November 16, 2017

Neumann top seed in China as CP2 proves slower

Joern Neumann is the top seed at the 1:10 4WD Offroad World Championships in China.  Having topped the opening round of controlled practice held in the middle of the day under natural daylight, the German’s time stood as drivers failed to go quicker under flood lights in CP2. With the 2013 Worlds Top Qualifier setting a best time of 1:13.601 first time round, the best time for the second run would be a 1:14.945 which was set by HB Racing’s David Ronnefalk.  With Neumann breaking after 3-minutes, the German would end up 6th fastest for CP2 with the only improvement in the Top 17 times coming from Ryan Maifield. After a rough CP1 the Yokomo driver set the second fastest time to Ronnefalk to secure a spot in the top heat for qualifying as the 7th fastest driver. Naoto Matsukura backed up his opening P2 pace with a P3 for the second round remaining the second seed although the actual Q1 starting order for each reseeded heat grouping will be determined in CP3 tomorrow morning.

‘I broke in the last one but I am happy to top seeding of course’, was Neumann’s reaction at the end of Day 1 of the 4WD action, his participation in the event having been uncertain following his departure from Serpent. Choosing an Xray for the event with the German still having the backing of Team Orion, Maxima and Pro-Line, on CP2 he said, ‘It was hard to see so I don’t think a faster time was possible.  I only did 5-laps.  At the first double I think I cased the landing and the rear axle snapped but still I got a 1:16.2. It was too dark to be able to go super fast.’ Having left his car unchanged from CP1, he said despite the conditions the car felt really good and he will keep it the same again for tomorrow.

Topping the round, his pace only 46/1000ths slower than his 3rd place seeding time from CP, Ronnefalk said, ‘The track was a little looser than before but the main thing was it was hard to see in the night’.  He continued, ‘the lights are not the best and there are a few blind spots where you lose sight of the car so it’s hard to judge where the car is in relation to the pipe’.  With his CP2 topping time coming late in the round, the 1:8 Offroad World Champion said, ‘I pushed too hard in the beginning but I stepped it down a little towards the end and could put 3 laps together.  The car felt great so I am excited about tomorrow. We have one more practice and so we will try some ideas in CP3 but the car is already comfortable as it is.

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November 16, 2017

Neumann goes quickest in opening controlled practice

Joern Neumann has gone quickest in China with the 2013 World Championship 4WD Top Qualifier setting the fastest time in the first round of controlled practice. Third fastest in free practice, the German non factory supported driver put in a blistering 3-consecutive laps in CP1 to top the times from Naoto Matsukura, another driver with no official chassis backer for the event.  Having set the early pace in Xiamen, HB Racing’s David Ronnefalk would complete the Top 3 ahead of top American Dakotah Phend, Ty Tessmann and Michal Orlowski.  Having ended the four rounds of free practice as the fastest driver, Ryan Maifield would struggle to put together 3 good laps.  Although fourth quickest in terms of his outright pace over a lap, the newly crowned World champion sits 28th in the seeding.  Second quickest to Maifield after free practice, reigning champion Bruno Coelho would end up 8th quickest in the first of the two counting controlled practice, the second of which will bring Day 1 of the 4WD action to a close following the opening ceremony.

‘It was very good’, was how Neumann summed up his run.  The former factory Serpent driver who ran an Associated chassis in 2WD and is using an Xray in 4WD with both cars modified by long time mechanic Gerd Strenge, continued, ‘I go back to my previous set up and it was much better.  The track has improved and the feeling of my FP3 set-up was better for the track.  I think I will stay the same for the last one’. Asked about consistency of his Orion powered XB4, he said, ‘everyone is going to make mistakes because the track is very hard but my car is perfect so I just need to make as few mistakes as possible when the 5-minutes count in qualifying’.

Opting to run Associated cars for the championship, factory Infinity team onroad star Matsukura said, ‘The set-up that time was better.  The car was more stable and I had more steering’.  Going for a softer spring and shock oil as well as adding more camber to the B64, the 2013 runner-up, continued, ‘we still need to make little changes to get more steering and we are thinking what is the best thing to do’.  Like Neumann, he said he was happy with the consistency of the car but due to the track, doing an error free run would be difficult if not impossible.

Ronnefalk described CP1 as ‘pretty good’.  On the podium at the previous Worlds held in Japan, he added, ‘I felt something was not right with the steering at the start.  The car didn’t turn fully to the left.  I popped a ball cup and when Cavalieri was putting it back on I adjusted the left EPA.  After that the pace was good and I could put three decent laps together’. Overall pleased with his set-up, he said the focus now is to ‘work on our 5-minute pace’ adding, ‘we just need to change some small details and it should be fine’.

