Naoto Matsukura completed a perfect weekend in Poland as he backed up his 2WD success with a convincing first 4WD victory at the opening round of the Euro Offroad Series. Getting his 2WD title defence underway on Saturday by collecting maximum points, his Sunday win means the Yokomo driver heads back to Japan as leader of both championships. Becoming only the third driver to win in 4WD, Matsukura did so with ease backing up his A1 win with another tone to tone win despite a lap 10 error that cost him over 2-seconds. Taking the win in A3, defending champion Joern Neumann would as he did in 2WD, finish 2nd overall with American Carson Wernimont completing the podium at the Poznan ‘Hobby’ exhibition hosted race.
Dominating qualifying, TQ’ing all five rounds, Matsukura summed his 4WD performance as ‘perfect’. Putting his error in A2 down to a ‘concentration lapse’, the 21-year-old was pleased to finally get a victory in 4WD on this his fifth EOS outing. Thanking Yokomo designer Shin Adachi and his mechanic Naoya Kitagawa for giving him ‘a very good car’, he said in the finals even with a ‘safe drive’ it was still the fastest car and he was already looking forward to Round 2 in Germany in February.
A driver whose previous domination of 4WD was replicated today by Matsukura , Neumann joked that he tried to make things exciting in A3 with his errors. With the German having a similar advantage over the rest of the field as Matsukura had over him, even with the 2-seconds lost in A3 the Team Durango driver never lost the lead. Describing his second as ‘OK’, Matsukura’s win & TQ giving him a 3-points lead in the standings, he said in terms of lap times they had the speed but consistency was the issue. With Matsukura able to get his B-Max4 to land better he said this allowed him to get on the power earlier. Knowing that this would be his DEX410’s weakness for this race, he said they needed to improve this for the future adding it wasn’t an issue with the shocks.
Thanks to his third in A2 and second in A3, Wernimont was ‘pretty happy’ to claim his first EOS podium finish, the result somewhat making up for the 2WD Top Qualifiers 4th place finish yesterday. Only his second time to race in Europe, the 17-year-old from California said he has made a lot of progress on carpet and he hopes his Schumacher team give him the opportunity to further build on his impressive showing this weekend at future EOS races. Leaving his CAT K1 Zero unchanged throughout the finals he said in A3 he was ‘going around trying to get a clean run’ when ahead of him on lap-5 Bayer & Martin came together at the wall section allowing him to get by for second which he would hold till the end to claim an overall podium.
Missing out on the podium and finishing fourth, last season’s championship runner-up Bayer said his XB4 was good in A3 a fact that was highlighted by the Czech driver posting the fastest lap. Delayed by the incident with Martin on the wall, he said while he tried to chase down Wernimont he wasn’t able to get it done, the gap at the end only 4/10ths. Having prior to the weekend been the only driver to beat Neumann in 4WD, he said hopefully for Round 2 they can be fighting again at the top adding they would put in more practice to try achieve this.
Completing the Top 5, Lee Martin was very straight up with his summary of his 4WD performance saying he ‘was never a great on carpet and (he’s) still not’. Further improving his B-Max4 for A2 he said he clipped the ‘wall of death’ and ending up stuck on the pipe. Subsequently messing up the jump that followed he said he spun in front of Bayer who collected him resulting in a broken car and retirement. Making another set-up change for A3, the World Championship runner-up said this made the car very nervous and he ended up driving badly. Putting himself at blame he said he has ‘just got to improve (his) driving style for carpet’ and to do so he was going to request a 1:12 scale from Yokomo so he can practice driving that, adding ‘it seems work for Naoto’.
In a rather processional opening 4WD A-Main at the Euro Offroad Series, there was little surprise as Naoto Matsukura cruised to an easy win over defending Champion Joern Neumann. The Top Qualifier immediately made his mark on the race pulling quickly pulling clear of the rest of the 10-car field of which the Top 3 finished as they started. The biggest movement of the race came from Martin Bayer. Starting 4th on the grid, an over jump caused the Xray driver to crash on lap 3 and drop to the back of the field. The beneficiary of this was Carson Wernimont, who despite giving Martin some attention, finished fourth 4-seconds off the Yokomo driver.
Matsukura summed up his unchallenged race as a ‘safety run’ adding he had ‘no problems’. Despite being the current 2WD EOS Champion, the Japanese ace has yet to win in 4WD. His second time to TQ the class, the 21-year-old said he hoped to finally crack the winners circle in A2 with a repeat of performance of the opening final. Neumann, who has only ever been denied victory in 4WD once before, summed up his racing as ‘boring’. ‘Too slow’ he said there was nothing he could do about the gap to Matsukura and behind he had a comfortable gap over Martin. Happier with his Yokomo compared to qualifying, Martin said he ‘drove around at his own speed’ in what was an uneventful 5-minutes of racing. Recovering from his earlier error to finish 6th behind team-mate Martin Wollanka, Bayer said he messed up the race himself by over jumping the jump at the loop and he hoped for a better run in the next one.
Chassis: Team Durango DEX 410 V4 Motor: Orion ESC: Orion Batteries: Thunder Power Radio/Servo: Futaba Remarks – Reigning 4WD EOS Champion Jorn Neumann is defending his title with a completely stock version of his trusty 410 V4, the only options being to the car’s aerodynamics with a Pro-Line rear wing and a custom front spoiler attached to the original bodyshell.
Naoto Matsukura is looking untouchable in 4WD Buggy at the Euro Offroad Series season opener in Poznan, Poland, as having already wrapped up the overall TQ in Q3 he went on to top all five qualifiers at the ‘Hobby’ exhibition hosted event. With pole position decided early, Q4 & 5 was all about how the rest of the other would line-up behind the Yokomo driver. Claiming a second in Q4, defending Champion Joern Neumann, who has been winner of this event for the past two years will carry the number 2 on his Durango. Despite two rough closing qualifiers, a ‘string of P3s’ earlier in the day will see Lee Martin line up third. A good final qualifier from Martin Bayer, the Xray driver setting the second fastest time, will see him line up fourth ahead of Schumacher’s Carson Wernimont.
While happy to salvage second on the grid, Neumann said mistakes are still his biggest problem. Conceding that Matsukura is ‘very fast’, he said he needs the Japanese driver ‘to make a mistake or (he) can’t do anything’ about trying to beat him. Starting between the two Yokomos he said while the ‘finals are always different’, Martin is a ‘little slower’ so he shouldn’t have too much worries from behind.
Hitting an out of place piece of piping in Q4 resulting in him breaking his B-Max4, the run already gone due to a crash on his opening lap, Martin said Q5 was looking good for a Top 2 until a mistake with 2-minutes to go. Ending up 5th, the British ace said changes to his car had made it better in some areas and worse in others with the overall performance much the same as it was in the opening three qualifiers when he was lacking just a little. With Shin Adachi working on a new set-up for the first A-Main, he said the two key areas that need improving are the cars forward drive and how it absorbs the flat landings.
With Xray designer Juraj Hudy joking they are improving ‘step by step’, Bayer said he now had a much better car than what he started out the day with. Having looked to make his prototype XB4 more aggressive, he has ended up getting more steering into it as well as getting it to rotate better all while still keeping it easy to drive. Planning to leave it unchanged for A1 they will wait and see how that goes before doing anything further.
Changing his shock position and moving his batteries more forward in his CAT, Wernimont said this created quite a bit more corner speed. Describing the car are ‘quite easy to drive’, the 17-year-old American believes he has a good car for the final.