Bruno Coelho cruised to an easy victory in the opening A-Main at Round 1 of the Euro Touring Series in the Czech Republic. Having TQ’d earlier in the day in Hrotovice, the Xray driver made light work of his opposition to win by 2.4-seconds from Ronald Volker who in turn had a 3.5-second advantage over 3rd. It was the battle for 3rd that would provide the entertainment as a train of cars backed up behind P3 starter Viljami Kutvonen until a slight error by the Finn let Marc Rheinard through to complete the Top 3. Managing to hold off the challenge of Xray’s Alexander Hagberg, Kutvonen would hang onto fourth.
‘Everything was perfect’ was how Coelho summed up his dominant A1 performance. Making heavy contact with the barrier at the end of the straight on his way to executing a clean sweep of the four qualifiers forcing him to change tyres for the final as the impact broke both right side wheels, he continued, ‘I was a little afraid that they (the second set of tyres) might not work as expected but they did’. Making ‘a very good start’, setting the fastest lap of the race on his 5th lap, the Portuguese ace said the race ‘got easier’ when Volker made a mistake. After this he said, ‘then I just tried to make no mistakes and get to the end all ok’.
Commenting on his race Volker said, ‘we got everything better for the main by improving the tyre prep and the car set-up and I was able to pull away from the field but Bruno was able to pull away from me’. The World Champion continued, ‘we have to try find something for A2 or even the next ETS. This is something we have to work on’. Losing about a second with his roll over, the Yokomo driver said, ‘I can’t be too disappointed with 2nd and the gap to the drivers behind but it’s looking like this (second) is the maximum we can do this weekend’. Not fully admitting defeat, he said, ‘we will consider some changes for tomorrow to try challenge for A2’.
‘That is all I can do’, was Rheinard’s reaction to him pulling a third out of A1. Winner of the event last year from the TQ, the Tamiya driver continued, ‘I don’t know what Bruno is doing, he is just in a different World’. Widely expected to be his final ETS outing under the Tamiya Racing Factory banner, he said, ‘It’s a long way off yet but I would like to finish the weekend with a podium. Third is the maximum we can get and that’s what we will be aiming for tomorrow’. On getting by Kutvonen, he said, ‘he went wide and left me room so I was able to get passed’.
The only driver to mix it in anyway with Coelho and Volker in qualifying, Kutvonen said was not happy with his car in A1 saying, ‘I made a set-up change and it was shit’. The Awesomatix driver adding, ‘I will go back to what I had before for A2’. On losing position to Rheinard, he said, ‘I lost the rear and went wide and Marc was there so I couldn’t close the door’.
In the Xray Pro Stock class it was to be an entertaining first A-Main. Top Qualifier Christian Donath led the way with the No.2 starting Olivier Bultynck on his Tamiya’s rear bumper until the Belgian flipped his Awesomatix. This gave Donath some temporary space before Alexandre Duchet took the challenge to the German. As the race entered the second half Donath would have a rollover allowing the impressive French driver to go to the front where he would hold on for the win. Behind Donath found himself now under pressure from Noah Asendorf, the Xray driver attempting an inside pass in the final dash to the finish line. They touched but it was Donath who was declared 2nd. In Formula, Top Qualifier David Ehrbar took an easy win after his main challenge Bultynck got hit from behind on the third lap and retired with a shock off. Champion Jan Ratheisky would finish a distant second with third going to René Kölbel.
Ronald Volker will start second on the grid for the first A-Main of the new season of the Euro Touring Series. With the Top Qualifier already decided in the penultimate round of qualifying when reigning champion Bruno Coelho made it three out of three, Q4 was about deciding how they would line up behind the Xray driver. While Coelho would complete a clean sweep, even surviving clanging his car on the steel boards in the sweeper at the end of the straight, him topping the final qualifier would by default secure Volker the No.2 spot. Volker, winner of 5 of the 7 ETS races held in Hrotovice, would conclude qualifying with a P3 as Viljami Kutvonen broke into the Top 2 although the result changed nothing for the Finn who will start third. On for a potential Top 3 run, last year’s race winner Rheinard would roll his Tamiya on the penultimate lap but the result wouldn’t have changed his starting position and he lines up fourth.
‘Didn’t feel much different to the other qualifier, Bruno was still a bit too fast’, was how Volker summed up the last qualifier adding, ‘I was matching pace with Viljami’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘we got the car better in terms of it being easy to drive but we need to get more steering for A1 to have a chance’. Feeling the track was now ‘in better condition’, the World Champion felt ‘the track improved and the tyres are improving but the set-up was too conservative for the conditions, but we can fix that for A1’. With team-mates Yugo Nagashima (P8) and Naoki Akiyama (P10) joining him in the finals, the German said, ‘It is great that Naoki and Yugo are also in the A-Main. It’s Yugo’s first ETS race and making the A-Main is a great result’.
‘The plan was to secure 3rd on the grid and beating Ronald that time was a bonus’, said a pleased looking Kutvonen after Q4. Having crashed out of Q3, the Awesomatix driver who will be joined by team-mate Freddy Südhoff (P9) in the A-Main, said, ‘the car is now pretty consistent for the 5-minutes. It’s good now’. Enjoying two podium finishes last season, looking to the first of the triple finals, he said, ‘we’ll just wait and see what happens’.
Not overly frustrated by his late roll, Rheinard said, ‘I was struggling at the beginning and had Alex (Hagberg) behind me so I let him by but then he made a mistake and I was in front of him again. The car started to work pretty ok towards the end but then I went and had a nice roll on the curbing. Even if I didn’t, my overall starting position would have been the same’. Describing the track conditions for the last round as ‘kind of better but still weird’ he said his TRF419 is ‘still hard to drive because it’s loose’ and they ‘need to find something for the final’. Starting behind Rheinard will be his TRF team-mate Akio Sobue who lines up ahead of Hagberg.
In the Xray Pro Stock a very pleased Christian Donath took his first overall ETS TQ. Taking the final qualifier to add to his Q2 topping run the Tamiya driver become the Top Qualifier on the tie breaker with Q1 & 3 pace setter Olivier Bultynck. French driver Alexandre Duchet will line up third ahead of Noah Asendorf as reigning champion Jan Ratheisky completes the top half of the grid. In the Scorpion Power Formula class, David Ehrbar is Top Qualifier. The Serpent designer took a third TQ run in the final qualifier helped by the early exit of Bultynck who broke his Q2 topping Roche 3-laps into the deciding qualifier.
Chassis – ARC R11 ’17 Motor – Muchmore (handout) ESC – Muchmore (handout) Batteries – LRP 7500mAh Stock Spec Tires – Volante (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Savox Bodyshell – Blitz GS-F Remarks – German ARC factory driver Lars Hoppe is running the 2017 version of the R11 here in Hrotovice. His example features low friction transmission parts, a pre-production aluminium chassis, hard plastic parts and harder, lightweight ball studs. Lars is also using an interesting servo, a result of the cooperation between ARC and Savox, that is mounted directly on the chassis thanks to a one-piece mount.