Bruno Coelho has effectively secured himself the overall TQ at Round 4 of the Euro Touring Series in Italy after he opened Day 2 of the event with a second TQ run. Having claimed last night’s opening ‘rocket round’ qualifier, taking Q2 will make it hard for the Xray driver to be denied pole for the A-Main as the time from the opening qualifier will be near impossible to beat giving today’s hotter track conditions. With Coelho on his second set of tyres, Ronald Volker would do well to get within 3/10ths of the reigning champion given he was on the same set of tyres he ran to a P3 in Q1. While offering ‘no comment’ on his tyre strategy for Q2, Viljami Kutvonen would complete the Top 3 ahead of Viktor Wilck and Meen Vejrak, both drivers on new tyres having opted to sit out Q1.
Summing up his run, the start to Day 2 delayed following overnight rain and the track being covered in widely dispersed cotton-like seed, Coelho said, ‘again it was not perfect but for the result it was good’. In a repeat of Q1, he would again lose the rear of his Hobbywing powered T4 on the opening lap but being lucky in being able to get it straight again. Dropping him 2-seconds off the early TQ pace set by Marc Rheinard, the Infinity driver running wide onto the grass on the straight a lap later ending his run, once the tyres did come in he would recover the deficit to go to the top of the times. He said, ‘On new tyres the car is nervous for the first few laps, I don’t know if its because of additive or that we are starting with the tyre too hot. To be able to pull back 2-second shows the car is good so if we can get the start sorted this will be perfect for the finals. I can’t do more (in terms of the TQ) so we will use the next qualifier to find the problem with the first few laps’.
‘This was the absolute maximum I could do on 2nd run tyres’, was Volker’s reaction to Q2. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘It was clear Bruno was pulling away as his tyres came in but I’m happy to get 2-points on used tyres. He (Coelho) almost threw it away but unfortunately he looks safe for the overall TQ now’. Asked about his plans for his second set of tyres he said ‘We already know when we will run it and I also know when Marc (Rheinard) will run on his but it will be hard to beat Bruno’s time from yesterday’. A much hotter day today at Riccione, Coelho’s Q2 TQ pace was 8-seconds slower than Q1.
11th in Q1, Viljami said, ‘I lacked pace yesterday but I didn’t change the car so maybe the weather suits us better’. Runner-up at ETS Italy last year, the Awesomatix driver continued, ‘I was less than 2-seconds slower than my Q1 pace but the others were 8-seconds off so I will leave the car the same and just try to get another good run to put myself in the A-Main’.
Effectively the first qualifying run for the 4th seed after he opted to not start Q1, Wilck described the outcome of his gamble as, ‘OK’. The Serpent driver continued that while his Project 4X had ‘even more understeer today’ his ‘5-minute pace was better than expected’. Describing today as ‘so hot’, the Swede plans to go up in the oil of his rear diff as well as ‘try to make the right call on tactics with the tyres’, him still needing another strong run to make his first ETS A-Main appearance of the season.
A track where he claimed his best ETS result to date in 2015 when he finished second, Meen Vejrak was content with his P5. The Thai driver said, ‘I pulled off yesterday so I couldn’t blow the run and just put in a safe drive’. Running in the third fastest heat, the Yokomo driver continued, ‘The beginning was too slow but this did mean the car was more consistent in the end. Now I need one more safe run to make the A-Final’. A fan of the track, the former Nitro Touring Car World Champion said, ‘the bump is getting more difficult as I found out many times in practice but anything could still happen so there is still plenty to play for’. Behind Vejrak, Italian Xray driver Alessio Menicucci completed the Top 6.
In the Xray Pro Stock class, the opening two qualifiers saw TQ runs from two different drivers. In Q1, Awesomatix’ Max Mächler topped the round ahead of Italian Mattia Collina but last year’s race winner reversed that result in Q2 with double race winner Alexandre Duchet third in both. In the Scorpion Power Formula class, champion Jan Ratheisky took the first round with his Xray while Serpent’s championship leader David Erhbar took the second one.
Chassis – Awesomatix A800X Motor – Muchmore (handout) ESC – Muchmore (handout) Batteries – LRP Stock Spec 8000mAh Tires – Volante (handout) Radio/Servo – Futaba Bodyshell – Protoform Speed 6 Remarks – Having tested last week in Ettlingen, Awesomatix driver Max Machler is using that exact same setup on his A800X this weekend in Italy. Using different upper arm mounts on the rear of the car to normal, the new configuration gives more corner speed and is safer due to there being no change to the wheelbase under compression. Also using the optional bellcrank steering and 0.5mm shorter wheelbase than his standard setup, for large low traction outdoor tracks he uses the heavier 8000mAh LRP Stock Spec battery that keeps the voltage longer. Finally, Max is using the Speed 6 from Protoform, a preferred choice for most stock drivers outdoor due to its higher cornering speed and more traction out of the corner than from the LTC-R.
