Naoto Matsukura is Top Qualifier at the Euro Offroad Series season finale. Making his Kyosho debut in the championship, the Japanese star secured his 7th EOS overall TQ when he topped the times for a third time in the fourth & final round of qualifying at the Hudy Racing Arena. Lining up behind him will be former team-mate Lee Martin, the Yokomo driver’s quest to add to 4WD Championship to the 2WD title he won at the previous round in Austria, looking good with defending champion Joern Neumann starting fifth. Winner when the EOS travelled to the Slovakian event last season, Martin Bayer will start 3rd while yesterday’s 2WD winner Michal Orloswki lines up fourth on the grid for the triple A-Mains.
The only driver to run 13-laps in all four qualifiers, Matsukura declared himself ‘happy’ to be starting from pole position having stated after topping practice that he was out to prove a point this weekend. Making further changes to his Lazer ZX6 for the final qualifier, he said it now had the best balance of stability and steering and he would leave it unchanged for A1. Stating he is having to drive the car at only 80% due to the difficultly of the high traction, he said his consistency was key to his TQ pointing out that Bayer had similar pace but just crashed too much. Not fearing a challenge from Martin he said a lot would depend how quickly Bayer could get by the British driver.
While he’s out qualified title rival Neumann, Martin is taking nothing for granted. Saying the German’s Serpent ‘is not too bad’ and his own B-Max 4 ‘is also so so’, he continued there ‘could be carnage out there and anything can happen.’ Asked about his plan for the finals he said he would ‘just drive my own race and what happens happens’.
Neumann said considering he broke in 2 of the 4 qualifiers, two counting for the grid, ‘P5 is OK’. Describing his SRX-4 as ‘difficult to drive’, the 10-times 4WD race winner continued, that for the race ‘ I have nothing to lose so my approach is maximum attack’. With both drivers tied on points and having identical results from the previous three rounds once they finish 4th or better the driver ahead will clinch the title.
Bayer feels its going to be difficult to race Matsukura for the win starting from 3rd. The former European Champion said his Xray has the speed but so does the Kyosho driver and he’s very consistent too. Third in the standings, but not in the title hunt, he said he needed to get a good start to get by Martin as soon as possible.
Taking a hugely popular first EOS win yesterday in 2WD, Michal Orlowski said considering his car was designed for clay he is ‘happy’ with fourth. A difficult track for his CAT K1 Aero due to its weight distribution, a new car expected for the World Championship which are on astro turf, he said he would just try to run without mistakes and hope those ahead of him trip each other up.