July 27, 2012

Hara is Top Qualifier in the Netherlands

Team HB’s Atsushi Hara is Top Qualifier for the 2012 Electric Touring Car World Championship after the Japanese ace posted a TQ run in a controversial final round of qualifying this evening at the MACH in the Netherlands. With rain arriving during Q5, the round was stopped and subsequently cancelled following a meeting of IFMAR’s international jury.  With the track wet, the sixth & final round of was officially declared wet and the controlled wet tyre for the event was issued to drivers. With the rain having stopped the track started to dry over the course of the round and in the second heat from the top the majority of drivers, including Hara, were able to run dry tyres.  With just the top heat remaining the rain returned just as the cars where placed on the grid and persevering with the slippery condition using his second set of dry tyres it was Xray’s Paul Lemieux topped the group but with a time that was 2 laps off Hara’s time from 8 minutes earlier.

Immediately after the round had finished the result was protested with IFMAR receiving six written protests to have the round cancelled on the grounds of the changes of conditions during its running.  After some lengthy meetings the protests were rejected and it was declared that round six was to stand with the best three counting, giving Hara the TQ ahead of Ronald Volker, who’s team lodged a protest to have Q6 dropped and the best 2 of 4 to count.

Delighted to be Top Qualifier, Hara was quick to admit it was a lucky result but said he did give 110% in his final heat as he wasn’t to know that it would rain during the top group’s run.  Expecting a tough race he said he his plan is just to give his best and see what the outcome is.  The winner of the first ever Electric Touring Car World Championships in 2000, Hara is one of the greatest ambassadors of the sport and a victory tomorrow 12 years on from having won the World title would be hugely popular.

For defending champion Marc Rheinard, who has been very vocal during these championships over the running of the event, said while he would start fourth on the grid whether they counted 2 or 3 rounds he disagreed with the decision to let Q6 count.  Admitting he will have his work cut out tomorrow to try and claim a third consecutive title he thinks it could all come down to tyres with drivers getting one new set of tyres which must be used in all three legs.  Of the three World Champions competing at this the 7th running of the Worlds, the only other winner Surikarn Chaidajsuriya absent to the pending arrival of a new baby, all three have made the final with Andy Moore, who like Hara missed the cut 2-years ago in Germany, lining up ninth.

Top 10 qualifiers
1. Atsushi Hara (JP) – 460 (HB/Reedy)
2. Ronald Völker (DE) – 459 (Yokomo/LRP)
3. Jilles Groskamp (NL) – 458 (Tamiya/Orion)
4. Marc Rheinard (DE) – 449 (Tamiya/Speedpassion)
5. Viktor Wilck (SE) – 449 (Tamiya/Thunder Power)
6. Naoto Matsukura (JP) – 447 (Yokomo/Nosram)
7. Christopher Krapp (DE) – 445 (Kyosho/Orion)
8. Loïc Jasmin (FR) – 444 (Yokomo/LRP)
9. Andy Moore (GB) – 443 (HB/Hobbywing)
10.Chris Grainger (GB) – 443 (Schumacher/GM)

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