Bruno Coelho has won the opening A-Main at the season opener of the Euro Offroad Series in Warsaw, Poland. Having secured the TQ yesterday, the Xray driver drove a faultless race to win easily ahead of reigning champion Michal Orlowski. Starting from third on the grid, Orlowski would have a great first lap getting by Martin Bayer to put Coelho in his sights. While he would close down the 4WD Champion, having just set the fastest lap of the race he would make a mistake next time round and with just three laps to go Coelho could back off his pace and cruise to the win. Behind the two title favourites, Team Associated’s Joona Haatanen came through from fifth on the grid to complete the Top 3 benefiting from mistakes by Bayer who would finish 4th and Martin who dropped back to 6th by the finish.
‘I didn’t make any mistakes. It was a very good final’, was Coelho’s reaction to his A1 win. The Portuguese driver, who is chasing his third consecutive 2WD EOS win in a class he is openly not a fan of, said, ‘Even when I saw Orlowski was closing in the middle of the race I was still able to drive clean. There was no sense to force things because there was 2-more finals to go. Then he flipped and that gave me more breathing space so I could control it to the end’.
Summing up his race, Orlowski said, ‘It started well. My plan was to pass Bayer in the first few corners and then try my best to catch Bruno but I had too many small mistakes’. The only driver to run a 21-second lap of the difficult and challenging track, he added, ‘I had good pace’. Suffering a crash at the end when a marshal put a car out in front of him on the last lap which he would hit he said, ‘I was lucky Joona was already finished otherwise I would have finished 3rd’. Looking to the second of the three encounters, last year’s EOS Poland double winner replied, ‘I will go with the same plan again for A2’.
‘I’m happy’ said Haatanen’s after the race. The young Finnish talent, added, ‘I tried to drive clean and wait for others to make mistakes and I think that was a good plan. I just stayed behind Lee and Bayer. Bayer crashed in front and then Lee also crashed and I got passed. I almost got second from Michal but just missed making the last lap so I could benefit from his crash’. Asked his approach for A2, he replied, ‘I think I am going to stick with the same plan’.
Bruno Coelho has racked up the first championship point of Season #7 of the Euro Offroad Series by taking the overall TQ at the season opener in Warsaw, Poland. Having TQ’d Q2 & 3, the Xray driver went into the fourth & final qualifier with only home star Michal Orlowski able to deny him pole for tomorrow’s finals but last year’s double winner couldn’t rise to the challenge with his run, having too many mistakes. Coelho looked on target for a third TQ of the day but late in the run had a mistake that allowed team-mate Martin Bayer to go to the top and TQ to compound Orlowski bad run as he demoted the reigning champion to third on the grid. Having been closest to the Xrays in the previous two qualifiers Lee Martin wouldn’t have a good finish to the day with Q4 proving his worst run and so the Yokomo driver lines up fourth. Completing the top half of the A-Main grid Joona Haatanen will start ahead of HB Racing’s David Ronnefalk while a P5 in the final round to go with his P3 from Q1 ensures EOS debutant Ty Tessmann lines up on the A-Main grid tomorrow carrying the number 7.
‘It is a surprise for me as well, it’s not normal’, was Coelho’s reaction to becoming the Top Qualifier. Joking that 2WD is ‘still not my favourite class’, he put his competitiveness in the original 1:10 EP Offroad class down to the new 2018 chassis. He added, the car has improved a lot from last year. Before I fight to be second but now I am first even with many mistakes’. Asked on his approach for tomorrow’s triple finals on what all drivers agree is a difficult and challenging track, he said, ‘I will try to not make any mistakes and drive careful. Everything thing is on my side with the car and the electrics so we will see tomorrow what happens’.
Bayer summed up qualifying 2nd on the grid as ‘an amazing start to the EOS’ adding, ‘I just hope tomorrow for no bad luck’. With a best result of a 4th in 2WD last season, the Czech driver said, ‘everything is good for a podium tomorrow, the car is working amazing so I really hop nothing bad will happen tomorrow. He added, ‘It’s hard to push on this track so just one touch and your race is finished. It is going to be a hard final’.
