Lee Martin has topped the first round of timed 2WD practice at the Euro Offroad Series season finale at Nurburgring. The Yokomo driver, who successfully defended his 2WD EOS title at the previous round, set the fastest three consecutive laps ahead of a trio of Team Associated’s new B6 car after the American manufacturer sprung a huge surprise by turning up unannounced in Germany this morning with its full American factory team. Just half a second off Martin, Neil Cragg would put in the second fastest time followed by the car’s designer Kody Numedahl and multiple World Champion Ryan Cavalieri. Making his EOS debut at the same time as the B6 makes its race debut, reigning 2WD World Champion Spencer Rivkin got his first weekend of racing 1:10 in Europe off to a solid start by rounding out the Top 6 ahead of 4WD World Champion Bruno Coelho.
One of a number of drivers to break during the first of the two time practices, Martin summed up his TP1 with ‘it was ok’. The double winner at the Nurburgring back in September when it hosted the season opener, Martin would break the bulkhead on his YZ-2 after crashing off a jump, something he said was down to him ‘trying too hard’. Impressed that he was still able to manage a 19.9 second lap with the broken bulkhead, his fastest lap a 19.472, he said his buggy is working well and the focus now is on getting the jumps right. Happy with his lines, on the track which he designed, he said at the start of the run it is ‘taking a few laps to get (his) eye in’ in terms of the jumps but once he does his times are good. Declaring ‘Neil is fast too’, he added ‘ but I expected that’.
‘A pretty good start for the B6 platform’, was how Cragg summed up his morning. With two free practice runs before the first timed round, he said ‘we have only had to make a few tiny changes’ to the car. Pleased with the car, the British driver, for whom this is only his second EOS outing, was also happy with his own driving saying ‘the driver is OK too’. Commenting on the track he said it was ‘tight and technical’ and that ‘there is a lot more in it than you think’ with the key ‘not to over drive it’.
The man responsible for designing the B6, Numedahl described his car as ‘pretty easy’ to drive. Having conducted pre race testing at 702 Raceway in Las Vegas in preparation for the event he said the EOS carpet was less grippy than he remembered, his previous EOS outing being at the Hudy Arena last season. Describing the track at 702 Raceways as ‘double’ that of this weekend, he said that helped them work on a set-up that has made the car easy to drive and they only thing they have had to do was ‘a little tuning on the steering’. ‘On a different programme’ to the rest of the team, the Californian will ‘try more risky stuff’ in terms of set-up over the course of the event to build up information.
Managing to complete only half the practice due to loosing a screw out of the bottom of his B6, Cavalieri said the laps he did do had went well. Comparing the new car to the B5 which he raced previously in the EOS, he said it was ‘pretty good right now’. Pleased to have been as quick as he was the ‘short time’ he ran he said there was more to come and overall he is just getting quicker with the more track time he gets.
Runner-up to Martin on the last visit to the legendary 1:1 race venue, Michal Orlowski would post the 5th fastest time. The Schumacher star, who has been on the podium every race this season, improved his car from free practice with it having better rotation in the timed run. Still looking to make the Cougar KF2 easier to drive, feeling it is rolling too much in the chicane he will change the rear shock position for the final practice.
Describing the Nurburgring facility as ‘incredible’, adding ‘its a great place to have (an RC) event’, Rivkin was happy with his first taste of the EOS. Asked about the carpet track, the Arizona driver said ‘I’m liking it’. Happy with his car having tested it with the team on carpet prior to travelling out to Germany, the Reedy backed driver said his biggest issue so far was that he ‘tried to be a big shot running the biggest motor’ which was wrong and with a ‘slightly slower motor’ he ‘should be good’ for the final practice.
Top Qualifier last time round at the Nurburgring, Coelho said things ‘were not perfect’ and they ‘still need to improve the car’. The Xray driver, who is in contention to claim the 4WD title, said his Hobbywing powered XB2 is ‘missing steering in the high speed corners’. Behind Coelho, young Finnish talent Jonna Haatenen was 8th fastest ahead of Round 3 2WD winner Marc Rheinard. The Top 10 was completed by the Xray of Martin Wollanka.
Venue – Nürburgring Race Hosts – capricorn NÜRBURGRING GmbH Country – Germany Location – Nürburg (120 km northwest of Frankfurt) Direction – Anti-Clockwise Surface – Carpet
Having made a very successful first appearance on the Euro Offroad Series back in September when it hosted the Season #5 opener, the Nurburgring finds itself hosting the EOS much sooner than anticipated as it becomes the first venue to ever feature twice in the same season. Following issues with the track build at the originally planned season finale in Austria, such was the public reaction to the first visit to the legend 1:1 racing circuit that when Uwe Rheinard asked about the possibility of return to the Nurburgring they welcomed the idea with open arms. Again running alongside the EOS is a 1:1 race event, the VLN Championship attracting close to 200 cars which will be racing together in an endurance race on the legendary Nordschleife circuit.
