Team Xray’s Alexander Hagberg set the pace in the opening round of timed practice at the Yokomo Euro Touring Series, the Swede the fastest over consecutive laps from defending Champion Ronald Volker. The second round of the championship, the German event marks the return of Atsushi Hara to international touring car competition, the former world Champion getting his debut for Yokomo off to a steady start with the 8th fastest time.
Missing out on defending the Snowbirds title he won last year due to this year’s ETS calendar regrettably clashing with the famous event that is currently underway in Florida, Hagberg was pleased to kick off his weekend in Muelheim-Kaerlich with his ORCA powered T4 top of the time sheets. Running two cars in the morning’s free practice, both of which he used in extensive pre-race testing at the Hudy Arena, the former race winner found one to be ‘a lot better’ than the other. Finding the good car to have more ‘rotation’ making it ‘better off the corner’ he ran this car for the full duration of the first timed practice. With good low speed steering he said this is beneficial due to the many 180 degrees corners on the superbly presented track. Running a time of 41.125 compared to Volker’s 41.148, the former ETS race winner plans to leave everything as is for the final practice.
Back to back champion of the series for the past three seasons and winner of Round 1 back in November, Volker said he struggled with understeer on his BD7 2014. With experience of the black carpet being used this weekend, having raced at the GP3F race in Longwy, France, where it is in regular use, the German said it provides a lot of stable rear traction. With the understeer getting ‘worse & worse’ over the run he said they need to work on a finding a set-up to find more front end grip. Behind Volker, Yokomo team-mate Yannic Prumper took his similar car to the third fastest time. The teenager said his run was ‘so so’ due to the fact he used the run to scrub in a new set of the controlled tyre for qualifying. With the car improving over the 4-minutes the two time race winner will again run a fresh set of tyres in the final practice.
Running a softer chassis to the standard one that comes in the TRF418 kit, Tamiya’s Marc Rheinard set the fourth fastest time. Very complimentary of the track presentation and how it is to drive, the 3-time world Champion said the new chassis gives the car a better overall feeling on carpet. ‘Still trying some stuff’, he said for the final practice he will freshen up the car as well as making some small changes to trying a get a little more steering. Team-mate Viktor Wilck, who since Round 1 of the championship, has been doing a lot of testing with the new chassis would set the 6th fastest time. The Swede started the practice run with a standard chassis, which had no transponder fitted, and then switched to the softer car but managed only 3-laps before hitting problems. With those first three laps counting as his time, on the fourth lap the car suddenly braked on the main straight thankfully everyone able to avoid it. The problem appears to have been caused by a software update Wilck performed ahead of the run which clearly didn’t work. Despite only getting a few laps with the softer car he said he could feel a difference for the better and for the rest of the event he will stick with that car just reverting back to previous speedo software he has been using without issue.
‘Everything is fine’ is how Awesomatix lead driver Freddy Sudhoff summed up his run to the fifth fastest time. The German was pleased with how his A700 is working adding that it is ‘very consistent’ over the duration of the run. Describing the layout as ‘fun to drive’, he will fine tune his set-up for the second timed practice as he would like to ‘get a little more steering’.
Having just signed for Yokomo, the same company he won his 2000 Touring Car World title with, Hara said he is still getting used to carpet racing, his last carpet race being the IIC in 2011. A two time ETS winner, both on asphalt, he ran two different BD7 chassis’ in the timed practice one he built himself and the other which was built by Yokomo’s ace engineer Yukijiro Umino. Hara said the car from Umino was better with it having more steering. While still working on his driving, feeling he needs to be smoother, he said on pushing the car hard it started to develop slight understeer. For the next run he said Umino will ‘change something’.
Joining Hara at Yokomo this weekend, 1:8 Offroad World Champion Robert Batlle is making his touring car debut. Setting a very respectable 29th fastest time in a field of 92 cars, the Spaniard is really enjoying the experience. Making the trip to German as part of a group of 15 Spanish racers, he said the biggest difference to offroad is the level of precision required when it comes to your lines. Running only slightly off line he said he was surprised at how much time you lose but even more amazed at how quickly it allows the following car to catch up. One of a strong Yokomo team that is contesting the Euro Offroad Series, he said racing touring car this weekend should hugely benefit his driving for the EOS as it teaches you to drive a lot more smoothly.
Elsewhere setting the 11th fastest time HB’s Andy Moore said that so far the event was going a lot better than in the Czech Republic. The 2006 World Champion said compared to the ‘slide and flip’ issues he normal suffers with on carpet the balance of his Hobby Wing powered TCXX was ‘not bad’ Although suffering wih understeer he said it was a decent start to his weekend and he hopes he can build on it in the next practice.
Fellow countryman Elliot Harper, who is running a full production version of Team Durango’s first entry into touring car, was also happy with his start to the event despite a transponder change resulting in him having no times counted. His first big race with the production DETC410, which he said is the same as the prototype he raced at the Euros only now the quality of the parts are much higher, he described its performance in practice as ‘pretty good’. With it pushing a little, he will reduce the rear toe and change the front roll centre for the final practice for which he has registered the correct transponder.