Bruno Coelho kicked off the 10th season of the Euro Touring Series & the defence of his title in the best way possible as he ended the opening day in the Czech Republic with a TQ run in the first round of qualifying. The Xray driver topped the times by an impressive 2.2-second margin over Ronald Volker with Viljami Kutvonen making it three different manufacturers at the top of the time sheets in what most drivers are describing as ‘strange’ track conditions. Having topped seeding practice, mistakes would mean Alexander Hagberg would miss out on the 21-lap pace of the Top 3 and get a P4 ahead of Meen Vejrak.
Pleased to open the serious business of the event with a TQ, Coelho said it was a good run adding the result was ‘as expected’. Having ‘changed something’ on his Hobbywing powered T4, last season only multiple race winner said the new set-up ‘worked very well’ but added the track is ‘still strange’. He continued, ‘after 3-minutes it goes loose in the rear’. Looking to tomorrow’s remaining three qualifiers, the Portuguese ace said ‘I will try to do the same tomorrow’.
‘It was an interesting qualifying starting mid pack’, was Volker’s reaction to Q1. Only P6 in seeding practice, the Yokomo driver continued, ‘I was a little careful at the beginning as the car started off loose. After this I could catch Viljami but saw Bruno was checking out so then I was just trying to get maximum points possible and 2nd was a decent start’. Describing his LRP poweerd BD8 as having developed ‘terrible rear grip mid race’ he said this lasted for about 5-laps dropping him further off Coelho’s pace. He continued, ‘In the last 2-minutes the rear came back again and then it was OK. A lot of drivers even in Pro Stock are noticing the traction during the run changes for some reason’. The World Champion concluded, ‘we have to try understand it better to be on point tomorrow for all 5-minutes’.
‘That was good but Bruno is too fast’ was how Kutvonen summed up Q1. The factory Awesomatix driver felt, ‘with less mistakes I could have got second but I made too many mistakes and need to improve that for tomorrow’. In terms of his A800 set-up, he said, ‘the car is ok but we need to improve it to catch Bruno’. Asked about track conditions the Finn said, ‘the tyres are a little more hairy (after the run) then normal but it’s the same for everyone’.
Hagberg described his opening qualifier as ‘not as good like practice’ adding ‘I had one mistake at the end of the straight’. In terms of his car’s performance the Swede said, ‘we need to work more on corner speed now’ but like his rivals said the track s a big factor this weekend. On this he said, ‘the tyres are fluffing up causing it to feel inconsistent, it is the same for everyone though’.
Commenting on his P5, Vejrak said, ‘now is better than controlled practice when I had zero grip’. The former Nitro Touring Car World Champion said sanding his tyres together with set-up changes had made things better. Describing Q1 as a ‘safe drive’ because after how bad it was in practice he was still ‘afraid of it’. With a base set-up to now work off he feels they can improve his Scorpion Power equipped BD8 with the main aim for Q2 to make the car ‘less edgy’.
‘Speechless’ was Marc Rheinard’s reaction after setting the 5th fastest time. Nodding his head in disbelief, the Tamiya driver said the track is ‘Un Drivable’. Elaborating on why this is, last year’s race winner said, ‘the tyre picks up some kind of dust, it’s really really bad. Maybe it’s a different batch of carpet but it doesn’t work at all’.
Making the A-Main in Hrotovice on the ETS’ last visit, following that up with 2 more A-Main appearances last season, Schumacher’s Elliot Harper described his P7 as ‘a good consistent drive’. Finishing less than a 1/10 of a second off Rheinard, the British driver said he was thinking ‘what if (he) had just pushed a little harder’ but added ‘It’s quite difficult as the track changes a lot as the run goes on with the last minute & a half really hard’. With planned pre-event carpet testing not transpiring, Harper said they still managed to improve the car a lot of the three practice runs this morning after they ‘changed a lot’ on his Mi6. This helped gain more corner speed as well as making it easier to drive. For Q2 they will try some further ‘small changes to try stop the drop off (over the heat)’ adding he feels ‘the tyres are getting too hot and we need to stop that’. Behind Serpent’s Viktor Wilck, Awesomatix’s Freddy Sudhoff and Tamiya’s Akio Sobue complete the Top 10 times.
In the Xray Pro Stock class Belgium’s Olivier Bultynck put his Awesomatix on top in Q1 ahead of the Xray of Alexandre Duchet with Tobias Seidl third ahead of top seed Noah Asendorf. In the ScorpionPower Formula class Serpent’s David Ehrbar posted a TQ run in front of Austrian Andreas Stiebler and Bultynck. For reigning champion Jan Ratheisky, after a slow practice he improved somewhat to take his Xray to P7.
Chassis – VBC Lightning FXM Motor – Scorpion (handout) ESC – Scorpion (handout) Batteries – Gens-Ace 4600mAh Tires – Ride (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa Bodyshell – Protoform F-15 Remarks – Austrian driver Herbert Weber is racing here in Hrotovice running the new FXM from Hong Kong based company VBC. Fitted with a front Montech spoiler and a rear Serpent wing, Herbert’s car is equipped with a heavier front suspension mount. The front end also utilises a double spacer underneath the upper arm mount to obtain a flat suspension which removes any dynamic camber in the suspension travel. He is also using a 1/12th scale Sanwa servo.
