Round 3 of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series got underway officially today in Gran Canaria but recent work to the track has challenged drivers as they struggle for traction on the highly abrasive new surface. Originally drivers where to run open practice for the first half of the day before conducting two control practice rounds that would determine the seeding for the day’s opening round of qualifying. However when drivers started to run tyres from the freshly produced batch of handout tyres provided by Ride there was a noticeable difference between the tyres they had used for previous practice runs, some drivers having already conducted a number of days testing earlier in the week. Due to this Race Director Scotty Ernst adapted the time table allowing drivers to continue with open practice before closing the first official day with one round of controlled practice.
At the end of the extended open practice, last year’s event winner Viktor Wilck said he ‘wished they hadn’t changed the asphalt’ but added ‘there is nothing they can do about it now’. Describing the new surface as ‘really bad to drive’ he said even with a similar set-up to what he ran on his winning Tamiya 12-months ago he was ‘just drifting around’. Admitting the situation was the same for everyone he said his main focus was not chassis set-up but tyre prep adding that while he was never going to find a decent level of traction the most improvement would come from the tyres.
Winner of the event two years ago when the ETS made its first visit to the island, Kyosho’s Christopher Krapp said the ‘surface is very different’ and ‘really slippery’. Not sure whether this is due to the surface or the sugar water, the German said it is ‘a waste of time complaining about it now’ as its the same for everyone. Making his first ETS outing of Season #7, Krapp believes, despite conditions being really tricky, by the end of the open practice he had started to ‘find a good way’ in terms of set-up with his TF6. His favourite track layout of the season, he said this year he is going to have to be a little more ‘gentle on the gas’.
Taking a dominant victory at Round 2 of the championship last month in Germany, Team Xray’s Alexander Hagberg said while the ‘surface (is a) big problem’ he said it is the ‘same for everyone’. With ‘no traction’ the Swede who has enjoyed a podium finish previously on the island said these were ‘unusual conditions’. With the abrasive surface causing heavy tyre wear Hagberg said it was also proving very hard on the chassis plates of the car. Testing a number of set-up changes to try and improve how his ORCA powered T4 handles the lack of grip he said he is looking forward to the controlled practice so as to see where everyone is at in terms of pace.
Defending champion Ronald Volker said while the low traction means lap times are about 1.8-2 second off last years pace from the time he has recorded of his rivals in practice everyone is very close on pace. Having never won the Gran Canaria event he said this should make for an interesting qualifying as no has so far shown themselves to have a distinct advantage.