Joona Haatanen has won the second A-Main at the season finale of the Euro Offroad Series at Arena33. After an error on the opening lap of A1, the Team Associated driver put in a very patient drive sitting on the rear wing of Top Qualifier Joern Neumann before a mistake from the A1 winner let him through. Next it was the turn of title contender Neil Cragg to go by the Schumacher, the British driver not needing to be invited to put a pass on the former champion when he ran wide into a corner. With Neumann finishing third, it means three drivers have the potential to take the overall win at the EOS’ first outdoor race with the result also set to decide this year’s 2WD champion. Having tangled with Bruno Coelho in A2, finishing up 5th, Michal Orlowski can’t take the win but will be hoping his team-mate Neumann does, as a win for Cragg would would secure the British driver the overall title.
Summing up his A2 win, Haatanen said, ‘I was driving a long time behind Joern. I wasn’t trying any big moves and even before his big mistake I saw he was making little mistakes so I knew patience would pay off. I could have tried to pass him, there where places I could have forced a pass but I didn’t’. Once in front, the Finn said he could control the race saying, ‘I saw Neil wasn’t catching me so I knew I was running a good speed’. Describing his A1 performance as having had ‘too many stupid mistakes’, the 14-year-old will try to take his first EOS victory by putting in a ‘repeat of A2’.
‘So it goes down to the wire, it will all be decided in the last race’, was Cragg’s reaction. The former World Champion said, ‘I’m quite pleased with 2nd, I couldn’t bridge the gap to Joona’. He continued, ‘Michal and Bruno had me under pressure at the start until they had issues. Then Joern opened the door and I didn’t need an invite to go for the pass. It was a block pass and I know he came off worse but it was fair game.’ Having managed to rack up his first ever EOS race win this season in Daun, he said, ‘that’s (today’s points) 2nd in the championship fixed so I can’t complain whatever happens. It’s been a great season but maybe we get a bit of luck in the last one’.
Neumann, who is chasing his first win since Poland in 2015, described the second A-Main as ‘so, so’. With 17 EOS wins to his credit, he said, ‘Joona was pushing quite hard and I decided to hit the pipe which caused me to traction roll. I continued in second but at the same spot I traction rolled again.’ Allowing Cragg to catch him, he continued, ‘Neil tried to pass me and it didn’t end up good for me. There was room to pass but it just didn’t work out for me and I dropped to fifth but he had to go for it’. He concluded, ‘With a 1st and a 3rd the podium is secured so I can afford to just go for it in the last one’.
Jörn Neumann has won the opening A-Main of 2WD at the Euro Offroad Series in Germany. Top Qualifier for the season finale, the Schumacher driver took a tone to tone win but the race wasn’t without its moments for the former champion. Leading from title contender Neil Cragg after Joona Haatanen made an error on the second lap, on the next lap Neumann got stuck in the piping. Luckily for the German Cragg’s Team Associated marshalled his car sending him back on his way in the lead. The same incident would effectively end championship leader Michal Orlowski’s race as trying to avoid Neumann and Cragg he crashed and dropped down the order. Benefiting from these incidents, Lee Martin would move up to second from fifth on the grid. Starting to mount a challenge on the leader he would have a mistake of his own on the penultimate lap that allowed Neumann to take the win by 1.1-seconds. Behind Martin, Cragg completed the Top 3 followed by Bruno Coelho and Haatanen.
‘It was good until once I hit the pipe slightly and got stuck in it but Neil was so close to me he marshalled me’, was Neumann’s reaction after A1. He continued, ‘I rejoined in the lead and could maintain the lead and just do my own laps’. Asked about the challenge from Martin, he said, ‘I think Lee pushed quite hard to catch me but luckily he had a mistake’. Commenting the track ‘seems to have a little more grip today’ he added, ‘I think everyone was on new tyres, I choose 3rd run tyres so maybe that made it easier, the lap times faster for the others but I have new tyres for the next one so it will be easier for me’.
Summing up his race, Martin said, ‘It was ok. The car feels better since last night and I feel I could have snook the win but made a balls up’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘the car has been good all the time but the driver hasn’t. We found a few things last night that improved it more and I drove it a lot better’. On 2nd run tyres, the former champion concluded, ‘the car felt good around most of the track except for the landing off the big jump at the back of the track. It’s a bit sketchy but I think everyone is having trouble there because you can’t see it too well’.
‘I was a little unlucky to be honest’, was how Cragg summed up the opening A-Main adding, ‘I got up to second then marshalled Joern’s car and after that had a few mistakes of my own’. One driver who was on new tyres, he continued, ‘I could have got second but 3rd will have to do for now. It’s very close out there so I hopefully will have better luck in the next one’.
Having TQ’d the inaugural round of the Euro Offroad Series 6-years ago, Joern Neumann has repeated the feat at the championship’s first ever outdoor race this weekend at Arena33 in Germany. After a lean number of the season’s in the championship he once dominated, the German came out top of an exciting conclusion to 2WD qualifying taking the fourth & final qualifier by 0.031 from Neil Cragg to secure his first pole position start in 4 seasons. Joining Schumacher at the start of 2018, the TQ is a significant one for his new team as it helps team-mate Michal Orlowski’s title hopes by denying rival Cragg from leading away the grid in tomorrow’s title deciding triple A-Mains. Instead Cragg will start third behind his own team-mate Joona Haatanen with Orlowski, who wouldn’t complete Q4, starting 4th.
‘I just did the same as Round 3. I didn’t crash and drove a clean 5-minutes’, was Neumann’s description of his second TQ run of the day. The former multiple champion who still holds the all times record for the most EOS wins, continued, ‘I knew others were on new tyres so I tried to be very clean. I was on used tyres so I knew I could not afford even small mistakes and it worked out. It also means I saved tyres for the final.’ On the finals he said, ‘I just need to make no mistakes. Its going to be hard to pass and everyone has the same speed but you never know. You could get stuck to the pipe pretty easily’, before concluding, ‘It definitely feels good to be with the top guys again.’
Having a rough final qualifier, Haatanen said, ‘I don’t know what I did. I had too many crashes from the start to the end’. Setting the fastest of lap of the day in Q4, he added, ‘at least I know I have a good car. The car is dialled so it should be good in the final. I will just try to drive without mistakes’.
Frustrated at how close he came to the TQ, Cragg said, ‘I tried everything then. I crashed at the end of the straight and after that I was Maifielding it. My inner Maifield came out. I’m gutted not to TQ but I’m happy with the car’. Looking to the A-Main, when he must win to take Team Associated’s first ever EOS title he said, ‘I think we are looking good for the finals tomorrow. I’m still in it. I just have to win’. He added, ‘the racing on carpet is a bit crazy but it should be alright here because the astro has a little more give which should allow for more door to door racing’.
Securing his EOS title at Arena33 last season, that race on carpet, Orlowski struggled with his car in Q4. The Pole said, ‘we made a change to the car and went with thinner diff oil but it was too aggressive’. He continued, ‘That Joern TQ’d is good for me and I feel pretty good with the car I had before so we will just go back to that for tomorrow. I also have 2 good sets of tyres to my advantage for the finals’. He concluded, ‘I don’t think starting P4 is a disadvantage because there are some places you go different lines to avoid bumps and its easy to make mistakes so I think we will see some racing and maybe some chaos’. Behind Orlowski, Yokomo’s Lee Martin completes the top half of the grid ahead of Bruno Coelho.