Marc Rheinard has claimed his first Euro Offroad Series TQ, the Yokomo driver taking the final 2WD qualifier at Round 3 in Germany to become the third different pole sitter of Season #5. Going into Q4 as the only driver capable of denying team-mate & reigning champion Lee Martin the overall TQ, Rheinard’s quest was made easier following an early mistake by the overnight TQ holder. Seeing off an early challenge from Neil Cragg, Rheinard would go on to set a new fastest TQ time by a 2.3-second margin over Cragg with former champion Joern Neumann completing the Top 3 for the round. Ending the final qualifier 9th, Martin, who having topped Q1 & 3 lost out on the faster time tie breaker, will start 2nd a position which if he can maintain over the finals will see him successful defend his 2WD EOS title with one race remaining.
Becoming only the 8th different 2WD Top Qualifier over the 5 seasons of EOS, Rheinard was pleased to claim his first EOS pole position joking ’28 to 1′. Having endured a day of slagging yesterday over his embarrassing performance at the Reedy Race of Champions when he finished 28th out the 30 invite drivers, the touring car star added ‘I have redeemed my offroad career’. On his Q4 TQ, he said, ‘I have a near miss on the first lap when I got up on two wheels on the landing of the big jump but after that it was a good run. When Lee crashed I just had to keep Neil behind me with him close at the start after my slow first lap but I could seee the gap and could control things’. Looking to the final, the former 4WD Offroad European Champion said ‘I will just try to keep it clean. I don’t want to mess up and hand Neil the win’.
Commenting on his error which came just after the minute and a half mark, Martin said, ‘I messed up at the same place my car is a bit shitty’. Getting the roller at the end of the straight wrong his YZ-2 bounced off the piping and needing to be marshalled he lost an unrecoverable 5-seconds. Chasing a third consecutive win this weekend having won at the Nurburgring and the Hudy Arena, the British ace said starting behind his team-mate the plan for the finals is to ‘just drive in a line til something happens’. One win away from sharing the honour of being the championship’s most winning 2WD driver with Joern Nuemann, he added ‘If we can gap the rest of the field then I can make an attack on Marc for the win’.
Lining up third for his EOS race debut, Cragg described his P2 run in the final qualifier as ‘pretty good’. While he didn’t have any errors over the qualifier he did have ‘two scrappy laps’. Changing to a Pro-Line front wing on his B5M, the factory Team Associated driver said this was an improvement with ‘the car 99% there’. Asked if he planned any changes to find the missing 1%, he replied ‘Craig (Drescher) has been telling me the car is not fast enough but I think its fine but as we are lacking a little time at the end we are going to motor up to a 6.5 for the finals’. In terms of the racing he said ‘third is pretty much where I have been throughout but we’ll see what happens in the final’.
Securing his first 2WD A-Main appearance since Round 3 of the championship last year in Wels, Austria, just scraping in on that occasion with a 10th, Hupo Honigl’s Xray debut sees him line up an impressive 4th. The Austrian summed up his return to form with ‘It feels good again’. Still finding his way with his new team & cars, the former 2WD race winner said, ‘the 3 guys ahead are a little faster but we’ll see what happens’. Two places behind, team-mate and Nurburgring Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho will start sixth with compatriot Martin Wollanka also putting his XB2 in the final with ninth on the grid.
Completing the top half of the grip, the final qualifier again containing ‘too many mistakes’, Michal Orlowski is targeting a podium finish. Having been Martin’s main challenger in the opening two races of the season, the Schumacher driver has struggled with his driving this weekend. Second in the standings coming into the weekend, the 14-year-old said he has the speed to run at the front as his KF2 is ‘very good’ but with ‘everyone on the same pace’ he expects it will be difficult to pass in the final so his plan is to stay with the lead group and wait for mistakes. Elsewhere Neumann will take up his best starting position of the season with his Serpent lining up 7th ahead of American Carson Wernimont with Reedy Race Open Champion Joona Haatanen completing the grid in Muelheim-Kaerlich.