Back to back defending Champion Joern Neumann saw off one of the most hotly contested 4WD qualifyings to claim the overall TQ honours at the Euro Offroad Series in Poland this evening. One of five drivers who went into the fourth & final qualifier in contention for the honour of Top Qualifier, the Team Durango driver claimed his second TQ run of the day, again over Martin Bayer. Posting the fastest 5-minute run around the busy track, the result maintains the German’s 100% record of pole position starts since the creation of the EOS which is now in its third season.
A driver that likes do most of his talking on the track, the World Championship Top Qualifier said he was happy to claim his 8th consecutive EOS TQ. Neumann said this was by far the most challenging qualifying yet adding that the top drivers here this weekend are ‘pretty close’. Having run the final qualifier on used tyres and therefore saving one set of tyres for the final he believes he is well positioned for the finals. Looking to get more steering when on used tyres he said should it arise that he needs to run used tyres he might make changes to his set-up.
Finishing 1.3-seconds off Neumann in Q4, Bayer initially looked like he might end his rivals reign of the 4WD class but a mistake on lap 5 cost the Czech driver 3.5 crucial seconds. This same mistake also cost Hupo Honigl a chance at finally getting the better of his team-mate. Coming together with the out of shape Xray, the Austrian lost a similar amount of time ending the round a slightly frustrated 3rd which is where he will line up on the grid. Honigl said his Durango was again better on used tyres and this was endorsed by his fastest lap of the round. For Renaud Savoya an early mistake put the Xray driver of of contention for the overall TQ and he will start 4th in front of Schumacher’s Tom Cockerill. Backing up his strong 2WD qualifying performance Poland’s Michal Orlowski will start sixth.
The fifth of the TQ contenders David Ronnefalk would not finish Q4. Starting the round on the same set of tyres he ran in the opening three qualifiers, him retiring half way through Q1, he said his Kyosho felt great at the start. Admitting that he would have needed new tyres to go for the TQ as the tyre wear would have been too much, the Swede said he still could have put in a good run but a driver error lead to him braking a rear arm. Getting 7th on the grid, the 17-year said he was disappointed not to be starting higher but added that he has a good buggy and three new sets of Proline tyres for the finals.
4WD A-Main Grid
1. Jörn Neumann (DE) – Team Durango – 310
2. Martin Bayer (CZ) – Xray – 308
3. Hupo Hönigl (AT) – Team Durango – 307
4. Reno Savoya (FR) – Xray – 304
5. Tom Cockerill (GB) – Schumacher – 303
6. Michal Orlowski (PL) – Team Durango – 298
7. David Ronnefalk (SE) – Kyosho – 297
8. Benni Gröschel (DE) – Team Durango – 296
9. Jiri Mara (CZ) – Xray – 295
10.Nicolas Risser (BE) – Kyosho – 292
Current European Champion Martin Bayer is racing a pretty stock Xray XB4 and according to the Czech driver the setup he is using isn’t much different from the stock carpet setup provided when you purchase the car. Martin has given a lot of attention to the handout Pro-Line tires on his LRP powered buggy deciding to cut the outer line of pins and to glue the outside of the tires to make them stiffer.
The final round of 4WD Buggy qualifying at the season opener of the Euro Offroad Series in Poznan, Poland, is set to be a showdown for the overall TQ honours with each of the opening three qualifiers having been topped by different drivers. Starting off his title defence perfectly having topped yesterday’s practice Joern Neumann took Q1 from Martin Bayer. In Q2 Bayer went one better and set the pace taking the round from Xray team mate Renaud Savoya. The penultimate qualifier saw Hupo Honigl post the fastest time ahead of Kyosho’s David Ronnefalk with 2WD Top Qualifier Tom Cockerill third. Such is the closeness of the lead drivers just 2/10ths of a second separated the time of the fastest and slowest rounds.
Commenting on his Q3 run, Honigl said he just ‘crashed less’. The Team Durango driver said his DEX410 felt better in Q2 but he had too much traffic issues. Running new tyres on his TQ run, the Austrian feels he should be in for a good final qualifier as his 4WD, likes his 2WD, works better on a used set of the Proline handout tyres.
Team-mate Neumann described his opening TQ run as ‘OK’ but said for the second round he just didn’t have enough grip running on used tyres. Combined with ‘too many mistakes’ he ended the round fourth fastest. Unbeaten in the EOS in 4WD having won all previous 7 events over the past two seasons, in Q3 he was on for a good run until someone stepped on to the track and he hit their foot costing him over 2-seconds. Having run big bore shocks in all three qualifiers, the German plans to switch to small bore versions for the final round.
Topping Q2, Bayer said he was just relieved at this stage to have locked himself into the A-Main having missed the cut in 2WD earlier in the day. The European Champion said in the opening two rounds his LRP powered XB4 felt good. Running a shorter rear camber link for Q3 he said combined with being on new tyres the buggy had too much rotation and was not easy to drive. Setting the fifth fastest time he said he will revert to a slightly longer link for the final qualifier when he will run used tyres. Team-mate Renaud Savoya ran the same set-up as Bayer for Q3 and will also return to his Q2 set-up when he was second fastest just .9 off the Czech ace.
Second fastest in Q3 and as a result in contention for the overall TQ honours , Ronnefalk was very happy with the handling of his prototype chassis. Suffering a slipper shaft failure in Q1, in Q2 he had traffic problems with a coming together with the Durango of Kaja Novotny and subsequent crash on the same lap costing him around 10-seconds. Having broken his new centre slipper in Q1 which is fixed on one side, the Swede had to use an old version which has springs both sides and he said this improved the buggy a lot. Smoother to drive and having better traction he said in Q3 with a clear track the buggy felt ‘amazing’. With the announcement that he was running 2nd, Ronnefalk said he ‘pushed like hell’ for the final two laps as he wanted at TQ run but he just missed out by a tenth of a second. Delighted with how good the buggy was when pushed to the limited he said the final qualifier is going to be ‘crazy’ with so many drivers in contention for the overall TQ.