Lee Martin is the 4WD Top Qualifier for the opening round of the Euro Offroad Series at the Nurburgring. The Yokomo driver, who took the TQ and win at the same event last season, secured pole position for the final when he took a very close fourth qualifier ahead of reigning champion Bruno Coelho. After a poor start to his preferred class, Coelho was to turn things around in the second half of qualifying topping Q3 ahead of Marc Rheinard and backing that up with P2 in the final encounter to secure second on the grid. Having opened the final day of the German event with a TQ run in Q2, Michal Orlwoski would end out qualifying with a P3 which is where he will start what many predict is going to a hectic trio of finals.
‘That was a close one’ was Martin’s reaction after Q4, the separation between himself and Coelho a tenth of a second. Describing his car as ‘lacking a bit of power’ in Q3 leading to a safe run to P3, with his RC Concept speedo turned up for the deciding qualifier he said it was ‘a lonely race’. With his key rivals starting the heat towards the back of the field due to earlier issues he ‘just went round and round and with a bit of a push got there in the end’. Taking up the TQ pace from Coelho with 3-laps to go, Martin said changes to his YZ4 for the last heat, based on some idea Shin Adachi had come with, had made the car better’. Asked about the finals, the former champion said his plan was to ‘just try to keep the car on all four pegs’ adding ‘it’s going to be mental’.
Coelho was pleased to have turned around his fortunes from earlier in qualifier and having looked on target to post to two runs he said of Q4, ‘I just did a mistake. I had a bad landing and hit the rear of the car’. The World Champion said ‘overall the car is very good and the last two qualifiers were good so for sure I will fight for the win’. Winner of 3 of the four rounds last season having made his EOS debut here 12-months ago, he concluded, ‘the car is there, the driver has not been 100% so far but I’ll get there’.
‘For now 3rd is better than TQ’ was Orlwoski’s view of his qualifying position. The 15-year-old continued, ‘Bruno & Lee are faster than me so I’m happier to try run with them and wait for something to happen’. Suffering two mistakes in Q3 that cost him a combined 8-seconds, he said the final qualifier was a good run. On new tyres, he made a ‘very careful start’ as he ‘didn’t want to risk too much’, he said he lost time at the beginning as a result but as he continued to go around was able to bring up his pace and claim back some of the time for ‘a close finish’.
Top Qualifier in 2WD, Rheinard will line up 4th on the grid. The Yokomo driver described his Q3 run as ‘a pretty OK’ one but was less impressed with the final qualifier. A crash on the first lap would cost him 2-seconds, but closing up again to the top of the timing screen he he would crash again on his second last lap losing over 4-seconds but added ‘I tried’. Declaring ‘the car is fine’, he continued, ‘We are all pretty much the same speed, it’s going to be interesting. The track is so difficult it’s easy to go from 1st to 10th or from 8th to 1st’. With his YZ4 easier to drive on second run tyres he said he’s not sure whether to go on new set or risk trying to get a third run from the tyres.
‘The car is really perfect but the driver keeps crashing’, was Honigl’s reaction after qualifying P5. Planning no changes for the final, when asked about what he can do from his starting position the Xray driver laughed saying, ‘I don’t think the final will be nice, I think it will be ugly and anything can happen’. Behind the Austrian, fellow countryman and team-mate Martin Wollanka starts 6th followed by Martin Bayer, Kaja Novotny, former champion Joern Neumann and Joel Valander.