June 17, 2017

Coelho takes important Q1 from Matsukura at rain effected ETS Slovakia

With rain effectively wiping out yesterday’s action at the Hudy Arena, qualifying at Euro Touring Series finally got underway this afternoon with Bruno Coelho taking an important TQ run in the first of the 3 rescheduled qualifiers from a surprise Naoto Matsukura.  With drivers getting only 3-minutes of running yesterday, they would again have to play the waiting game this morning as further rain delayed proceedings at the 5th round of the championship.  Getting another 3-minute practice run once the track had dried after the morning downpour the expectation of further rain meant the stakes for Q1 were high.  Having topped Thursday’s sun drenched free practice, it would be Marc Rheinard who led away the top heat but a minute in the Infinity driver would make a mistake. This left team-mate Matsukura to go to the top but a strong finish from Coelho, who had issues with his Xray being blown around the track by the wind, allowed the champion elect to TQ by 7/10ths from Matsukura with Alexander Hagberg getting third ahead of Rheinard.  For Coelho’s only remaining title contender, Ronald Volker, the event is proving hugely challenging with the Yokomo driver describing his P6 as a ‘miracle’.

‘Super difficult’ was Coelho’s reaction afterwards.  Looking to put to bed a back to back ETS titles with the overall TQ, he continued, ‘it was not the car but the conditions.  The wind caused me to lose the car 3 times.  When the car is not right you know where you can have problems but with the wind it surprises you.  It even pushed me up onto the grass’.  Going for his third win in a row at what is his Xray team’s home track, the said, ‘Fortunately while Matsukura got close to me I knew I was faster and he only caught me because of the wind. I tried to force to the end and I was able to get first’.  The significance of Q1 was highlighted by the fact as the second round of qualifying got underway it started raining again, although one positive is that tomorrow is showing as good meaning the finals should run without interruption.

A very pleased Matsukura summed up his first competitive ETS showing for a long time with, ‘This feels good for me to have no mistakes and to be able to drive a controlled race. Before I was not able to battle at the front. I’m super happy’. Working the IF14’s designer Kotonori Fujiwara as his mechanic this weekend, the 2014 World Champion said this was also a big factor in his performance.  Warming up for the event with a win at the most recent round of the CETC in China, in terms of his car he said, ‘my car was pretty good but after 3-minutes it started to get a little push and then Bruno could pull a gap.  I will change the set-up for the next one to make it more consistent for the full run’.

Helping Xray to take a 1-2 here the last two years, Hagberg summed up the first qualifier as ‘pretty good’ but like his team-mate said the windy conditions made it unpredictable. Describing it as ‘a safe run’, the Swede said he took ‘no risks considering how unpredictable the weather is’ adding ‘3rd is a good result to have’.  Pleased with the performance of his T4 he said, ‘I will leave it the same and just push more in the next one’.

Fastest in free practice, Rheinard said, ‘it didn’t feel as before, it felt loose so I didn’t have the right feeling to push the car’.  Coming into the event on the back of his 6th Reedy Race of Champions win, he continued, ‘I made a mistake, without it I could have got third but that’s still not what it should have been.  At least I got 4th I suppose’.

Posting the fifth fastest time, Freddy Sudhoff said, ‘that was pretty good, everything went fine’.  He added, ‘actually since the first practice I have been confident with the set-up and the track’.  The Awesomatix driver said, ‘I took it a little easy due to the weather so I did not have any hot laps but it was a good start’.  Asked about the wind effecting his car the German replied, ‘a few laps in the car pushed a little more but it wasn’t a big problem for me’.  For Q2, which looks now like being the only other qualifier they will fit in due to the latest rain, he will leave his kit standard A800 unchanged.

Finishing almost 5-seconds off Coelho’s pace, Volker didn’t hold back on his issues.  The World Champion described his car as ‘horrible in the opening laps’ highlighting that the problem has been there since Thursday’s free practice.  He continued, ‘there is absolutely no rear grip, its a miracle finishing P6’.  Running last in the heat, the German said he had to use the time to know when it was the last lap so he could launch his car across the finish line, the 2/10th gained the only reason he got 6th as apposed to a P10.  He concluded, ‘We are totally off the pace in the beginning and need to do big changes in order to get up there but thats going to be very tough’.  Behind Volker, team-mate Christopher Krapp was the next fastest Yokomo with newly crowned Reedy Race Open Champion Jin Sawada taking his Destiny to 8th for the round.

In the Xray Pro Stock class it was the Tamiya of Christian Donath that took the first TQ.  During the first attempt at qualifying yesterday, the rain arrived before all the Pro Stock heats were completed but getting the remaining three heats done today it was Donath who was fastest from the Yokomo of former Champion Martin Hofer with Xray’s Tom Krägefski completing the Top 3.  Best of the winners so far this season would be ETS Italy winner Max Mächler who was fifth fastest.  In the Scorpion Power Formula class Shepherd’s Olivier Bultynck took Q1 ahead of Jan Ratheisky and Tim Benson with Tonisport owner Toni Rheinard coming out of retirement to set an impressive P4 time ahead of double winner David Ehrbar. 

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