Xray’s Bruno Coelho lines-up best of the rest on the grid for Round 2 of the Euro Touring Series in Germany tomorrow as Ronald Volker completed a clean sweep in the fourth & final qualifier. While having already wrapped up the overall TQ in the previous round, Volker didn’t let up in Q4 and switching to his second set of tyres topped the times by a 2.1 second margin, signing off with the fastest lap of the round on his final lap. Behind, it was Coelho who for a third time was second fastest, the defending champion recovering from an early mistake to secure second overall on the grid ahead of Marc Rheinard. Second fastest in Q2, Rheinard was in contention to line-up closest to Volker but the final qualifier would be the Infinity driver’s worst as he ended up with a P5, his slow pace leaving Alexander Hagberg frustrated as he couldn’t get by the German. Completing the Top 3 for the final qualifier by 0.043 from Hagberg, this would give Akio Sobue fourth on the grid ahead of the Swede.
Appearing to have given up hope of being able to find a way to reduce Volker’s advantage, going over his latest performance Coelho said, ‘At the beginning I made a mistake when I hit a dot and lost time. As we have been changing the car every run it takes a few laps to get an understanding of how its working and once I did then I could drive good again. While it was better (this round) I can’t say it was good’. Asked about tomorrow’s finals, drivers pretty unanimous that the layout offers little passing opportunities, Coelho conceded his aim was to ‘try to keep my second’.
While quietly relieved to put the car in the A-Main after failing to do so on his Infinity debut last weekend in Bangkok, Rheinard was clearly frustrated that changes to his car are having no effect and that it is something outside his control that is influencing the race. Running a completely different shock on his SMJ Prototype, he said the car still felt the same adding, ‘its zero fun to drive’. Regarding the finals, the 14-time ETS race winner said, ‘I think I will need to look out behind me more than looking forward’.
Bettering his best qualifying of last season’s ETS, Sobue was happy with fourth on the grid, the former podium finisher saying his car was ‘not so bad’ for the final qualifier. Adding more camber and rear toe in, the 22-year-old said this gave him more traction but looking to the finals his view was that it was going to be ‘very difficult to overtake’.
‘Not good’ was how a clearly annoyed Hagberg reacted after Q4. Top Qualifier & victor of the event in 2015, the Xray driver said, ‘I was catching Marc (Rheinard) at the end. He was very slow but didn’t open and this cost me fourth on me grid for sure’. Like those starting ahead of him and speaking from his final qualifying experience he concluded ‘it’s impossible to pass on this track’.
In the Xray Pro Stock and Scorpion Formula classes the Top Qualifiers would be decided in the final round. Having TQ’d the opening two rounds of Pro Stock Markus Kreder who go up against Alexandre Duchet for the overall TQ who took Q3 but by the second lap the Frenchman’s challenge was done giving Kreder pole ahead of fellow Awesomatix driver Olivier Bultynck and the ARC of Helge Johannessen. Winner of the season opener, Duchet will have his work cut out to retain his championship lead from ninth on the grid. In Formula David Ehrbar TQ’d the final round with the only 22-lap run of the weekend to take pole on the tie-breaker from Andreas Stiebler, the TQ extending the Serpent designer’s championship lead.
Chassis – Awesomatix A800 Motor – Muchmore (handout) ESC – Muchmore (handout) Batteries – Gensace 6000mAh Tires – Volante (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa/KO Propo Bodyshell – Blitz GSF Remarks – Markus Kreder has taken his first TQ spot in the Pro Stock class with his privately entered, almost kit standard, Awesomatix A800. Having tested the car last week at a club event at the nearby Arena 33, he changed his basic setup to have a longer wheel base, harder shocks and less active & normal rear toe-in.