Fourth fastest, Phend said, ‘the car is easy to drive and I did a good qualifying pace but we still want to get more speed in the car. We changed a few things and we are getting closer but we can still work on getting more corner speed’.  Missing the final in Japan having made it the previous two occasions, the American concluded, ‘we will keep trying to go faster and make the car more comfortable because trying to make no mistakes will be important too’.

‘The car felt better at the start but then it faded, I think the oil was too soft’, was Tessmann’s view on CP1.  The fastest Xray team driver, the Canadian who has spent 3-weeks at the Hudy Arena in preparation for his Worlds debut with the Slovakian team continued, ‘Joern was still faster so we need to find speed and think how we are going to to do that for the last one’.  Observing, ‘everyone had more trouble with the jumps section that time’ he said I don’t know if the track is getting harder or if everyone is over thinking it but its important to get clean through there’.

‘It wasn’t looking good at the beginning but it is getting better and better. It’s now looking promising’ was the reaction of 2WD Top seed Michal Orlowski at posting the 6th fastest time.  Only 33rd at the end of free practice, the Schumacher driver said, ‘we are running a prototype car and had problems in free practice and I broke a couple of things in the jump section.  We have solved that problem and for only my second full run I am happy with how the car is working now’.  Looking to the CP2, the first two deciding what heats drivers will qualifying in with tomorrow morning’s CP3 deciding the starting order of each heat, the Polish teenager said, ‘we now know the direction to go with the set-up and we have a good set-up plan for changes we will make for the next one’. Behind Orlowski, Spencer Rivkin would set the eight fastest time as the Team Associated’s fastest driver with Cavalieri P9 ahead of Yokomo’s Lee Martin. 

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November 16, 2017

Maifield tops free practice in China

Ryan Maifield has topped free practice at the 1:10 4WD Offroad World Championships in China.  The newly crowned 2WD World Champion set the fastest time in the fourth & final round of free practice at Xiamen ARC International Raceway with just over a tenth of a second advantage over Bruno Coelho, the reigning 4WD Champion also registering his quickest time in FP4.  Having found himself at the top of the time sheets after three rounds, Joern Neumann would end up third overall after failing to better his FP3 time.  The early place setter after the first two practices, David Ronnefalk would have issues in the final practice, completing just 5-laps. Second fastest in FP3, that time would leave him 5th fastest behind Ty Tessmann and ahead of Naoto Matsukura who completed the Top 6.

Summing up free practice, with 2 rounds of controlled practice left on today’s schedule, Maifield said, ‘It going good. We are still kind of throwing shit at the wall and seeing what works’.  The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I am still playing with tyres.  There is not much you can do because its a handout tyre but I am still deciding on gluing or not gluing the foam to the wheel’.  For CP1 he will also make a shock adjustment by moving to a smaller hole piston.  Noticeable hotter today than during the three days of 2WD action, Maifield said, ‘the track is definitely getting loose in spots’ but concluded, ‘overall it still feels nice’.

While describing things as ‘getting better now’, Coelho continued, ‘we are still working on the car because it is very far from perfect’.  With the track having ‘less traction every run’, the Xray driver said, ‘some parts of the track have so much traction but then other parts have no traction.  At the triple, the surface is polished and the traction there is just getting worse and worse so we have to work on the car for this’.

‘I’m only 2/10th off so its going OK’, was Neumann’s thoughts on his performance in practice.  The former World’s Top Qualifier and multiple European Champion changed to a different front and rear spring on his privately entered Gerd Strenge modified Xray for FP4 reporting the track as being faster while the car ‘felt OK’ but wasn’t much different to the run before. Setting a faster single lap time but unable to get 3 good laps due to traffic, with his rivals going faster he will revert back to his FP3 set-up for controlled practice ‘to see if it’s better’ for how the latest track conditions are.  Describing the track as ‘very difficult like 2WD’, the German added, ‘the four doubles are hard to get right every lap.’

Tessmann said he is ‘getting closer’ and his Xray ‘felt good that time’ but added ‘it’s not quite the feel as I’d like’.  Planning ‘a couple of changes’, the former 1:8 World Champion said he is looking to get ‘more stability at high speed’ from his XB4.  On track conditions he said it is ‘a little more polished’ and while ‘everyone is going faster there is not so much change in how to feels’.

‘It felt good so I’m not worried’ was Ronnefalk’s reaction after his limited FP4 run time.  The reigning 1:8 World Champion said, ‘we changed a few things to get more speed without sacrificing consistency.  Unfortunately we forgot to put an o-ring in when putting back the centre shaft and when the chassis flexed it popped out.  We managed to get it back in with an o-ring to get some laps and I could get a 24.0 lap so I know we improved the car a lot from the few laps I did.  I will run it the same for the next one’.

