Naoto Matsukura has TQ’d the third round of qualifying at ETS Germany. The Infinity driver made the most of increasingly difficult conditions at Minidrom Ettlingen to prevent Bruno Coelho from wrapping up the overall TQ but as the slowest qualifier so far it will be a tall order for the Japanese driver to deny the already confirmed ETS champion his fifth TQ of the season. For a time Coelho didn’t have a result for the third qualifier, his transponder having stopped counting after lap 11 of 20 but he was later manually issued with the finishing time as recorded by his mechanic Francesco Martini. Completing the Top 3 would be Tim Wahl, the Xray driver coming good on the form he showed at the Warm-up race last month to pip Ronald Volker by just 0.003 of a second.
Having hit the curbing coming onto the straight and launched his car into the protective fencing around the marshalling post in Q2, Matsukura said, ‘I almost did it again on the first lap, I was lucky’. The former World Champion continued, ‘My car is pretty good in the hot conditions. I just understeers but its not loose so its got good potential’. Having claimed his first ETS podium finish at the previous round in Slovakia, the Japanese driver while pleased with his car was realistic about his chances of beating Coelho for the TQ. With Coelho having a fastest time of 21/5:07.457 from last night’s opening qualifier and his Q3 topping time a 20/5:03.209, he said, ‘I cannot beat Bruno’s time, its too hot’ but with a P4 from Q1 his goal is to try an secure second on the grid behind the Portuguese driver.
Commenting on his timing issues, Coelho said, ‘I didn’t know my transponder stopped counting but knew something was strange because I was pulling away from Marc but didn’t hear may name in the running order’. Opting to do the third qualifier on used tyres he said, ‘for being on used tyres I think the car was perfect but I was driving too close to the curbing and picking up dust on the tyres which was losing me a little time’. Asked if he felt his overall TQ was safe he replied ‘the track is very slow but it not 100% sure and anything is possible but for the last one we should be more than before because have new tyres’.
Reacting to his P3 time, Wahl said, ‘I was hoping for this weather’. The German, who finished second at the ETS Warm-up race continued, ‘at the Warm-up my car was working really well when the conditions were the same as now, so I kept my car the same. It is pretty safe but like it is for everyone the conditions are still difficult’. Sitting 8th in the qualification ranking after 3 rounds, counting a P11 from Q1, the former A-Main finalist will try to make the best use of still having a new set of tyres left for the final qualifier.
Summing up his P4 time, Volker said, ‘we adapted the set-up for Q3 because the weather dramatically changed. I saw in the heat before many people had problems with getting loose so I just tried to keep it on the grey’. Having to open for Matsukura, he said, ‘I lost 3rd having to let Naoto through’. Expecting the track to be similar for the next, the World Champion will try to make his Yokomo ‘a little more safe’ and in terms of tyres will run the set from Q2 which ran only 5-laps. Behind Volker, Marc Rheinard would get 5th after the Infinity driver opted, like Coelho, to run used tyres.
Mister consistent, Chritopher Krapp made it a trio of P6 runs. The Yokomo driver said, ‘what should I say, it was pretty boring actually. I felt I could stay with Bruno and Marc but then the car started overheating (the tyre) and I was drifting’. Claiming his first ETS A-Main start since joining Yokomo for the 2017 season, the German said Ettlingen is presenting the most difficult conditions he has ever encountered and he has never found it so hard to drive a modified car around for 5-mins describing it as ‘super hard here’.
In the Scorpion Power Formula class Tim Benson backed up his Q2 TQ with another, the Serpent driver fastest this time from the Xray of Matej Dobnikar. Tonisport boss Toni Rheinard would complete the Top 3 driving a VBC as once again the title contenders struggled. Points leader David Ehrbar was best of the trio with the 20th fastest time. In the Xray Pro Stock class, Tobias Vogel finally came good on his No.1 seeding to TQ the penultimate round ahead of Q2 pace setter Olivier Bultynck and Alexandre Duchet.
