Michal Orlowski will chase the first win of his Euro Offroad Series 2WD title defence from his third consecutive TQ start tomorrow in Slovakia. The Schumacher driver claimed the TQ honors at the fourth round of the season takes to Bruno Coelho taking the final qualifier at the Hudy Arena. Having taken Q1 and Q3, only Martin Bayer who took Q2 could prevent Orlowski from taking his EOS career TQ of 2WD. With his TQ run, which he almost handed to Lee Martin through a last lap mistake, Coelho will line up second on tomorrow’s grid ahead of Xray team-mate Bayer. Coming into the weekend leading the points standings, Lee Martin will line up 4th with Joona Haatanen completing the Top 5 with a badly needed P4 run in the final qualifier. In a rather diverse A-Main line-up, Adam Izsay will start sixth ahead of young up & coming Polish talent Bartosz Zalewski, Daniel Kobbevik and Bartłomiej Kramża with former champion Jörn Neumann just scraping in ahead of top female racer Jessica Pålsson on the tie break.
Frustrated with his Q4 performance opting to eventually pull off with one minute to remaining, Orlowski said, ‘I was on new tyres and crashed on the first lap. I tried to get back to the front but made another mistake’. He continued, ‘this is my 3rd TQ in a row this season, I don’t have any wins yet but I hope I can change that tomorrow. I will just go out and do my thing’. The Pole added, ‘Bruno is starting second but I feel I have a small pace advantage on him. I watched his car after I pulled off and it didn’t look as safe as my car. Last weekend I TQ’d here (at the XRS race). He started second and I pulled away’.
‘It was a good clean run except for the last lap’, was Coelho’s reaction after finally delivering on his top seed form from practice. The EOS Poland winner added, ‘If you remove my mistake on the table (top) it was a nice run but everyone is doing many mistakes. Me, Lee, Orlowski. I think the final is more than open. It doesn’t matter if you start 1st or 4th’. Aiming to give Xray a home win he said, ‘I will force a little from the start to try pass Orlowski. We have the same pace so I need to be aggressive from the start’.
Bayer summed up his 3rd place on the grid as ‘beautiful’ adding ‘I’m third behind the two fastest guy so hopefully that puts me in the best place if they fight too hard’. Feeling his quickest days as a driver are behind him, the Xray Offroad Team Manager concluded, ‘I’m super happy with my speed & pace and feeling of the car. Everything is perfect’.
Winner at EOS Daun, Martin summed up the final qualifier by saying, ‘I’m gutted I crashed at the table top. That was the best the has been for sure’. Finishing 7/10ths of a second off Coelho at the end of the 5-minutes, the Yokomo driver said, ‘I am still losing time on the left side of the track. Bruno is very good there, the same with Michal but I heard the layout is the same as when they raced here last weekend. Anyway I start 4th and a lot could happen up front and Joona is behind me and he likes to be racy at the start. We’ll see what happens’.
A very relived Haatanen said, ‘I was nervous for that one. Q3 was bad. I was giving room to Bruno and clipped the pipe and broke an arm. After that I was nervous I was even going to make the A-Main.’ On his Q4 performance, the Team Associated driver said, ‘It wasn’t perfect as I had one crash and a few bobbles. The car felt better this time but the lap times are way behind. Still I got 4th for the round so I am starting 5th and they should be interesting finals’. Asked about making further changes to his car, the EOS Nurburgring winner replied, ‘we need to discuss at diner what to try’.
Despite a lengthy late error in which his Schumacher needed to be marshalled, Michal Orlowski has TQ’d the third round of qualifying at EOS Slovakia. Having taken the opening qualifier but made a mistake on the opening lap in Q2, Orlowski posted his second TQ run of the day’s 2WD to top the times from Q2 winner Martin Bayer. With Lee Martin completing the Top 3 ahead of Hungarian driver Adam Izsay, Bayer is now the only driver who can deny Orlowski from going for his third consecutive EOS win at the Hudy Arena from pole position. In order to make it a home TQ for Xray, Bayer will need to TQ the fourth & final qualifier in a quicker time than that set by Orlowski in Q1 but will all the leading drivers still having a second set of tyres at their disposal the opportunity is there for an improvement on the Q1 time. One driver to use his second set of tyres in Q3 was former champion Joern Neumann but having a 4-second mistake, he ended up with a P5 for the round ahead of Neil Cragg. Cragg was the best Associated driver with team-mate Joona Haatanen unable to build on his Q2 Top5 run after pulling a rear corner off his car. Another of this season’s race winners, Bruno Coelho had another rough qualifier ending up P7 but the top seed still has the opportunity to start P2 behind Orlowski tomorrow if he can deliver a TQ run in the final round.
