Having wrapped up his second consecutive Euro Touring Series title by taking the TQ in Slovakia this morning, Bruno Coelho made light work of his opposition to cruise to the win in A1. Almost immediately the Xray driver would establish a lead while the rest of the field backed up behind team-mate Alexander Hagberg. Spinning out on the curbing at the one & a half minute mark would end Marc Rheinard’s race as he got collected by Infinity team-mate Akio Sobue resulting in the front left corner being pulling off the German’s car. This would take the pressure from behind off Matsukura allowing him to focus on finding his way passed Hagberg, the Japanese driver forcing a mistake from the Swede on the penultimate lap to get passed for second. Despite setting the slowest fastest lap of the race, Ronald Volker would finish 4th behind Hagberg, the World Champion clearly having to dig deep to make up for his car’s lack of pace.
With his season’s goal achieved this morning and the race now an opportunity to add to his ETS career statistics, Coelho said after his easy A1 win, ‘it was pretty good’. The Portuguese ace added, ‘I forced from the start but at 2-minutes lost the rear in the middle of the track. Maybe I overheated the tyres but after this I took it easy and controlled the race to the end. Alex & Naoto fighting gave me more space’. On target for his fourth win of the season, a feat only Rheinard has achieved when he won his only ETS title in 2009/10, Coelho used A1 to ‘try different things’ on his Hobbywing powered T4 and happy with them he said he plans to use A2 for further testing.
A driver clearly enjoying being back at the front, Matsukura was delighted with his pass on Hagberg but also slightly frustrated at being held up by the former Nitro Touring Car World Champion. He said, ‘I changed back to yesterday’s set-up and my car was pretty good now but Alex was a little slow so I had no chance to try race with Bruno’. He added ‘I kept the pressure on Alex and he made a little mistake and I could go on his inside for the pass but for the next one I need to take him at the beginning, I really want to try to take the fight to Bruno’. In terms of his also Hobbywing powered IF14, he said, ‘the car is good so I will keep it the same and just fit new tyres’.
‘Not good’ was Hagberg’s reaction after A1. He continued, ‘I was struggling with the car. It was too difficult to drive and that’s why I couldn’t defend my position’. Describing the car as ‘loose’, he said, ‘we need to change the set-up for the next one so I can actually race’.
In the opening Xray Pro Stock encounter, Top Qualifier Christian Donath managed with a minute to go to get back the lead he lost 5-laps early to Jan Ratheisky for a very popular win. Very closely bunched at the front, Martin Hofer would also finish where he started after seeing off the attentions of fifth place starter Tom Krägefski. In Formula it was also a win for the Top Qualifier with Olivier Bultynck keeping champion Ratheisky at bay with Helge Johannessen coming from 9th on the grid to complete the Top 3.