February 16, 2017

Hagberg heads first seeding practice at TITC

Alexander Hagberg has topped the first round of seeding practice at the TITC in Bangkok, the Xray driver setting the fastest 3-consecutive laps just ahead of Infinity’s Jilles Groskamp and reigning champion Bruno Coelho.  With the majority of the international drivers having already spent almost a week testing at the Infinity Addict Circuit, the first of the two scheduled seeding rounds finally gave the first official opportunity to gauge where everyone is at with Hagberg and Groskamp running almost identical times, the separation just 5/1000ths of a second.  Aside from the times, the first seeding practice would be of extra interest as it marked the debut of Marc Rheinard as an Infinity driver, the Japanese manufacturer finally confirming the signing of the former Tamiya star this afternoon at Asia’s most famous touring car event. As an opening run Rheinard would post the 8th fastest time behind Atsushi Hara, who after concluding a deal with the local distributor is ironically racing the TITC for Tamiya.

‘Not too bad’ was Hagberg’s reaction to topping the times the Swede adding ‘over 3-laps it was really fast’. Running two cars over the 5-minute run, he continued ‘we’ll have to wait to see how it works over a full 5-minute run but the set-up for now feels very good’. Top Qualifier and winner of the TITC 2-years ago,  he said, ‘the challenge is going to be to try to keep up with the changing track’ with the local weather meaning the track changes significantly from the morning to the afternoon and again to late afternoon.

Groskamp was pleased with his pace despite not knowing he could have run both his cars.  He said, ‘I ran the whole race without changing car because I thought the seeding was over 5-minutes and not 3-laps, that is how it was before’.  The former World Champion continued, ‘all week we’ve been able to try everything with the car which was really helpful and we have arrived with a set-up that feels really nice and is really consistent.  The car has good steering and good traction so its not a bad start’.

Coelho was not too happy with his P3 pace, the ETS Champion feeling he had more speed but didn’t get to show it.  With the first car he ran, the Xray driver would flip on his 3rd lap and then changing to his second car he struggled with a lack of steering something he said was most likely due to him pushing it too much.  Once he settled into the run with his second car he said it felt ‘super good’. Describing the set-up of the two cars he ran as ‘similar (with) only small differences’, he plans to run both again for the final seeding round which will run in much cooler conditions just before the sun sets in Bangkok.

Heading the Yokomo challenge would be Nicolas Lee, the Singapore driver out pacing his team-mates Meen Vejrak and Ronald Volker who completed the Top 6 times. Running two BD8’s, one fitted with a copy of Vejrak’s set-up, he said he preferred the first car which ran his own set-up and it was with this car he posted his best 3-laps. Describing the car as ‘pretty good for these conditions’ he said it was ‘just up to the driver to drive it’ but added for the end of day run they needed to work on set-up.  In open practice yesterday when the conditions where cooler the car suffered from traction roll.

Almost 2/10ths off Lee, Vejrak said he started off safe to get 3-laps reporting his car had a ‘little understeer’. With the car coming to a halt on the track the Bangkok driver, who lifted his 200mm Nitro Touring Car World title at this track, he said he initially thought he had stripped a spur gear which on further inspection it turned out to be a motor issue.  Hoping for a trouble free final practice, he said hopefully he can adapt the car set-up to match the cooler track conditions.

Reigning World Champion Volker said ‘we are struggling for a day time set-up’. Aiming for a good average 5-minutes rather than setting the top seeding time, the German said the issue when the track is hot is that he has too much understeer. Running two cars he said both cars suffered from the same issue.  Expecting the car to be better in the second seeding round he said only one of the qualifiers will run at this time of the day so their focus is on getting a set-up for the day time heat.

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