Bruno Coelho has TQ’d the fourth round of qualifying at the TITC in Thailand however the Xray driver said it was only possible due to the fact Jilles Groskamp broke off the start line. Having dominated yesterday’s opening day of qualifying, topping all three rounds with ease, the Infinity driver would suffer a layshaft bearing failure as he left the line, his car gliding to a halt before the first corner with Groskamp saying afterwards, ‘it’s better it happen today then tomorrow’. With Groskamp out of the equation, it looked like Naoki Akiyama was on target for the TQ but with a minute to go his Yokomo would pop a front drive shaft sending the 17-year-old spinning off into retirement. This left Coelho to pick up the pieces, last year’s Top Qualifier & Champion posting his first TQ run ahead of Infinity’s Akio Sobue and a much improved Ronald Volker.
‘For sure I am happy with the result but the problem is still the same, luckily for me Jilles broke’, was how Coelho summed his his TQ. The ETS Champion, who started the newly reseeded heats 3rd, said once he knew Groskamp was out he ‘then he knew the race was on’. Describing his ‘car almost undriveable’, he added ‘it was only when Naoki broke that I could get first’. Frustrated by his ongoing tyre issues, when asked if he still had a fresh set of tyres left from his 4 set allocation the Portuguese driver was not willing to divulge details, some suspecting he is saving a set for the penultimate evening round of qualifying which is expected to be the rocket round. Team-mate Alexander Hagberg would struggle badly in Q4 setting the 16th fastest time, the Swede saying, ‘the car was like driving on ice, I could barely get around and I don’t know why’.
Making his debut with Infinity this weekend along with former TRF team-mates Marc Rheinard and Naoto Matsukura, Sobue said his SMJ Prototype ‘was not so bad but still pushed’. Running a new set of tyres, which had been scrubbed in over 5-laps, he said ‘this set was ok’. Currently sitting 5th in the qualification ranking, 3 from 6 rounds to count, but counting a P7 from the first qualifier, the Japanese driver is hoping to replace that with a good run in Q5. The multiple World Championship finalist said in practice his car worked well in the cooler conditions and he will put on the set-up he used then for his next run.
Finding himself reseeded in the second fastest heat after a difficult day yesterday, Volker said, ‘It felt different to start in the 2nd last heat. I just tried to drive my own race but I had no idea if I was fast or not’. The World Champion continued, ‘the grip felt better than yesterday, so this set of tyres was fine finally’. While encouraged by his first Top 3 run, the German conceded, ‘I can’t do much much else and my aim is now try and put the car in the A-Main but added, ‘I hope the colder conditions suit my car like in practice’. Team-mate Nicolas Lee, who in contrast to Volker had a very strong first day of qualifying, led away the field after Groskamp’s problems but was passed by Coelho when he rolled his BD8. Getting a P6 for the round, his worst round so far, the Singapore driver said, ‘my car was good but I just flipped after I hit the curbing’.
Setting the fourth fastest time, having moved up from running in the 3rd fastest heat yesterday to the top heat, Chavit Saligupta said he decided to use new tyres for the round and ‘they were perfect’ with his SMJ both ‘stable and consistent’. The Infinity driver said his only issue over the 5-minutes was that he had to open for his team-mate Sobue saying, ‘Akio was just too fast’. A driver who lives in Bangkok, Saligupta is confident his current set-up will be good for the cool evening conditions and the only change planned is to run new tyres.
Completing the Top 5, Andy Moore described his last qualifier as ‘another OK run’ adding “I just drove safe’. The Infinity driver continued, ‘I didn’t start as good as the others and that probably cost me. Maybe I could have risked a bit more it didn’t feel as locked in as before’. For his next qualifier, the former World Champion is again planning to air on the side of caution saying ‘my car wasn’t really that good in high bite conditions before so I have to be careful but if I can get another P5 that should put me in the A-Main for sure’.
Chassis – Xray X1 17 Motor – Hobbywing V10 21.5T ESC – Hobbywing SR10 Pro Battery – EZ Power 4900mAh Tires (handout) – Ride Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Savox Body – Kit
Remarks – Reigning multiple ETS Formula Champion Jan Rathiesky is running his Hobbywing powered Xray X1 17 here for the first time at the TITC. Making quite a lot of adjustments to cope with the high traction, he has made the front roll centre higher, switched to a softer front spring, changed to caster to 12 degree, used softer side tubes and mounted the servo directly to the chassis. Using the new handout Ride tire that will used for the ETS next week, he has also chosen Montech wings front and rear.
