Viljami Kutvonen has TQ’d the opening round of qualifying at the Yokomo Euro Touring Series in Riccione. Creating somewhat of a surprise earlier in the day when he was fastest in practice, the Awesomatix driver showed his pace was genuine, topping the qualifier from current championship leader Bruno Coelho. Second fastest in practice Marc Rheinard would complete the Top 3 with a bit of gap to Alexander Hagberg in 4th but things couldn’t be much closer over the remainder of the Top 10 which was covered by less than 1-second.
In keeping with the tradition of successful Finnish racers Kutvonen reaction’s to his TQ run was brief, the 23-year-old saying it was ‘Perfect, I mean what else can I say’. Asked about his LRP powered A800 which posted the fastest lap he replied, ‘I think I will keep it the same for the next one. It’s going to be a close battle with Bruno again but I will do my best’.
A little over 3/10ths off Kutvonen, Coelho said his Xray was ‘for sure better’ than final practice after a set-up change but a bad first lap cost him a shot at the TQ. The Portuguese driver would ‘almost flip’ his T4, the 4WD Offroad World Champion joking ‘my offroad experience came in useful’ in stopping the car from rolling. Losing over half a second as a result of the moment he said ‘it cost me a win’. Planning, like Kutvonen, to leave his car unchanged for Q2, he will ‘try to do a better first lap’.
‘For the first qualifier it was pretty OK actually, it was a safe run’, was how Rheinard summed up his performance. In terms of his car however the Tamiya driver said it was ‘looser than before’ and he ‘could see Viljami pulling a gap from the start’. Adding ‘but in the end Bruno and me had the same lap times’. Happy to make ‘no crash’ over the 5-minutes as ‘with one (crash) your done’, he said he needs to improve his set-up but with it set to be a lot colder for tonight’s Q2 he doesn’t know what to change as conditions will be completely different. Hoping for good weather tomorrow, rain looking likely though, he said he must also decide whether or not to risk his second set of tyres or run his first set for a second time in the hope conditions are better for the scheduled remaining two qualifiers tomorrow.
Over two & a half seconds adrift of Rheinard, Hagberg still wasn’t happy with his Xray, saying his ‘car was very hard to drive and I don’t know why’. The Swede added, ‘I cant use the throttle and somehow we need to find more traction’.
Running in the second fastest heat after being only 19th fastest in controlled practice, Yannic Prumper would set the fifth fastest time. A little surprised but please with the result, the VBC driver ‘couldn’t push at all’ adding the car ‘car felt weird’. Almost traction rolling early on, the German was having to drive on 20-30% lock and said ‘somehow we need to find something’ to make the car more drivable. Only his second ETS outing as a lead driver for a manufacturer, Prumper’s manager said while his driver wants to win as always, this is a development period with a view to having a title contending package for next season’s ETS.
One of the sport’s most down to earth racers who seems to enjoy every minute he is at the track, Jan Ratheisky completed the Top 6 for the first qualifier. Reacting to his time, the German who is better know as a force in both Formula and Pro-Stock, said it was ‘awesome’. He added ‘Modified is the have fun class for me but maybe not in the future if this continues’. Asked about car set-up the Xray driver replied, ‘I don’t touch car since last race, just recharge the battery’. Looking to Q2, the Formula Champion continued he would ‘just charge battery and have fun’.
Fourth in practice Kyle Branson posted the 7th fastest time. The Capricorn team driver described his TE03 as being ‘loose one way’ adding ‘maybe I had a bad tyre’. The British driver would also suffer with a slowing car over the last few laps as his electrics lost power. Ask what caused this he replied ‘I don’t know why yet’.
Traction rolling his Yokomo on the opening lap, reigning champion Ronald Volker would end up with a P8. Losing 4-seconds as his LRP powered BD7 ended up on the grass, the German said with the forecast uncertain, rather than pull off to save the tyres he pushed for the best result possible incase it does rain. He said his ‘car didn’t feel like yesterday or this morning’ when he was fastest adding they need to look at making a set-up and tyre prep change for Q2. Behind the 6-time undefeated champion, Elliott Haper would take his Schumacher to 9th with Yokomo’s Loic Jasmin rounding out the Top 10.
In the Xray Pro Stock class, the opening qualifier would go the way of ARC’s Lars Hoppe. The former ETS race winner would be 1.8-seconds faster than Awesomatix’s Max Mächler who in turn was just 0.042 up on Italian Xray driver Mattia Collina with Ratheisky 4th. In the Serpent Formula class, Roche team driver Olivier Bultynck took the first round ahead of Serpent’s David Ehrbar and Bultynck’s team-mate Jacques Libar. For reigning champion Ratheisky a crash would see him retire.
Viljami Kutvonen is the top seed for qualifying at Round 4 of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series in Italy. The first asphalt race of the season, the Awesomatix driver set the fastest 3-consecutive laps around Road Race Riccione RC Circuit Marco Simoncelli from Marc Rheinard by a considerable 4/10ths of a second. Initially credited with the fastest time but having his best lap disallowed for a track cut, championship leader Bruno Coelho would complete the Top 3 followed by Kyle Branson and reigning champion Ronald Volker.
