It may be one of the smallest countries in Europe but Luxembourg is this week playing host to the biggest 1:10 Electric Touring Car event of the year, the EFRA European Championships, at the massive Mini-Circuit “Ville de Luxembourg”. Overcast weather conditions have greeted the 140 plus competitors on today’s opening day which will see the drivers, who represent 22 nations, each get four 5-minute practice runs to learn one of the world most unique tracks with it Laguna Seca style corners and elevations.
Heading the entry is defending champion Marc Rheinard. The factory Tamiya driver, who since winning the crown last year in Spain has added the World and Indoor European titles to his CV, is pretty confident going into the event having conducted a number of successful test days around the quick but technical track. Tamiya are the team to beat right now in touring cars and won the Warm Up race with Jilles Groskamp but they are not resting on their laurels with the TRF416 designer Kiyo Suzuki making the trip from Japan to support their four factory drivers here. Groskamp, who two weeks ago tied up his second Euro Touring Series title, is very hungry for his first EFRA European title having been a runner-up in the past. The Dutch ace is suffering from a cold but says once he starts driving its not a problem. Fresh from competing last week at the 1:10 nitro Euros in Gubbio, Italy, where he was racing for Serpent, Groskamp has been using his early runs to readjust his driving back to the style required for electric.
With little or no presence in Spain last year Yokomo are serious contenders now in Luxembourg. The Japanese company has aquired the services of 2007 Champion and last year’s Top Qualifier Ronald Volker. The German has already notched up a big win for his new team with victory at the Reedy Race in the US and is feeling pretty confident here with his BD5 and LRP combination and is being backed up by Robert Itoh and Umino from Yokomo have travelled to Luxembourg to support him. Also on the Yokomo team is Martin Hofer who showed at the ETS race in Apeldoorn the potential of the new car on asphalt.
2006 Champion Andy Moore described the track as ‘very cool’ but said its a lot harder to drive than it looks. Having built two fresh Hot Bodies Cyclones for the event, the former World Champion thinks it is going to be a very close race and making 5-minutes will be down to getting the car to get the most from the LRP controlled tyres. Finland’s Teemu Leino heads a very strong Xray team. The 2005 Champion, who has been a Euros finalist 10 times, likes the track and enjoyed a good pre event test here. Also strong for Xray will be European Junior Champion Elliot Harper and Sweden’s Alexander Hagberg who on Sunday finished second at the 1:10 nitro Euros.
Heading the Team Associated challenge is Juho Levanen. Runner-up to Volker at the Reedy Race, this is only the Finn’s second asphalt race of the year and having sampled the ‘cool’ track for the very first time this morning he feels maybe now he should have come here for pre event testing. Team-mate Christer Andersson did come for testing two weeks ago which he said went well. The 17-year-old, who has been enjoying a strong run recently claiming both the Finnish Touring Car and 4WD Off Road National titles, is aiming to make his first Euros A-Main this week but is concerned about run time, something he has not had to worry about back home where LiPo is permitted. The switch to LiPo has been a common talking point here this morning with many drivers hoping EFRA with adapt them for 2010.
Carrying the hopes of UK manufacturer Schumacher is Chris Grainger who currently leads the British championship with the Mi4. In Spain Grainger had to withdraw from the event due to illness but is today feeling fine and looking forward to driving on this ‘great track’. The multiple British Champion, who took part in the Warm Up race, said the circuit is a real challenge and very tough as there is no point in a lap where you can rest. 2008 Finalist Marc Fisher heads the Corally challenge along with Finland’s Simo Ahoniemi. Fisher’s GM electrics are known for their high end power and the German should be strong here but he aired caution about making run time, however the current cool condition should be a help.
Another former Champion competing here is Jonas Kaerup who is this year driving a Tamiya. His first asphalt race of the year the Danish driver had four days testing here which he said was made easy by the fact that Rheinard was in attendance and he just ran his set-up.
View our event image gallery here.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
There was a dramatic outcome to the 2009 EFRA 1:10 200mm European Championships here in Gubbio, Italy this evening, with heartbreak for race dominator Dario Balestri and total joy for new Champion Dirk Wischnewski. Starting from pole Balestri’s Novarossi powered Team Magic was untouchable allowing the defending back to back Champion to lap the entire field, but in the final 10 minutes of the race the Italian suffered gearbox problems ending his quest for a hat trick of titles.
With Balestri out of contention, eventually retiring on lap 134, it was Wischnewski who was best placed to take over the lead. Having recorded the fastest lap of the race the German Champion had a 6 second gap on second placed Alexander Hagberg. With Hagberg involved in an intense battle with Manuel Huber, Wischnewski was able to extend the gap eventually crossing the finish line over 11 seconds clear to claim his first ever European A Championship title. Behind it was nitro Euros rookie Hagberg who took the runners up spot but just with Huber only 0.674 behind the Swede after 45 minutes of hot racing.
After the race the very down to earth Wischnewski was clearly surprised by his win saying, ‘My car, engine and mechanic were all perfect in the race. Once Dario lapped me I thought second is a great result for me as my aim was just to make the final but when he went out I started to feel a little nervous because I was now fighting for the European Championship. I just tried to stay calm for last few minutes and it was a great relief to reach the finish. I’m so happy and I want to thank my pitman Bertram Kessler who was a big part of this victory’.
