Bruno Coelho will start out his quest for a third consecutive TITC victory tomorrow after wrapping up the overall TQ at RC Addict in Bangkok. Having dominated yesterday’s three rounds of qualifying, the Xray driver secured pole position with yet another different level performance in the fourth qualifier. Behind him, the main challenge again came from Japan but not from Naoto Matsukura, who had a mistake on the first lap, but from Infinity team-mate Akio Sobue. Sobue stopped the clock 2.5-seconds off the TQ pace. Alexander Hagberg finally broke into the Top 3 having finished all of yesterday’s qualifying 4th fastest. The Swede was on for second but had issues on his penultimate lap which dropped him back behind Sobue. Despite his mistake Matsukura would recover to record a P4 ahead of Meen Vejrak and Atsushi Hara.
‘It was another good round’, was Coelho’s reaction after Q4. The reigning champion, who claimed that title from the TQ last year, continued, ‘I just drove easy to make no mistake and could pull away slowly’. Having a clear advantage over his rivals, on becoming Top Qualifier with two rounds remaining he said, ‘To get the overall TQ without any problems from the driver or mechanics of the car is really great and I hope we can keep it like this for the rest of the weekend. I have nothing more to say really’.
Sobue described his car as ‘a little difficult’ to drive but the CETC Champion was pleased with himself that the run had ‘now no mistakes’. He added, ‘the car was a little nervous and we need to make it more stable but the conditions for the next one will be much cooler so we will change the set-up for the higher bite’. The 5th and penultimate round of qualifying will be the latest a qualifier will be run with drivers expecting it to be much cooler and in theory quicker conditions.
‘The car was better than yesterday but still I lost a little time avoiding upside down cars’, was Hagberg’s summary of Q4. The Xray driver continued, ‘definitely the pace was there to be second so I will try to have a clean round in the next one’. Putting the car improvement down to a ‘small change in the roll centre’, asked if he planned any further changes the Swede replied, ‘the track conditions will change massively for the next one. Its going to cool down a lot, it will be the coolest time we run on the track all weekend and I am probably not going to change my set-up’.
‘The first lap again’, said a frustrated Matsukura. Switching from PSS shocks to the standard set-up, he said they are better but more risky as his contact with the curb in the sweeper after the main straight showed when contact launched his car. He continued, ‘I think it lost me 3-seconds or something but the car was pretty good. I just had that one mistake’. Asked about the expected high traction for Q5, the former World Champion will go up in both diff and shock oil for it. For team-mate Marc Rheinard he would also make an early mistake. Rolling his Infinity coming on to the main straight he lost almost 8-seconds and now sits 5th on the provisional grid.
Remaining Yokomo’s leading challenge, with Ronald Volker copying his set-up for his 5th attempt but ending up rolling, Vejrak described his run to the 5th fastest time as ‘difficult’ due to the track being ‘a lot more hot than yesterday’. The Bangkok driver said, ‘we went much more soft with the shocks. The lap times look OK but it is very difficult to drive’. On the final qualifier of the day, the former nitro touring car World Champion said, ‘It should be cooler but you never know. The traction now is completely different to practice but I do know the four guys in front of me are too strong’.