April 13, 2018

Sobue tops first controlled practice at ETS Spain

The outdoor part of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series is now official underway with Akio Sobue topping the first seeding round at the large Osoger RC track in Madrid, Spain.  With huge anticipation ahead of the first asphalt round, drivers always looking forward to racing outside, it has it risks and overnight rain delayed the official start to the weekend by 4-hours. Luckily the majority of drivers managed 6 rounds of free practice yesterday (Thursday) on the large track allowing the event to start directly with the first of the 2 seeding rounds.  Setting a fastest 3-consecutive laps time of 56.652, Sobue’s advantage was substantial with the Infinity driver’s closest rival Freddy Südhoff some 4/10th off.  An impressive start to the weekend from Südhoff, it was Ronald Volker, quickest yesterday, who completed the Top 3, 5/100ths of a second back.  For Championship leaders Marc Rheinard and Bruno Coelho, they set the 4th and 5th fastest times respectively with Viktor Wilck completing the Top 6.

Reacting to his pace, Sobue said, ‘the car is good in terms of outright speed but over 4-minutes the others are closer’.  The newly crowned TITC Champion added, ‘we need to work on consistency so the drop off is not so much’.  A fan of the large track and in particular it’s ‘super flat’ surface, the Japanese ace said he expects the grip to come up for CP2 and they will also change his IF14 set-up to account for that’.

Commenting on his marked improvement over the last ETS race, Südhoff said, ‘Finally my health is better.  I had bigger issues than racing at the last round and had to leave early but doctors found something and now I can focus on RC again’.  The Awesomatix lead driver said, ‘the past two weeks I could practice in Germany as the weather is good and the set-up we found from that has worked from the very first battery we ran here’. Planning no changes to his car, the German feels based on yesterday the track will stay the same for the second controlled practice.  Asked his thoughts on the track he replied, ‘I think its one of the Top 3 tracks in the world describing it has ‘open, fast but still with tight corners. Its a good mix’.

Volker said, ‘Like expected the grip was worse than yesterday’.  The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I purposely didn’t change the set-up to get a feel for the balance.  I couldn’t go super fast in the opening laps but I’m happy with the 4-minute pace’.  Expecting ‘the grip will be better in CP2’,  the World Champion again plans to leave his BD8 set-up unchanged after it showed good pace yesterday.

Summing up his run to the 4th fastest time as ‘average’, Rheinard said, ‘I’m not really happy’.  Runner-up in Madrid last year behind Coelho, the Infinity driver said, ‘It looks better than it is on the time sheets’.  He continued, ‘For 5-minutes it feels no chance as it just gets slower and slower’.  For his next run, the winner of the season opener will try a different rear swaybar and narrower hexes but said the issue is he is ‘lacking steering’.

A driver who everyone expects to see at the top of the timing sheets, Coelho’s P5 in CP1 is a surprise.  The Xray driver summed up his performance with ‘it was ok’ adding ‘the car is ok but not super fast’ putting it down to the ‘track conditions are quite tough’.  The reigning ETS Champion reported a mistake on his second lap saying ‘at the same time four cars spun out, it might have been the wind but it was strange’.  Asked about track conditions compared to last year he was quick to highlight that all cars are ‘now 1-second fastest than last year because of improvements in the cars, bodies, tyres and electronics’ but he feels the track is going to improve over the the day ‘and then we can enjoy more the race’.

Despite setting the 6th fastest time, Wilck felt he had a better car in free practice yesterday.  The Serpent driver, who is happy to be back racing on asphalt having struggled at the two carpet rounds, said, ‘we changed from yesterday and it was not better so I will go back and try one more thing with the shocks’.  While looking good over 3-consecutive laps, the Swede said the pace is ‘not so good over 4-minutes’ and ‘that is why we will change back.  Yesterday was more consistent’.

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