to a number of factors. Now wearing glasses, the former World Champion is feeling more confident driving with them on. The British driver is also a lot happier with his 2WD having gone in a different direction with set-up following a Team Associated open day run in the UK by CML. With drivers getting to try each other’s cars and sharing information on set-up, Cragg made some interesting observations driving one car in particular that lead to him making ‘positive changes’ to his standard set-up. Another contributing factor to his practice pace is parts he is using on the car with B6D arms and shock tower on the front and B64 arms on the rear. He also running Pro-line’s Elite body liking how it makes the car a little more aggressive in the front.
Summing up his three practice runs, Orlowski said, ‘It went Ok. We didn’t change much’. The Schumacher driver continued, ‘because the traction is very high we only adjusted the rear camber link by 1mm’. Chasing his 4th EOS career win in 2WD in the hope of closing Coelho’s early lead in the standings, he added, ‘It’s not the fastest but I never want to TQ practice. Overall I’m pretty happy with the car’.
‘I had some mistakes but the feeling is good’, was Coelho’s reaction to setting the third fastest time. The Xray driver said he ‘didn’t change anything on the car’ instead focusing on ‘getting more of a feeling for the track. With drivers now to switch to 4WD practice before ending Day 1 of the event with the first 2WD qualifier, the Portuguese ace said, ‘It’s looking all good in 2WD’.
Reflecting on his morning at the controls of his 2WD, Martin said, ‘It started slow but got better towards the end’. The reigning European Champion continued, ‘I feel I can go a bit faster because my perception at the back section of the track is still not perfect’. Asked about the track layout, the British driver replied, ‘some bits are OK, some bits are awkward. I like the fast sections in the front but the carpet is very rippled in sections which is causing the 2WD to pop wheelies. Also they have taped the carpet in weird sections which can flip the car’. On his car he concluded, ‘we still need more corner speed but overall it’s not at a bad place’.
Venue – Sporthotel & Resort Grafenwald Race Hosts – EOS Country – Germany Location – Daun (180km West of Frankfurt) Direction – Anti-clockwise Surface – Carpet No. of EOS Races hosted – 0
Round 2 of the Euro Offroad Series takes place at an all new venue with the Sporthotel & Resort Grafenwald in Daun, Germany, experiencing an RC invasion for the next two weekends as after the EOS the best touring car drivers in the world will also descend on the same venue for their second round of the ETS. A holiday resort in the German countryside, the race is taking place in the venue’s 2,600 square metre sports hall while racers stay in cabins at the resort. In terms of the track, the build was completed by the same ATA crew that built the track in Poland for the Season #7 opener. Covering an area of 830 square metres, they have been able to create a unique and rather long lap. Featuring a 38 metre long straight, the track takes advantage of the hall’s courts layout with the centre of the track stretching to 30 metres wide in the centre section. Also new is the use of red carpet for the jumps which makes them more clearly defined.
Heading both buggy championships after dominating the season opener, Bruno Coelho described the track as ‘very technical’ adding, ‘It is one of the most difficult tracks of the EOS’. The Xray driver continued, ‘the car is not really important here it is more on the driver and making no mistakes because it’s such a big lap’. One element challenging drivers are ripples in the carpet in a number of sections which ‘make it easy to flip’. Asked his thoughts on the track, reigning 2WD champion Michal Orlowski replied, ‘It’s different, the shape is different and it’s pretty big’, The Schumacher driver continued, ‘It is a very long lap which makes it hard to be consistent but the red jumps are much better. You can see them easier’. Like Coelho, he said, ‘some parts of the carpet are not flat and the carpet is joined with tape so if you hit these wrong you flip’.
Following Bruno Coelho’s domination of the Euro Offroad Series season opener back in October, his rivals will be looking to prevent the reigning 4WD Champion from stretching his points lead as the championship visits an all new venue in Daun, Germany, this weekend (26-28 January).In Warsaw, Coelho and the Xray team completed a clean sweep with the Portuguese star taking the TQ and the win in both classes while his team-mates joined him on either side of both the 2WD and 4WD podiums. Having had 3-months to regroup following the deep defeat, rival teams will be aiming for a better showing on the first of the two German stops on the Season #7 calendar.
As the reigning 2WD Champion Michal Orlowski, who a year earlier did the double in Poland, his home event proved tough with 4th the best he could manage behind Coelho, Martin Bayer and EOS debutant Ty Tessmann. In 4WD things were worse as he ended up 9th. The Schumacher driver however comes into the second round off the back of a successful DHI Cup where he took the double win and the World Championship Top Qualifier also now has the benefit of a quick team-mate in multiple former Champion Joern Neumann. While Neumann has had some lean season’s of late, the German is still the most winning driver in the EOS and he’ll be keen to kick off his EOS campaign as a Schumacher driver by adding an 18th career win.
