Ronald Volker has TQ’d round 3 of qualifying here in Andernach after both Atsushi Hara and Paul Lemieux went out with unforced driver errors. Hara and Lemieux had ruled the opening two heats but where both forced to pull up early when they made mistakes allowing European Champion Volker to win the heat and top the times for the round.
‘My car was better. I ran with no additive on my tires, just cleaned them, and the car was better at the start of the run. I lost a little time when Hara came back onto the track after his mistake but other than that it was a good run. I think for sure Hara is still the quickest but I am happy to take the TQ for the round’, commented the young German.
Asked about his demise Hara replied, ‘I just made a mistake. I had planned to use new tyres for the heat but I found out I can keep a set from qualifying for the finals so I used the same set from Heat 1 & 2 again and the grip was not so good.’ Lemieux was also quick to put his hand up and accept he just made a driver error. The American star didn’t break anything but his front body clips came undone forcing him to pull up.
Andy Moore had his best round finish taking second followed by Steen Graversen, who was on target to TQ until he had a roll going onto the back straight. Bastian Schaefer, Marc Rheinard and Jilles Groskamp completed the Top 6 fastest runs.
Who will line up on the pole for the Pro Stock was decided in Heat 3 with local ace and ETS Round 1 winner Alexander Stocker making the opening three heats his own to TQ his Hot Bodies Cyclone TC. The German Indoor Vice Champion put in three faultless drives to claim the perfect zero score but says both Matthias Land and Meik Niemann will be tough opposition come tomorrow’s finals. In terms of the championship title at present only two drivers, George Spitteler and Vasco Christiaanse both from Holland, are in a top 10 qualifying position and therefore are the only two who can challenge Stockers bid for the title.
Round 2 of qualifying is over and once again Atsushi Hara is the man to beat with his Hot Bodies Cyclone TC topping the time sheets from the Xray T2 ‘008 of Paul Lemieux. Both drivers reported their cars were the same as in the first qualifier but that the track had lost some of its speed. Needing just another round win to secure the TQ, Hara plans to use his second available set of Sweep control tires in the third heat to try and sew up the pole.
Third in Round 2 went to Marc Rheinard who appears now to have found a good balance on his Tamiya. Team-mate Vicktor Wilck again tied for position setting the fourth fastest time along with young Christopher Krapp who is doing a great job at the controls of his Kyosho. Wilck says his car is well balanced but is no match for Hara in terms of overall pace.
After a good opening run Ronald Volker had a difficult run finishing ninth fastest but the European Champion says his car is now working much better in the mid part of the run and he’s hopeful of a strong showing in Run 3.
In Pro Stock Alexander Stocker is emulating Hara with his ruling of the class making it also two wins from two rounds of heats. Matthias Lang driving an Xray was his closest challenger with DHI Cup Vice Champion Meik Niemann completing the Top 3 to move third in the qualification standings.
Atsushi Hara has taken the first round of qualifying here at the finale of the inaugural Euro Touring Series. The Japanese Hot Bodies driver set a blister pace around the Andernach track, just missing out on setting an 18 lap run by 0.56 of a second. Although Hara was 4 seconds clear at the top, the pace among the star line-up was intense. American ace Paul Lemieux set the second fastest time with the next 10 drivers behind him covered by only 4 seconds.
Hara described his run as ‘excellent’ and says he will be going for an 18 lap run in the next round. Lemieux said his run could have been better if he hadn’t made a small mistake but says he doesn’t have the pace to match Hara. Third placed Ronald Volker was very happy with the result but not his car, the European Champion said it lacks feeling and a lot of changes before the run had made little difference.
Making it four Hot Bodies in the Top 4, Andy Moore said his car had even more understeer than in practice despite him running a very similar set-up to Hara. Unable to get the same pace out of the set-up as his Japanese team-mate, the Englishman will make a number of changes for the second heat but can’t pin point a cure for the understeer. Proving just how competitive it is here this weekend, Kyosho top man Steen Graversen and leading Tamiya rep Viktor Wilck set identitical times just 1/100 of a second off Moore to claim joint 5th position. Newly crowned ETS Champion Jilles Groskamp took 7th but said the wind and sand being blown onto the track from the nearby Beach Volley ball pitches was making it conditions difficult.
Elsewhere Marc Fisher is the top Corally in 10th position, Patrick Gassauer heads the Associated challenge in 11th, Bart Wubben is fastest Serpent in 18th, Yokomo’s challenge is lead by Martin Hofer in 20th and Schmachers top representative is Dane Soren Eskilden.
In Pro Stock it is ETS Round 1 winner Alexander Stocker who takes the round after putting in a run of 16 laps in 5:07.19. The Hot Bodies driver, who is one of a number of drivers here this weekend that are in contention to become the inaugural Euro Touring Series Pro Stock Champion, drove a clean heat to just pip fellow HB driver Tony Streit for the Round TQ. Dominik Reschke, who was fastest in time practice yesterday, took third.
Winner of Pro stock last time out when the ETS visited his home track, the MACH in the Netherlands, Corally driver George Spitteler could only manage 12th in the first qualifier and needs to find pace if he is to battle for the title in tomorrow’s finals. Standings leader Nicolai Nielsen didn’t complete his first qualifier pulling up after rolling his Serpent S400 just before the mid point of his run.
