Ryan Maifield is Top Qualifier for the 2011 IFMAR 4WD Electric Buggy World Championships in Vaasa, Finland. The American claimed pole position for the main event with a third TQ run in the fifth & final round of qualifying this morning. Team Associated’s second TQ honour of the week, Ryan Cavalieri having taken the top spot in 2WD, Maifield will start ahead of Joern Neumann who came close to snatching the No.1 spot for this evening’s triple A-Main.
With drivers best two of four rounds of qualifying to count following the cancellation of Q4 due to rain, only Maifield and Neumann had a chance at becoming the Top Qualifier in this morning’s final run. Setting the pace and holding a 2 second advantage over Maifield, Neumann looked to be on target to take Q5 which due to his TQ run in Q3 being the fastest of the weekend would secure the German his and Team Durango their first Worlds TQ. Catching fellow Durango driver Joseph Quagraine in the final minute of the run Neumann got out of shape on the step-up which in turn led to a bad run in to the quad resulting in the former European Champion putting his buggy on its roof. Trying to push to make back the time he made a second mistake going into the double which dropped him to 3rd for the round behind Cavalieri.
Still searching for his first World title, this is Maifield’s second time to top qualify at the 4WD Worlds having started from the No.1 spot in Italy in 2005. Asked what his game plan is for the race he said ‘things happen too fast out there to have a plan’ and he was just going to ‘take it one round at a time’. Commenting on the track’s potential for those behind him to race for the win, Maifield said he is aiming to stay clean so as not to need to race anyone but if he has too he feels comfortable with that. Having finished runner-up in Japan in 2007, the last time we had a legitimate World Championship, he is confident he has the equipment to get the job done this time round.
Starting from second, Neumann said ‘maybe its better than starting first’. Admitting passing on this track layout will be hard he said he has the package to win and now its just a matter of waiting and seeing what the finals throw up. In the 2WD final the former European Champion showed great race craft as he came from 9th on the grid to finish 3rd in the second leg.
Running his best qualifier in Q5, newly crowned 2WD Champion Cavalieri said he was glad to be back up there. A two time former 4WD Champion the American ace said the switch from 2WD to 4WD had been a problem but he feels he cracked that this morning and now has the pace to race for a fourth IFMAR World title. Believing there are good opportunities from 3rd on the grid he said he has three chances of gettin it done this afternoon.
2007 Champion Jared Tebo starts fourth and in 2WD showed it possible to win from there taking the opening leg of that A-Main. The Kyosho team leader feels the 2WD track layout was better for racing but happy with his Lazer ZX5 FS2 said ‘we will wait and see how it goes’. Running a TQ round in the cancelled Q4, the US Pro feels the set-up on the opening lap is going to be ‘sketchy’.
The Top Qualifier in 2WD Neil Cragg knows only too well how it can all go wrong in the finals. Starting from fifth on the grid, the factory Associated driver will be hoping for better luck this afternoon.
After many years of trying to make the final at the Buggy World Championships Austria’s Hupo Honigl was delighted to secure 6th on the grid making it two Team Durangos in the final. Starting behind the 2007 European Champion will be the reigning European Champion Lee Martin. The Tamiya driver was the winner of the Warm-up race but will have is work cut out for today if he is to even make the podium. The grid for the 14th running of these World Championships is completed by Kyosho’s Kohta Akimoto, young American talent Dakotah Phend of the TLR team and Team Yokomo’s Naoto Matsukura. Just missing out on the final due to the fact that Naoto Matsukura scored the exact same finishing time as Neil Cragg in the final round and therefore shared the same 6 points, Finnish driver Ari Heinonen will start the B-final from pole position.