Free Practice runs 3 & 4 saw little change in terms of lap times as the temperatures here in Valencia rose and the track lost pace. In general the track appears to be 2 to 3 tenths slower than this morning. The only big change came from local hot shot Oscar Cabezas who produced a 17.544 to go fourth quickest on overall lap times but the Serpent driver appears to be well short on run time.
Kyosho appear to be still struggling with too much grip on the Evolva M3 and this is hampering their efforts to make 5 minutes as the engines are being made to work that bit harder. Bertin, Ilia Van Gastel and newly crowned German National Champion Stefan Hanauer are all reporting the same problem and so far have been unable to find a solution however with their quality line up, which includes 2 World Champions, they are sure to find some solution in time for all important qualifying.
Now official timing is underway to determine the seeding for tomorrow’s heats with drivers having two chances this evening to post a 5 minute run. With a number of top drivers having avoided our timing radar so far we should get a true indication later today of who is in contention for the 2008 EFRA 1:8 Onroad European Championship title.
Michael Salven produced the fastest lap time in the opening two practice sessions this morning with the Serpent driver producing a lap time of 17.480 to head team-mate Massimo Fantini at the top of the time sheets.
Salven said his first run was very good with his 960 08 working really well, but the German said his times may be fractionally too fast as he crossed the timing loop at 4:59. This would mean doing an extra lap and with fuel run time so marginal here at the Autet track that may not be possible. In the second of his runs Salven tried a different engine but the Mega unit was not as quick as the previous one and was also heavier on fuel consumption.
Fantini is also pleased with his car but run time remains a problem for the man behind Max engines. A late delivery of engines and parts, which arrived this morning, will give the Italian more options to try and get a 5 minute run.
Robert Pietsch and his Shepherd Volex are third fastest, just 1/100th of a second off Fantini. Pietsch had a problem with his engine which he believes was caused by dirt in his fuel line but says the car is still good. The German has returned the steering servo saver back the rear hole setting having found the grip levels had increased this morning and the car had too much turn in. For Run 3 Pietsch will try softer rear springs and lighter oil.
Fabio Domanin who was the unofficial pace setter yesterday was next up in terms of out right lap times as he continued to try different body options. Also running Max engines, the 2006 Champion is making less run time than team-mate Fantini but will be hoping too to benefit from the late shipment.
Posting the fifth fastest time is former European B finalist Philip Eberle at the controls of his Mugen, while Shepherd owner Patrick Schaefer completes the top 6 however not all drivers are running transponders yet. These will be mandatory for the final two runs todays as 5 minutes run will be used to seed tomorrow’s qualifying heats.
Mark Green had a mix up with front tyres in the first run this morning with a 33/35 combination being fitted to the front of his car in error. Due to the high grip this caused the front to twitch and initially the English driver thought he had a radio problem. In the second run Green used the session to make sure that the tyres were in fact the issue and to complete a 5 minute run.
Current Champion Lamberto Collari continues to struggle with his Kyosho again complaining of no steering. The Italian star will try a shorter wheelbase and different shock positions to try an cure the problems which also plagued him yesterday.
While most of the field are scratching their heads wondering how they can make five minutes, Mark Green continues to complete the full 5 minutes at blistering pace. The Serpent/Mega driver switched engines to save what he believed was a very good engine for qualifying but found the second engine was just as good and also gave better run time. Green’s car looks really good with the Englishman running the soon to be released Italian foam Xceed tyre on also soon to be released lightweight OS2 rims.
2006 European Champion Fabio Domanin is another quick Serpent with the Italian running very low 17 second lap times but run time still plagues him. A switch to 16% did give him an extra lap but he still needs more if he is to complete a heat without needing to do a stop.
Bruno Coelho is reporting that the RB pipe is working perfectly with his Sirio. The young Portuguese Mugen driver’s biggest problem was with the Collari 905 body shell, which he says is causing his car to run too hot. For his final run today he will revert to the Central Lola to see if that cures this problem.
In general, very few of the top drivers are experiencing much problems with chassis set-up the big issue continues to be fuel consumption. Speaking to engine developer Rody Roem, the France based Dutch man believes drivers will need to adjust their driving style in order to conserve fuel. The new EFRA pipe has slowed the cars and as a result the drivers are on full throttle more which could be part of the problem. The former World Champion however believes if they switched back to 2007 spec pipes fuel would remain a problem as the engines are simply being pushed to their limits.
As the drivers continue to get their laps in, in a bid to find those extra few tenths of a second and improve their run times, we took a look through the paddock to discover more new products and developments. Current European 1/10th scale Champion, Dario Balestri, is testing a new rear end on his Motonica. The car is using a prototype aluminium rear upper wishbone mount as well as prototype upper wishbones and the Italian is pleased with resulting changes in handling.
In the Novarossi cabin we were shown some new products that the company is testing, including a manifold. At the 1:8 Off Road Euros two weeks ago there were problems with the interputation of the new EFRA on manifolds and following clarification at the meeting on the Crete Island, Novarossi have been quick to exploit the new terms of the ruling which states the diameter of the inlet and outlet of the manifold should be 13mm. The prototype part complys to this regulation but uses a larger 15mm diameter tube (right) in an effort to gain more power. The company has seen some improvements but they say it needs further testing before they decide whether it should go into production.
