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’.