Joern Neumann has taken the opening round of 4WD qualifying at the Euro Offroad Series season finale in Germany. Despite twice crashing in the same spot, the Schumacher driver would just hold on to TQ ahead of Lee Martin in a round that saw almost all the drivers make mistakes. Having topped seeding Michal Orlowski made a costly error on his second lap losing 7-seconds and following further errors eventually decided to pull off. Coelho was the early pace setter but he too had mistakes which saw him and Neumann swapping positions until he dropped 2-seconds to the German with a mistake on the penultimate lap. Martin would also run at the top of the timing screens for a time until he had a tumble in front of Neumann all of which played into the hands of 10th seed Neil Cragg who would have a clean run to get a Top 3 finish.
‘The lap times and end time were very good but I jumped to the inside of the back double twice for some reason’, was Neumann’s reaction to his TQ run. He continued, ‘It was a little more slippery than before and we had made a car for a lot of rotation so maybe that caused it go jump off slightly left’. On his second error the weekend’s 2WD winner said, ‘I thought it was over after that but then Bruno crashed and I was back in the game’.
Only 8th fastest in practice, Martin said, ‘considering practice was a bit crap Q1 was what I wanted. Its a shame I missed the TQ by so little but I wasn’t expecting 2nd so I’m pretty happy’. Changing his Yokomo set-up for qualifying he said the car was now ‘just easier to drive to do 5-minutes’. With Q2 taking place in the morning, the former champion will leave the car unchanged saying he plans to ‘gain confidence in his driving rather than find time in the car’.
‘Super pleased’, was how Cragg summed up the opening qualifier. The Team Associated driver said, ‘I just kept to myself and had no major incidents. I was not the fastest but I saw there was a lot of crashes in practice so I just tried yo keep it clean’. Team-mate Joona Haatanen would put in the 4th fastest time. The Finn said, ‘It was pretty good but I had one crash on the back double early on. After that I jumped it differently and I think without the mistakes I had TQ pace’.
Ending up 5th fastest Coelho said, ‘It started well but after 2 laps my car started to get loose in the rear so I tried to drive more smooth’. The defending champion continued, ‘I then made a mistake and Joern got by but then he made a mistake I got back the lead. When he made another mistake I had a good lead but made a mistake and had a roll over. I lost it (the TQ) there’. Asked about his car’e performance he replied, ‘It feels strange. I am not 100% confident in it. Its difficult to drive so we must change something’.
Michal Orlowski has got his hopes of doing the title double off to a promising start at the Euro Offroad Series by topping seeding from defending champion Bruno Coelho. The Schumacher driver, fresh from successfully defending his 2WD title earlier in the day at Arena 33, set the fastest 3-consecutive laps in the first of the two rounds of controlled practice with almost nothing separating him and Coelho. Just 0.067 of a second slower, Coelho also ran his best time in CP1 having set the early pace over the 3-rounds of Free Practice. Taking the 2WD win in Germany, Joern Neumann would complete the Top 3 and while overall a slower run for the majority of drivers would set the quickest time of CP2. One driver to post his quickest time in CP2 was Martin Wollanka who seeds 5th for qualifying in between youngsters Daniel Kobbevik (P4) and Joona Haatanen (P6).
Summing up practice Orlowski said, ‘we made quite a lot of of set-up changes to the car in free practice. In the first timed run it was good but we tried something for the last one and it was completely not what we expected so we will go back to the previous set-up for qualifying’. Needing to win tomorrow’s finals in order to take the title from points leader Coelho, he continued, ‘overall the feeling is very good and going around with Bruno in the first practice just to see his pace and it was very positive’.
Coelho, who like Orlowski has two wins to his credit this season in 4WD, said, ‘we still working on the car and trying to get more steering’. The former World Champion continued, ‘in the first practice it was super fast but inconsistent so we worked on improving it for 5-minutes but now its too slow. We are struggling in the 180 corners so still have to figure that out’.
‘Practice was very good’, was how Neumann summed up his P3 seeding. The former multiple champion said, ‘we kept almost the same set-up as we use on carpet and have just made some very slight changes. The car immediately ran well on the astro’. Asked about qualifying he replied, ‘I’m confident but they added an extra layer of carpet to the first double and seems to cause the rear of the car to kick up a bit’. The extra carpet had to be added for the final practice after a rip developed in the original layer.
Having ‘changed a lot after the first practice’, Kobbevik was happy with his car, running it unchanged since. The 13-year-old Norwegian said his Xray, unlike team-mate Coelho, ‘has very good steering and is not traction rolling’. Describing it as ‘stable but still fast’, he said he’s ‘ready for qualifying’ – the first of the four rounds taking place tonight.
Wollanka said tyre preparation has been his main focus in practice. With his Sworkz buggy the same as he debuted at the last EOS outing Wels, qualifying & finishing 5th, he said the only difference is the shock set-up to deal with the bumps in the astro surface here. Trying to run tyres with cut pins in CP1 he said this option ‘was not so good’ and going back to the standard tyre that enabled him to set his quickest 3-laps in CP2.
Chassis: Schumacher Cougar KC Motor: Team Orion 5.0T ESC: Team Orion HMX Batteries: Team Orion 4000 mAh Radio/Servo: Sanwa/Highest Tires: Schumacher (handout) Body: Kit Remarks – After a 3-year winning hiatus, Joern Neuman is back on top of the podium here at the Arena33. Prepared differently from what Team Schumacher drivers have been using so far on carpet, his car was actually closer to its kit setup, the British platform mostly developed on this kind of surface. The lipo is moved backwards, the piston holes are bigger and the rear springs are softer to better cope with the uneven track without losing traction. Joern also opted for a shorter wheelbase and an aluminium chassis. A key change in the car’s setup was moving outwards the rear camber links in order to obtain more braking traction without losing on mid-corner stability.
Chassis: Team Associated RC10B6.1 Motor: Reedy Sonic 6.5T ESC: LRP Flow X Batteries: Reedy 4000mAh Radio/Servo: KO/Reedy Tires: Schumacher (handout) Body: Kit Remarks – The only title contender to Orlowski coming into the final stage of the EOS, Neil Cragg came to Arena33 well prepared for what would be the surface he is most used to. His RC10B6.1 is equipped with front gullwing arms and corresponding shock tower, tall rear shock bodies and tower, soft rear arms and the new Team Associated V2 springs in order to cope with the bumps on the astro track. He was also using a ball differential and a brass bulkhead, 67mm rear driveshafts & hubs and a front Pro-Line wing.