David Ronnefalk has claimed the overall TQ at the Philippine Masters, the HB Racing driver taking three of the five buggy qualifiers at the Manila based event. With drivers counting their best two rounds, Ronnefalk would be forced to wait until the final round to find out if he had pole for the 1-hour Main as arch rival Ty Tessmann had opened Day 2 of the event with a TQ run. Former winner Kyle McBride however would get the better of both World Champions in Q5, not only ensuring Ronnefalk pole position but also demoting Tessmann to third on the grid thanks to his time being quicker than Tessmann set in Q3.
Following discussions with Adrien Bertin, his former World Champion mentor not at the race but following progress from Europe, Ronnefalk would change his car for final qualifier with the finals in mind. He said, ‘I made some changes to make the car easier in the high speed sweeper. I changed the Ackerman and rear spring and I could drive flat out in the sweeper but it was lazy in the 180 corners so I will go with something in between for the final’. Also using the round to test JConcepts’ Rehab tyres he said, ‘I though they would be quicker but they were slower so I will go back to Detox for the final’. With runtime and tyre wear not an issue at the CV Offroad Track, he said the approach for the final is to ‘go out there and drive it’.
Having been a TQ contender every run until mistakes, and having snatched the overall Truggy TQ from Tessmann with his TQ time in the final qualifier, McBride was very happy to finally TQ a round of Buggy saying ‘I had no crashes this time’. Setting the fastest lap of the round, the Team Associated driver said he improved his car for the round by running a shorter front chassis brace which helped improve corner speed. Also running the same set of Pro-Line Blockade tyres, the former Worlds finalist said they are getting better with every run he puts on them. Planning to ‘try a different tyre in the warm-up to confirm what (he) like(s)’ he added ‘the X2 Blockades are wearing nicely’. In terms of any further set-up changes to his RC8B3.1, he said ‘the car is good right now so we’ll see if the track changes and then decide’.
Running on the tyre he plans to run in the Main, X2 Fugitives, Tessmann said after Q5, ‘the car felt good. It wasn’t as good as it was earlier but it was ok’. Suffering one ‘screw-up’ at the single double, the 24-year-old continued, ‘in terms of the car set-up, I am happy with it and I just hope there is no rain’. Race director Scotty Ernst has brought the start of the finals day forward an hour due to a slight risk of rain tomorrow evening.
Lining up 4th on the grid will be Atsushi Hara. The former World Champion said, ‘I am really happy with the car but again I had a stupid mistake in the last one but I am driving better every run’. Happy to run his HB Racing D817 as is for the final, he said the biggest thing was going to be to choose the right tyre. Picking between Pro-Line’s Fugitive and Blockade tyre, he said the Fugitive is more consistent while the Blockade is faster and right now he is leaning towards the latter. In terms of a race strategy, Hara said, ‘I don’t do anything crazy with my pit stops, it’s better to drive safe’ adding, ‘to get more time you need to run the engine lean which gives more power and this is a small track so it will only make the car harder to drive’.
Competing the Top 5 in qualifying, Aaron Stringer said ‘starting 5th is going to be interesting’. He continued, ‘my car was good in the last one, the times were pretty close and I was on my finals tyres which worked well’. Running AKA’s medium long wear Impact tyres, the Mugen driver added, ‘the tyres came on towards the end which is what you want’. In terms of run time, the Australian feels it is ‘a bit low at 7:30’ but he will run the final at that rather than take any risks. Behind Stringer fellow Mugen driver and defending Philippine Masters Champion Adam Drake with line up sixth for the start.