Xray have set the early pace in practice at the 1:10 Electric Touring Car World Championships in Beijing, with Bruno Coelho topping the times for the first two practices from team-mate Alexander Hagberg. With the opening practice the first time cars have ever run on the newly resurfaced Fengtai R/C Model Area asphalt track, it was Hagberg who took the initial bragging rights and with the laps time improving by 1-seconds in the second of the opening day’s six free practices, he again set the fastest lap but over three consecutive laps it was Coelho who was marginally quicker – 0.025 the difference. Behind the Xray’s it was Yokomo’s Ronald Volker who completed the Top 3 followed by the Serpent of Viktor Wilck and Capricorn of Marc Fischer. With the first of the cars hitting the sugar watered track at 08:30, all the competitors coming out to watch Heat 1, the overall reaction to the layout and early traction is proving very positive.
Having only arrived in China yesterday, getting down to work immediately with an interview for Chinese television at a new indoor track in the city, Coelho said ‘I think its a good start, not perfect but we’ll get there’. Describing the track layout as ‘fun’, the Portuguese driver, who burst onto the electric touring car scene at the last World Championships 2-years ago where he became Vice Champion, was ‘impressed by the traction’ over the first two 5-minute runs. In terms of his Hobbywing powered T4, the ETS Champion said, it is ‘missing a little traction and steering’ but added they will ‘work on it’ for the next one.
‘Finally I have traction compared to stupid 1:12 scale’ was Hagberg’s reaction after FP2, the reigning European 1:12 Champion having a terrible run at the 1:12 Worlds earlier in the week. Describing his touring car as ‘really good’, the Swede said they would ‘keep working to fine tune the set-up for qualifying’. Commenting on the track, he said, ‘it is really nice’ adding, the layout is good, its flat and a good size’. A driver who has endured a tough 2016 season, losing his 200mm World title earlier in the month in Italy, Hagberg has the car’s designer Martin Hudy as his mechanic this weekend, Hudy opting not to race this Worlds but instead focus on team support and so far it appears to be working.
‘A good mix between being technical & fast, I like it’, was Volker’s reaction to the track. 3/10th off the Xray’s, the German said, ‘we are bit behind the Xray guys but so far so good’. Saying he ‘didn’t expect the traction to be above medium’ he added, ‘and that’s what it is, so it’s quite as I expected’. In terms of his LRP powered BD7, the reigning European Champion said, they will work on some small things to ‘try get a slightly better balance’. Team-mate Nicolas Lee would be the next fastest Yokomo, the Singapore driver posting the 7th fastest time.
While he would do just little more than half of the second practice after he lost a wire from his motor, needing to fit a new one for FP3, Wilck said his 4X was ‘working pretty good’. Completing the second practice on used tyres, this year’s World introducing an order for qualifying of when a driver must use new tyres or old tyres, the Swede said the ‘feeling is ok’. Continuing, ‘it is a little loose’ he added ‘but the track should come in later’ making for conditions for the used tyres. For Q3, he will ‘play around with shock oils’.
‘An ok start, I’m a little surprised actually’, was how Fischer summed his performance over the opening runs. Running two cars each run, he said the car with the optional chassis was a ‘little better’ having ‘more overall grip’ than the car with the standard kit chassis. The German said the cars also feature a different shock set-up and he will ‘just change small things’ for the next run.
The leading Tamiya, Christopher Krapp posted the sixth fastest time but the overall mood in the TRF pits is low. Over 3/10th off Coelho on his best single lap, Krapp said, ‘the 1st one was pretty rough but for the second the feeling was ok’. Declaring they have ‘some set-up issues’. he continued, ‘its a new track and need to see how we can go in the right direction with set-up’. With ‘everyone trying something different’ for FP3, the German said afterwards they will get together and ‘brainstorm’ to come up with a set-up.
Reigning champion Naoto Matsukura, who could only manage the 40th fastest time, was brief with his summary of the first two practices saying ‘Not good. No feeling, No steering’. Tamiya team-mate Marc Rheinard would fare slightly better on the time sheets with P8 but described it as a ‘horrible start’. The 3-time Champion added, ‘it feel like driving on ice. I have no grip at all. We are pretty wrong with our set-up’. Fellow World Champion Atsushi Hara, racing a Kyosho as a privateer, completed the Top 10.