Ronald Volker has taken the opening round of qualifying at the fourth round of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series in Austria. With the Championship making its first trip to the technical ERC Wiener Neudorf track, Volker maintained his practice form in the difficult conditions to top the times ahead of No.2 seed Marc Rheinard. With a roll coming onto the main straight eliminating reigning Champion Bruno Coelho from the TQ hunt, it was Xray team-mate Alexander Hagberg who completed the Top 3 ahead of Akio Sobue, Lucas Urbain and Yannic Prumper. Describing the track during practice as ‘the most difficult track I’ve been to so far’, ETS Madrid winner Freddy Sudhoff had an error fill Q1 which left the Awesomatix driver 10th behind Coelho. With bad weather showing in the Vienna area for Sunday, it is going to be a busy Friday for drivers with the schedule being brought forward to run all four rounds of qualifying today to hopefully allow enough time to run all triple finals tomorrow.
‘One of the harder 5-minute run you can have to drive due to the difficult conditions’, was how Volker summed up Q1. The current Championship points leader continued, ‘the grip is lower than yesterday and the wind is stronger with makes the chicane incredibly hard to judge each lap’. Struggling in CP1 this morning and unable to post a Top 10 time, the Yokomo driver said, ‘for CP2 we made the car much more stable for the conditions and that helped us in Q1 to TQ. I didn’t have any full spins or crashes but many times I was sliding. Luckily I didn’t lose too much time’. Looking to Q2, the German concluded, ‘if it keeps like this it won’t be easy to get another good run. There is no chance to go flat out for 5-minutes so anything can still happen’.
Completing the 5-minutes 7/10ths off Volker, Rheinard described his first effort as ‘a solid start’. The Infinity driver continued, ‘I had to fight the wind a couple of times. Twice, when I was closing the gap on Ronald, I got up on two wheels. Luckily Ronald & I made less mistakes than the others’. Pleased with the performance of his car, he said the track was the biggest challenge for everyone concluding, ‘these are the most difficult conditions I’ve ever had on asphalt’.
‘Slow & Steady. My focus was on having a clean run’, was Hagberg’s reaction to his P3. The Swede continued, ‘the conditions are very difficult. The wind makes it inconsistent but I will try to push harder in the next one. It is really about taking risks or not but if you push too much you’ll have mistakes. The track changes lap to lap cause of the wind’.
Running in the second fastest heat, Sobue summed up his run as a ‘maximum safety drive’ adding the ‘wind is making the middle chicane super difficult’. The Japanese driver plans to repeat his cautious approach for Q2 hoping it will bring him enough points to lock down an A-Main starting position. If he can secure this he said he will take more risks in the final two qualifiers.
Heading the Awesomatix charge in Q1, Urban said, ‘I was running under the radar in practice but I knew I had a good car and it was just down to me to drive it. I had a half spin on the first lap and another on lap 4, both at the chicane. The wind was being a bit of a dick’. The Frenchman concluded, ‘the car is really good so it is all about the driving’.
‘That’s the first time my car felt drivable but there is still a lot of pace missing compared to the front guys’, was how Prumper summed up the opening qualifier. The Infinity driver added, ‘my car was very bad all day yesterday in practice. I couldn’t keep it on the track so I completely changed my set-up. I don’t know what the problem was but I copied Marc’s set-up and that allowed me to get some average points so now I can try make the Main. That wasn’t looking possible yesterday’.
In Pro Stock, it was also the championship points leader who topped Q1 as Simon Lauter topped the times Jan Ratheisky, who after seeding found himself in the second fastest heat. Also running in the second fastest heat Oliver Havránek completed the Top 3 ahead of Awesomatix’s Max Mächler. In Formula, Ratheisky topped the opening qualifier with Andreas Stiebler joining him as the only driver to complete a 14 lap run. In the Masters class, Werner Schmitzer denied Alexander Stocker the TQ run while in the 17.5 Stock class Luis Moreno was fastest over the 5-minutes.