Jilles Groskamp pulled off ‘a perfect day’ on the opening day of qualifying at the TITC in Bangkok, the Infinity driver TQ’ing all three rounds at the Infinity Addict Circuit. A race title that eludes the former World Champion, who has been runner-up on three occasions at the famous Asia event, Groskamp would end the day as he started, again being the only driver to post a 20-lap run. Improving position every run, the closest challenger in the third round would be Nicolas Lee, the Yokomo driver missing out on a 20-lap pace by just over 6/10ths of a second. One of Infinity’s latest signing to their new EP team, former TRF driver Akio Sobue would complete the Top 3, a safe run paying dividends. Unfortunately the tyre struggles that some drivers have been faced with showed no signs of abating with Bruno Coelho, Ronald Volker and Marc Rheinard all clearly struggling on the track with a lack of traction. Summing up the struggles while talking to Coelho, Volker said you know something is very wrong when you look and see ‘Marc (Rheinard), (Yukijiro) Umino and Francesco (Martini) talking together’. For Volker and Rheinard, their tyre issues will mean they drop out of the top heat for the remaining three qualifiers as reseeding is done based on the best two of today’s three rounds. While Coelho remains in the top 3, sitting 3rd overall, the defending champion is not happy with the tyre situation going as far as changing from an aluminium chassis car to a carbon chassis with ARS as he ‘needed prove to himself it was not the car’. He said the carbon car ‘was even worse’.
One of the few drivers smiling throughout the day, Groskamp said after Q3, ‘I changed tyres for this round and the car still feels great, I have super good traction’. He continued, ‘I push at the beginning to get a gap and then I can control the race by listening to the timing announcements. It’s somehow unreal how well it goes, 2-seconds over Nicolas at this level is a lot’. Admitting ‘some good guys have a problem’ he said, ‘For sure something is wrong. Maybe the sweet spot for the tyre is hard to find and I’ve been lucky to find it. It is almost unbelievable that at the TITC someone is so much faster. I hope it’s clearly a set-up thing. I’m happy for Akio and Chavit that they got a good run but I feel sorry for Marc because he was super fast in practice’. He concluded ‘for sure today was a perfect day for me’.
Running the same set of tyres as he ran to P3 in Q2, while happy with getting a second for the round Lee said, ‘I was too slow compared to Jilles’. The World Championship finalist continued, ‘the car is good its just Jilles is too fast snd we need to talk about it tonight and come up with something to try for tomorrow’. While it wouldn’t have affected his result, Lee said there was a little confusion at the start of the heat. Expecting to start third based on his result of the previous heat the 25-year-old went off as the third car as did Alexander Hagberg, the order actually based on the overall standings after two rounds.
Enjoying his first Top 6 run in the day’s closing qualifier, Sobue said he had to drive safe after lasting just over a minute in Q2 before rolling his SMJ chassis and pulling off. The Japanese driver said he also ‘drove super smooth’ to get the tyre to last the 5-minutes with the car getting ‘too loose if he pushes hard early on’. Holding sixth in the overnight standings, the multiple Worlds Finalist said the plan of attack for tomorrow is to ‘keep driving more easy’.
Doing well representing the host nation at the TITC, Chavit Saligupta would also end the day with his best run, going one better than Q1 to record a P4. With electronics issues in seeding practice putting him in the third fastest heat, the Bangkok driver hasn’t let this hinder him but admits his reseeding into the fastest heat for tomorrow is sure to help him improve on his current pace. Describing his SMJ as ‘not very easy to drive at the beginning’ due to the track being ‘a lot hotter’ he said with a minute to go his ‘tyres had overheated’.
Running new tyres, Hagberg said he was ‘surprised by the first lap that Nicolas went in front of me’ adding ‘it cost me time on the first lap’. Losing over a second to Groskamp over the first lap his fastest lap would not come until lap three, all those finishing ahead of him opening the heat with their fastest lap. This incident aside, the former Nitro Touring Car World Champion said, ‘basically I’m too slow, the car is safe but off the pace and we need to work on the set-up’. The Swedish driver added, ‘I didn’t really have a problem with tyres and I think today was hotter than previous days and we need to work on a better set-up for that’.
Making it four Infinity drivers in the Top 6, Andy Moore managed a P6 just ahead of Awesomatix’ Ryan Maker. The 2006 World Champion said, ‘It was just a safe run because I needed it for the reseeding’ adding ‘it was not sparklingly fast but the car was consistent & balanced.’ Running in the second fastest heat, opening the day with a P8 in Q1, the British driver would suffer a ‘hyper donut’ on the opening lap of Q2 and while he would try to continue to break in the tyres after four laps he pulled off suspecting a problem with his car. With problems being found, he ran a brand new set of tyres on his prototype SMJ saying these where not as good at the beginning as broken in tyres but he got the result he needed to put himself in the top heat for tomorrow.