Also new from Novarossi is this back pressure radiator that their team drivers are currently running on their cars. Mounted inline with the back pressure tubing, it helps cool the gases that are flowing through it with the device measuring upwards of 80 degrees celcius when measured after a 5 minute run. Early indications from their drivers show that it does help and using it gains them a small advantage in run time, however the Novarossi team are still coming up short in this area.
Also shown to us by French company KD Racing, are these machined aluminium and titanium parts. Available for Kyosho, Mugen, Serpent and Shepherd cars, these new chassis come in two versions, light and ultralight, with the difference being the amount of machining that has been done to it. The light chassis gives a saving of 50 grams, while the ultra light version, which is noticably lighter when holding it, saves 80 grams. KD Racing also have a number of other option parts including titanium mid axles, brake discs and and 2 speed oneway carriers, as well as full sets of ceramic bearings. Racers wanting custom machining can contact them with their request, with contact details being found on their website here.
Fuel consumption continues to be the biggest challenge facing drivers here on Day 3 of the 2008 EFRA 1:8 On road European Championships. A number of drivers are claiming to be making 5 minutes but it is believed that as the temperatures rise here in Valencia they will once again be faced with the problem of completing a full run.
Mark Green appears to be the pace setter and is making 5 minutes but the English Serpent driver admits it will be marginal in the fourth of today’s runs when the track will be at its hottest. ‘I have made a number of changes and was able to make 5 minutes in my two runs this morning but I think the fourth run will be the most critical which is funny as the track is slower but consumption is higher. For qualifying a good run in the morning will decide the grid’. Asked what changes he had made Green was not forthcoming with information but we believe one of the elements allowing him the extra run time is the use of 16% fuel. On the car the British Champion said, ‘The car is fantastic, I had a little push in the first run but as the track got hotter the handling was spot on.’
All the leading Serpent drivers appear to be pleased with the handling of the 960 08 but unlike Green they still have concerns of fuel. Michael Salven who was not comfortable with his car yesterday is much happier today saying his car is good again. On the subject of fuel the former European Champion says that running less nitro is an option but he will stick with 25% for the moment and try to find a better pipe combination. The German also ran shorter gearing which he says makes the engine run more stable with the new EFRA spec pipes.
Shepherd Velox designer and EC Warm-up race winner Robert Pietsch was running a different rear geometry on his car which has improved rear traction. The new suspension brackets move the wishbone pivot point 7mm closer together combined with a new carbon shock mounting plate on the rear wishbones to retain the original shock angle. Pietsch is also making five minutes but was another who expressed concerns about the warmer runs later today. Pietsch’s team-mate Daniele Ielasi on the other hand can’t make a full run and will run a CPD in an attempt to cure the problem as he needs to complete one more lap. The Italian is otherwise very happy with his Volex.
Leading factory Mugen/JP driver Rick V is very happy with the speed and consistency of his MRX-4 but is looking for 0.1 to 0.2 of second more per lap. The Dutch racer will work on finding more speed through the hairpins which he says is the key to good lap times here as the track has no less than three such corners. Other Mugen news is that Sirio team driver Bruno Coelho has turned up and will be racing. The rapid young Portuguese driver, who arrived late last night, is running a Sirio in his Mugen but with pipes from RB.
Adrien Bertin is also reporting a better day saying that both the car and driver are working better today. The Kyosho/Orion driver has not been able to make 5 minutes and but the former World Champion has an easy solution to the problem, ‘I just need to do 16.5 laps and then I can make a one pit stop during my run’. At present the unofficial fastest lap times are in the 17.6 second region.
Italian Dario Balestri is reporting his Motonica to be working well but the Novarossi factory driver is still testing options to try and make 5 minutes.
While fuel is the main news here the other big factor appears to be what body shell to use. A lot of quick paint jobs are being carried out here in the pits as drivers scramble to try the various options with the Zytek from Sprint RC proving a popular option together with the Collari 905.
The Sirio factory team are noticeable absentees from this year’s 1:8 On Road Euros as the Italian manufacturer struggles to get its engines to work under the new 2008 EFRA pipe rulings. In an attempt to reduce noise levels, the sports European governing body introduced new specs for .21 exhausts for the 2008 season. The new pipes have reduced the noise but the design criteria has made it more difficult to tune engines as they now have a more critical sweet spot. Following the Warm-up race here in Valencia a number of manufacturer wrote to EFRA asking for the postponement of the new regs so as to give them more time to develop the new pipes but the ruling remains in place.
At the recent 1:8 Off Road Euros in Crete Sirio chief Andrea Rossi told Red RC they were experiencing problems with the new pipes and hinted that his line up of star drivers may have no choice but to sit out the Spanish event unless EFRA, to whom they had written, reconsidered its position. The team did not attend the Warm-up back in April for the same reason. In 1:8 Off Road the new pipe ruling has had a much lesser impact on engine tuning.
With the official Sirio team absent we will be without the talents of Francesco Tironi, winner of last month’s EFRA 1:10 Italian GP, and Dutch EP star Jilles Groskamp. It is unclear as to whether young Portuguese hot shot Bruno Coelho will race but so far the Mugen driver has not been seen at the track. Coelho’s father Cesar is one of the key organisers of the 1:10 200mm Worlds which take place in Portugal next month and it is understood important works to the Lisbon track have delayed their arrival here in Spain.