Martin Bayer finally delivered a TQ run at the EOS third round to set the stage for a ‘winner takes all’ final qualifier at the Hudy Arena. Bayer became the third different driver to post a TQ run in 2WD qualifying, topping Q3 ahead of Q2 pace setter Michal Orlowski. Having topped the opening qualifier and lost out on a repeat of that with a last lap mistake in Q2, Neil Cragg struggled as he ran out of tyres in the penultimate qualifier leaving Associated team-mate Joona Hataanen to take up the mantle and put in his first Top 3 run. With 2WD qualifying set to be concluded tonight in Slovakia, it is a potential four way shout out to become the overall Top Qualifier with Lee Martin joining Bayer, Cragg and Orlowski as potential pole sitters for tomorrow morning’s triple A-Mains.
Michal Orlowski has taken the second round of qualifying at EOS Slovakia, a late push from the Schumacher driver paying reward helped by a bad last lap from Q1 Top Qualifier Neil Cragg. With Cragg the leader for most of the 5-minutes having seen off the pressure of Martin Bayer until the Xray driver had a small but costly error, the Team Associated driver looked to have another TQ run in the bag but a rough last lap allowed both Orlowski, who just set his fastest lap of the heat on his penultimate lap, and Lee Martin to jump ahead. With the Top 3 very closely matched, the separation between the trio half a second, for Bayer, his mistake would leave him 4th as again he couldn’t deliver on his blistering seeding pace.
Commenting on his TQ run, Orlowski said, ‘In the end it went well. I don’t know what I did but my first lap was slow and it put me on the back foot but towards the end I started to push hard because I knew the gap was very close and I got it on the last lap’. The reigning champion who took the win at the Hudy Arena last year continued, ‘the car felt good and I had no major mistake but now I am not sure what to do for the next one, whether to go with used or new tyres. I need to think about it’.
‘We are getting close’, was Lee Martin’s reaction to a much improved performance. Changing both springs and the diff on his Yokomo to get more corner speed, he said, ‘It was better but I still need a bit of 180° corner speed and now in the high speed corners the front is washing out. It is a like an F1 car that has lost its front wing but we are getting closer to where we need to be at. I will just tweak a few things for the next one, nothing too crazy’. On his own driving the British driver said, ‘I had two iffy laps that cost me half a second, Orlowski had bad laps at the start, me in the middle and then Neil at the end, we’re all pretty close’.
‘That was bloody close’ was how Cragg summed up Q2. The ETS Daun winner continued, ‘It was a dialed run until the last lap when I had a bobble which cost me the TQ’. Leading away the heat for the second qualifier, the Brit said, ‘I knew I had to start fast as Bayer was going to come out swinging. I stayed ahead and was pretty happy about that’. Looking to Q3 he concluded, ‘The car is pretty dialed and the driver is 99% there’.
Bayer said, ‘I tried to make super luck but ended up with bad luck’. He continued, ‘I made a stupid mistake at the double single before the straight and it cost me two & a half seconds. It was only a tiny small mistake (his car landing inside the piping) but it cost me a lot’. With two rounds of qualifying remaining to make up for his errors in his opening two attempts, the Xray Offroad team manager said, ‘the speed is there and the car is good. I just need to calm things down and do nothing crazy’. Behind Bayer, EOS Poland podium finisher Daniel Kobbevik completed the Top 5.
Neil Cragg has TQ’ed the opening round of 2WD qualifying at the Euro Offroad Series in Slovakia. Only 7th fastest in practice, the Team Associated driver put in a faultless drive to top the times ahead of Martin Bayer after a late mistake from the top seed. Behind them, Kája Novotný recovered from a first lap error to complete the Top 3, his Xray posting the fastest lap of the opening qualifier. For Michal Orlowski he too would have to recover from a costly mistake at the same place as Novotný, getting by Lee Martin in the final minute to open his qualifying with a P4.
‘That was a bit more like it’, was Cragg’s reaction to taking the TQ, the British driver initially thinking he had got a P2 for the round. He continued, ‘I am really pleased to be honest. I made no mistake and changed the car back to my German set-up which gave it ridiculous corner speed’. He said however, ‘the flat landings now worry me but I can’t get one without the other. I can’t find a happy medium but I would always go for the corner speed. I just need to be careful on the landings’.
