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’.
Joern Neumann has TQ’d the second round of 4WD qualifying at EOS Austria, the Schumacher driver quickest from Q1 winner Bruno Coelho by 9/10th at ERT Steyregg. Returning to his former championship winning form at the previous round of the championship at Arena 33 where he took the TQ & Win, Neumann took over the TQ pace in the later half of the run helped by a bad lap from Coelho and a fastest lap time that was 2/10ths faster than that of the championship leader. Both factory Schumacher drivers would show great pace with Orlowski setting an almost identical fastest lap time to his team-mate but much earlier in the heat, before a mistake resulted in the Pole retiring after he popped a rear ball cup. Also showing very strongly in the early part of the qualifier, Joona Haatanen would finish with some difficult laps but his early pace meant he would still stop the clock with the 3rd fastest time.
Commenting on his TQ run, Neumann said, ‘It took a couple of laps to adapt to the high traction but then it was good’. The multiple former champion added, ‘because we had to stay in silver (compound) tyres we changed to a harder front spring and ran a little lower ride height. It worked good’. With the announcement that with the track now dry drivers will have to run the yellow compound handout Schumacher tyre for Q3, Neumann is confident that will suit his car even better adding they just need to ‘make small changes, nothing major’.
Coelho said, ‘we change the car for the dry conditions but didn’t go 100% with the set-up and we should have had, especially for the silver tyre’. The Xray driver continued, ‘I was on two wheels everywhere and trying to fight with Joern but at the end he was quicker’. Asked about switching to the yellow compound the former World Champion said, ‘we should be good. We’ll get the car ready for that’.
‘Now I had even more speed’, said a pleased looking Haatanen. The Team Associated driver went on, ‘I ran a harder spring in the rear and went higher with the diffs which made the car more stable and improved the corner speed. The Silver (compound) was too soft and towards the end the car wanted to flip so I had a couple of mistakes on my last few laps’. Looking to the penultimate qualifier he said, ‘the car will be much better on yellows and I’m ready to mix it for a TQ run’.
Having dominated yesterday’s 2WD qualifying, taking all four rounds, Bruno Coelho has got 4WD underway at the EOS Season Finale in Austria with a TQ run. Setting the pace in practice, the championship leader topped the times from Round 5 winner Joern Neumann by 1.2-seconds with 2WD podium finish Hupo Honigl completing the Top 3. With the astro turf track getting drier and drier each run after over night rain all drivers reported Q1 conditions as tricky. The only driver who can challenge Coelho for the 4WD title, reigning champion Michal Orlowski set the fourth fastest time with Joona Haatanen opening qualifying with a P5.
Summing up his TQ run, Coelho said, ‘I had a mistake and got stuck on the pipe but luckily everyone had mistakes’. The driver who holds a 2-point lead in the championship standings continued, ‘the car is working good but the conditions are changing every hour. It’s getting drier and drier so you don’t know what to expect for the next one’.
‘Tricky, tricky conditions. The car was very edgy’, was Neumann reaction to Q1. The Schumacher driver continued, ‘overall second was a better start to 2WD when I crashed too many times’. With drivers running the silver compound of the EOS’ Schumacher handout tyres, the German said, ‘If we change to yellow I will leave the car the same but if we continue on silver I need to change the set-up’.
Describing his P3 effort as ‘very good’, Honigl said it was hard work out on track. ‘I ran my complete dirt set-up on the car but the track dried up so it was super difficult and I drove super careful’. Looking to Q2 the Austrian Xray driver said, ‘I need to change my set-up for the next one’.
2WD Champion Orlowski said, ‘the track changed quite a lot. There was a lot of grip in some place and not a lot in others. The pace was good but I made a mistake’. Matching title rival Coelho on wins this season, with 2-each, the Schumacher driver continued, ‘we will change quite a lot on the car now. The rain is coming so it’s a tough one to hit the right right set-up’.
‘Not too bad but I had a few mistakes’, was Haatanen’s summary of his first of four qualifying attempts. The Team Associated driver continued, ‘we changed the car for Q1 and it was much better and it has put us on the right way with set-up, but the grip got higher so the track was difficult but still we got a Top 5 out of it’. For Q2, the Finnish teenager plans to raise the diffs higher for less roll and may also try a different spring.
Remarks – Young Austrian driver Lucas Grainer had a great EOS debut here in Steyregg, qualifying third overall in the 2WD class and ending up fifth after the finals behind the wheel of his Xray XB2 ’19. His car is pretty much out of the box, the only option part he’s using being the battery mount.
Chassis: Team Associated B6.1 Motor: Reedy Sonic M3 6.5 ESC: Reedy BlackBox 510R Batteries: Reedy Zappers SG2 4100 mAh Radio/Servo: Sanwa/Reedy Tires: Schumacher (handout) Body: JConcepts F2
Remarks – The only factory driver representing the American brand here in Steyregg, Joona Haatanen concluded his EOS campaign winning A2 to finish second on the Austrian astroturf track. The Finn was behind the wheel of a pretty standard version of the B6.1, only equipped with an aluminium steering system and steel weights under the Lipo and the servo. Joona was also using a full JConcepts aero kit, with the F2 bodyshell and Aero rear wing.