Ronald Volker is the Top Qualifier at ETS Germany, the Yokomo driver claiming pole position for his home event for the first time since 2012 with a third TQ run in the penultimate qualifier. His 21st ETS career TQ, Volker was once again the class of the field in Q3 and on a slower track would be the only driver to manage 26-laps. Best of the rest, Volker’s rivals struggling to match his pace, would be Bruno Coelho, the Xray driver outpacing Infinity’s Marc Rheinard by 6/10ths of a second. Akio Sobue would make it a strong round for electric touring car newcomers Infinity as he enjoyed his best round getting a P4 ahead of former event winner Alexander Hagberg.
‘We started with great form yesterday and were able to carry it into today. Qualifying has worked out perfect and I can’t be more satisfied at wrapping up the TQ a round early’, was how Volker summed up becoming Top Qualifier. A driver who is being widely praised for his efforts of late in trying to turn around his form having struggled at the ETS season opener, he was quick to acknowledge the work of his long time mechanic Yukijiro Umino for his part in the competitive return of the Volker/Umino partnership. Opting to leave his car unchanged from Q2, he said ‘the traction is getting away a bit and everyone went slower so we may try something for Q4’.
Reacting to Q3 a confused Coelho said, ‘we completely change three times, a different chassis and different set-up but there was no difference. When you change three times but the car is still the same something is wrong’. With a number of drivers hinting at the fact they feel the carpet is the issue, Coelho’s take was, ‘for sure the carpet is the not the same. I couldn’t get my car from Czech to run straight on the track. Also the tyres are not the same and the additive is not the same but maybe the problem is the driver is broken’. With this race a breakthrough first carpet win for the reigning champion last year he conceded, ‘We will try to keep second’.
Having made ‘many changes’ to his SMJ Prototype, Rheinard, like Coelho, said ‘it made no difference’ adding, ‘maybe I need to change my tyre prep’. Looking on target to start his first ever ETS race that he is not a Tamiya driver from at least third on the grid, he continued, ‘the track feels strange and maybe this carpet is not good anymore’. While from the same supplier of the now widely used black ETS carpet, the batch in use in this year in Muelheim Kaerlich is a noticeably lighter shade of black.
Sobue declared ‘4th for the round was ok’ but the Japanese driver added, ‘today is difficult conditions because each time the track is different’. Having transformed his car from being super difficult to super easy between last nights opening qualifier and this morning’s Q2, the Infinity driver said he now had ‘zero traction again’. Not sure how the track will be for the final qualifier, the 22-year-old said he will set the car up for it having even less traction.
Having opened qualifying with a P4 last night with his spare car after heavy damage in the final practice, it was Alexander Hagberg’s spare car that would again put him in the Top 5. With no time to rebuild his ‘race car’ for Q1 due to the condensed schedule, he did get it rebuilt for Q2 this morning but it ‘wasn’t as good as expected’ and ended up with a P7. Opting to switch back to the car he ran in Q1, the Swede was on a very strong Top 3 run until a mistake with the resulting one second lost dropping the Swede back to P5.
Completing the Top 6, Yannic Prumper said, ‘I don’t know whats happening but my car is pushing like hell now’. The VBC Racing driver continued, ‘I don’t know what to change. Maybe I need to try a different set of tyres but I’m not sure that is the problem. Maybe it is just the carpet’. Behind Prumper, Awesomatix had its best run with both ETS Czech runner-up Viljami Kutvonen and Freddy Sudhoff making the Top 8.
In Pro Stock, Alexandre Duchet finally came good as the top seed posted his first TQ run. The winner of the season opener, the Xray driver was quickest from Olivier Bultynck and Q1 & 2 pace setter Markus Kreder. In the Scorpion Formula class, Andreas Stiebler backed up his Q2 TQ with another, this time ahead of reigning champion and Xray team-mate Jan Ratheisky as Bultynck again completed the Top 3.
Chassis – Infinity SMJ Prototype Motor – Muchmore Fleta ZX 4.5T ESC – Muchmore Fleta Pro V2 Batteries – Muchmore 6400mAh Tires – Volante (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Xpert Bodyshell – Protoform LTC-R Remarks – 3-time Touring car World Champion Marc Rheinard is running the same prototype Infinity SMJ chassis that he used to make his team debut with in Thailand last week. Having back to back tested an aluminium and carbon chassis, the German has gone against the common choice and went with a carbon chassis which he says feels better, giving him more grip. Using the same setup from his testing at Arena 33, he has just made some small shock changes and for Q4 will try Axon shocks on the car.