‘Argh, a mistake, I was too nervous’, explained Bayer. ‘I made a mistake and to try and come back I tried to force but kept hitting the track markers so I got slower and slower’. The Xray driver continued, ‘All 10 drivers are covered by 7-seconds (over 5-minutes) which is not normal. Even the best laps are very close. I will try not to make mistakes in the next one’. Novotný said, ‘I had a horrible first lap. I made a mistake at the corner table top and was lucky to get out of there but it cost me 3-seconds otherwise it was a good run’.
Pleased with how he ended his run in terms of his driving it was the early part of the heat that was the problem for Orlowski. ‘I made two costly mistakes at the table top but I managed to get my head down and started putting in good laps. It was not the best start but we have good pace now and I feel confident with the car’, said the Schumacher driver. For Q2 the Pole concluded, ‘I will stay with the same set-up and get more confident in my driving and not crash’.
‘No progress has been made yet’ was Lee Martin’s reaction to getting a P5 for Q1. Having struggled with a lack of corner speed in practice, the Yokomo driver continued, ‘Marc (Rheinard) tried a different spring and went a bit faster so I am going to try that for the next one. I might try a different diff too’. Suffering two ‘little errors’ over the 5-minutes the European Champion said, ‘the big problem is just corner speed’. Behind Martin, Adam Izsay completed the Top 6 followed by Joona Hataanen, Hupo Hönigl and Jörn Neumann.
Euro Offroad Series 2WD Championship points leader Martin Bayer has topped seeding for Round 3 at the Hudy Arena, the Xray fastest from team-mate Kája Novotný. A former winner at his home event, Bayer had a clear advantage over an otherwise closely match field, his best 3-consecutive laps of 1:13.601 almost a full second quicker than Novotný’s. Behind the pre race favourite and Novotný, it was last year’s winner Michal Orlowski who was third quickest with Schumacher looking the best of the rest on Xray’s home turf as Joern Neumann posted the 5th fastest time. Lee Martin set the fourth fastest time, the Yokomo driver unable to improve on his time from the first of the two counting timed practice rounds. Coming into the event on the back of his first EOS victory last month, Team Associated’s Neil Cragg will be seeded 7th for qualifying, all four rounds taking place later today.
Commenting on his pace, Bayer said, ‘Since the last EOS even though I finished on the podium I was not happy with the car in Daun so we went to all the local races to be better this round and now it is really good’. He continued, ‘The track is very different here and you are at double the speed every corner but I’m very happy with the set-up we have’. With all drivers feeling the high speed nature of the track layout will make it hard to not crash, he concluded, ‘Qualifying is going to be completely different, doing 5-minutes without crashing will be difficult’.
‘Perfect’ is how Novotný summed up practice. The Czech driver continued, ‘I haven’t changed anything since the first run, the car is amazing. We raced at the Mibo Cup last weekend and found a set-up that worked there and it is working here too’. Describing the times as ‘super close’, Orlowski only 4/100ths of a second off him, he expects qualifying to be challenging. He said, ‘I think it will be hard to not crash. When I was following behind drivers in practice and tried to catch someone I made mistakes, the 5-minutes will be hard’.
‘It went well, the feeling of the car is pretty good’, was Orlowski’s thoughts on how practice had went, drivers starting the day with two rounds of free practice before going into seeding. The Polish teenager continued, ‘We made small changes every run and have the car good. Obviously we are lacking speed to Xray but with Joern also up there in the times we are the best of the rest. We need to find something in the set-up to catch Martin (Bayer) but we will see on 5-minutes how it is as it might mix it up’
Lee Martin summed up his practice pace by saying he was ‘lacking corner speed’. He continued, ‘It feels slow in the corners, the jumps are OK but we are still losing time to Xray but I think this is confidence on the jumps, nothing else’. Describing the track layout as ‘pretty flat out’ he added, ‘It going to be hard to catch Martin unless he has a bad experience’. Asked if he had changes in mind to improve corner speed he replied, ‘we are kind of running out of ideas but there are little things we can keep changing but it is going to be tough’.
Neumann was pleased with his early pace adding his Schumacher is ‘pretty consistent over a 5-minute run’. The former champion continued, ‘It is really close from 2nd to 6th-7th, just Martin Bayer is faster’. Happy with the feeling of his car in the final practice he said, ‘we are still discussing car set-up but I think I will keep it the same for Q1 to get more comfortable with the track. The angled jumps mean the car can jump funny’.
‘Car feels better than lap times are telling me but it’s pretty close out there’, was Cragg’s thoughts after the conclusion of practice. Without regular mechanic Craig Drescher, who was due to fly out with his driver yesterday but couldn’t after coming down with a fever, the former World Champion said, ‘as a qualifying car it’s not too bad and it’s not too far off. We just need to find a little magic’.
