Bruno Coelho cruised to an easy win in the opening A-Main of the ETS Season Finale in Germany this morning, the Top Qualifier having a winning margin of almost three seconds over Naoto Matsukura. Top Qualifier at the uniquely challenging Minidrom Ettlingen track, Coelho immediately took control of A1 making a blistering start ahead of Xray team-mate Tim Wahl. Starting his first ever outdoor ETS A-Main from second on the grid, Wahl was looking good in 2nd early on but had a slight moment on the curbing was enough to let Matsukura and the rest of the pack to close, the Infinity driver executing an impressive move on the German on the entry to the sweeper to take second. Matsukura’s Infinity team-mate Marc Rheinard would shortly make a similar pass on Wahl, these being the only two passes of the race, the rest of the field finishing in the order they started.
‘It was a very good final. I was very confident with the car after my 1/2 lap warm-up’, said Coelho after the race. Chasing his fifth win of the season, the back to back Champion said, ‘Tim had not so good a start which gave me space so I could just drive my own race and lead it to the end’. Describing track conditions as ‘completely different to yesterday’, he said, ‘it was more stable in the rear and much easier to drive and I hope it stays like this for the rest of the day’.
‘I’m happy with second’ was how Matsukura summed up his opening final. Starting third on the grid he said, ‘I took Tim on the straight which was a perfect pass but it was too late because Bruno was too far away’. Also describing track conditions as being ‘different’ today, the ETS Slovakia podium finisher said, ‘my car was super easy but after 2-minutes it had understeer so we make a little change in the set-up for the next one to get more steering’. A driver who seems to have re-found his touring car form since joining class newcomers Infinity, the 2014 World Champion said, ‘I try to get one place better the next one’.
Giving his views on A1, Rheinard said, ‘What can I say we lost the race in qualifying again’. The 4-time World Champion continued, ‘Bruno is a little faster but I think we are closer than it looks. If I was starting second I could at least challenge Bruno a little bit’. He added, ‘It is a difficult track to pass but I made a nice move on Tim on the straight which gave me third’. With Montech’s Racer body looking to have the advantage at this track Rheinard concluded, ‘I was the best LTC finisher’.
‘I’m happy with this’ was Wahl’s reaction to finishing 4th. With 4-World Champions on the grid, he continued, ‘If anyone said before the start I would finish 4th I would agree with this’. In terms of his car, he said, ‘It was not perfect for these conditions. The track is more stable today and my car is best when its loose but it is windy and getting hotter so I expect it to change’.
In the Pro Stock class, Olivier Bultynck couldn’t do more for his title aspirations as the Awesomatix driver lead from start to finish with championship rival Alexandre Duchet finishing 2nd. Contact between Tom Krägefski and Max Mächler would benefit Tobias Vogel who would complete the Top 3. In Formula, Serpent’s Tim Benson drove the perfect race, the Top Qualifier winning from Matej Dobnikar who closed in the final laps. In the title battle, reigning champion Jan Ratheisky got the better of Bultynck to finish 3rd, the duo having start 8th and 6th respectively.
Bruno Coelho is Top Qualifier for the final round of the 10th season of the Euro Touring Series but the surprise of the final qualifier came in the form of Tim Wahl who TQ’d the fourth qualifier to make it an Xray 1-2 in Germany. Coelho’s fifth TQ of the season, the already confirmed champion looks poised to round out his successful campaign with another victory that would give him the record for the most wins in a single season. With team-mate Wahl lining up second, the quest of touring car newcomers Infinity to end its debut season with a win looks even tougher with Naoto Matsukura leading that challenge from 3rd on the grid ahead of team-mate Marc Rheinard. The only driver to deny Coelho a win this season, Ronald Volker’s chances of a second win look slim as he lines up 5th ahead of Robert Pietsch, the former 1:8 Onroad World Champion getting Mugen’s entry into electric racing off to an impressive start with 6th on the grid.
Beaten to the Q4 TQ by 2/10ths of a second by Wahl, Coelho said, ‘we tried some new stuff and it was no better so we go back for the finals’. Securing pole for tomorrow’s finals with TQ runs in Q1 & 2, he continued, ‘Tim made a very good run now and I made many mistakes because I was losing the rear. I think I lost around 2-seconds in total’. Asked about the finals, all his rivals conceding that overtaking on this track is almost impossible due both to its high speed layout and unique surface, Coelho said, ‘For sure it is a difficult track to overtake, it was the same problem in nitro’ – a reference to the ENS encounter at the track earlier in the month. Targeting his 10th ETS career win, he concluded, ‘Tim will force at the beginning but I will try and make no mistakes and see what happens’.