In terms of the 24 X 30 metre track layout, drivers face a much more challenging track than the previous visit. Pretty much a local event for EOS Round 3 2WD winner Marc Rheinard, the Yokomo driver headed up the track build but it was back to back EOS Champion Lee Martin who penned the layout which has so far being receiving positive feedback from racers. Commenting on the layout, Martin described it as having ‘both technical and high speed sections’ adding ‘I think it’s a bit better than the tracks we normally use’. Asked about the build he said, ‘I got a text from Marc on Wednesday with the dimensions asking me to design a track. He gave me a good 20-minutes to come up with something’. Sketching two designs, he said, ‘I think he (Marc) built it pretty close to the design and the layout works well’.
The 2015/16 Euro Offroad Series reaches a conclusion this weekend (29-April/1-May) with the deciding of the 4WD champion the main order of business for the weekend. With Season #5 successfully kicking off at the legendary Nurburgring last September, the Championship finds itself returning to the famous 1:1 race circuit after problems with the original Austrian location. The perfect stage for the high profile 1:10 Offroad Championship, the first visit on the same weekend as the Blancpain GT Championship running on the Grand Prix circuit, some of the world’s best rc drivers will again enjoying racing alongside the rumble of Porsche, Audi & BMW GT cars who this time round are racing on the iconic 20.8 km long Nordschleife circuit. Having made his EOS debut on the first visit to the Nurburgring, it is World Champion Bruno Coelho who comes into the fourth & final round as the 4WD championship leader. Missing the podium then, the Portuguese driver has since won everything with only reigning champion Lee Martin now able to deny Coelho an EOS title in his inaugural season.
While Martin was able to successfully defend his 2WD title at the penultimate round, the Yokomo lead driver, after a perfect start to the season when he won the opening round, hasn’t been able to match Coelho, finding himself third at the next two outings. Needing to TQ & win, and for Coelho to finish outside the Top 3, the British driver faces a challenge but finding himself in a similar position last season when he went into the final round sitting second he managed to get the job done. With Round 3 marking a first EOS win for Yokomo team-mate Marc Rheinard the break through in form could prove vital to Martin in helping his cause of preventing Coelho from getting on the podium.
While Sunday’s 4WD action takes centre stage, the battle for the final 2WD win of the season is a far more open affair with a number of very strong contenders. Back to back champion Martin together with Rheinard will be chasing repeat wins but a number of others will be determined to end their campaign’s on the top step of the podium. Having capped of last season with a breakthrough victory, Schumacher’s international star Michal Orlowski has stepped onto the podium every race and wants it to be the top step this time round and deny Yokomo a 1-2 in the championship.
Making his EOS debut at Mulheim Kaerlich in January, where he qualified 3rd, former World Champion Neil Cragg is back for a second go at the EOS as preparations for a full programme next season. The factory Team Associated driver had the speed but mistakes cost him in the finals and he ended up 5th but with his team manager Craig Drescher having had time to analyse their debut performance expect a much stronger package this weekend. A manufacturer that has put a lot of effort into nurturing a number of young drivers, Associated are starting to see the rewards of that in particular young Finnish cool operator Joona Haatanen. Watch too for Norwegian Joakim Nicolaisen.
Elsewhere former 2WD race winner Hupo Honigl’s second trip of the year to the Nurburgring sees him with a new team. Joining Xray for 2016, the Austrian enjoyed a strong debut with the Slovakian manufacturer in Mulheim qualifying 4th. After a tough 2015 season in which he fell off the A-Main radar, the result from his Round 3 showing should boost the Austrian’s confidence. Last year Coelho surprised the EOS regulars by taking the 2WD TQ for Xray. The man to beat in the newly introduced for this season Stadium Truck class, former multiple EOS Buggy Champion Joern Neumann has endured a second tough season and for the one time king of indoor carpet tracks a podium finish would be a great finish to the season for the Serpent driver.
The Euro Offroad Series is set to finish where it started with the organisers forced to find a replacement venue for the fourth & final round in Austria after issues arose regarding the preparations of the temporary Mattsee venue. Having opened Season #5 with a very popular first visit to the famous Nurburgring racing circuit last September, the EOS will now return to the German venue where the 4WD Buggy Champion will be crowned. Able to retain the original April 29 – May 1 date, the season finale perfectly coincides with Round 2 of the the full size VLN Endurance Championship which will host a 4-hour race on the legendary 20.8km Nordschleife circuit.
While the 2WD title of the Yokomo, Xray, Schumacher & Serpent backed championship was settled at Round 3 in Muelheim Kaerlich with Yokomo’s Lee Martin successfully defending his crown, the return to the Nurburgring will decide the 4WD title. Back in September, when it hosted the season opener, it was reigning champion Martin who took victory but the race also marked the EOS debut of 4WD World Champion Bruno Coelho. The Xray driver impressed and despite his limited experience secured third on his first appearance. Since then Coelho has secured two wins leaving him to head the standings going into the season finale with the title now set to be settled between him and Martin on the Sunday at the Nurburgring.