Matsukura summed up free practice by saying, ‘the track is hard, it fun but hard’.  The Infinity driver would be the fastest Associated driver bettering the American brands team drivers of which Dustin Evans was quickest in P8.  Describing his car set-up as ‘ok’, the reigning 1:12 World Champion said it is suffering from ‘a little bit of understeer’ adding ‘we need to make it more stable in the rear’.  On track conditions the Japanese driver said, ‘It starting to get a little bumpy now’.  Behind Matsukura Dakotah Phend would continue to lead the TLR challenge ending free practice 7th quickest.

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November 16, 2017

Ronnefalk sets early 4WD pace at World Championships

David Ronnefalk has set the early pace at the 1:10 Offroad World Championships in China as the 17th running of the event switches to 4WD.  With a day off following the crowning of Ryan Maifield as the 2WD Champion, today’s action sees 4 rounds of free practice followed by two rounds of controlled practice in between which there will be a 2-hour break for the official opening ceremony. Having secured 5th overall in 2WD despite taking the win in A3, Ronnefalk would set the fastest 3-consecutive laps in the second of the free practices with the track now running in the opposite, clockwise direction to that used in 2WD.  Behind the HB Racing driver, Xray’s Ty Tessmann was second fastest being just over 1/10th of a second slower with Maifield kicking off his 4WD campaign much stronger than 2WD with the third fastest time. TLR’s Dakotah Phend made it four different cars at the top of the times sheets with Bruno Coelho and Renaud Savoya completing the Top 6 with Ryan Cavalieri the fastest Associated driver in 7th.

‘The car is great, we changed quite a lot on the set-up and the pace was really good for the second one’, was Ronnefalk’s reaction to topping the times.  The Swede continued, ‘we saw the traction was different to what we expected after watching some of the earlier heats of the first round and made changes.  The car was alright but I had too much power and too much brakes.  We also changed a bunch of things on the car set-up to suit the track for the second one and now we just need to do some fine tuning’.  Asked what he would specifically like to improve on his car, the base for the upcoming D4 18, the 2015 podium finisher said, ‘the car is fast and easy to drive but we will try to get a little more speed out of it without taking away the consistency that’s there’.  On the reversed track layout he said, ‘I like it this way, I think its fun’.

Asked how he felt the opening two practices had went, Tessmann said, ‘It’s started off a lot better’, a reference comparing it to his 2WD campaign in which the Canadian just missed the A-Main cut.  The US National Champion continued, ‘we made a couple of changes to the shocks and it was better on the landings, there are flat landings everywhere’. Describing his XB4 as ‘easy to drive’ he added, ‘I hope nothing changes with the track like rain or something’.  Currently rain is being forecast for Saturday, which is officially Finals day here in Xiamen.  For FP3 he will make ‘just small changes but nothing crazy’.  On driving the track in the opposition direction to 2WD, he said, ‘the jump section is a lot easier but the rest is not a lot different in terms of the flow’.

‘Started out ok so far’ was Maifield’s summary of early practice.  The Yokomo driver continued, ‘we are just making small changes and getting used to the different direction and so far it is going decent’.  On the track switch the American said, ‘It feels a little more fun. With the resurfacing I think they did a pretty good job.  It’s got more traction compared to the last day of 2WD but its not too much like the start of the 2WD.  It a nice medium’.  On his YZ-4’s performance he said, ‘the rear end is wishy, washy I guess so we need to get more side support’.

Setting the fourth fast time Phend summed up his morning as going ‘good so far’.  Describing the clockwise direction as ‘ok’ he added, ‘It not quite as fun but it works. It pretty hard to make it work both ways, they didn’t change any of the piping’.  On his TLR 22-4, the American said, ’It’s working pretty good. We are just making small changes. The set-up we came here with was pretty good and we are just trying to improve on that. It is easy to drive but we are trying to get a little more corner speed in the corners’.

Coelho said his Xray was ‘very good’ but felt he ‘drove just ok’ admitting he made a few mistakes too many over the 5-minute runs. Having set the pace in free practice in 2WD ending up qualifying P5, the reigning 4WD Champion added, ‘I think I prefer the layout the other way.  The jumps are even more difficult now but overall I think we have a good car’.

Sixth fastest, Savoya was happy with his start to 4WD proceedings. Feeling he went safe with the set-up, the French driver plans to go for a more aggressive set-up for the next run and also plans to add ‘a little bit more power in the speed control to have more punch out of the corner’.   A driver better known for his 1:8 Offroad exploits having been a multiple European Champion and World Championship podium finisher, on the track layout he said, ‘the jumps section is still really tricky as well as middle section too but the rest is really good’.

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