For the second race in succession it is Joern Nuemann who is the 4WD Top Qualifier at the Euro Offroad Series. The Schumacher driver secured the TQ from title favourite Bruno Coelho in the final round of qualifying in Austria with the Q4 time giving the German pole on the the tie break by 3/100ths of a second. Coelho would end up qualifying with a P4 run after mistakes in the second half. Behind the two former champions it will be Joona Haatanen who will start third on the grid. The Team Associated driver enjoyed his best run in Q4 to set the second fastest time ahead of Schumacher’s Wesley van Helmond. With Hupo Honigl lining up 4th on the grid, reigning champion Michal Orlowski will have his work cut on to retain his title from 5th on the grid, the Schumacher driver needing the win to take the championship.
‘Not the best run but the others (drivers) were even worse’, was Neumann’s reaction to taking Q4. With the drivers set to go straight into their finals tonight at ERT Steyregg due to heavy rain being forecast for Sunday, the EOS most winning driver said, ‘I just need to keep it on its wheels to fight for the win. Of course Bruno is very strong here but I think I can match him for the win. The track is quite difficult so it is easy to make mistakes and be overtaken but I hope that doesn’t happen’.
Coelho summed up Q4 as ‘a tough qualifier’. The Xray driver continued, ‘I started slow as to make no mistakes and when I saw Joern, who was the only one who could TQ, flipped I tried to calm down my driving but he came back strong. I tried to keep pace with him but I flipped and he passed me. As we seen in 2WD everything is still open but starting first is beneficial to Joern. I will try to put pressure on him at the start to try get him to make a mistake’.
Qualifying in the same position as he did for 2WD yesterday, Haatanen said, ‘the car is quite good so I can’t complain’. On his P2 run in the final qualifier, the Finnish said, ‘it was a good run but on the last couple of laps Joern got by’. Asked about his approach to the finals, he replied, ‘If I have the pace I will try to make a pass or if not I will wait like I did in 2WD yesterday’, the teenager taking A2 after the two leaders made mistakes.
With victory the only way he can close the deficit on Coelho in the championship standings, a win today would be his third of the season and this would give him the title on the first tie breaker, Orlowski said, ‘I’m starting 5th but I have the pace to win’. Again retiring from the final qualifier with the same drive shaft issue as he had in Q2 after a roll, the 2WD Champion said, ‘the drive shaft came out which was bad luck and in Q3 I had trouble with traffic but we still have a chance in the final. I need to win so that’s what I am aiming’.