Interesting product news from the pits here in Andernach is that Atsushi Hara will run an all new brushless speedo carrying his own name later this year. The Japanese ace is currently on a race by race deal to run Nosram speedos but will return to running his own Atsushi Hara Racing Products unit when the KO developed ESC is launched at the IFMAR World’s in Thailand. Hara has enjoyed a successful collaboration with KO who currently produce the AHRP Twister brushed speedo.
Here supporting Team Orion’s team drivers at the ETS Finale, including Hara who has just returned to running the Swiss company’s cells and motors, is Oscar Jansen who had a few interesting items with him in his kit bag. Unfortunaely not all were for public showing but we did see the first production version of the new much anticipated Advantage charger. The charger is very compact and the version we saw here was the entry level Clubman Lipo Edition. Oscar also had with him a prototype ESC as well as some new 5300 NimH cells that are destined for racing in Asia.
The world class field here at Andernach have been left chasing Japan’s Atsushi Hara with the former World Champion clearly the quickest in today’s free practice which has just come to a close. Hara’s new Cyclone TC is the talk of the paddock with his rivals all making comment to how good it looks around the track. ‘People are saying my car looks really good and well balanced but it is actually a little nervous to drive. I can make it easier to drive but then my lap times drop off. Overall the car is working really well so I feel good going into tomorrow’s qualifiers.”
Closest to Hara in terms of laps times are his Hot Bodies team-mate Andy Moore and Tamiya’s Vicktor Wilck. Moore would like to have more steering at the beginning off his run complaining that the car is pushing at the start of his run but by the end is working perfectly. The Englishman plans a number of changes in order to try and cure the problem. Swede Wilck says he just has a lack of overall grip but doesn’t quite know what changes he will make ahead of the morning qualifier. Race organisers sugar watered the track this morning, which they will repeat this again for qualifying, and as a result all the drivers found the track was at it best in the first two of today’s five timed practices runs.
Steen Graversen remains the top Kyosho with the fourth fastest lap time followed by Ronald Volker and Jilles Groskamp. Bart Wubben is now the leading Serpent with the 9th fastest lap time just 3/100th faster than American star Paul Lemieux who is the top Xray representative. Marc Rheinard was one of the few drivers to set his fastest lap time in the evening sessions which moved him into the Top 10. Despite living only down the road from the great Andernach facility the German says he never goes well here.
In Pro Stock top German National runner Dominik Reschke and his Corally RDX PHI ended timed practice as the fastest package heading a trio of Germans at the top of the lap charts with Dai Sakaguchi and Matthias Lang his closest challengers. Euro Touring Series standings leader Nicolai Nielsen appears to be struggling, the Dane setting only the 13th fastest lap time.
Drivers will have one final timed practice run in the morning before we get down to the serious business of Round by Round qualifying with the best 3 of 5 to count.
The finale of the inaugural Much More backed Euro Touring Series is underway and the fourth round has attracted a star line of drivers from around the world to the top class Andernach facility here in Germany. No less than 3 World Champions are present along with the current European and US Champions and with this type of quality it will be hard to pick which of the 125 drivers will walk away with the silverware.
After four rounds of timed practice it is 2002/2003 World Champion Atsushi Hara’s name that appears at the top of the time sheets. The Hot Bodies driver’s car is looking really good around the very technical layout being used this weekend. Closest to Hara over three timed laps is factory Kyosho driver Steen Graverson who is running the same Shin addition chassis that he used early this year at the TITC event in Thailand.
Current World Champion Andy Moore is third fastest opting to run the original Cyclone top deck on his new Cyclone TC, while Pre World’s race winner Vicktor Wilck is next up on a very similar pace with his Tamiya TRF416. Jilles Groskamp, winner of Rounds 2 & 3 of the series and now the first ever ETS Champion due to the fact that Round 1 winner Juho Levanen was unable to attend, feels he is struggling a little but still finds himself in the Top 5. Austrian Hot Bodies driver Thomas Pumpler completes the Top 6.
Newly crowned US National Champion and Team Xray factory driver Paul Lemieux is running 9th at the moment despite it being his first visit to the Andernach track. Running prototype alu rear drive shafts on his T2 ‘008, the American says he likes the track and appears content with his current pace.
Of the other manufacturers represented here this weekend young German star Yannic Prumper is the top Serpent running in 13th with Marc Fisher just behind him at the controls of his factory Corally. Top Associated runner local Patrick Gassauer in 14th with the fastest Yokomo being Martin Hofer in 18th position. Christian Schamp is the leading Schumacher runner in 26th.
Marc Rheinard, who should now this track like the back of his hand due to the fact that he lives just up the road, is a rather lowly 24th but we can expect to see a big improved from the former World Champion in his next run. Others who find themselves rather lowly on the time sheets include Kyosho’s Shin Adachi, French ace Cyril N’Diaye and Associated team driver Joel Myrberg.
In Pro Stock, in which all drivers are running handout Speed Passion 9.5T brushless motors, German Corally driver Dominik Reschke finds himself as the pace setter from the Round 3 Top Qualifier Vasco Christiaanse driving a Kyosho with ETS Round 1 winner Alexander Stocker third for Hot Bodies. Round 3 winner George Spitteler current lies 8th while Round 2 winner Nicolai Nielsen is 11th and top Serpent.