Bruno Coelho has made it two out of two in qualifying at the season finale of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series in Germany but unlike last night’s opening qualifier the Xray driver didn’t have it all his own way. Initially it was Marc Rheinard who laid down the TQ pace with Loic Jasmin taking the challenge to him. With Ronald Volker suffering a spin and pulling off to save tyres, his car having ‘too much steering’, Jasmin would put Yokomo at the top of the timing screens briefly before Rheinard took it back as Coelho joined the mix. In the end Coelho would take it on the timing screens from Rheinard but an impressive run from Pietsch in the heat before would put the Mugen driver second fastest, the separation just 0.086 of a second with Rheinard just 2/10ths off. Viljami Kutvonen would be the only other driver to run 21-laps in the hotter conditions to give him a P4.
‘Unlike what they said yesterday our car works well in all conditions’, was Coelho reaction after TQ, his comment a reference to Rheinard saying after Q1 the ETS Champion didn’t have as good a car for hot conditions. He continued, ‘these conditions are very hard for the tyres. I heard the drivers from the heat before saying it was super difficult so I did not start too aggressive and just got a feel for the conditions and adjusted my driving so as not to over heat the tyres. It worked very good and now I have two first places’.
Receiving high fives from everyone for his impressive performance nitro racer Pietsch said, ‘I was super scared about the weather. The car was good in the cold but when the sun came out it was horrible but I made changed the set-up for this morning and it was exactly what was needed for the heat’. With the ETS marking the international race debut for the Mugen’s first EP Touring car creation, the former 1:8 Onroad World Champion said, ‘I’m super happy with the result. I knew the car was working well because we did a lot of testing but didn’t expect myself to be so competitive’. Only his second electric outdoor race the MTC-1’s designer said, ‘My goal was the Top 20 but now I think more is possible if I stay can calm and stay on the track’.
Rheinard said, ‘I lost it on the last 2 or 3 laps’. He continued, ‘Between 1 and 2 minutes in I had a bad power slide to the left because I overheat the tyres to much so then I tried to be careful in the left turns but at the end the car was loose so I was happy to finish’. He added, ‘Yesterday Bruno had 3-seconds but today it was close and I think it will get even closer in the next one, even with him having a body advantage for this track’.
‘At least I now have a result’ was how Kutvonen summed up his P4. The Awesomatix driver added he had been on for an equally good result in Q1 until a tyre broke on his second last lap. Running in the second fastest heat, the Finn said, ‘after controlled practice we changed some small details in the set-up and this helped improve the car. I haven’t changed it between qualifiers and in the heat it is ok’. Reporting like many drivers his car sliding to the left, he feels this is something in the car rather than the heat and will check over his A800X for Q3. Apart from that he said he hopes he can get a clean run in, having made contact with VBC Racing’s Yannic Prumper in Q2, ‘I thought he was letting me throw but closed on me and we touched’. While it cost Kutvonen almost a second in time, for Prumper it ended his run as he got stuck out on the grass.
Commenting on his P5 run Jasmin said, ‘I was expecting less traction. In the beginning it was OK but then the tyres overheated a bit and the nerves came but I think I led for 1-lap’. The Frenchman continued, ‘after that I tried to relax and finish the run because I knew it would be good if I could keep safe to the end’. On his Yokomo BD8 he said, ‘I didn’t change the diff from Q1 but I think now it is hotter it would have been better to change and I will do it for the next one’.
‘Sixth again, I threw away 5th on the last lap’, was Christopher Krapp’s reaction to another P6 run. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I knew if I could keep it on the track it would be fine because I knew from the Warm-up Race that conditions were going to be tricky with the heat’. A former ETS race winner he said, ‘the car got loose at the end and I nearly lost it so I will try to improve it for the next one. I will make a change to the rear to make it more consistent over the run’. Behind Krapp, fellow ETS race winner Alexander Hagberg would get a P7 having had a DNF in Q1.
In Pro Stock, championship contender Olivier Bultynck’s Q1 strategy to pull up and save tyres paid dividends as he TQ’d ahead of top seed Tobias Vogel and title challenger Alexandre Duchet. In Formula, Serpent’s Tim Benson took Q2 ahead of Infinity’s Jitse Miedema and the Xray of Matej Dobnikar. For the title contenders it was a troublesome qualifier with Championship leader David Ehrbar, 2nd placed Jan Ratheisky and 3rd placed Olivier Bultynck all having DNFs.
