It will be an Xray 1-2 on the grid for the TITC A-Mains later today at RC Addict In Thailand as a P2 in the final qualifier this morning bumped Alexander Hagberg up two spots to start second behind team-mate & Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho. Having wrapped up the overall TQ in the fourth round of qualifying yesterday, Coelho would complete a clean sweep of qualifying, again topping the times in the sixth & final round this morning. Behind the Xray duo, the attack is set to come from Infinity with Naoto Matsukura third ahead of team-mates Akio Sobue and Marc Rheinard with 2017 race contender Jilles Groskamp also making the grid for the team albeit in 10th spot. For last year’s podium finishers Nicholas Lee and Ronald Volker, its been a tough event with both finding themselves in the B-Main with Meen Vejrak Yokomo’s top hope staring 6th on the grid ahead of team-mate Naoki Akiyama.
Commenting firstly on his Q6 performance, Coelho said, ‘I had a mistake at the beginning. I was on 2-wheels in the front chicane but I was able to recover’. Looking to the finals, the drivers getting 2-new sets of the race’s controlled Ride tyre, he said, ‘now we glue new tyres for the finals which I hope are not a different batch to what they sell us before but I think they should be the same’. With the majority of drivers conceding that Coelho will successfully complete the hat-trick of TITC titles such has been his advantage from the opening practice, the Portuguese driver concluded that for the finals he will, ‘leave the car the same and continue what we are doing’.
‘My car was good, even better than yesterday’, was Hagberg’s reaction after Q6. The Swede continued, ‘It was fast from the middle to the end so I could finish 2nd and I’m happy with that’. Looking to the opening A-Main he said, ‘My car doesn’t start as well as the other but finishes good which could be an advantage because it doesn’t drop off as much as the others’. He concluded, ‘I will try my best to fight for a podium in the finals’.
With modified the first class to run on the track this morning, Matsukura said, ‘the track grip was low but after 2-minutes my car started to understeer and get loose so I could make consistent laps’. Despite spinning out on the last lap and knocking the rear shock off his car resulting in a 26-second lap he would still get a P5 but he needed to finish ahead of Hagberg. Dropping from the second position he held overnight in the provisional qualification ranking to third as a result, on the finals he said, ‘It will be super difficult to win but I will try. I need to get by Alex as quick as possible’. Asked about his car set-up for the final, he replied, ‘I think what we can do to the car but the track should be better than this morning’.
Sobue would also struggle with the lower traction of Q6. Ending up 3rd quickest in the final qualifier, the Japanese Champion said, ‘the pace of my car was not too good. At the start it felt pretty good but after 1-minute it had a big drop off.’ Agreeing the real battle was going to be against Hagberg he admitted, ‘Bruno is too fast’ adding, ‘but we never give up so I will push hard for a good result for the team’. In terms of his car set-up for A1 he said, ‘I will make just small changes for the first final because the track will be better’.
Completing the top half of the grid, Rheinard was lost as to how he could improve for the finals. Posting the fourth fastest time in the concluding qualifier, the multiple World Champion said, ‘I changed the diff, shock position and the rear toe but it was still the same. It was loose at the end. I really have no idea what else I can do’. He continued, ‘Now it is an Xray 1-2 and normally if Naoto was second he could maybe attack Bruno. We know Alex is not the best at the start so maybe Naoto can get by but for me I just have to wait and see what happens’. He concluded, ‘We have four in the Main which is still good’.