Asked about his TQ run Wahl replied, ‘All I wanted to do is make the A-Main’. The 22-year-old for whom this is his first outdoor ETS A-Main start, continued, ‘It feels like I wasted so much time but finally I did it’. On his impressive Q4 performance which backed up his P2 a round earlier, the German who was running in the second fastest heat said, ‘It was another safe run and for the last 5 0r 6 laps I just tried to save it to the end’. On his expectations for the final, Andreas Myrberg delighted at the AME supported driver making the main event, Wahl said, ‘I’m just looking forward to it. If I finish 10th I finished 10th, no stress’.
Matching his best ETS qualifying result, which he achieved last time out, Matsukura was the only driver with a chance of denying Coelho the overall TQ. The 2014 World Champion said, ‘the last round I don’t know why but my car was maximum loose. I changed the set-up only very slightly and my tyres were from the 2nd qualifier in which I only did one lap’. After an off he would pull in just after the half way mark. Looking to double up on his maiden podium finish at Round 5 at the Hudy Arena, for the final he said, ‘Bruno & Tim are faster but anyway this track you can’t pass, its too difficult so you have to what for a mistake’. He went on to say, ‘tomorrow is the same weather so I think after 2-minutes everyone will get loose, I hope, and maybe then there will be some passing. Anyway I am happy to start the same place as the last race’.
‘Disappointing’ was Rheinard’s reaction to qualifying fourth for the third race in a row, the German adding, ‘again being fourth it doesn’t look great because we are closer than it looks’. Getting a P3 from the final qualifier, he said, ‘it was difficult at the end, one time I went onto the grass’. While describing the finals as ‘a new game’, he continued, ‘its a boring layout and almost impossible to pass. Bruno is going to check out but then we’ll see for 2nd, 3rd and 4th’.
Lining up 5th as he did last month at the Hudy Arena, Volker would pull up in the final qualifier. The Yokomo driver who is without his mechanic Yukijiro Umino this weekend said, ‘I didn’t have new tyres but they had just 5-laps but the car was off balance. I had decent pace for used tyres but then suddenly the car did a 180 spin and after that I just pulled over’. He continued, ‘I’m happy to see Loic (Jasmin) come back into the A-Main but I’m sad for Christopher (Krapp) to end up P11’. On his changes for tomorrow the 5-time ETS Champion said, ‘starting mid pack we will do some changes to the car in order to try move up but what we know from the warm-up is you cannot pass on this track’. He said the high speed layout was the key reason for this but it unique track conditions also make it difficult to race because its already difficult to just keep the car on the track.
‘To be honest I’m surprised’ was Pietsch’s reaction to making the A-Main on what is only his second ever outdoor electric race. The designer of Mugen’s first foray into electric touring car, he continued, ‘I couldn’t think of a better start for the car. If we had got this result with a professional electric driver it would have been less of an achievement than me doing it’. Such is the 2011 1:8 Onroad World Champion’s lack of experience of touring car racing he said, ‘I guess we get new tyres for the finals?’ on which confirming he was right he said ‘that’s good’.
In the title battles in both Pro Stock and Formula, it was Olivier Bultynck who put himself in the best position for the touring car title as he claimed the overall TQ by topping the final qualifier. In the Scorpion Power Formula class his quest for the title isn’t going as well with his Shepherd set to start 6th but that’s right ahead of his rivals David Ehrbar and Jan Ratheisky. Up front Serpent’s Tim Benson is Top Qualifier ahead of Toni Rheinard who took the final qualifier. Behind Bultynck in the Xray Pro Stock class, Tom Krägefski starts second ahead of Xray team-mate and title contender Alexandre Duchet. The other title contender Christian Donath starts 5th as BQ for Jan Ratheisky ends the current champion’s chances of retaining his title.
Chassis – Serpent F110 SF3 Motor – Scorpion (handout) ESC – Scorpion (handout) Batteries – Gensace 4600mAh Tires – Ride (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Futaba Bodyshell – Montech Remarks – Top Qualifier here in Ettlingen, Tim Benson is running an older prototype of Serpent’s current Formula car, the F110 SF3. Not having changed much to his car since the previous round at the Hudy Arena, he has gone to a softer setting on the side damper to make the car more stable. On a track that requires a smooth approach to not overheat the tires, Tim has chosen for the Montech front wing, as opposed to the Serpent version used by his team mate and championship leader David Ehrbar, as it gives the car more steering so he can carry more speed in the corners.