Bruno Coelho has taken the opening round of qualifying at the season finale of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series in Germany. The Xray driver took advantage of the cooling evening conditions to set the pace by more 3-seconds from Marc Rheinard. Having topped the seeding practice, Ronald Volker completed the Top 3 having to give way to the faster Coelho who started the first of the 4 scheduled qualifiers behind him. Having scraped into the top heat Naoto Matsukura would finish a surprise 4th fastest with Freddy Sudhoff and Christopher Krapp completing the Top 6.
Commenting on his TQ run, Coelho said, ‘In the end we didn’t change anything from controlled practice and I just tried to control my first laps so as not to overheat the tyres. It felt really good and then I could begin to push a bit. Volker’s pace was not very fast so maybe he had a problem, but once I passed him I then just tried to manage to the end without any mistake’. The Portuguese driver added, ‘I am still missing steering but that the same problem for everyone as its a characteristic of the track but the Montech Racer body is helping a lot especially in the big corner’. Asked about tomorrow’s three rounds of qualifying, when temperatures will be much higher, he replied, ‘For sure it will be different’, and having experienced hot conditions at the Euro Nitro Series encounter at the track earlier in the month added, ‘the track takes in a lot of heat depending on the sunshine so it can get very hot so we will have to look at how we can change the car for this’.
‘I think it was not bad’ was Rheinard’s reaction. The Infinity driver continued, ‘I knew Bruno in cold would be fastest especially with that new body because it has a lot of downforce so to get second I am happy with this’. He added, ‘Its good that we got two cars in the Top 4 too’. Predicting tomorrow will be ‘completely different’ he said ‘I think in the hot Bruno will not be as fast, he hasn’t looked as good when it is warm so Q2 & 3 we should be closer’.
Volker was ‘a bit disappointed’ with P3. The only driver to beat Coelho for a win this season, he said, ‘it was completely different track conditions to earlier but I still expected better than P3’. Asked what the issue was he replied, ‘my car understeered too much, the track improved a lot (in terms of grip) and I could have run a harder diff’. Feeling he lost out on a potential P2 having to open for Coelho, the Yokomo driver concluded, ‘everything will be different the next two days (due to hotter weather) so that gives me a new chance’.
Matsukura described his P4 as ‘lucky’. Having claimed his first ever ETS podium last time out, the former World Champion said while removing the ARS from his Infinity IF14 made the car ‘pretty good’ it was ‘not quick but was easy to drive’. Having struggled in hot conditions, he said, ‘I checked the weather for tomorrow and it is to be maximum hot so I think I need to change my car and also my driving style’. With the track’s unique asphalt and banked corners working the tyre a lot more than normal, he predicts everyone is going to overheat tyres tomorrow and it will be down to who best manages their driving over the 5-minutes’.
‘Actually pretty good’ was Sudhoff’s response when asked how he felt Q1 had gone. The Awesomatix driver added he had ‘two big moments and almost lost the car’ and these cost him two places, himself, Matsukura and Volker only separated by 2/10ths of a second. He continued, ‘I’m happy as the pace is there so I just need to focus on myself. It will be hotter tomorrow and this is when the car is even better’.
Former ETS race winner Krapp felt he had better pace than P6. The Yokomo driver said, ‘to be honest I’m not too happy because it could have been better’. He continued, ‘On the 2nd lap I had a mistake and let Naoto by but then when I got back up to speed I couldn’t get back by him and he was a little slower than me. 6th is an OK start and I know the pace is there’. Asked how he felt his car would work in hotter conditions, he said, ‘I’m looking forward to tomorrow. The track changes every run so I have left the car the same all day and I attended the Warm-up race so know it’s good when it’s hot’.
In the Xray Pro Stock class Tom Krägefski took Q1 ahead of championship leader Christian Donath with Max Mächler completing the Top 3. In terms of the title contenders, the Pro Stock champion still to be decided, Jan Ratheisky got a P4 while the other challenger Olivier Bultynck played the strategy game and pulled off to save tyres. In the Scorpion Power Formula class former Pro Stock Champion Alexander Stocker took the TQ in the opening round from reigning champion & title contender Ratheisky with Tim Benson 3rd. Championship leader David Ehrbar would get a P5 ahead of the third of the title contenders Bultynck in sixth.