‘Pretty good I guess’, was how Kutvonen summed up his performance in practice. The Finn continued, ‘I struggled yesterday but found some problems with the car last night and now it’s pretty good’. Commenting on the track he added, ‘I like the track but actually last year I hated it as I finished somewhere like 36th’. Racing the shaft drive A700 then, this is his first time to race the belt drive A800 on asphalt which is ‘a big step forward’ adding ‘lets hope it stays the same for qualifying’. Looking to the first qualifier, 2 scheduled for this evening due to the threat of rain tomorrow, he said ‘I will leave the car unchanged and just focus on making a clean 5-minute run’.
Running two cars in practice, the key difference being the flex of the chassis, Rheinard found today it was his second car that was quicker with it having been the other way round in open practice yesterday. Describing his ‘better car’ as ‘still difficult to drive’ he said the track is also proving difficult due to the ‘bumps, low traction and wind’ adding ‘many people are just flying off the track’. Set to run the 2nd of his two TRF419X cars in Q1, he said with conditions making it ‘kind of a lottery’ in terms of getting a good run he was planning to leave the car unchanged and instead ‘just try to get a clean run in’.
‘I think it was good’ was Coelho’s reaction after the second practice in which all the top drivers improved on their opening time. Declaring his flip after contact with the curbing ‘my mistake’, the 2015 Riccione podium finisher was confident that without this he would have posted the fastest time as his previous two laps of the three where quicker than the three that ended up being counted. Making a change to his Hobbywing powered T4 between the two controlled practices he said the track also changed and so his car was not right for the conditions and he will change it again for Q1. Asked about the track, where he shot into title contention last year, he said ‘its super difficult. With the bump (on the entry to the main straight) you close your eyes every time as the car jumps but you never know how it will land or if it will fly off the track’.
Setting the fourth fastest time with an updated Capricorn car he is running for the first time this weekend, Branson said it ‘feels pretty good after the changes’. Featuring a new chassis that has a different weave and carbon brace that replaces the tradition top deck, the British driver said the TE03 now has ‘more overall traction’. Changing the car after CP1 to a harder diff and adding weight to the front of the car to stop it lifting on power he said these changes ‘helped a little bit’. The 22-year-old plans to ‘just (the) leave car as is’ for Q1 adding ‘hopefully it will be dry’.
Having set the pace in first controlled practice, Volker said while conditions were better for CP2 his Yokomo ‘lacked a lot of traction’. Ending up P5 he would be 1-second off Kutvonen’s pace. A track the German rates as one of the best in the World, he put his drop off in performance down to tyres. With the final practice the first time he’s had a problem with the car since arriving at the track the Round 3 winner will not the change his BD7 set-up adding ‘I hope it was just a bad set of tyres’.
Completing the Top 6, Alexander Hagberg said his Xray was ‘not as good as yesterday’. The Swede said his ORCA powered T4 had ‘less traction’ and they ‘need to figure out why’. Just 0.056 behind the multiple ETS race winner, team-mate Alessio Menicucci said his car was ‘working very well’. The Italian described the track as ‘beautiful’ but added ‘it is difficult to be consistent because of the bumps and low traction’. Formula Champion Jan Ratheisky, who is racing all three classes this weekend, would make it four Xray’s in the Top 10 with the 8th fastest time.
Having claimed his first ETS podium finish last year at the track, Yokomo’s Meen Vejrak would post the 9th fastest time followed by the Serpent of Viktor Wilck. Just outside the Top 10, Kutvonen’s Awesomatix team-mate Freddy Sudhoff would post the P11 time ahead of the Schumacher of reigning British Champion Elliot Harper.
Chassis – VBC Wildfire D08 Motor – Muchmore Fleta ZX 5.0T ESC –Muchmore Fleta Pro V2 Batteries – Muchmore 6000 mah Tires – Volante (handout) Radio/Servo – Hitec/Highest Bodyshell – Protoform LTC-R Remarks – Winner here last year, when he was driving for Yokomo, this year Yannic Prumper is running the Wildfire D08 from VBC Racing. Running a prototype floating steering system that sees both the servo and the steering rack fixed to a single mount, they are trying it back to back with the standard chassis mounted steering rack and floating servo. Like most racers he too is running the kit carbon chassis in place of the aluminium chassis used on carpet in the previous round.
Chassis – Tamiya TRF419X Motor – Muchmore Fleta ZX 4.5T ESC –Muchmore Fleta Pro V2 Batteries – Muchmore 6000 mah Tires – Volante (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Xpert Bodyshell – Protoform LTC-R Remarks – Four time World Champion and lead Tamiya driver is running the newly announced TRF419X, which are finally allowed to photograph. As seen in the official announcement, the car sports new shock towers for the shorter shocks, lower and narrower bulkheads and new rear hubs with a lower axle position and higher camber link. It also sports a new wider chassis and two-piece motor mount and Marc has finished his car off with a set of titanium screws.