With half of the 6 rounds of qualifying for the 2011 Astra Nitro Cross complete French ace Yannick Aigoin continues to dominate in the Czech Republic. The TLR driver set a new fastest time in Q3, topping the round from the Xray of Ales Bayer who was just 3 second adrift, the closest anyone has so far come to matching the pace of the former European champion. Taking his Mugen to the third fastest time up and coming Austrian talent Dominic Bauer who looks to have found his practice form having struggled this morning in the opening two qualifiers.
Second fastest in Q2 behind his Losi team-mate Aigoin, defending champion Martin Bayer hit problems for a second time today. Having failed to start the opening qualifier due to his steering servo horn coming off the Czech ace was to suffer another problem, this time throttle issues forcing him out with just over a minute left to run. Having set a new fastest lap of the weekend, Bayer said he hopes he has now got all of his bad luck out of the way as the handling of his Losi felt really good.
Serpent driver Petr Klatovsky backed up his solid Q1 performance with another fourth fastest time in Q3 just 6/1000ths ahead of the Losi of Austrian Andreas Scharinger. Xray’s Jiri Mara completed the Top 6.
Yannick Aigoin has set the pace in the opening round of qualifying at the Astra Nitro Cross in the Czech Republic, the TLR driver topping the time sheets ahead of Xray pairing Ales Bayer and Jiri Mara. Defending champion Martin Bayer failed to start his heat after the screw on his steering servo horn came out during the warm-up laps.
Despite being considerably faster than second quickest Ales Bayer, Aigoin said after his TQ run that both his nVision powered Losi 8ight and the driver could be improved. Aigoin ran a different set-up to yesterday when he topped practice which he said made the buggy feel ‘just OK’ for the conditions which have seen the track start to develop ‘very clean lines’.
Setting the fastest lap of Q1 with a time of 39.133 on his penultimate lap, Ales Bayer said he was happier with his XB808 today following overnight set-up changes. Making three mistakes over the 5-minute qualifier, the 18-year-old Xray team driver is hoping to clean up his driving for Q2 along with making some further minor shock adjustments.
Fellow countryman Mara said changes to his prototype Hudy engined XB808 had made little difference as the track conditions were quite different today. The 2010 podium finisher will make some small adjustments for Q2 but says his biggest problem is that he is struggling to get to terms with the track’s main big air jump.
Setting the fourth fastest time was Czech Serpent driver Petr Klatovsky. The 27-year-old, who uses Orcan engines, said his lap times were slower today but he was more consistent leading to a solid overall time. Hoping to make the car more stable for Q2 he will try softer dampening which he hopes will allow him to push harder and bring down his lap times.
Finland’s Petri Myllari took his OS powered Losi to the fifth fastest time. Describing it as a ‘pretty ok’ opening run, the 25-year-old plans to run a longer chassis set-up for Q2 as he tries to fine tune his 8ight to a track which he says he really likes.
Aiming to open qualifying with a clean run Martin Hudy threw that idea out the window at the first corner. So annoyed with himself for the early mistake he made another more costly mistake but once he calmed down he said everything felt OK allowing him to post the 6th fastest time.
After a strong showing in yesterday’s practice when he ended up third fastest behind factory TLR drivers Aigoin and Bayer, Dominic Bauer could only manage 9th in Q1. The Euro B finalist ran Proline Bowtie tyres with the outer pin removed but with the traction lower today his Mugen was very loose. Despite this the Austrian teenager was potentially on for the second fastest time until a big driver error on his 6th lap of 8 cost him around 10 seconds.
TLR’s Yannick Aigoin has topped the opening day’s action at the 2011 Astra Nitro Cross in the Czech Republic after setting the fastest time in the fourth and final round of practice to get the better of early pace setter and team-mate Martin Bayer. The final practice run saw few drivers improve with the only other front runner to make an improvement being Xray’s Jiri Mara who ended the day with the sixth best time.
Making changes to the shocks and the rear camber on his 8ight for the final practice, Aigoin said he was pleased with how the new shock set-up worked but will return to his original camber setting after the adjustment made the rear too loose.
Using P4 to try Proline’s Bulldog bodyshell, Bayer said it caused his 8ight to understeer. Happy with his earlier set-up he plans to revert back to the JConcepts Illuzion body for tomorrow morning’s opening qualifier. The man responsible for putting on Astra Nitro Cross, Bayer said after a few nervous days in the build up to the event he was very happy with how the opening day had gone and was looking forward to being more relaxed tomorrow.
Ending the day third fastest Dominic Bauer tried a different tyre on his Mugen for his last run. Switching to AKA’s Enduro tyre he said it made the buggy more comfortable to drive but overall it was slower. One of Austria’s bright off road hopes, the 15-year-old will go back to running Proline’s Sniper tyre for Q1 saying he is hoping for better things tomorrow as he wants to be able to try and mix it with Aigoin and Bayer.
