After a tough opening A-Main at EOS Austria, Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho delivered the win in A2 seeing off the attentions of an also improved Ryan Maifield. Having thrown away a comfortable lead in A1 and then rolling out of the lead while under pressure from Joona Haatanen, this time round the Portuguese driver ran a near perfect race overcoming the pressure of EOS debutant Maifield. Behind them it was A1 winner Haatanen who would complete the Top 3 setting the stage for a thrilling deciding 3rd A-Main at Modellbau Wels.
Chasing back to back 2WD wins having claimed his first EOS 2WD win last month at Arena 33 in Germany, Coelho said, ‘It was a perfect round now’. Having struggled with traction roll in the first encounter, he said ‘there was less traction for sure’ which made his Hobbywing powered XB2 ‘more easy to drive’. Echoing his rivals concerns that ‘tyre wear here is a lot’, on his battle with Maifield he said, ‘I was a little nervous when Maifield started pushing and had a few moments when I jumped short and the car bounced but in the end it was a very good round’.
‘I had a pep talk with my driver’ was Maifield’s response to his improved showing in A2. Setting the fastest lap of the race, the American continued, ‘I’ve got to be better starting out, because these guys come swinging out of the gate’. Improving his Orion powered YZ-2 with a spring change after struggling in the first encounter, he said, ‘I need to keep Bruno honest for the first 2-minutes and then I think I have a chance but its still going to take a mistake to get by him. We’ll see how 3 goes.’ For team-mate Lee Martin a mistake at the left side double on Lap 10 of 17 would drop him from 3rd to 5th.
Haatanen was pleased with his P3 saying, ‘I was on old tyres but it still went very good’. Starting from 4th on the grid but dropping to fifth after a mistake, the 14-year-old added, ‘It is hard to catch up without someone making a mistake because we are all the same speed but I had a good race with Neil (Cragg)’. Looking to A3, the battle for the overall win wide open, he said, ‘everyone is struggling with tyre wear and no one has new tyres anymore so it will be an exciting race’. Behind Haatanen, Cragg would finish 4th 2/10ths back.
Joona Haatanen came off the winner of an exciting opening 2WD A-Main at the Euro Offroad Series season finale in Austria this morning. Lining up 4th on the grid, the Finn drove an impressive race, capitalising on mistakes from the Top 3 starters to lead home an Associated 1-2. With the first key mistake of the race coming from Ryan Maifield, one lap later Haatanen would get by Maifield’s Yokomo team-mate Lee Martin with 2nd place looking the likely outcome of the race for the teenager as Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho pulled out a comfortable lead. However at the half way mark Coelho would traction roll his Xray off the front jump allowing Haatanen to close right up. Following the EOS Round 3 winner for 4-laps, the Arena 33 Top Qualifier would go to the front when Coelho went flying off the track at the end of the straight. With Martin and Neil Cragg also getting through, it was the fight for 2nd between the battling Brits that would provide the closing entertainment. While Martin would run a tight line to try defend his position, on the penultimate lap he hit a corner dot which pushed him wide which was all Cragg needed to make the pass to claim 2nd with Martin finishing as he started. Crashing on his final lap, Coelho would end up fourth with Maifield’s first ever EOS race ending with a 5th.
‘It was a super good race, my car was super good on new tyres’, was how Haatanen summed up his A1 win. He continued, ‘I was 3 or 4 laps behind Lee and then he made a mistake. Then Bruno crashed and I was right behind him and maybe after 3-laps he crashed at the end of the straight away and I passed him with 1-minute to go’. With his B6 particularly strong on new tyres, him using his single set of extra tyres allocated for the finals in A1, when asked about his A2 he replied, ‘I will use the same tyre, I hope they will be good’.
‘I just drove smart’ was Cragg reaction after the final. Starting from 5th on the grid, he continued, ‘I waited to pick up the pieces and at the end I was able to put pressure on Lee and he left me a little gap’. Also running on new tyres, he said ‘my car has been good all weekend but I am a little concerned about tyre wear but there is nothing I can do about it’. ‘Super pleased’ with the Associated 1-2, team-manager Craig Drescher’s delight when Cragg made the pass on Martin echoing through the hall, Cragg said hopefully A2 would be a ‘crash fest’ so he could again pick up the pieces.
