Massimo Fantini just missed out on the first 18 lap run as he took advantage of cooling temperatures in the final run of Day 4 of the 2008 EFRA European Championships. The Italian Serpent driver who has been quick from the start of the event completed 17 laps in 5:00.948 to top the time sheets from Robert Pietsch. Fantini was shown on the timing screens to be on target to do 18 laps but over the final lap his pace dropped and he just missed out.
Pietsch who ran out of fuel in his first run was very pleased to be second fastest and even happier with the amount of fuel left in the tank of his Novarossi powered Shepherd Velox. Michael Salven, who topped the time sheets first time round, improved his time but dropped to third. The German factory Serpent driver said his car felt much faster but he was dissappointed with the time as he thought it would be much better than the 9/10th of a second improvement he actually made.
Mark Green had the opposite to say when informed he was fourth replying with a rather shocked ‘Really’. The British Champion said the car felt slow but was easy to drive and he was surprised but really happy to set such a time.
Alberto Picco claimed the fifth fastest time but was critical of the heat structure which is resulting in much unnecessary car damage. Pointing to a very dejected Adrien Bertin, who collected another car in his run, the Italian said, ‘He is a World Champion and his car is broken not because he is a bad driver but because of the difference in speed between the drivers is too big. The practice runs should have been sorted based on EFRA’s Ranking for A drivers, that way we can concentrate on driving at 100% instead of having to avoid slower drivers. Its not fair on any of the drivers’. Dario Balestri also fell victim to the big differences between driver speeds and was quick to let race officials know his thoughts as his Motonica was lifted off the track less a front corner. Asked about his car former World Champion Picco said he was quite happy and while the lower temperatures had improved run time it was still very close.
Completing the Top 6 was Italy’s Nicola Marrone ahead of fellow countrymen Andrea Pirani, who failed to improve on his earlier time, while current World & European Champion Lamberto Collari apppears to have gotten his Kyosho working much better now.
Another racer failing to improve his time was Daniele Ielasi, saying his clutch was not set correctly but he was not worried as tomorrow is the race, referring to the first qualifying heat tomorrow evening.
Tomorrow will start off with two more timed practice runs, which are being seeded based on the two timed runs from today, before we get down to the serious business of qualifying with one round scheduled to start at 15:30 local time.
Michael Salven is the quickest driver over five minutes as the first round of timed practice has just been completed here in extremely hot conditions. The Serpent driver recorded 17 laps in 5:04.728 and had another 3/4 of a lap in reserve after the run. The German says his car was not as good as this morning with the chassis feeling a little stiff but hesome changes planned for the next session.
Mugen driver Andrea Pirani was second fastest 0.9 of a second behind the former European Champion. Running the same set-up as he ran at the Warm Up race, the Italian thinks an 18 lap run is possible but only in the morning or the last run of the evening when the temperatures are lower. Leaving the car the same for his second timed run this evening the youngster will change engine running a Collari so as to save the factory Novarossi unit he just ran.
Daniele Ielasi took third but reckons the times are not a true indication of everyone’s pace as the difference in driver levels in the unseeded 15 car sessions at this stage is too big and the top drivers are having to be cautious. In fact Massimo Fantini and Adrien Bertin clashed during their run as they both tried to pass a back marker.
Big surprise of the run was former European B Champion Jernej Vuga who clocked the fourth fastest time with his Novarossi powered Mugen. The talented Slovenian has had very limited running this season and did make a few mistakes during the run but overall appears to have found a nice rythm and is pleased with the balance on his MRX4. Running large diameter tyres he will try smaller tyres for his final run of the day.
Mark Green was happy with fifth saying he was running one of his less powerful engines so as to save his good Mega for qualifying. Andrea Cristiani completed the Top 6 ahead of Walter Salemi and Belgian Champion Robin D’hondt.
While 5 minute run time was less of a problem for the field one or two leading drivers didn’t make it including Shepherd ace Robert Pietsch, Italian Motonica driver Stefano Solaroli and reigning Spanish Champion Oscar Cabezas.
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.