Chassis – Xray T4 17 Motor – Muchmore (handout) ESC – Muchmore (handout) Batteries – Marka 6000mAh Tires – Volante (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Highest Bodyshell – Montech Nazda 2 Remarks – Top Italian Xray racer Mattia Collina topped Q2 in the Pro Stock class with his Xray T4 17. Having competed at the warmup race 2 weeks ago he is using the setup from that weekend with just the front arms lowered to increase the steering the slow corners. Fitted with the Montech Nazda 2 body shell, he has selected the Precut Asphalt version which is mounted more forward than the Indoor version. Using a lot of brass weights throughout the car, the motor mount spacer and battery supports are from 7075.it with a further 20 grams below the steering rack.
Chassis – Infinity IF14 Motor – Orion VST2 4.5T ESC – Orion Vortex R10.1 Batteries – Orion 6000mAh Tires – Volante (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa Bodyshell – Protoform LTC-R Remarks – 2012 World Champion Jilles Groskamp is running the production version of the IF14 from Infinity here in Italy, set to be released in late May. Using the same setup as in Spain he has made a few small changes, such as using the ARS system at the rear which gives the car more steering on power, using a slightly longer wheelbase and switching to softer shock oil for more overall traction. The Dutchman has also raised the front camber link to save the tires, removing the aggressive initial steering, while also having the advantage of more mid corner steering.
Bruno Coelho returned to form when it counted most with the Xray driver taking the opening round of qualifying at ETS Italy. Having set the pace in free practice, the ETS Champion ended up P6 after the two rounds of controlled practice as Ronald Volker topped the seeding. In the evening’s opening qualifier, which would bring the first official day of the fourth round to a close, Coelho was back in business taking the TQ ahead of Marc Rheinard and Volker. Behind the trio of title protagonists, Elliott Harper would put in a strong performance to set a competitive P4 time followed by Jilles Groskamp and Yannic Prumper.
‘We kept the car the same because it was strange that in free practice we were fastest and then in controlled we suddenly went off the pace so we decided to wait to see if something happens. We put on our race tyres and it did, we were fast again’, was how Coelho summed up his return to the top of the time sheets. The qualifying wasn’t without its dramas for the Portuguese driver as he had a ‘big mistake’ on the run onto the straight on his second lap. ‘Luckily able to get it straight again’, it would leave him with a 17-second lap but with his car working ‘amazing’ as it had been in free practice he would lay down the only 15-second lap of the qualifying two laps later as he set about working his way to the top of the timing screens. Pleased to end the day back on form the reigning champion admitted his comeback had resulted in his tyres getting too hot towards the final laps.
‘I can be happy with the result’ was Rheinard’s reaction to his P2. The Infinity driver would suffer a moment on the curbing at the end of the straight on the opening lap and backing it up with his fastest lap on the next lap would lay down the TQ pace. He said, ‘I was leading but could see Bruno was suddenly running a faster pace than me’. Making a mistake on his final lap, Rheinard said even without this he couldn’t have held off Coelho as his rival had the faster car towards the end of the 5-minutes. Looking to tomorrow’s qualifiers with a number of drivers pulling up or choosing to not start Q1, the German said, ‘it will come down to tyres now so lets see how the tactics play out but I think Bruno will run his second set of tyres in Q2 to try and get the overall TQ wrapped up early’.
Having topped both rounds of controlled practice, Volker said, ‘I’m definitely disappointed finishing P3’. A driver for whom the Riccione track has not be kind in terms of results though he rates it as one of his favourite circuits, the World Champion said, ‘the car was good at the beginning but got too much understeer over the run. I couldn’t challenge for the TQ, this was the max I could do for now in terms of my driving. The Yokomo driver hinted that the cold conditions also went against them saying, ‘we have a good feeling for the hotter conditions, we worked towards this because except for Q1, the rest of the qualifiers and the finals will be run during the day time so I am confident for tomorrow’.
‘After the first few laps I had, I’m surprised with the result’, said Harper of his P4. The Schumacher driver continued, ‘I had no grip for the first two laps because we took the warmers off too early but the car was consistent and at the end still quite fast’. He added ‘it is nice to have good result because we’ve put a lot of effort in’. Describing his car as having ‘good corner speed’, the British driver said he ‘just need(s) to focus on driving a little bit better’ admitting to having tried to ‘over compensate’ for the inevitable drop off over the run.
Second fastest in seeding, Groskamp said, ‘the start was quite OK and I tried to follow Ronald but the car broke away and I spun out’. Able to continue after his 360 degree spin, the Infinity driver said his tyres never came back after their run over the dust and he ‘lost a lot of pace’ over the second half of the run. Having to open to let team-mate Rheinard through, he said even without his ‘donut’ he still feels his IF14 is lacking pace over the second part of the run and he will look at a possible shock set-up for tomorrow.
Completing the Top 6 despite running in the second fastest heat, Prumper summed up his day by saying, ‘it started pretty bad but ended pretty good. I was 25th yesterday and 15 in seeding I was off the pace but we got it figured out now’. The winner here in 2015, the factory VBC Racing driver said, ‘I got a little nervous in the middle of the run as the car started to slide but I held it and to get a P6 is a good boost for tomorrow’. Behind the German and also running in the same heat, Spain’s David Pérez would set the 7th fastest time ahead of Naoki Akiyama, Alexander Hagberg and Freddy Südhoff.