Other than the surprise for the A-Main drivers that it is dark at 06:30 in the morning as they left their hotels for the track, the opening A-Main at Round 2 of the Euro Touring Series was an uneventful encounter with Ronald Volker cruising to an easy win. While Bruno Coelho would attack hard on the opening lap, the Top Qualifier quickly pulled clear of the reigning champion to win by more than 2.5-seconds. The leading battle of the race would be for third between Infinity team-mates Marc Rheinard and Akio Sobue but with overtaking opportunities on the Muelheim-Kaerlich track layout at a premium, Rheinard would maintain his third place to the finish.
‘I have never run an A-final that early but I’m very happy to win A1, just one more to go’, was Volker’s reaction his Sunday morning drive. The Yokomo driver said his LRP powered BD8, which they ran unchanged from qualifying, was ‘slightly loose on the opening lap which allowed Bruno to get quite close but then he had a bobble and I had a gap’. Reacting with the fastest lap on the race on his second lap, the German, who is closing in on his 14th ETS career win, said, ‘after that I was comfortable and could pull away’.
Summing up his race, his gap over Rheinard at the finish also 2.5-seconds, Coelho said, ‘I can’t say it was a bad race’. He continued, ‘we changed the car again completely and it was an improvement but not enough to catch Ronald. For the next one we will try to improve it more’. Commenting on his fast start the Xray driver said, ‘I try to force more at the start but the 3rd lap I got loose coming onto the straight and Volker got space. I tried to push again but couldn’t catch him so drove to save my 2nd place’.
Running his colour scheme for the first time this weekend, Rheinard said ‘it still feels like there is no grip’. Commenting on his battle with Sobue, the former event winner said, ‘I hit the curb and spun out and that allowed Akio to get close’ but the German hinted the treat of being passed by his team-mate was nothing he couldn’t deal with. Running out of ideas of what to change to try improve the car for A2, he concluded, ‘I will go back to my white bodyshell and put on my second set of tyres’ – the white bodyshell the same Protoform LTC-R design as the painted one he just ran.
In the Pro Stock A-Main, Top Qualifier Marcus Kreder only managed to lead for three corners before crashing allowing fellow Awesomatix driver Olivier Bultynck to the front, the Belgian pulling clear to win easily from reigning champion Jan Ratheisky who came out on top of a three way battle for second that involved Helge Johannessen, who after contact recovered to third, and former Champion Alexander Stocker. In Formula, Top Qualifier David Ehrbar took an easy tone to tone win with his Serpent ahead of the Xray of Andreas Stiebler with fifth place starter Bultynck getting his Shepherd up to third.
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.