Bruno Coelho will go into the final round of the Euro Offroad Series in Austria as championship leader after the Xray driver secured his second win of the season in Germany today. Top Qualifier for the third round, the World Champion would after a fraught A2, take the overall win ahead of Marc Rheinard with a near perfect drive in the closing race of the championship’s successful first visit to the Muelheim-Kaerlich venue. For defending 4WD Champion Lee Martin his challenge for a required A3 win lasted just 3-laps as a mistake dropped him down the field, the winner of the season opener at the Nurburgring having to settle for the final step on the podium.
With a mistake in A1, from which he recovered to retake Martin for the win, and two mistakes in A2 that dropped him to third, Coelho said ‘that was easier cause they (Martin & Rheinard) flipped’. He continued, ‘I started with new tyres and was trying to get them broken in as quickly as possible so it was difficult at the start but Lee made a mistake and then Marc and it was only ’cause of this that the win looked easy’. With two perfect scores, both wins including the bonus championship TQ point, the Portuguese driver, who has a third from the opening round, said today’s result puts him in a good position for the season final as it puts all the pressure on Martin, the only driver who can deny him winning the title in his rookie season.
Commenting on what has been by far his best EOS weekend having won 2WD yesterday, Rheinard said ‘A 1 & 2 is not bad’. On A3, the 4-time on-road World Champion said, ‘when Lee crashed I tried to catch Bruno. My car was awesome but I hit a curb and it was game over. I think I had a real good chance to fight with him for the win but one mistake was too much’. With Yokomo the only manufacturer to mount any kind of challenge on Xray who made up half the 4WD grid, Rheinard was happy with the YZ-4’s performance this weekend saying, ‘Overall we have made a big step forward with our 4WD’ and he believes they should be even stronger for the next EOS.
Having secured back to back 2WD titles a round early yesterday with his second place finish, Martin would see his aspirations for a consecutive title double take a knock today. The British driver needed a minimum of a win going into A3 to get better than a third overall. Putting in the fastest lap of the race the third lap in he said his ‘car felt really good’ and he ‘wasn’t trying super hard’. Coming off the step off on lap 4 however he said his car would bounce on landing leading to it to grip rolling sending him into the pack. Having led Yokomo to become a title contender, he said ‘there is a small area we need to improve and if we sort it we will be stronger for the last round’. He added, ‘for a new platform we are close if not on par with our rivals but if we can get that extra little bit the car will be super dialled’.
A driver who endured a tough 2015 season, Hupo Honigl would be ‘super happy’ to finish fourth on his Xray debut. The Austrian said the ‘Top 3 were just faster’ but added ‘I couldn’t ask for more and with less pressure from my side I really am looking forward to the next race’. The pressure the former 2WD race winner was referring to was wanting to show he was still there as a driver in terms of being able to run at the front, something which eluded him during his stint at Serpent. Behind Honigl, his team-mates Martin Wollanka and Martin Bayer would complete the Top 6.
Marc Rheinard was handed the win in A2 at the Euro Offroad Series as Bruno Coelho clashed with race leader Lee Martin on the penultimate lap. Sitting in a somewhat distant third when Top Qualifier Coelho got into the back of the leading Yokomo, Rheinard would slip through two recovering cars to go to the front holding off Martin to win by 7/10ths with Coelho completing the Top 3. The result means it is all to play for at Round 3 in A3, with Coelho, Rheinard and Martin in it for the overall in Germany.
Securing his first ever EOS win yesterday when he headed a Yokomo 1-2 in 2WD, Rheinard said ‘I was just driving around in a solid third position and then I was in the lead’. Starting the second encounter on new tyres, the German said this meant he couldn’t keep pace with the leaders. With the leaders gapping him he said he ‘didn’t expect such a big crash’ that it would allow him to take the lead. With his YZ-4 improving as the tyres came in he said he was able to see off his team-mate. A bit surprised to find himself in the hunt for the win with the championship’s two main protagonists, the touring car ace said his approach for A3 would be to ‘still back off and wait’ on something to happen in front of him.
Commenting on the race, Martin said ‘It sucks for me, that should have been a win and would have put me in a good position for A3 but now with Marc & Bruno having a 1 & 3 each a win is the minimum I need in A3.’ Asked about Coelho’s move he said ‘he came in way too hot and cleaned me out’. Changing to a different front drive shaft in his YZ-4 he said they worked ‘ok’ but with a little too much initial steering they will tweak the set-up to get the best from them. Also looking for a bit more top speed he will also make a setting change on his RC Concept speedo.
Giving away the lead to Martin on lap 4, Coelho said in that incident his XB4 jumped the roller off the main straight ‘strange’ causing the car go flipping across the track on landing. Chasing down Martin, setting a new 18.530 fastest lap in the process, the World Champion would clash with his rival at the same piece of track. On the incident with Martin he said, ‘I touched him in the rear. It was my fault and I waited’. Looking to A3, the current EOS championship standings leader said ‘maybe 3rd time lucky and I can do the race with no mistake’. Behind Coelho in third, Michal Orlowski would take his Schumacher from 7th on the grid to fourth ahead of the Xrays of Martin Bayer and Hupo Honigl.