Making his 1:10 200mm European debut Hagberg was very happy with second. Progressing from the 1/4 Finals, the electric touring car ace came here aiming for a place in the main final but said finishing on the podium was far more than he expected. The Xray/Max driver, who is competing in only his first year of nitro racing, said it was a very close battle with Huber but his one stop less fuel strategy gave him the upper hand. With his home country Sweden hosting next year’s European Championship Hagberg said he will do pre event testing at the Vast 8 track unlike this year and hopes that will help him to go one better.
After a good start to the race, Huber was to lose half a lap following a crash involving Francesco Tironi. This forced him to push his Xray very hard as he recovered the lost ground but over the last five minutes he struggled with tyres and although surprised to claim his first European podium he was a little disappointed to miss out on second having come so close.
Finishing a lap down on the leaders, fourth placed Martin Hudy was disappointed with his race. The factory Xray driver, a podium finisher at the Worlds, said he couldn’t push after the wrong tyre choice left him with understeer. With his engine also set to lean, the Slovak said while it a frustrating race for him he was delighted for Xray who took the Top 6 places in the final.
The final wasn’t a good race for any of the four direct qualifiers. One can’t help feel for Balestri and his crew as they came so close to becoming the most successful team in 200mm. Its going to be a very sombre drive home for him and his large entourage who had been accustomed to taking home the winning trophy. The normally very jolly Francesco Tironi was also very down after the final. The factory Sirio driver said his race was over after the first lap as he struggled with a very difficult to drive car and finishing 10th was not how he had invisiged his home event. Jerome Renaux missed the start as he couldn’t get his engine to start but took some consulation from the fact he bettered his two 10th places finishes at the Euro B Championship to claim sixth. Wonder kid Biagio Spataro may not realise yet how big an impression he has made on the sport and will be disappointed to not have finished higher but the new Junior European Champion’s big day is sure to come.
After a week of echoing to the sound of high revving engines, silence has fallen on the Gubbio track here in Italy with a new name added to the list of European Champions. For some the trip home with be a chance to reflect on what could have been but overall the biggest winner of this European Championship is our sport. The organisation here has set a new standard as to how an event given the task of hosting such a prestigious event like the European Championship should be presented and run. The attention to detail was superb and we say well done to Mr. Agostinelli and his crew for raising the bar. We hope now EFRA will ensure that level is maintained. Finally a special thanks to Raimondo Gilletti who acted as our Italian translator in the pits. Ciao.
Final overall standings
1. Dirk Wischnewski (Xray/NR) – 159L 45:03.983
2. Alexander Hagberg (Xray/Max) – 159L 45:15.194
3. Manuel Huber (Xray/Max) – 159L 45:15.868
4. Martin Hudy (Xray/Max) 158L 45:05.808
5. Giorgio De Felici (Xray/Max) – 153L 45:01.774
6. Jerome Renaux (Xray/NR) – 138L 45:13.132
7. Dario Balestri (TM/NR) – 134L 38:12.900
8. Biagio Spataro (Xray/JP) – 134L 45:09.379
9. Gerhard Kandelhardt (Xray/NR) – 116L 45:02.446
10.Francesco Tironi (Mugen/Sirio) – 112L 34:23.133
View our full event image gallery here.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Dirk Wischnewski has taken the win in a thrilling final here in Gubbio Italy. Long time leader Dario Balestri hit troubles and this allowed a consistent Wischnewski to bring his Xray to the front. The top three finished on the same lap with Alexander Hagberg taking 2nd and Manuel Huber in 3rd.
Full report to follow.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
The Semi Finals have been run and the 6 drivers who will join the four direct qualifiers has been decided. In the Semi B Manuel Huber took a relative easy win over Dirk Wischnewski but the Semi A was a far more dramatic affair. Serpent’s Michael Salven lead for over half of the 20 minutes encounter but with 7 minutes to go and with a healthy lead his engine cut. This handed Mugen’s Guiseppe D’angelo the lead but he too flamed out with less than 3 minutes to go. Having benefited from the demise of Mark Green’s out of control Serpent 733 to move in to second, Martin Hudy came through to take the win from Gerhard Kandelhart. The other two qualifiers based on the next two fastest race times from both Semi Finals were Alexander Hagberg and Giorgio De Felici who come from the Semi B.
In addition to the demise of Salven, Green (fuel in radio gear) and D’angelo, the Semi also saw the end for Worlds Top Qualifier Jilles Groskamp, Madrid pole sitter Teemu Leino, Robert Pietsch and Niki Duina. Groskamp, who was running a Max engine he borrowed from fellow Dutch racer Maarten Van Lierop, said his car was perfect but he pushed too hard and rolled his 733 which then suffered an engine cut. Leino, who caused the Semi A start to be delayed went out when he lost control of his Team Orion powerd Xray, a broken receiver battery wire the fault.
Final starting order
1. Dario Balestri – Team Magic/Novarossi
2. Jerome Renaux – Xray/Novarossi
3. Francesco Tironi – Mugen/Sirio
4. Biagio Spataro – Xray/JP
5. Manuel Huber – Xray/Max
6. Dirk Wishcnewski – Xray/Novarossi
7. Alexander Hagberg – Xray/Max
8. Martin Hudy – Xray/Max
9. Giorgio de Felici – Xray/Max
10.Gerhard Kandelhardt – Xray/Novarossi
View our event image gallery here.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009