Neil Cragg is the 2WD Top Qualifier at Round 2 of the Euro Offroad Series in Germany. The Team Associated driver claimed his second EOS career TQ after topping 2 of the 4 qualifiers in Daun and with a little help from fellow British driver Lee Martin who took a surprise TQ from Michal Orlowski in the final round. With only Orlowski able to deny Cragg a pole start for this afternoon’s finals, Cragg looked to have everything under control but with a minute to go a mistake dropped him off the TQ pace with Martin and Orlowski taking up the battle. With his Q3 TQ time the fastest, Orlowski had the tie break advantage if he could top Q4 and he would push Martin hard for it however with both drivers crashing on their final laps Martin would hang on to take it by half a second. With Orlowski set to start 2nd, Martin’s TQ bumps the Yokomo driver up to 3rd. Championship leader Bruno Coelho would complete the Top 3 behind them, the improved result putting him 5th on the grid behind Xray team-mate Martin Bayer.
His first TQ since the season finale of the EOS two years ago when the entire factory Associated team came to the Nurburgring for the debut of the B6 platform with Ryan Cavalieri going on to take the win, Cragg said, ‘I’m really happy with the TQ’. He continued that Q4 was ‘a really good run for 4-minutes until I had a bobble at the end of the straight and it unravelled from there’. Ending up 5th fastest, he continued, ‘the car is really good so we’ll see what we can do in the finals. We’ll just check the shocks for the finals and leave the set-up as it is because it’s running really well’.
Summing up his final qualifying attempt, Orlowski said, ‘It was OK. I was on new tyres so the car was a bit edgy and that led me to have a few bobbles’. The reigning champion continued, ‘I tried to catch Lee and it was pretty close in the end but now I have good tyres for the final and the car feels really good’. Asked about racing in the finals, the Pole said, ‘the start will be tricky because the table top after the wall is difficult’.
‘Back in the game’ was Martin’s reaction to his TQ run, the European Champion adding, ‘I could have done it last night too but I messed up’. Raising the rear roll centre and adding more rear toe-in, he said the car was better but he still has a problem with losing drive near the end of the heat. Having fitted all new slipper parts, he is now thinking maybe the diff gets too warm. Asked about the final he replied, ‘Well I bumped myself into a good position to actually do something’.
Having a tough final qualifier, Bayer said, ‘for the last one I tried something different with the set-up to try make the car quicker in the 180 degree corners but it was not good and I will go back’. He continued, ‘I will look for some luck in the final. The track is quite a mix so it could be interesting and the guy from the back could still win’.
Enduring a contrasting weekend so far to the season opener when he took the TQ and win in dominant style in Poland, Coelho said, ‘This track is very difficult. I only had one mistake, I rolled at the table top, but it cost me a few seconds’. Concluding qualifying with his first Top 3 run, he continued, ‘the start will for sure be a mess. Starting 5th on this track I could finish last or first. It’s so easy to make mistakes’.