Ronald Volker lost out on a TQ run in the second round of qualifying at the ETS Slovakia when Bruno Coelho made up just over a tenth of a second on the final lap to make two out of two by just 0.069 of a second. Starting directly behind Coelho after the Xray driver took the opening qualifier, Volker went into the final lap looking like he had done enough with Coelho facing traffic but a slow lap from the Yokomo driver handed it to the reigning Champion. A significant loss for Volker, who needs the overall TQ to go into the Mains here at the Hudy Arena with any chance of deny his rival yet another ETS title, the German must now ensure he plays the perfect tyre strategy for the final two qualifiers, Q4 set to be the rocket round due to expected cooler conditions. Behind the two World Champions, Lucas Urbain set the third fastest time followed by Christopher Krapp, Elliott Harper and Marco Kaufmann.
Summing up his effort, Coelho said, ‘We changed the toe in. We increased it to make the car more easy to drive but it was too easy to drive’. The Portuguese ace, for whom this weekend is very much a ‘home race’, continued, ‘I had no steering basically so I was forcing a lot to keep the same pace as Volker’. Looking to Q3, he said, ‘we will go back with the toe in and try different stuff. The next one should be cooler which is good. Right now it is 55 degrees on track and the tyres are over 60 degrees which is way too much’.
‘I was super frustrated on discovering I lost out’, was Volker reaction to getting pipped at the end of the qualifier. He continued, ‘after a few minutes after I was happy we can fight heads up and we pushed each other to our limits. Hayato has done a great job with the car’. With the intense peak heat of the day now abating, for Q3 he plans ‘only a minor change’ to the car set-up with his tyre strategy the main discussion he plans to have with his mechanic. Volker needs to TQ the remaining two rounds and then it would come down to the fastest time which is widely expected to come in Q4 which is due to run after 19:00.
Reacting to his Q2 performance, Urbain said, ‘that was my best run so far. The driver was good this time. I had no mistakes. It is the first run without mistakes so I feel it was the best I could have done’. Set for his 4th A-Main start in a row, the French Awesomatix driver said, ‘for sure I will run used tyres for the next because the last round with the rocket round. The Top 2 on the grid should be fixed so I am in the fight with Alex (Hagberg) for 3rd. I’m pretty sure he ran used in Q2 so he has two sets left’.
Seventh fastest in the opening qualifier, Krapp said, ‘It was better than Q1 but I am still way off the pace. I’m struggling with my driving and getting used to the track’. The Yokomo driver added, ‘I tried Ronald’s set-up in practice this morning and it didn’t work for me so now I have to go another way’. Asked what the issue was the German replied, ‘the steering is OK but the forward traction is not there. It’s loose. I’m not sure what to change but I need to make big changes. Maybe I will change the flex set-up’.
In Pro Stock, Dominc Vogl found almost 2.5-second compared to his opening run to TQ the round ahead of Q1 winner Simon Lauter while Jan Ratheisky again completed the Top 3. Formula was a repeat for Ratheisky, this time the Xray driver getting the TQ ahead of title rivals David Ehrbar and Lauter. It was a similar story in Stock 17.5 with Dominik Ruf also making it two out of two with Cham Dassanayake his closest challenger on the timing screens.
Bruno Coelho has taken the opening qualifier at the Season Finale of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series but the Xray driver had to work hard for it against title rival Ronald Volker. With uncertain weather conditions for the next two days, mainly the high risk of thunderstorms, it was an earlier start than usual to qualifying with all four rounds scheduled to be run today (Friday). Another change to format for the closing race of the season is the track layout, Race Director Scotty Ernst making the announcement at the start of yesterday’s practice that the event would run in the clockwise direction. While the direction change has been met with mixed views, Coelho got the best from his car in the extreme heat to go fastest from Volker by 3/10ths of a second with Alexander Hagberg completing the Top 3 ahead of Awesomatix pairing Lucas Urbain and Loic Jasmin.
Commenting on Q1, Coelho said, ‘It was a super tight qualifying with Volker, from the beginning I was fighting with him’. Aiming for a fourth consecutive ETS title this weekend, he continued, ‘In the middle I had some small mistakes and then had to force to come back. It is super hot and the car was loose in the rear. The temperature will be the same the next one so we will try to make it a little easier to drive. The asphalt is super hot so after 2-minutes you start to slide, the traction is gone’. Asked how he found the reverse layout, the World Champion replied, ‘I don’t really like it. It has no flow’. He added that the decision to switch direction, ‘doesn’t really make sense. Yes we test a lot here but we just had the Euros here so the others had got a set-up from that but now we are all start again from scratch’.
Volker said, ‘It was a good run but it is just so hot out there. Everything is on the limit. It is not easy to go round’. The Yokomo driver, who is Coelho’s only remaining title challenger with a very outside shot of success continued, ‘I had the same gap to Bruno yesterday so we have a good pace and now we are just trying to manage the heat. The tyres are on the limit we me need to try get the best balance out of the tyres. It is easy to get loose in these conditions but tomorrow it will be a different story for racing cause the weather will be cooler and cloudy’. On the track change, the German said, ‘It is something new so I like it for that. I have been here more than 10 times so it’s a welcomed change’.
Summing up his opening qualifier, Hagberg said, ‘I started at the back because I had problems in practice and this made it hard to pace myself and because I couldn’t see what the guys at the front were doing. I also had traffic.’ Looking to Q2, the Swede said, ‘I need on the fine details now and need to work on tyre strategy’. As for the track, the Xray driver said, ‘I found it hard to get used to because I was so used to the original layout. I’m getting used to it now but it has less of a flow. I still prefer the original layout’.
‘It went alright I guess’, was how Urbain summed up his first qualifying attempt. He continued, ‘I led the first minute but made a mistake on grass like an idiot at the end of the straight. Anyway I started 3rd and finished 4th so we need to figure out the reason for my drop off. I am the only one using the Helcat body so maybe it’s that but maybe it’s my power settings or something in the set-up’. Making his first return to the Hudy Arena after a long absence, on the reversed track layout the Frenchman said, ‘It was been 5-years since I last race here so I could tell what is better. On this layout I really like the ride side of the track’.
On his P5 run, team-mate & fellow countryman Jasmin said, ‘It was not bad but I struggled for the first minute with my driving after that I drove pretty good. My car was OK but we will change something for the heat’. On the track he added, ‘I way more like this way. It is more natural to drive and less risky for me’.
‘A good start, a consistent start, a safe start’, that was how Harper summed up his P6 in Q1. The British Xray driver felt ‘the track changed a lot since practice so we need some more steering without making it loose in the rear. We need to figure out something but overall I am pretty happy’. Asked how he was adapting to the direction change of the track, he responded, ‘It is good to try something different. It’s more interesting for everyone but the flow this way isn’t as good’.
In Pro Stock, newly crowned Champion Simon Lauter took the opening qualifier ahead of Awesomatix team-mate Olivier Bultynck with Jan Ratheisky third, each driver separated by 1-second. Ratheisky was able to TQ the Formula class going fastest from fellow Xray driver Matej Dobnikar and Andreas Stiebler. In Stock 17.5 Dominik Ruf TQ’d the first encounter from ETS Austria winner Luis Moreno.