We sat with former World Champion Rody Roem from VS engines, who talked us through the latest version of his on-road engine called the R02. Although based off an OS unit, the engine features a unique combustion chamber specifically designed by Roem himself. With the main focus of the brand remaining providing the highest possible level of quality, the other distinctive item is the crankshaft, where the flow of fuel and the timing have been optimised for a better response.
Chassis – Serpent 988 Viper Engine – OS Speed R2103 Tyres – Matrix (Handout) Fuel – Runner Time Radio/Servos – Sanwa Body – Xtreme Aerodynamics R18 Strong Remarks – Having received his car shortly before the start of the race, Japanese Serpent driver Yuya Sahashi is running the latest Viper 988 in a pretty standard version, only equipped with a set of titanium upper screws.
Chassis – Capricorn C803 Engine – Tesla T21 Tyres – Matrix (Handout) Fuel – Energy Radio/Servos – Sanwa Body – Protoform R19 Remarks – Capricorn factory driver Robin D’Hondt is running a C803 from the Italian factory equipped with an Evo chassis. The Belgian is also using a pair of separate gearbox shaft mounts in order to increase the flex of the rear end, a 6mm lightweight transmission axle, front and rear cvd’s with aluminium wheel axles and a new bumper, which is stiffer and holds the body posts directly.
Yuya Sahashi caught everyone by surprise on the second day of qualifying as he posted a TQ run in the first of the day’s three scheduled rounds of qualifying. A cloudy morning in Monteux, the Serpent driver set the time in Group 12 of 15, topping his heat ahead of Jilles Groskamp who would get a P3 for the round. With the attention on the top heat, it looked as overnight provisional TQ holder Dario Balestri had sealed the deal as he crossed the line on the top of the scoreboard ahead of Simon Kurzbuch but rather than a finishing 1-2, their times left them P2 and P4 respectively. Top seed Naoto Matsukura would see his chances of taking the overall TQ on his 1:8 World Championship debut end with an off. Other front runners to have issues included Bruno Coelho who finished 7th after heavy contact with the pitwall during his refuelling, him reporting afterwards his car was tweaked as a result. With a P3 run in Q2 yesterday, Jesse Davis was another to make an error going off track and ending up with a P9.
‘So good’ was how Sahashi summed up Q4. With his best run a P8 in Q2 yesterday, the older brother of 2013 World Campion Tadahiko, said a better clutch and gearbox set-up as well as changes to the rear body support position had made for a more stable car. The former 1:8 and 1:10 World finalist driver continued that due to commitments with his hobby shop in Japan he had no time to test the new car before coming to France and so yesterday they were still searching for the right set-up. Happy with his 988 Viper now, setting the fastest lap from Kurzbuch by almost 1/10th of a second, he said the next thing to work on is his ‘mind’ as he feels there is more to come from better driving.
Asked about his run, Balestri said, ‘I had a small mistake on lap 18 which gave me a 16.6 (seconds lap) and I lost the TQ but it is all ok’. The Infinity driver said the overcast conditions worked in his car’s favour saying, ‘the cooler conditions are better for me’. A clean run, the Italian said, ‘traffic as always was a problem’ adding ‘maybe the referee needs to pay more attention’.
Balestri’s team-mate Groskamp described his latest qualifying run as ‘perfect’. Unlike driver feedback from the top heat, the Dutch driver continued, ‘Our heat is so nice, everyone always gives you room’. Running in the 4th fastest grouping, he said Patrick Schafer was behind him in the run and going fast and having him so close behind ‘maybe cost me a couple of tenth’ – him finishing less than 2/10th shy of Balestri’s time. Changing his refuelling to come for an early pitstop he said ‘everything was perfect’ adding ‘our car is really good in the morning’. Asked about Q5, he said, ‘I am now safe in the Semis so we are already thinking about Saturday (Finals day). I’m super happy.’
‘It was a good run but we didn’t win’, was reigning Champion Kurzbuch’s reaction to Q3. The Shepherd driver, ‘I thought I got 2nd and when I saw others had gone fastest I was a little surprise but it was a good thing because Dario couldn’t complete 3 TQs. So it is still open’. The Swiss driver added, ‘we definitely need to risk more. We have good results in the bag but I want to get another zero in there’.
Heading the Mugen charge at RC Circuit Jean Nougier, Syoki Takahata said would post the 5th fastest time. The Japanese driver said ‘this time I have a very good feeling with the car, it was better than yesterday’. Making no changes to his OS Speed powered MRX6, he said while the track is different each run this morning’s cooler conditions really suit his car. While pleased with his own driving he said he lost time with a bad pitstop as his mechanic dropped his car, his pitstop about 2-seconds slower than his rivals.
Former 1:10 World Champion Meen Vejrak would complete the Top 6 with a much improved performance. The Maxima engines backed driver said, ‘every day we improve the car but because of the rain we are one day behind’. Not coming to the track prior to the event, the Thai driver was able to take part in IDP (International Driver Practice) but rain curtailed the second day. He added, ‘it is a bit like Gubbio (last year’s 1:10 Worlds), we were slow for the first 3-days but we were able to improve’, those improvements seeing him make the Main Final. Running a Capricorn chassis he said, ‘each time we have made a little step forward and I hope we can continue with that pace in the last two qualifiers’.