‘That was not so good, too many mistakes’ was how Orlowski summed up his final qualifying attempt. Ending up with a P6, the Schumacher driver continued, ‘the strategy in the last qualifier means I now start third but the car felt good so it should be ok for the final as I had two sets of tyres ready’. Ask about the track layout in terms of being able to race for position tomorrow the 3 time 2WD EOS race winner replied, ‘I not sure I will be able to challenge Bruno but we will see. It will be difficult to race but anything is possible I guess’.
Opting for a radical set-up change for the final qualifier, Lee Martin said, ‘It didn’t really help. It made the landings worse which is where I was struggling so unfortunately we are back to where we were before’. Qualifying and finishing second behind Orlowski last time in Warsaw, Martin said, ‘on this track anything can happen. We will see what happens up front and hopefully I can make up a place or two or 3 if I am super lucky’.
Have to run on new tyres for the final qualifier having got the last out of his first set in Q3, Haatanen said his Associated felt more nervous on the landings as a result but added, ‘I knew going into the qualifier I would be able to improve on my starting position. Top Qualifier at Arena 33 last year, the young Finn said, ‘everyone is making mistakes so I will try to drive smooth without mistakes and hopefully I can pick up places’. Haatanen’s AE team-mate Neil Cragg will complete the 10 car A-Main line up behind Hupo Hönigl (9th) and Kája Novotný (8th) after scraping in with a P9 from the final qualifier.
Having but in a below par performance that was full of errors in the opening qualifier at EOS Poland, Bruno Coelho made amends leading an Xray 1-2 in the second and third rounds. Fastest in practice but only managing a P12 in Q1, Coelho drove much cleaner in Q2 topping his team-mate Martin Bayer by 1.6-seconds. Further improving his driving for the penultimate qualifier he took that one by over 5-seconds with the final qualifier in Warsaw set to decide whether he or Q1 pace setter Michal Orlowski will claim the first championship point of Season #7 of the Euro Offroad Series for securing the overall 2WD TQ. Behind the Xrays, it was Lee Martin who gave best chase, the Yokomo driver completing the Top 3 ahead of David Ronnefalk in Q2 and Orlowski Q3.
Summing up the three qualifiers completed, Coelho said, ‘Like I said after practice it would be important to make no mistakes which is completely the opposite to what I did. I crashed many times. I was forcing too hard maybe’. Describing his driving in Q2 as ‘safer’, the Portuguese driver added, ‘but I still had mistakes’. Able to ‘improve more’ for his third attempt, the reigning 4WD Champion said, ‘this time last year we were not able to fight for the win but now with the 2018 XB2 we are right there. We have 5 cars in the Top 10 so far so it is looking very good’. Holding the advantage of the fastest TQ time so far meaning Orlowski must TQ the last round in a faster time to deny him the TQ, Coelho said his aim for the decider is to ‘keep smooth’ and ‘don’t do stupid mistakes’.
‘I’m very happy to be fighting for the Top 5 on the grid’, was Bayer’s reaction to posting a second P2 run in the third qualifier. Having been delayed by Coelho’s mistakes in Q1, Bayer said he had one small mistake of his own doing in Q2 and a similar 1-second mistake in the third but overall he was pleased to have ‘good pace’. Responsible for heading up Xray’s Offroad programme, the former European Champion said, ‘the new car is very good. I didn’t change anything since getting here. It very comfortable to drive’. Unfortunately for Ty Tessmann, having been the lead Xray with a P3 in the opening qualifier, Q2 and Q3 have proven more challenging with the Canadian suffering a DNF in the second and a mistake filled third attempt that left him with a P16.
‘It could have been better but I crashed’ was how Martin summed up his latest two qualifiers. The former back to back 2WD Champion continued, ‘I just didn’t drive amazing. I was leading Q2 and crashed and in Q3 I crashed early on but was able to catch back up to 3rd’. While not overly pleased with his driving, the Brit was more positive about progress made to his YZ-2 set-up saying, ‘we improved the car for that last one so thats a step forward’. Looking to the fourth & final qualifier he said, ‘we will try a more radical set-up to go for a TQ run and be ready for the finals’.
