Ronald Volker can finally add World Championship Top Qualifier to his list of achievements after the perfect day at Welkom RC Arena in South Africa today. Having qualified second for the last three World Championships, the Yokomo driver wrapped up pole position in style with his fourth TQ run of the day in the penultimate round of qualifying. With 2016 Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho the only driver with a chance of denying Volker, the Portuguese driver’s quest to take the final two qualifiers came undone early as contact with the the corner flipper at the end of the straight caused him a body tuck which after a few laps he was forced to stop and have marshalled. With Coelho out of contention, Volker no longer had any pressure but he did still have a battle with both Freddy Sudhoff and Viktor Wilck taking turns at the top of the time screen. In the end Volker crossed the line with 0.486 of an advantage over Wilck with Sudhoff another 1/10th back. With Coelho pulling off, Alexander Hagberg would be the top Xray with another P4 run ahead of Christopher Krapp with Meen Vejrak completing the Top 6.
Reacting to his TQ, Volker said, ‘right away after 1-2 laps I saw Bruno was having issues and I knew the TQ was safe. It was a nice relief, the pressure was gone’. The reigning World Champion continued, ‘I didn’t expect to win all four qualifiers today and lock up the TQ. The last three Worlds I started 2nd and now I finally got the important pole position but there is nothing won yet. Bruno wont give me an easy time. Passing and racing is possible on this layout but my goal is not to have him enough room for that.’ His first World Championships working with Hayato Matsuzaki, the German said, ‘I have to give a big thanks to Hayato for figuring out how to improve the car to get the edge over Bruno for today’. He concluded, ‘Now I want to get a good night sleep’.
Explaining the switch from his signature orange colour scheme to an all white bodyshell for Q5, Coelho said, ‘we changed body because of the orange curbing and to try to make the car contrasting against the curbs because with my own colours I can’t see 100% the car. Unfortunately I hit the flipper at the end of the straight and it tucked the body and I had to stop to be marshalled’. Asked about tomorrow’s final day, the Portuguese driver said, ‘the track is big and many places to pass but Volker is very confident and his car is working well so it will be difficult for sure’. He added, ‘we will try things on the car in the morning practice and last qualifier. Second (on the grid) is already secure so we need to try to improve the car to fight with Volker but right now it looks very difficult’.
‘That was important for overall 3rd place’ was Wilck’s reaction to his P2 run. The Serpent driver continued, ‘when Bruno went out I knew I had to push maximum to keep Freddy behind. At the beginning the car was really good but then the steering started to fade off and I needed to change my driving but it was still a pretty good run. I was not to far behind Ronald’. Asked about the grid, the Swede replied, ‘Freddy still has a chance at 3rd. I have a 2,3,3 and he has a 2,3,4 but I have the better time so he needs to get a second to beat me’.
Sudhoff summed up his battle with Wilck by saying ‘It was a close one. Everything was possible, from the TQ to P6. In the end I missed out to Viktor by a tenth’. Commenting on his Awesomatix he said, ‘the car is easy to drive. We made a small roll centre change which suits better my driving style. I am looking forward to the last qualifier in the morning and will try to secure a good spot on the grid’.
Holding fifth overnight going into the sixth & final qualifier, Hagberg did have a good start to the penultimate round. ‘I spun out on the first lap on the curb so I had no chance to fight for the win. I am surprised to get fourth after such a big mistake’. The Swede continued, ‘the car is still lacking corner speed but hopefully we can get a good last qualifier to move up the grid’. Krapp was clearly down beat about his P5 for the round having shown such good pace earlier in the event. The Yokomo driver said, ‘it was the same as before. Its just pushing’.
In the inaugural Formula World Cup, the class not yet awarded World Championship status, Jan Ratheisky took a very dominant overall TQ taking all 5 of the qualifiers that have been run. The Xray driver’s greatest competition is coming from team-mate Dominic Quek and the all new Serpent of David Ehrbar, both drivers tied on points counting a 2,2,3 each going into the final qualifier. Holding fourth overall is Martin Hudy ahead of France’s Jean-Michel Varinard and with South African Pedro De Gouveia completing the provisional Top 6 on the grid.