Former champions Yokomo have become World Champions since the first round and they will be looking for a strong result to get them back in the title chase of the EOS.A champion in both 2WD and 4WD, World Championship podium finisher Lee Martin opened 2018 with a win on carpet at the British Off-Road Grand Prix ahead of Neil Cragg and Orlowski in 2WD and finished second to the young Pole in 4WD. Martin’s Yokomo team-mate Marc Rheinard struggled in Poland but the EOS race winner has been busy testing at various tracks ahead of his home event.
With Joona Haatanen leading the Team Associated charge at the season opener, the iconic offroad brand will be looking for a better presence in the A-Main. Neil Cragg had a disappointing trip to Poland and will be looking for a better performance in Germany. In addition to the young Haatanen, 13-year-old star of the DHI Cup Elias Johansson from Sweden will be looking to back that up with a strong EOS showing.
David Ronnefalk made his return to the EOS at the season opener after some time away and the 1:8 World Champion is aiming to be in the mix.The HB Racing driver was the best non Xray driver in 4WD in Poland but finishing on the podium in both 2WD and 4WD at the World Championships in China in November he will be looking for a good showing in both classes this time round.
Elsewhere former 1:10 Offroad World Champion and Serpent designer Billy Easton will make his EOS debut this weekend heading the team following Neumann’s departure.
Bruno Coelho has opened the new season of the Euro Offroad Series in the best way possible with the Xray driver doing the double in Poland adding the 4WD win to yesterday’s 2WD victory with another faultless performance in A2. Also securing the bonus point on offer for the TQ, the reigning 4WD Champion finds himself already three points in the lead of both the 2WD & 4WD standings. Having secured his first ever EOS double at the penultimate round of last season’s championship, today’s 4WD victory marks the World Champion’s 7th win in the class setting him up perfectly to become the first driver to do equal Joern Neumann record of 3-consecutive EOS title wins. Behind Coelho the 4WD podium would be, as it was in 2WD, an all Xray affair with Bayer winning A3 to secure second overall with Daniel Kobbevik having a great weekend to claim his first EOS podium. Ty Tessmann would claim 4th on his EOS debut with David Ronnefalk best of the rest, the HB Racing driver being the top non Xray driver with 5th, having been in contention for a podium placing before a coming together with Tessmann in A3.
Summing up his weekend in Warsaw, the opening round taking place as part of a Travel and Camping Show at Ptak Warsaw Expo, Coelho said, ‘I’m super happy for sure to start the season like this. I was not expecting this but we did come here 110% ready also having Ty here and that shows in the result of the whole team’. He continued, ‘Everything worked perfect and it was only my own mistakes that were a problem. Now we have to prepare for the next race when I hope things stay the same’. Asked about his A2 performance, he replied, ‘Again I just forced for the first 4 or 5 laps to get a gap and then after that I drove a controlled race to keep the lead in the hand’.
‘I’m super happy, 2nd time second is amazing for me’, was Bayer reaction to repeating his 2WD result. He continued, ‘I know I can’t beat Bruno but I have the feeling I can do better but I can’t take the pressure anymore from the young guys behind me, the competition is super high’. As head of Xray’s offroad programme, he said, ‘It been a super amazing result for the team. We made huge domination and to win all four classes was amazing but we need to keep working hard. We can’t sleep or we will not be there next race’.
Marking his first EOS outing as an Xray team driver with his first podium of the championship, a very pleased Kobbevik said, ‘I am super happy. This is the best result I have had. Starting fifth and getting a podium is a great start and I hope I can continue in this way for the rest of the season’. Having taken a second in the opening A-Main, the 12-year-old showed no nerves mixing it with some of the World’s best drivers and backing up that result with third place in both A2 and 3.
Just missing out on a podium double, having finished 3rd in 2WD yesterday, Tessmann summed up his first EOS weekend by saying, ‘It was cool to do but I don’t know I would want to do the whole season. I still prefer dirt’. He continued, ‘It was definitely a challenge to come from dirt to here. It’s completely different to what I am used too. It would be nice to come back and do it now and again’. On his A2 and A3 performances, the Canadian said, ‘I had second run tyres for both so the car was good but in the last one something was wrong with the power. It felt like it was cogging or slipping and I limped around the last lap and lost second’.
‘Unlucky I would say’ was how Ronnefalk described his fifth place finish. Returning to the EOS after more than a 2-year absence he said, ‘I was putting pressure on Ty but he didn’t have the power to get over the double so I went for it but his car came up and touched the underneath of my car and that cost me a podium. He continued, ‘I knew 2nd in the last one would get me 3rd overall. I just had to beat Kobbevik’s time. 5th overall doesn’t show the result of the car. I am happy where the car is at we just didn’t have some luck today plus we lacked a little experience with the new car but we will get that’. Behind Ronnefalk, Lee Martin would complete the Top 6. Running Yokomo’s new YZ4-SF, it was a disappointing debut for the car with Xray looking to have raised the bar they set last year even higher.