Having set the benchmark on the opening day of the Euro Touring Series yesterday in Germany, Ronald Volker picked up where he left off with another TQ run this morning in the second round of qualifying. Bettering his Q1 time by over a second, the Yokomo driver would outpace his rivals by over 3-seconds with Infinity’s Marc Rheinard the only one also able to run 26-laps. With Bruno Coelho flipping early on, leaving him and Rheinard on top of one another costing them both time, Xray’s Olly Jefferies would just pip his team-mate for third with new Infinity signing Akio Sobue completing the Top 5.
Now on target for his first 21st ETS career TQ, Volker said ‘I can’t be more happy to get another TQ run. It was made easier by Bruno and Marc costing each other time’. Opening the qualifier with the fastest time, the World Champion continued, ‘basically I did more intense warm-up laps to get a better start and that paid off allowing me to get a good gap at the beginning’. Describing the track as feeling ‘different to drive on compared to yesterday’, he said his LRP powered BD8 was ‘still balanced’ and going into the penultimate qualifier while they ‘might try a small adjustment it would be nothing big’.
‘Lets say at least I’m back in the A-Main’, was Rheinard’s reaction after Q2, the statement a reference to his B-Main appearance at last weekend’s TITC. Sharing the honour of the all time most number of ETS wins with Volker, the former Champion said, ‘Only Ronald’s Yokomo is fast’ highlighting his former TRF team-mate Christopher Krapp is ‘struggling’. On Volker’s advantage he said, ‘For sure we lost time, me & Bruno. He let me go cause he was struggling and then I had to let him go cause I was struggling but the main issue for me is the car is hard to drive consistent. It has no grip’.
‘I didn’t change anything, I only adjusted my brake set-up’, was how Jefferies summed up his P3. Eighth fastest in Q1 and causing Volker a big scare when he tapped the heat leader, the British driver added, ‘I need more initial brake where I ran into Ronald last night and he helped me realise that’. Please with his T4, saying ‘it is nice to be the top Xray’, he said the open track is making everyone so close and having to open up for another driver like he did with Volker last night costs you a lot of time.
Coelho said, ‘It was strange, I had no feeling in my driving and flipped in the second lap’. He added, ‘After this I open for Rheinard but then he had to open for me. It was kind of a funny thing that we had to keep opening for each other’. A convincing winner of the season opener, he concluded, ‘for sure my car is not perfect but the conditions are different to the last ETS but we will try our best to improve the car for the next one’.
Struggling to a P16 with a ‘super difficult’ car in Q1, Sobue said a new set-up had made his SMJ Prototype now ‘super easy’ to drive. The Japanese driver said the main improvement came from a diff change but for Q3 he needs to find a set-up in between the two extremes as the car now needs more steering.
Completing the Top 6 Yannic Prumper was of a similar mindset to Rheinard saying, ‘I’m happy to make A-Main again. It’s a long time ago’. The VBC Racing backed driver said, ‘my car now has too much push and the competition is so tough if you just hit the curb you lose 2 or 3 positions’. Looking to Q3, the pressure of making the A-Main lifted, he said ‘we need to get more steering’. Behind Prumper, Alexander Hagberg would run a P7 for the round followed by the Schumacher of Elliott Harper and the Awesomatix of Viljami Kutvonen.
In the Xray Pro Stock class, the Day 2 schedule having reverted to the traditional all three classes per round format, Markus Kreder backed up his opening TQ run with another from the second fastest heat. The Awesomatix driver topped the times ahead of reigning champion Jan Ratheisky with Helge Johannessen who crashed out of Q1 completing the Top 3. In Formula, Andreas Stiebler got the better of Q1 winner David Ehrbar to TQ the round with Team Shepherd’s Olivier Bultynck having a much better day to set the third quickest time.