Chassis – Xray T4 ’17 Motor – ORCA RT 4.5T ESC – ORCA VX3 Batteries – ORCA 6300mAh Tires – Volante (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa Bodyshell – Protoform LTC-R Remarks – Alexander Hagberg topped seeding practice here in the Czech Republic driving the 2017 version of the T4. His car is equipped with an aluminium chassis, low friction belts and a front brass suspension mount. The Swede is also using Hiro Seiko titanium and aluminium screws and Avid Titanium ballstuds. On his LTC-R he chose to use the hard version of the Protoform wing
Alexander Hagberg has topped seeding at the opening round of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series in the Czech Republic. Only 11th fastest in the first of the two timed practices, the Xray driver would find much improvement on his second attempt to set the fastest 3-consecutive laps by 0.138 of a second from Tamiya’s Akio Sobue, the Japanese driver also finding a chunk of time. Having been second fastest in TP1, reigning champion Bruno Coelho would better his time but such was Hagberg & Sobue’s improvement he would drop to third. Topping the first practice, Ronald Volker would slide to 6th, the Top 6 separated by just under 4/10ths of a second.
‘We improved the car a lot with set-up changes’, was Hagberg’s reaction to topping the times. The former ETS race winner continued, ‘the car was loose in the rear in the first one because of the track so we changed the car to counter that and now it was better’. Feeling his T4 was ‘good to drive the whole run’, the Swede said, ‘I feel confident for qualifying’ adding on his car set-up he ‘won’t touch it’ for Q1 which will bring a close to day 1 of the new season.
Having struggled with a lack of steering in TP1, Sobue switched from a carbon to an aluminium chassis on his TRF419 describing it as ‘better’. While happy to get more steering on the ‘very loose track’, the ETS podium finisher plans small changes for the first qualifier saying ‘I still need more (steering)’. While seeding is on 3-laps, Sobue feels he has a ‘similar 5-minute pace so he is looking to be in the mix in Q1. Team-mate Marc Rheinard would drop to P8. The German said while his car was ‘not as loose as before it is still pushing’. Asked if he followed Sobue’s chassis switch he reply, ‘I am running alu but it’s different to Akio. Our cars also have different diff and shock positions’.
‘We didn’t change the car but the feeling is like driving on ice’, was how Coelho summed up the final practice adding, ‘I have no feeling, it is just floating over the track’. Describing how the car is feeling as ‘strange’, the Vice-World Champion said they have to change the car for qualifying but added, ‘we will try to not change it too much but adjust small details’.
Setting the fourth fastest time, Viktor Wilck said, ‘It felt more loose than before’. The Serpent driver continued, ‘we changed the diff but it wasn’t enough’. Looking to qualifying, the Swede will keep the same diff but now change the shocks and toe-in adding ‘I need to make it a little easier for 5-minutes’. In terms of the track’s low traction he said ‘I think it will stay like this for the rest of the event’.
With an easier to drive car Viljami Kutvonen was pleased with his second practice. Putting in the 5th fastest time, the Awesomatix driver said fine tuning of the car’s unique damping had made his A800 ‘more easy to drive’. Planning some further ‘very fine tuning’ he said ‘my 5-minute pace looks promising’ and ‘I will try to drive more clean than anyone else’. Making it two Awesomatix’s in the top heat Freddy Südhoff would set the 10th fastest time.
Joking afterward the final practice that he was announcing his retirement from racing as the news of Nico Rosberg’s retirement from Formula 1 circulated the pits, World Champion Volker said, ‘the car was easier to drive and I had a trouble free 4-minutes but obviously it was too easy to drive as my position over 3-laps dropped’. Improving his time by 4/10ths, the Yokomo driver continued, ‘the 4-minutes was very good as I was able to do the same lap time throughout the whole run but I was bit surprised by my drop off in position. Like I said before the track layout is not difficult so everyone would be close’. With the ‘track condition difficult’ he said, ‘we will make changes to get more steering but without making it more loose in the rear end’. Behind Volker, team-mate Naoki Akiyama would set the 7th fastest time with Meen Vejrak also putting his BD8 into the Top 10 with the ninth fastest time.
In the Xray Pro-Stock class Swiss Xray driver Noah Asendorf was fastest ahead of ARC’s Lars Hoppe who won in Hrotovice two years ago. Germany’s Tom Krägefski would complete the Top 3 with his Xray but the big news would be reigning champion Jan Ratheisky lack of pace. In Pro Stock he was only 20th and in Formula, a class he has reigned over for the passed 4-seasons, he was only 9th fastest. With Formula’s new Scorpion Power handout electrics getting a very positive reaction from racers it was Roche driver Olivier Bultynck who was fastest from Serpent’s David Ehrbar with former Champion Herbert Weber completing the top 3 with his VBC Racing chassis.