Remarks – Former TITC Champion Alexander Hagberg is running his Xray T4 17 with a number of option parts including the optional alu flex chassis, steel outdrives front & rear, graphite hubs, low friction white belts and aluminium steering arms. He is also some ceramic ball bearings from Avid and Hiro Seiko screws. Using a different setup to what they would normally run on asphalt, the setup they have arrived at is more of a traditional carpet setup being more stiff than usual for this surface. Alex is also making the debut with the new R32 speedo from ORCA, the only ESC on the market with a 32 bit CPU which gives a finer feel and more adjustability.
Chassis – Awesomatix A800X Motor – Muchmore 4.5T ESC – Muchmore Fleta Pro V2 Battery – Team Silverback 6400mAh Tires (handout) – Sweep Radio/Servo – Futaba/Awesomatix Body – Protoform LTC-R
Remarks – Australian racer Ryan Maker is the lead Awesomatix driver here in Bangkok using the latest A800X from Russian company Awesomatix. Making some changes to the standard car, he is using the old bellcrank steering system, which he says is smoother and looks after the tires better, as well as a stiffer rear brace from RC Maker. Running his setup close to what he uses back home, but with a thicker oil in the rear diff, with the traction coming down since practice his setup is now working a lot better.
Jilles Groskamp has backed up what he himself described as a ‘surprising’ TQ in the opening qualifier with another in the hot midday conditions at Infinity Addict Circuit. While a slower run, the Infinity driver would top the times by an even larger margin despite running his Q1 tyres for a second time while his closest rival Bruno Coelho was on a new set of tyres. Also on new tyres Nicholas Lee would complete the Top 3 despite suffering a body tuck on his opening lap but again it was a troubled round for his Yokomo team-mate Ronald Volker who ended up 19th. Suffering a glitch at the end of the 5-minutes, the World Champion said even before that he wasn’t even able to run a Top 10 pace, his second set of tyres not proving any better than his Q1 set.
‘What can I say, the car was absolutely amazing’, said Groskamp who again opened the qualifier with the fastest lap. Setting a 15.062 lap on the used tyres, the best his rivals could manage was a 15.396 – the opening lap of Volker, with Coelho managing a 15.402 despite opting to run new tyres. Commenting on his significant advantage, the Dutch born and now Bangkok based driver said, ‘I don’t know why the car is so much faster but I don’t even have to push it. I am the only one with proper traction’. Trying to shed some light on why, apart from the general view that he was lucky with the set of tyres he got, he is faster he said, ‘I think in practice a lot of drivers focused on 3-laps when my focus was to get the car good for 5-minutes in the hot day time conditions. I was actually upset by my lap times at night when the track was cool but I knew the main racing was during the day. I also think the carbon chassis is much better in the day time’.
Returning to the Xray container after Q2, Coelho was again clearly frustrated saying, ‘It’s a joke. You do one weeks work to prepare and get a good set-up and now the car just doesn’t work. Its not just me, Ronald and Rheinard too, everyone is super slow. Volker is not even able to make the Top 10. It can only be the tyres’. He continued, ‘For sure Jilles is a good driver and I don’t want to disrespect him but now with used tyres he is 3-seconds faster than everyone. Something is not right’.
Making a change to his BD8, Lee said the car was good but he lost too much time in the first three laps. Suffering a body tuck at the start meaning a 16.4 opening lap, he said he then had to let team-mate Naoki Akiyama through before having to overtake him again once he got back up to speed. He said after that the car was good and the aim for the closing qualifier of the day is to get the heat off to a better start.
Going from being less than a second off the TQ in Q1, to being 5-seconds off Groskamp, Alexander Hagberg would post the 4th fastest time. Like Groskamp, the Xray driver would re-run his Q1 tyres and while ‘at the beginning they were not bad, they then dropped off quite a bit’ with him adding he was ‘luckily able to hold on for fourth’. With two runs on his tyres and set to run new tyres for Q3 the former TITC Champion said, ‘I really hope I don’t have a problem with tyres’ adding the batch of the tyres for racing ‘physically feels harder than what we used in practice’.
Heading the Awesomatix team in Bangkok, their Finnish star Viljami Kutvanen having to cancel his trip due to illness, Ryan Maker would post a P2 in the second qualifier. Only 21st in Q1, the Aussie described the improvement as ‘surprising’ adding a new set of tyres was the main contributing factor. While he would also make a lot of changes to his Muchmore powered A800, he said the car had a lot more traction on the second set of tyres. Behind Maker, Akiyama would again complete the Top 6, 2/10ths up on the Tamiya of Atsushi Hara.