There was an exciting close to the opening day of qualifying at the 1:8 Onroad World Championship in France with Dario Balestri taking a super close Q3 to earn a second TQ run which leaves him the provisional overnight TQ holder. The Infinity driver would lead a 1,2,3 for the Japanese manufacturer from team-mates Francesco Tironi and Naoto Matsukura, the trio separated by just 0.082 of a second. With Matsukura looking on target for his first TQ run, a slight bobble with 30-seconds to go was enough to let both Balestri and Simon Kurzbuch go ahead of the timing screens but posting his fastest lap of the race on his final lap Matsukura would beat Kurzbuch. Tironi’s impressive time from the second fastest heat would mean Kurzbuch would get fourth for the round, the Top 8 all stopping the clock with 7 minute 4 second times. The only driver to win the World Championships in both 1:8 and 1:10, Adrien Bertin showed there is still life in the veteran posting an impressive P5 on what is set to be his final World Championship appearance.
‘Really, really close. I am really, really happy. It was a lot of fun’, was the reaction of a rather happy looking Balestri. The Italian continued, ‘the heat before was super hot so my engine was rich at the start (of Q3) because of the cooler conditions and because of this I was just aiming to run without mistake and claim important points. But the engine started to get better and in the end I could push. I saw many drivers were super fast and knew it was going to be super close. And it was super super close. He concluded, ‘I am really happy to take this one and say a big thank you to all the guys who have worked so hard on the car’.
Only 15th fastest in each of the opening two qualifiers, Tironi said, ‘It was super close’. Only 6/100ths off Balestri, the friendly Italian said, ‘I am super happy with my car and engine. Heat by heat I am getting a better feeling with it. It is not safe, nothing is safe here on this track but I now have the confidence to be able to push and at the end it was a super good run’. With this performance, the former 1:10 World Championship podium finisher, is looking forward to tomorrow’s remaining three qualifiers.
‘I’m happy it was super close’ said Matsukura after Q3 but it was clear the Japanese driver was frustrated at missing out on the TQ. In the closing stage of registering his first TQ run, he said, ‘It was windy again and the wind unsettled the car just before the climb up the hill into the sweeper. It cost me to lose a second because I had to come off the throttle and didn’t have the speed to carry me up through the sweeper’. The reigning 1:12 World Champion, a title he has won 4-times, he said, ‘the result is not too bad buy I want to take the TQ so I will try again tomorrow’.
Summing up his run Kurzbuch said, ‘again a lot of traffic which puts you out of your rhythm a little bit but for all the top guys it was the same’. He added, ‘we were close but I lost it in the last lap’, his time a 16.279 compared to Balestri’s 16.189 and Naoto’s 15.835. The Shepherd driver continued, ‘overall the car, engine and mechanic are good and today we got one TQ point which is still the best time so it is still open. Everything is possible’.
‘My car was superb in the last one, I lost the TQ in the pits’ was the reaction of very happy Bertin, the HB Racing frontman getting great pleasure from having to end early a conservation with his 1:8 Offroad World Champion protege David Ronnefalk to tell us about his Q3 performance. He continued, ‘My pitman dropped the car but he was also made a good call on the setting for the car for Q3 so its all good’. Changing to a softer spring in the front he as well tweaking the droop he said this improved the rotation’. He added, ‘I really enjoyed that (Q3). I felt everything came together. In the first two I was super nervous and I drove like an old man but after this I feel much younger’. Two years since he last competitively raced 1:8, the Worlds in Brazil, he said, ‘I am so busy with my HB work normally this will be my last race so I want to go out properly by giving it my all. I hope to keep the good momentum tomorrow and get a Semi spot’.
Completing the Top 6 would be reigning 1:10 World Champion Dominic Greiner. The Serpent driver described it as, ‘the first good run today’. Suffering ‘2 or 3 little mistakes’, the German said ‘it was very close’ a fact that added to his frustration with traffic. ‘I was stuck behind a guy who would not let me pass him’. On his early two qualifying attempts, he said ‘an important screw came loose in the first one which made the car hard to drive and in the second I had bad tyres but lost it on dirt put on the track by another car and threw it off the track’. With a mistake by Bruno Coelho that required him to be marshalled in Q3 ending his chances, it was Alessio Mazzeo would was the top Xray finishing just behind Greiner and ahead of ARC’s Silvio Hachler.
Chassis – WRG GTX1.3 Engine – Novarossi Mito WC Tyres – Matrix (Handout) Fuel – Runner Time Radio/Servos – KO Propo Body – Blitz TS040 Remarks – WRC factory driver Toni Gruber is running the latest version of the GTX from the Italian manufacturer called 1.3. His car is equipped with a brass under LiPo weight, aluminium wheel axles and carbon aero wheel discs. The German is also using an optional chassis where the front cuts are more open in order to achieve more flex.