Alexander Hagberg has topped seeding at the opening round of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series in the Czech Republic. Only 11th fastest in the first of the two timed practices, the Xray driver would find much improvement on his second attempt to set the fastest 3-consecutive laps by 0.138 of a second from Tamiya’s Akio Sobue, the Japanese driver also finding a chunk of time. Having been second fastest in TP1, reigning champion Bruno Coelho would better his time but such was Hagberg & Sobue’s improvement he would drop to third. Topping the first practice, Ronald Volker would slide to 6th, the Top 6 separated by just under 4/10ths of a second.
‘We improved the car a lot with set-up changes’, was Hagberg’s reaction to topping the times. The former ETS race winner continued, ‘the car was loose in the rear in the first one because of the track so we changed the car to counter that and now it was better’. Feeling his T4 was ‘good to drive the whole run’, the Swede said, ‘I feel confident for qualifying’ adding on his car set-up he ‘won’t touch it’ for Q1 which will bring a close to day 1 of the new season.
Having struggled with a lack of steering in TP1, Sobue switched from a carbon to an aluminium chassis on his TRF419 describing it as ‘better’. While happy to get more steering on the ‘very loose track’, the ETS podium finisher plans small changes for the first qualifier saying ‘I still need more (steering)’. While seeding is on 3-laps, Sobue feels he has a ‘similar 5-minute pace so he is looking to be in the mix in Q1. Team-mate Marc Rheinard would drop to P8. The German said while his car was ‘not as loose as before it is still pushing’. Asked if he followed Sobue’s chassis switch he reply, ‘I am running alu but it’s different to Akio. Our cars also have different diff and shock positions’.
‘We didn’t change the car but the feeling is like driving on ice’, was how Coelho summed up the final practice adding, ‘I have no feeling, it is just floating over the track’. Describing how the car is feeling as ‘strange’, the Vice-World Champion said they have to change the car for qualifying but added, ‘we will try to not change it too much but adjust small details’.
Setting the fourth fastest time, Viktor Wilck said, ‘It felt more loose than before’. The Serpent driver continued, ‘we changed the diff but it wasn’t enough’. Looking to qualifying, the Swede will keep the same diff but now change the shocks and toe-in adding ‘I need to make it a little easier for 5-minutes’. In terms of the track’s low traction he said ‘I think it will stay like this for the rest of the event’.
With an easier to drive car Viljami Kutvonen was pleased with his second practice. Putting in the 5th fastest time, the Awesomatix driver said fine tuning of the car’s unique damping had made his A800 ‘more easy to drive’. Planning some further ‘very fine tuning’ he said ‘my 5-minute pace looks promising’ and ‘I will try to drive more clean than anyone else’. Making it two Awesomatix’s in the top heat Freddy Südhoff would set the 10th fastest time.
Joking afterward the final practice that he was announcing his retirement from racing as the news of Nico Rosberg’s retirement from Formula 1 circulated the pits, World Champion Volker said, ‘the car was easier to drive and I had a trouble free 4-minutes but obviously it was too easy to drive as my position over 3-laps dropped’. Improving his time by 4/10ths, the Yokomo driver continued, ‘the 4-minutes was very good as I was able to do the same lap time throughout the whole run but I was bit surprised by my drop off in position. Like I said before the track layout is not difficult so everyone would be close’. With the ‘track condition difficult’ he said, ‘we will make changes to get more steering but without making it more loose in the rear end’. Behind Volker, team-mate Naoki Akiyama would set the 7th fastest time with Meen Vejrak also putting his BD8 into the Top 10 with the ninth fastest time.
In the Xray Pro-Stock class Swiss Xray driver Noah Asendorf was fastest ahead of ARC’s Lars Hoppe who won in Hrotovice two years ago. Germany’s Tom Krägefski would complete the Top 3 with his Xray but the big news would be reigning champion Jan Ratheisky lack of pace. In Pro Stock he was only 20th and in Formula, a class he has reigned over for the passed 4-seasons, he was only 9th fastest. With Formula’s new Scorpion Power handout electrics getting a very positive reaction from racers it was Roche driver Olivier Bultynck who was fastest from Serpent’s David Ehrbar with former Champion Herbert Weber completing the top 3 with his VBC Racing chassis.