Commenting on his race, Martin said, ‘I ran used tyres and didn’t have the grip needed’. He continued, ‘I thought I was on for 2nd, even 1st at one time, but tried to go tight but hit a dot which let Neil slip through’. Maifield summed up his race by saying, ‘whatever magic my car had is gone. I had zero corner speed which made it really tough’.
‘It was a little bit of a disaster’ was how Coelho summed up the first of the triple finals. He added, ‘There is much more traction than yesterday and in the warm-up I flipped 3-times. In the race I had a comfortable lead and traction rolled without reason and then again at the end of the straight’. He ended by saying, ‘I hope used tyres are better’.
Bruno Coelho is the 2WD Top Qualifier at the Euro Offroad Series season finale in Austria. One of four drivers in contention for the overall TQ honours going into the fourth & final round of qualifying, the Xray driver would post his second TQ run with the fastest run of the day ahead of Lee Martin and Neil Cragg. One of the those in with a chance of pole position for tomorrow’s 2WD finals, Martin was running at the top of the timing screen but a mistake at the double double followed by contact with a crashed car would end the Yokomo driver’s chances. While the final two qualifiers would see him struggle, thanks to two impressive opening qualifiers, EOS debutant Ryan Maifield will start second on the grid ahead of team-mate Martin. The other of three drivers to post a TQ run in Wels, Joona Haatenan will line up fourth after a mistake while on Top 2 pace in the final qualifier cost the Arena 33 Top Qualifier from lining up second for the finals.
Only the back to back 4WD Champion’s second TQ in 2WD, Coelho was pleased to back up his first 2WD win last time out by putting his XB2 on pole but he was quick to point out 2WD hasn’t become his new favourite class. Commenting on his final qualifier, the Portuguese ace said ‘it was very good’ although he highlighted one mistake halfway through the run when his car got up on two wheels but somehow didn’t flip. Taking the heat by over 3-seconds despite his moment, he continued, ‘my car is really good, it’s easy to drive ad fast so I am confident for tomorrow even on new tyres’. Asked about the layout in terms of racing, he replied, ‘It looks super tight so I think to overtake will be super difficult but when you are following a car you don’t always think this’.
‘We are making changes but they’re not working’ was Maifield’s reaction to his drop in performance over the final two qualifiers. With the EOS running limited hand out tyres, he continued, ‘If you have a bad run you have got pull off to save tyres. I don’t know what is normal but for me the tyre wear is super high’. Pulling off in both Q3 & 4, he said, ‘we will put the car back to how it was for Q1 & Q2 but right now we have a 2nd place car but we are not at Bruno’s pace’.
‘It was OK’ was how Martin summed up the final qualifier. He continued, ‘I got in the lead but then had a bobble at the double double and then after that hit some crashed cars and it was over after that. The former Champion, whose season has been void of a win, added, ‘Bruno had a little more pace but I think I could have hung with him’. Planning to ‘pretty much leave it as is’ in terms of his new Scorpion Power powered YZ-2 for the finals, in terms of the racing the British driver feels ‘the end of the straight is going to be sketchy, and dangerous, because of the bump when you’re running with someone’.
Running new tyres in the final qualifier, Haatanen said ‘new tyres are so much better for me’. In the mix for the TQ the Team Associated young gun said, ‘I was running second but then had a little mistake and that cost me second on the grid’. Hoping to take full advantage of his B6 when he will run the extra set of new tyres allocated to A-Main drivers, the EOS Round 4 Top Qualifier said while the track is ‘tight’ the jumps are places he thinks overtaking will be possible.
Despite Top 3 runs in 3 of the 4 qualifiers, Haatanen’s team-mate Neil Cragg will start 5th, an outcome the European Champion said is ‘unbelievable’. While frustrated by his grid position, the EOS Poland podium finisher was ‘pretty pleased with the consistency’ of his Reedy powered B6. A fan of the track layout this weekend, he feels it should make for good finals adding ‘there are always crashes so should be able to pick up the pieces’. Behind Cragg, Martin Bayer lines up 6th with Martin Wollanka, EOS Round 1 winner Marc Rheinard, Kája Novotný and Karri Salmela completing the final 2WD A-Main line-up of the sixth season of the Euro Offroad Series.