An engine change and a harder set of springs helped 2010 podium finisher Jiri Mara to find a chunck of time and set the sixth fastest time behind fellow Xray driver Ales Bayer. Having had trouble with his prototype Hudy engine in the third practice, Mara ran a new unit which he said felt really strong but the 18-year-old is not comfortable with his chassis set-up describing it as tricky to drive. A finalist at this year’s Euros Warm-up race, he will try out a number of small changes in the first of the six qualifiers which he hopes will allow him to drive with more confidence.
Drivers face a busy schedule tomorrow with six rounds of qualifying of which a drivers best 4 count towards Sunday’s christmas tree style finals.
Martin Bayer is setting the early pace at his own race, heading a Losi 1-2 in practice for the 2011 Astra Nitro Cross. The Czech ace topped all three practice rounds but set the fastest three consecutive laps in the second run to top the similar nVision powered 8ight of Yannick Aigoin. Describing the track conditions as being very similar to that experienced at the Warm-up race for the up coming European Championships, Bayer said he has been using the track time to try a few new ideas in terms of set-up and is pleased with the response.
TLR team-mate Aigoin said he started out the morning with his standard base set-up but is getting closer and closer to that of Bayer with each run. The French ace, who previously contested this event in 2009, said he is still learning the ‘very technical’ layout of the track which makes it hard to go fast.
Tipped by Bayer as a possible threat this weekend, Austria’s Dominic Bauer is living up to expectations taking his Novarossi powered Mugen to the third fastest time. One of the stars of this year’s Euro B Championships, which he led until suffering a broken front arm, the 15-year-old said the track is a real challenge due to the jumps and the high traction but he is comfortable with his car and confident he can put in a good showing. Another Austrian showing well is Martin Wollanka. Also driving a Mugen/Novarossi combination he too described the track as difficult as it features a lot more jumps compared with what he is used to running on back home.
Making his debut for Xray Ales Bayer said he is pleased with how things are going so far and says he is just using the day to adjust himself to the car. Taking his XB808 to the fifth fastest time he said he will make some adjustments to the diffs and shocks after the fourth and final practice. With the first round of qualifying originally planned to bring Day 1 of the event to a close Race Control have decided to move that to the morning and give the drivers a fourth run having been forced originally to cancel the opening practice due to heavy overnight rain.
Completing the Top 6 was Finnish Losi driver Petri Myllari. The 25-year-old described the track as a ‘good example of how an offroad track should be’. Running OS engines he really likes the layout but feels he still has some work to do in terms of set-up, the track being a totally different challenge to that used at the opening round of the Finnish Nationals last weekend in which he finished 5th.
Martin Bayer is best known for successfully representing the Czech Republic in Off road competitions around the world but once a year the Team Losi Racing driver puts something back into the sport by hosting a three day international event in his home town of Slavkov u Brna. Also boasting a world class onroad track on the opposite side of the town which hosted last year’s 1:5 Onroad European Championships, this is the fifth running of the ‘Astra Nitro Cross’ event which has been responsible for bringing some big names to the Czech Republic including American stars Mike Truhe and Adam Drake who finished 1-2 here in 2009.
The 2011 ‘Astra Nitro Cross’ has attracted 105 drivers from 9 different countries with former European Champion Yannick Aigoin this year’s top international entry. Currently on a roll in the French Nationals having notched up his third win in a row last weekend in the fourth round, the Losi driver is making his second appearance in the event and is set to push his team-mate Bayer, the defending champion, hard for the win on Sunday.
With the track located at the rear of his father’s car dealership, one would expect Bayer to have a huge home advantage but since creating the layout for the event two weeks ago he says he has been so busy with getting everything else ready for the race that he has had little time to do any running at all. That effort put into organising the event is very evident on arrival at the track and is a credit to him and the crew of people he has gathered together for running it. Looking forward to a good battle with Aigoin, Bayer expects he will also face some though competition from Austrian Dominic Bauer who was a finalist at the Euro B Championships in France last month.
Runner up last year Ales Bayer, Martin’s younger brother, will be looking to mix it at the front once again as he makes his international race debut for Xray having only signed for the Slovak manufacturer a little over a month ago. Used to working alongside his brother, having previously run a Losi, Ales will pit separately this weekend but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem because he will have Juraj Hudy, designer of the XB808, alongside him who along with Martin Hudy is competing in the event.
Other drivers who have the potential to show strongly over the next three days are Czech Xray driver Jiri Mara who was a finalist at Euro A Warm-Up Race in Germany and Losi driver Petri Myllari who last weekend finished fifth in the opening round of Finnish Nationals.
Opting to cancel the opening round of practice to allow the track extra time to dry out following some pretty spectacular rain yesterday, that left us to get stranded in a small town for over 2 hours as the cleared a mud slide that had blocked the road, drivers have 3 rounds of practice to learn the track before day 1 of the 2011 Astra Nitro Cross is brought to a close with the first of 6 rounds of qualifying.