Naoto Matsukura has just gone fastest at the 1:8 Onroad World Championships in Monteux, France. The Infinity driver hasn’t run outside the Top 3 and finally went top of the timing sheets in the penultimate round of controlled practice becoming the third different driver to do so in as many rounds. Behind the multiple electric onroad World Champion, fellow Japanese driver Shoki Takahata posted the second fastest time coming good on the form he showed in free practice yesterday. It would be a strong round for Xray with Bruno Coelho setting the 3rd quickest time and being joined by team-mate Alessio Mazzeo, the Italian finding a lot of time to post the 4th fastest time. It was also a good round for reigning 1:10 World Champion Dominic Greiner as he took his Serpent to the 6th fastest time ahead of the reigning 1:8 Champion Simon Kurzbuch.
‘I changed engine so I had more punch and top speed’ was the reason Matsukura gave for his quickest time, his fastest lap also the fastest seen so far today. The reigning 1:12 World Champion, who was originally signed by Infinity for its EP programme having never raced 1:8 Onroad competitively until the start of this season’s Euro Nitro Series, continued, ‘I have made no changes to the car today only the engine and this one is a keeper so I will go back to another engine for the final practice’. Crashing out of the previous controlled practice saying he didn’t get the most from his tyres, while he did get the best of the tyres this time the run did still contain a crash with left him with a front right damaged tyre. Despite this he said not only is the speed there but so too is the consistency, pointing out his laps on his phone.
Only managing a P10 in CP2, Takahata put his improvement down to changing the programme on his new Sanwa servo. With Mugen team-mate Robert Pietsch moving away from the illustrious radio manufacturer’s new offering due to a lack of time to work with the programming options, the 23-year-old seems to have got to terms with it. Finding his car too nervous in the previous runs, he said he programmed his steering servo to be less aggressive and the changes suited the track giving him a more stable car. Focusing on getting his car ready for qualifying rather than good for outright pace he said he will do more to make the car even more easy to drive for CP4 planning to talk to his team about possible changes to achieve this.
Coelho said his focus this round was to simulate a qualifying run and declared himself happy as his RX8 was ‘very consistent’. Only pitting once over the 7-minutes for fuel, he added, ‘after this run it is looking very good’. Having left the car unchanged from CP2 he said they will discuss whether or not to make any changes to try in the final practice, the track expected to be at its best due to the cooler night time conditions.
‘I’m very surprised’ was Mazzeo’s reaction to his P4 time. He continued, ‘I haven’t been able to find a set-up but Fabio (Domanin) gave me some help and now the car is fast and easy to drive’. The Italian who finished runner-up at the 1:10 World Championships last year, added, ‘It has been a slow start to this event but now its amazing and I hope we can continue this way’. Asked what changes had brought about the improved car set-up he replied, ‘we were running too soft a set-up, now through the radio tray we have made the car much stiffer and its much better’. Asked if he planned any fine tuning to his new set-up he replied definitively ‘No. I will only try to push’. Behind Mazzeo fellow countryman Carmine Raiola would post the 5th fastest time.
With Kurzbuch making the podium at the 1:10 World Championship last year as the reigning 1:8 champion, Grenier would like to match the Swiss drivers achievement, with CP3 the first sign of the German finding his way in 1:8. He said, ‘the day started very bad as I completely destroyed the car and the engine when I crashed on the straight and into the pitlane. We rebuilt the car but then in the next run a screw came loose and I had no brakes but this time it was pretty good’. On the current car set-up he said, ‘the tyres change the balance of the car a lot (over the run). The car is fast but I’m a little too nervous. I prefer to have it more easy and more stable so we will work for this in the set-up’.
Setting the 7th fastest time, Kurzbuch put his drop in performance down to having tried ‘different things with his engine’. The factory Shepherd/Novarossi driver said as a result, ‘I don’t think I had enough power to be competitive against the others so we will go back for the last one’. On his Velox set-up he said, ‘the car was good which is important in these changing conditions so I’m happy with that’.