Martin Bayer claimed a surprise TQ in the second round of 2WD qualifying at the EOS Slovakia. Posting a clean 5-minute run, the Xray driver took advantage of a first lap mistake from Q1 winner Michal Orlowski which in turn forced Bruno Coelho into a mistake. While Orlowski would fight his way back to the front to knock Bayer off the top of the timing screens it was only temporary as the reigning champion once again got things wrong at the table top on the penultimate lap. The mistake dropping Orlowski back to third, Lee Martin was able to go one better than Q1 and take a P2 for the round. With his run filled with errors as he tried to make up the time lost on the opening lap, Coelho would set the 4th fastest time ahead of Joona Haatanen with Polish youngster Bartosz Zalewski again completing the Top 6.
With his wife and son arriving at the Hudy Arena just in time to watch his Q2 performance, Bayer said afterwards, ‘The first two made mistakes while I made a run without mistakes. It was a really good run for me.’ The former event winner continued, ‘I know I am not as fast as these two guys (Orlowski & Coelho) but if I make no mistakes maybe I can come into the fight. I feel confident with my the car’. He concluded, ‘I know my pace so I just need to try and not over drive’.
Explaining his run, Martin said, ‘the car was pushing a lot because of the extreme front tyre wear so keeping your fronts good is going to be hard work’. Running a lower ride height for Q2, the Yokomo driver said the car ‘felt pretty much the same’ as Q1 but added ‘I could have snook a TQ run but I had to let Bruno go by a few times which helped Bayer to take it’. With a 2 and 3 on the board, 2 of the four qualifiers to count, former champion said, ‘I hope I can push on in the last two’.
‘I threw it away’, was Orlowski’s reaction after Q2. Yet to register a 2WD win this season, the Schumacher driver continued, ‘the car felt amazing but I cased the table top and rolled. I lost loads of time. I had another error when I flipped the car but I still got back on the TQ pace and then with 2-laps to go I crashed again at the table top’. Losing over 3-seconds in this error but finishing only 1.5-seconds off Bayer’s time he said, ‘I was the only driver to do a 22-second lap so I know my pace is quite high but now we have to see who goes when on new tyres. The difference is quite high’.
Commenting on his P4 for the round, Coelho said, ‘I had bad luck with Orlowski at the beginning. I jumped the wrong way to go avoid his crash and flipped. Then I forced way too much to recover the time I lost. I made a lot of mistakes’. The EOS Poland winner concluded, ‘there is still 2 more to go and with Bayer taking that one everything is completely open’.
‘Making progress’, was how Joona Haatanen summed up his P5 in the second qualifier. Securing his first EOS victory at this season’s championship opener at the Nurburgring, the Team Associated driver continued, ‘our car is not working like we want. Before at this stage of the race me and Neil would be fighting for Top 3. At least now we found some pace and I can get a 5, it is a hard race for now’. Asked where the improvement over Q1 came from, the young Finn explained. ‘We made my car lighter for Q1 but it was way too nervous so we went back for Q2 and along went higher with the rear camber link. It was better but still not fast enough’.
Michal Orlowski has taken the opening round of 2WD qualifying at the Euro Offroad Series, the Schumacher driver having the upper hand on top seed Bruno Coelho over the 5-minutes. With both Orlowski and Coelho the only drivers to manage 22-second laps of the Hudy Arena track, the duo were clearly on a different level to their rivals despite both drivers having multiple mistakes in the first of the four rounds of qualifying. Behind it was championship points leader Lee Martin who was best of the rest, the Yokomo driver almost 6-seconds off the TQ pace. Third fastest in seeding, Martin Bayer got a 4th from Q1 followed by Daniel Kobbevik with 12-year-old Polish driver Bartosz Zalewski pulling off an impressive Q1 to complete the Top 6.
Reacting to his TQ run, Orlowski said, ‘It started off very good and I was able to put pressure on Bruno and he had a small error. Then I did a small one but he had another mistake and after that I could drive nice and easy’. The reigning Champion, who has a good track record in Slovakia, added, ‘I was very happy with my driving for the 5-minutes as I had a couple of mistakes but I was the driver with the fewest mistakes’. Happy with his car and planning no changes for Q2, the Pole did flag the extra tyre wear drivers are experiencing saying, ‘the tyre wear is quite high here and I think that will be a major factor in the qualifying but I plan to stick to my normal tyre strategy’.
