Ryan Maifield became the third different driver to post a TQ on the opening day of qualifying at the 2WD Offroad World Championship, the American leading a Yokomo 1-2 in China in the third round of qualifying. Having not featured in the opening two qualifiers, with a best run of P9 in Q2, Maifield took set-up direction from team mate Lee Martin for the final action of the day to top the third of the five qualifiers by 0.375 of a second from the British driver who also managed a P2 in the previous round. Behind the Yokomo duo, the round would see another of US Offroad racing’s big name drivers turn around a challenging day as Jared Tebo took his Kyosho to the third fastest time even with an error on his final lap. Having taken Q2, Ryan Cavalieri would conclude a long day, due to morning rain delays, with a P4 ahead of Q1 pace setter Michal Orlowski while TLR’s Dakotah Phend rounded out the Top 6 with his best run of the day.
Commenting on his turn around in performance Maifield said, ‘We made a couple of changes and they were good. Lee was going good and we have been working well together so I did a few things he did and the car felt better’. He continued, ‘It was still sketchy to drive so I tried to drive more calm but it was still not calm enough. For tomorrow I need to make sure I don’t drink any Redbull because you have to be so calm out there’. With 3 of the 5 rounds to count, the result is a huge boost going into the final two qualifiers tomorrow with the former runner-up saying, ‘we have a good plan for tomorrow and have a good idea what direction to go with our set-up’.
Summing up his run, Martin said, ‘ Overall it was a good run but I got held up a lot by traffic. I’m not blaming the drivers as it was too dark to see who is around you but there are four guys on the drivers stand and big numbers on the cars but still nothing was called so can we not take these big ugly numbers off the cars’. On his YZ-2 performance he said, ‘we made a small tweak to get more rear bite on power. It was quicker in the turns but didn’t solve the issue’. With the Q3 result booking the European Champion’s place on the A-Main grid he conclude, ‘I’m excited for tomorrow’.
‘Awesome’ was Tebo’s reaction to P3 time, the former Champion only managing a best run of P13 in the opening two qualifiers. He continued, ‘my car felt good and I finally got my confidence back. I made a mistake myself when I messed up on my last lap which cost me the TQ but still this one kept me in with a chance’. Having got his car set-up back to where the car is comfortable to drive he said, ‘I ‘m positive about tomorrow because now that I have confidence in the car I know there is room for improvement’.
Cavalieri said his run ‘started off good’ but then he had a ‘really bad one’ at the table top on the right side which cost him over 5-seconds. While he ‘almost saved it’, the Associated driver admitted he was ‘lucky to salvage 4th out of something that could have been a lot worse’. Feeling his car was too aggressive when he TQ’d Q2 due to the amount of wear on his front tyres he said ‘I really like the new front after the first 3 to 4 laps’. Counting his P2 in the Q1, TQ in Q2 and P4 in the third, the multiple former champion holds the overnight provisional TQ in Xiamen.
‘It was difficult with the light. It was hard to see the pipes even with them painted white (in the corners)’, was Orlowski’s reaction to setting the fifth fastest time for the round. The reigning Euro Offroad Series champion added, ‘I had two costly mistakes in the last double off the jumps section but the base is there and we don’t have to change anything on the car. Tomorrow I will just try to drive around and make the best laps I can’. Behind the Schumacher driver, while Phend’s 6th would be the first Top 10 for the TLR team it would also be the first time reigning champion Spencer Rivkin had a single digit result with him getting a P9 behind HB Racing’s David Ronnefalk and the privately entered Associated of Joern Neumann.