Bruno Coelho is Top Qualifier for the final round of the 10th season of the Euro Touring Series but the surprise of the final qualifier came in the form of Tim Wahl who TQ’d the fourth qualifier to make it an Xray 1-2 in Germany. Coelho’s fifth TQ of the season, the already confirmed champion looks poised to round out his successful campaign with another victory that would give him the record for the most wins in a single season. With team-mate Wahl lining up second, the quest of touring car newcomers Infinity to end its debut season with a win looks even tougher with Naoto Matsukura leading that challenge from 3rd on the grid ahead of team-mate Marc Rheinard. The only driver to deny Coelho a win this season, Ronald Volker’s chances of a second win look slim as he lines up 5th ahead of Robert Pietsch, the former 1:8 Onroad World Champion getting Mugen’s entry into electric racing off to an impressive start with 6th on the grid.
Beaten to the Q4 TQ by 2/10ths of a second by Wahl, Coelho said, ‘we tried some new stuff and it was no better so we go back for the finals’. Securing pole for tomorrow’s finals with TQ runs in Q1 & 2, he continued, ‘Tim made a very good run now and I made many mistakes because I was losing the rear. I think I lost around 2-seconds in total’. Asked about the finals, all his rivals conceding that overtaking on this track is almost impossible due both to its high speed layout and unique surface, Coelho said, ‘For sure it is a difficult track to overtake, it was the same problem in nitro’ – a reference to the ENS encounter at the track earlier in the month. Targeting his 10th ETS career win, he concluded, ‘Tim will force at the beginning but I will try and make no mistakes and see what happens’.
Asked about his TQ run Wahl replied, ‘All I wanted to do is make the A-Main’. The 22-year-old for whom this is his first outdoor ETS A-Main start, continued, ‘It feels like I wasted so much time but finally I did it’. On his impressive Q4 performance which backed up his P2 a round earlier, the German who was running in the second fastest heat said, ‘It was another safe run and for the last 5 0r 6 laps I just tried to save it to the end’. On his expectations for the final, Andreas Myrberg delighted at the AME supported driver making the main event, Wahl said, ‘I’m just looking forward to it. If I finish 10th I finished 10th, no stress’.
Matching his best ETS qualifying result, which he achieved last time out, Matsukura was the only driver with a chance of denying Coelho the overall TQ. The 2014 World Champion said, ‘the last round I don’t know why but my car was maximum loose. I changed the set-up only very slightly and my tyres were from the 2nd qualifier in which I only did one lap’. After an off he would pull in just after the half way mark. Looking to double up on his maiden podium finish at Round 5 at the Hudy Arena, for the final he said, ‘Bruno & Tim are faster but anyway this track you can’t pass, its too difficult so you have to what for a mistake’. He went on to say, ‘tomorrow is the same weather so I think after 2-minutes everyone will get loose, I hope, and maybe then there will be some passing. Anyway I am happy to start the same place as the last race’.
‘Disappointing’ was Rheinard’s reaction to qualifying fourth for the third race in a row, the German adding, ‘again being fourth it doesn’t look great because we are closer than it looks’. Getting a P3 from the final qualifier, he said, ‘it was difficult at the end, one time I went onto the grass’. While describing the finals as ‘a new game’, he continued, ‘its a boring layout and almost impossible to pass. Bruno is going to check out but then we’ll see for 2nd, 3rd and 4th’.
Lining up 5th as he did last month at the Hudy Arena, Volker would pull up in the final qualifier. The Yokomo driver who is without his mechanic Yukijiro Umino this weekend said, ‘I didn’t have new tyres but they had just 5-laps but the car was off balance. I had decent pace for used tyres but then suddenly the car did a 180 spin and after that I just pulled over’. He continued, ‘I’m happy to see Loic (Jasmin) come back into the A-Main but I’m sad for Christopher (Krapp) to end up P11’. On his changes for tomorrow the 5-time ETS Champion said, ‘starting mid pack we will do some changes to the car in order to try move up but what we know from the warm-up is you cannot pass on this track’. He said the high speed layout was the key reason for this but it unique track conditions also make it difficult to race because its already difficult to just keep the car on the track.
‘To be honest I’m surprised’ was Pietsch’s reaction to making the A-Main on what is only his second ever outdoor electric race. The designer of Mugen’s first foray into electric touring car, he continued, ‘I couldn’t think of a better start for the car. If we had got this result with a professional electric driver it would have been less of an achievement than me doing it’. Such is the 2011 1:8 Onroad World Champion’s lack of experience of touring car racing he said, ‘I guess we get new tyres for the finals?’ on which confirming he was right he said ‘that’s good’.
In the title battles in both Pro Stock and Formula, it was Olivier Bultynck who put himself in the best position for the touring car title as he claimed the overall TQ by topping the final qualifier. In the Scorpion Power Formula class his quest for the title isn’t going as well with his Shepherd set to start 6th but that’s right ahead of his rivals David Ehrbar and Jan Ratheisky. Up front Serpent’s Tim Benson is Top Qualifier ahead of Toni Rheinard who took the final qualifier. Behind Bultynck in the Xray Pro Stock class, Tom Krägefski starts second ahead of Xray team-mate and title contender Alexandre Duchet. The other title contender Christian Donath starts 5th as BQ for Jan Ratheisky ends the current champion’s chances of retaining his title.
Chassis – Serpent F110 SF3 Motor – Scorpion (handout) ESC – Scorpion (handout) Batteries – Gensace 4600mAh Tires – Ride (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Futaba Bodyshell – Montech Remarks – Top Qualifier here in Ettlingen, Tim Benson is running an older prototype of Serpent’s current Formula car, the F110 SF3. Not having changed much to his car since the previous round at the Hudy Arena, he has gone to a softer setting on the side damper to make the car more stable. On a track that requires a smooth approach to not overheat the tires, Tim has chosen for the Montech front wing, as opposed to the Serpent version used by his team mate and championship leader David Ehrbar, as it gives the car more steering so he can carry more speed in the corners.
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.