Top Qualifier at his home event last year, Orlowski said, ‘the second one was a rough round and in the third round I was coming back from a crash but crashed again’. Running new tyres in Q3, the Polish teenager said now he has two good sets of tyres for the finals tomorrow and his target is that he will be starting on pole. Happy he has the car to deny Coelho the overall TQ, he said, ‘I just need to eliminate the crashes and then I can challenge Bruno’.
Also having a rough Q2, Joona Haatanen said, ‘I had too many mistakes but now (for Q3) we changed the (shock) pistons and the car is much better on the landings’. Getting a P5 for his efforts, locking himself into the A-Main thanks to his P2 in the first qualifier, the Finn said the set of tyre he’s been using are done and so he will have to run the final qualifier on a new set of the championship’s hand out Schumacher tyre. With this meaning his car will be difficult to drive the teen said the positive to this was that he would have a set of tyres race ready for the finals.
While he didn’t fair well in the times in practice, ending up only 9th quickest, Michal Orlowski hit the top in the first qualifier of Season #7 of the Euro Offroad Series posting a TQ run in Q1 of 2WD in Warsaw. Double winner of last year’s Polish EOS encounter, the Schumacher driver topped the first of the four qualifiers from Joona Haatanen after recovering from a crash with Hupo Honigl with 2-minutes remaining. Behind the two teenagers, Ty Tessmann continued his strong EOS debut with a P3 run ahead of Lee Martin, Martin Bayer and Neil Cragg. Having topped practice Bruno Coelho would set the early pace as he lead away the field but then had a number of mistakes that would slightly delay both Tessmann and Bayer.
‘I really enjoyed the run’ was Orlowski’s reaction after Q1. The reigning 2WD Champion added, ‘I was confident after practice. We made a small change to the car and I had broken in tyres for Q1 so it was really good’. ‘I was just trying to keep the gap between me and Joona but then got caught up with Hupo. It was my fault. I had to push as hard as I had to make back up the time but I got it at the end’, the separation only half a second. Looking to Q2, he said, ‘we might make some changes for the next one but I don’t want to ruin the car. I would like a little more steering but the car still feels pretty good’.
Having secured his first overall EOS TQ at the penultimate round last season, Haatanen was happy to kick off the new season mixing it with the champion and his close friend for a TQ run. The Finn said having run a rear swaybar in the last practice they removed it for Q1 and his Associated was ‘way easier to drive’. Feeling he made a slow start, trying to avoid making any mistakes, he said he then started to ‘run more consistent times’ after that. On his car set-up, he said, ‘I think I will leave it the same and then if I get another good run I can look at trying something different’. Asked what he would like to improve he replied, ‘it a little pushing in the corners’.
‘I just basically drove around so as not to crash’ was how Tessmann summed up his first ever EOS qualifier. The former 1:8 World Champion continued, ‘I had new tyres on so I knew it was going to be difficult to drive. I was surprised when they announced I was leading but I just tried keep doing what I was doing’. Describing the heat as ‘a bit chaotic’, he said ‘Bruno crashed in front of me which I saw but then I had to avoid the marshal. I also touched the pipe once but I don’t know how much that cost me’. The Canadian concluded, ‘for my first qualifier I’m pretty happy with how that went’.
Martin summed up his opening qualifying performance as ‘average’ adding, ‘I didn’t really get into it’. The Yokomo driver added, ‘It’s not easy out there. I had a few little bobbles and it seemed like a long race’. In contention for a TQ run he said, ‘I could see where Ty, Bruno and Bayer were and based off that was not pushing too hard but I had no idea where Jonna or Orlowski were and it seems they were quicker than before’. In terms of his car, the 5 time 2WD race winner said while they improved the feel of the car in the corners he ‘still needs a bit more’ in terms of corner speed.
Reacting to Q1, Bayer said, ‘I made a really good start but lost time when Bruno crashed in front of me’. The Xray designer continued, ‘this caused me to lose places and speed but I picked it up again at the end’. Describing his XB2 as working ‘really good’, the Czech driver is upbeat about his own performance saying, ‘the speed is there and I made no mistakes of my own’.