Name – Hudy Racing Arena Club – Private Track Country – Slovakia Location – Trencin (120 km North East of Bratislava) Direction – Clockwise Surface – Carpet tiles Previous key events hosted – 4 X EOS rounds, 5 X ETS rounds
The Euro Offroad Series reaches the half stage this weekend with the Hudy Arena in Slovakia hosting the 1:10 Offroad Championship for a 5th time with the majority of drivers now familiar with the world class facility and the local city of Trencin in which it is located. In terms of the facility little has changed from the EOS drivers’ perspective however outside located between the Hudy Arena and the Xray factory the new indoor dirt track is looking even closer to completion, many drivers excited about the prospect of having a new indoor dirt venue to race on, such luxuries a rarity in Europe compared to them being standard practice in the US.
In terms of the track, the layout as normal utilises a 34 metre long by 28 metre deep area. Taking the 2WD win here last year Michal Orlowski described this year’s layout as ‘casual’. He added, ‘it doesn’t look difficult but the angled jumps can catch you out. The other main thing of the track is the table top because the timing is tricky for getting the down jump right, otherwise it’s just a standard track’.
Having secured his first EOS race victory at the previous round in Daun, Germany, Neil Cragg was also not overly impressed with this year’s layout. He said, ‘last year’s layout was so crazy, this year it’s a bit mundane. If you look at the times everyone is the same speed’. He continued, ‘It’s a nice flowing track but for lack of a better word it’s a bit simple’. Asked if any elements stood out as challenging he replied, ‘the jump section at the end of the straight is a bit shitty. It feels like they just chucked it in there. It doesn’t really have a rhythm to it’.
This weekend (23-25 February) marks the half way stage of the Euro Offroad Series as championship leaders Xray welcome their rivals into their back garden as the Hudy Arena in Slovakia hosts the third round of Season #7.Bruno Coelho leads the way in the 4WD standings but the winner of the season opener will be absent this weekend due to his preparations for the defence of his TITC touring car title in Thailand next weekend.In 2WD, Martin Bayer sits at the top of the points table having enjoyed podium finishes at the opening two rounds and the on form previous Hudy Arena race winner will be aiming to complete the full set of podium step positions by becoming the third different winner this season at what is now a ‘home race’ for the Czech native.
With the season opener dominated by Coelho, Round 2 at the new Daun venue in Germany last month threw up a more interesting result in particular in 2WD as Neil Cragg finally added his name to the EOS’ Roll of Honour.After a disappointing start in Warsaw, the Team Associated driver came into the second race of the season having racked up plenty of testing mileage on carpet during the Christmas/New Year layoff with that work immediately paying dividends as he took only his second ever EOS career TQ.Able to convert that to maiden victory to leave Daun with maximum points, the former World Champion together with AE team manager Craig Drescher would love nothing more than to add win number 2 in Xray’s own back garden.
Beating Xray on the very track on which they develop their cars was something Michal Orlowski achieved last season en-route to becoming 2WD Champion, the Pole taking race victory ahead of Lee Martin and Coelho. The Schumacher driver didn’t have a successful home race when Warsaw hosted Round 1, him not even making the podium, but in Daun he was back on his game taking the win in 4WD over Top Qualifier Coelho and finishing second in 2WD to get his title defence back on track.Making his EOS debut as a Schumacher driver last time out, Joern Neumann should be well settled in with his new team this weekend and will be determined to deliver results.Still the EOS’ most winning driver he will be looking to step out of the shadows of his younger team-mate Orlowski and finally become a regular contender for race wins once again.
For reigning World Champion manufacturer Yokomo, the opening two rounds haven’t delivered the results team leader Lee Martin would have hoped for.Now the only one of the big four manufacturers in the championship yet to register a win this season, former double champion Martin declared his 4th place in 2WD as an ‘unlucky’ result having shown good pace in the finals. Going on to make the podium in 4WD, the European Champion was pleased with the progress made with their YZ-4, and encouraged by the podium will be looking to lead Yokomo to their first win of the season this weekend.Qualifying 3rd in Daun, one spot ahead of Martin, team-mate Marc Rheinard’s frustrating run of results in the EOS since taking a victory at last season’s opening race continued. One of only 7 drivers in the championship to register multiple wins he plummeted to 8th in the final 4WD result and so will be hoping the trip to Trencin, which means he will arrive later than usual in Bangkok for the TITC, sees an end to his podium drought.