April 30, 2016

Haatanen keeps AE reign going with A1 win at Nurburgring


Joona Haatanen took somewhat of a surprise win in the first 2WD A-Main at the Euro Offroad Series heading home champion Lee Martin in a race that was turned on its head at the second corner.  Having dominated qualifying topping all four rounds, Team Associated filled the first three spots on the grid but just after the start the number 2 B6 of Ryan Cavalieri would get in to the rear wing of Top Qualifier Neil Cragg causing a pile-up that seemed to build on the buggy of 3rd place starter Spencer Rivkin.  Lee Martin and Haatanen would come off best from the pile up and subsequent chaos at the first double that promoted Rivkin back to third.  Leading for a lap, that same double would then catch out Martin, allowing Haatanen in a lead he would keep despite intense pressure in the closing laps to take a popular win, Martin in turn fending off pressure of Rivkin.  Behind the Top 3, a frustrated Cragg would manage to recover to fourth.


While his senior team-mates were left slightly embarrassed by their race, Haatanen summed up his faultless drive to victory by saying, ‘ I was so nervous but I’m really happy’.  The 12-year said once he got by Martin and had a bit of a lead he tried to drive safe but the pressure was intense as both Martin and Rivkin ‘started catching me at the end’.  Delighted with the performance of his B6, he said the result means ‘any position is now possible’ and the only thing he will do different to his ‘no plan’ approach to A1 is fit new tyres for the second encounter.


‘I had a dream start and then screwed it up at the double’ was Martin’s reaction to the race.  The Yokomo driver who would like to cap off his title winning season with a third win, said while he was eventually able to make up the lost ground to Haatanen ‘it was too little too late’.  Coming under attack from Rivkin he said that challenge was ‘pretty intense’ adding ‘the youngsters are getting fast’.


Watching back video footage of the start, Rivkin agreed that he has used up all his luck for the day, as he came from being all but last to third within the space of one jump.  The 17-year-old said battling with Martin they were able to catch Haatanen but the track layout meant there were ‘not many places to pass’ adding he was ‘grateful to finish 3rd’.  Looking to A2 the American said ‘the next one will be better’.


‘Cav jammed into my rear wing’ was Cragg’s view of the start, softening his statement with ‘it happens when the track is so tight’.  Trying to put the incident behind him he said, ‘we will get it right for the next one’.  Cavalieri summed up the start by saying ‘I got into the back of Neil’ but quickly added ‘it didn’t even feel like I was pushing’.  Behind Cragg, Schumacher’s Michal Orlowski would complete the Top 5.


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