Bruno Coelho is Top Qualifier for the Electric Touring Car World Championships. The Xray driver, who burst onto the scene at the last World Championship two years ago in the US, secured pole position in Beijing with a fourth TQ run in the penultimate qualifier. With only Ronald Volker able to deny the 2014 Vice Champion the overall TQ, just half a lap into the fifth round the Yokomo driver’s challenge was done as he suffered a driveshaft failure but Coelho wanted it on merit and did so with a new fastest 5-minute pace. Behind Alexander Hagberg would make it an Xray 1-2 with Jilles Groskamp completing the Top 3 from Marc Rheinard. Unfortunately for current World Champion Naoto Matsukura, who had the high of winning a fourth 1:12 World title earlier in the week, his touring car campaign hasn’t improved and the Japanese driver will not be defending his title as with just one more qualifier to run he is ranked 19th overall.
‘This means nothing’ was Coelho’s reaction to becoming Top Qualifier. He continued, ‘it is just 40% of the race. For sure to start first is an advantage but its the three races tomorrow that will decide the winner’. Winner of the 4WD Offroad World title having TQ’d in Japan, the multi discipline champion said, ‘the car works, the electric are perfect even though its super hot so it will be me that will decide it’.
With Coelho’s TQ run securing him second on the grid behind the ETS Champion, Volker said, ‘I knew I had to TQ to stay in contention but the drive shaft broke so while its disappointing one positive is the Bruno’s TQ locks up P2 for me’. Having changed the set-up on the prototype of the new BD8 platform, he said the loss of track time meant they didn’t get to run the set-up to see if it works. With Q6 now a testing opportunity, he said they need to get a better balance for the second half of the 5-minutes if he is to be able to challenge Coelho for the win.
Finishing almost 4-seconds back on his team-mate, Hagberg said afterwards, ‘I have a big electronics problem’. Suffering similar issues in Q4, the former nitro touring car World Champion said this time round they cost him about 2-seconds. Despite the evening’s Q5 being the coolest temperatures of the day, he said ‘the speedo & motor are getting too hot and its fading bad at the end’. While sitting third in the overnight standings, he is just one point up in Akio Sobue so needs to try protect that in the morning’s final qualifier.
‘For sure the pace is finally there, well not to Bruno’, that was how Groskamp summed up a competitive Q5 performance. Having to nervously wait after the run to find out if he would lose the time due to an issue with the weight of his Xray, the Team Infinity drivers said, ‘the car was already better in the previous round after we change the power settings and roll centre which gave good steering and more traction but now it was the perfect run’. The 2012 World Champion continued, ‘I was behind Marc (Rheinard) all the time but my car was stable to the end’. Beating his former team-mate by 0.004 he said ‘I’m really with the result’.
Also Rheinard’s best round, the long time Tamiya driver said, ‘we changed diffs, shocks, everything but it was still the same as before, it drops off to much.’ Having lost his 1:12 World title on Monday, he continued, ‘unlucky to be 4/100th off Jilles and 4/10th off Alex but Bruno is some reason in a different World’. The 3-time Champion concluded, ‘to be 4-second ahead of your team-mate shows he definitely has something extra’. Behind Rheinard, Yokomo rising talent Naoki Akiyama posted the 5th fastest time ahead of fellow Yokomo youngster Ryouske Yamamoto. Christopher Krapp would get seventh as Andy Moore after a mistake in Q4 resumed his spot with a fourth run to the 8th fastest time.