Coelho said, ‘It was an OK qualifier. I started slowly as normally in 2WD with new tyres my car is aggressive. I did a mistake, then Orlowski did a mistake, then I did another mistake and he passed me. It looks easy but you need to take risks to make the difference. I will try to do less mistakes the next round’. Pleased with his car saying it has the same pace as Orlowski’s, when asked how he was finding tyre wear, the Xray driver replied, ‘tyre wear is a little higher than normal. This is because there is a lot more speed in the layout. You have two big sweepers but in the end I think it will be the same and we will do three runs on the first set’.
‘It was not the best run in the world but it was not a bad first run’, was how Martin summed up Q1. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I had a few driver error. They did not cost me a huge amount of time but they threw me off my rhythm a bit. Third was the best I could have done given the speed of the first two’. Asked about changes for Q2, the British driver said, ‘the car feels pretty good so obviously it’s lacking corer speed so we will try to find more of that for the next one’.
Bayer joked, ‘when the clock starts it’s different but 4th place is OK’. The Czech driver added, ‘Like I said before I am not the fastest. Michal and Bruno are very quick but I think the rest are much closer and I will try to fight in that battle’.
Bruno Coelho is the top seed for 2WD qualifying at the fourth round of the Euro Offroad Series in Slovakia. The Xray driver set the fastest 3-consecutive laps on a tighter than usual Hudy Arena track layout in the 2nd of the two controlled practices run to top the seeding from Michal Orlowski and Martin Bayer, with championship leader Lee Martin sixth fastest. It was a somewhat controversial start to the weekend when it was discovered a high number of laps were completed on the track yesterday. On EOS race weekends the track is not open until the first free practice on Friday morning kick starts the weekend for all drivers in order to create a level playing field. On investigation of the laps and transponder numbers, it was discovered the car completing the greatest number of laps was that of Daniel Kobbevik. Race Director Scotty Ernst raised the issue with Xray team manager Martin Bayer who explained that Kobbevik’s car was being used to finalise the layout of the jumps and was driven by a number drivers including Xray boss Juraj Hudy but none of the team’s championship contenders. The other cars were driven by non EOS competitors. With Bayer confirming Kobbevik still drove approximately 30-laps in total, albeit not on the final race layout and many in the opposite direction, the decision was taken that the Norwegian would be forced to sit out CP2 – the matter still having been under investigation during CP1.
‘All is good. The car is looking good and I also like the layout’, was Coelho’s reaction after practice. The Portuguese driver added, ‘I just now need to try do 5-minutes without mistakes. The pace is there but it’s super close with Orlowski’. Asked how much of challenge running a clean 5-minutes was going to be, he replied, ‘the table (top) you can jump it or not. With a perfect landing you can make 2/10ths (of a second) but you can also easily make a mistake there and flip. You also need to pass super close to the curbing so 5-minutes without any kind of mistake is going to be super hard’.
Chasing his third consecutive win at the home of Xray, summing up his practice Orlowski said, ‘we came here with the set-up we created at last weekend’s XRS race (held at Hudy Arena) but had to make some minor changes for the tighter layout.’ The Schumacher driver continued, ‘I broke in the first (free) practice after the first lap which wasn’t a great start but the car is good now and I will probably not change anything for Q1. The pace is there. Bruno is a little quicker on 3-laps but I feel confident about my 5-minute pace’.
Summing up his P3 seeding Bayer said, ‘I managed to make 3-laps but it is very difficult to do 5-minutes’. A former winner of his team’s home event, the Xray Offroad Team Manager said, ‘the layout is easy and this allows you to go to the limit but then the problems come and you hit the boards. As always I am not the fastest but I hope I can do 5-minutes with no mistakes’.
Runner-up at Round 3 in Daun, Kobbevik reported his car as feeling ‘difficult to drive’. Setting the fourth fastest time, the teenager explained, ‘it’s stable but has no steering but I think I will play safe for the first quali and then maybe for Q2 we can try changing the set-up’. Behind Kobbevik, young team-mate Max Götzl took his XB2 to the 5th fastest time.
A multiple winner at the Hudy Arena and having achieved his first EOS win in more than 3-years at the previous round in Germany, reacting to his P6 seeding, Martin said, ‘the 5-minute feeling is ok. I’m just a little too slow on my best lap’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I need more steering but the car is eating front tyres. I have a few ideas to try but I don’t want to change it for Q1 because it’s got 5-minute pace. Maybe it’s not TQ pace, Orlowski is very fast over 5-minutes, but I think I’d be close.’