After a below expectations qualifying, reigning World Champion Meen Vejrak will defend his 200mm title from 4th on the grid after the 1/4 Final qualifier won his Semi Final to bump up to the 1-hour Main at Huge RC Circuit in Bangkok, Thailand. Starting from 9th on the grid, the KM Racing driver quickly moved his way to the front making a strong pass on fellow 2012 podium finisher Francesco Tironi at the 13-minute mark coming of the sweeper at the end of the straight. Behind, Mugen driver JJ Wang would finish 7.7 seconds in 2nd after a thrilling last minute battle with Tironi, the pair originally battling for the last direct bump up position until Peter Jovanovic had to make a splash & dash on the penultimate lap having been running second. Although the Australian had to wait to see the race times of the second Semi, his pace, as was that of Yuya Sahashi who finished 5th, was good enough to give him one of the 3-fastest race time bump ups.
Commenting on his race, Vejrak said his OS Speed powered H-K1 was very difficult to drive towards the end of the half hour and driving the last 5-minutes at ‘only 50%’ he said he will have to make a set-up change for Q2 a sentiment shared by 16-year-old Wang who was delighted to make his first World Championship final. Confident he can improve his car for the Main and having already run two finals today, the Pattaya driver said he is feeling really confident he is in a strong position to successful retain his World title. While Vejrak had a good race up front, his Semi would see the demise of fellow 2012 Finalist Andy Moore who went off and broke a rear lower arm on his HB R10, and former finalist Mark Green who suffered a flame out during his third pit stop. Pole position starter Nicholas Lee made a good start to lead from Green for 10 laps until the Singapore driver rolled. The Xray driver would eventually finish 8th just behind his cars designer & 2008 podium finisher Martin Hudy.
In the other Semi there would be confusion afterwards to who had actually won. Originally the timing screen showed pole position starter Alexander Hagberg as taking the win from 2008 Top Qualifier Jilles Groskamp. In the end after a number of checks it was discover that Groskamp had missed a lap on the timing system midway through the race and again on his last lap, the Shepherd driver being classified second but as a non finisher. With the results corrected, the Shepherd driver who having ran one less stop than Hagberg having been able to get 6-minutes from his Maxima engine, would get the win and 2nd on the grid behind direct top qualifier Dominic Greiner with Hagberg lining up 3rd. Also coming through from that Semi was Maxima team driver Mongkolpan Lomrose and 2010 podium finisher Takehiro Terauchi despite the Mugen driver having a flame out during his first stop.
While Lomrose gave HB one car in the final, the same race would see the demise of their star driver Teemu Leino. Running 4th, having bumped up from the 1/4 Finals, the Finn hit trouble on the out lap after his second stop, his R10 steering linkage popping out. While his crew were able to fix it and getting him going again he would retire at 20-minutes with further steering problems after an off. Host track owner Surikarn C who looked good to bump up would hit bad luck as he crashed with Simon Kurzbuch with his Mugen flaming out in the incident. 1:8 World Champion Tadahiko Sahashi, who started 2nd, would also be a non-finisher. Star of the Electric Touring Car World Championships in Florida last month, Bruno Coelho would call a 10-minute delay to the race start after his engine broke in the warm-up. Getting a new one fitted and having to start from the back of the grid he would eventually finish 7th.
Defending World Champion Meen Vejrak is through to the Semi Finals at the 200mm World Championship but it would be a very tense closing minute & a half to the 1/4 Finals for the KM Racing driver. Starting from pole position, due to a disastrous first day of qualifying, the Thai driver had control of the 20-minute encounter leading from man on a mission Peter Jovanovic but as the race reached the closing stages he would struggle to control his H-K1. A heavily loaded 10-car grid, Vejrak’s car would suddenly become nervous to drive, it clear to see he was struggling to keep it on four wheels. Suffering a roll that would lose him over 4-seconds, he would get unlapped by the 3rd place battling pair of Martin Hudy and Robert Pietsch with fastest man on the track Jovanovic going to the front. Tentatively trying to bring the car home, Vejrak would just hold on to finish second ahead of Hudy & Pietsch who such as the World Champion’s loss of pace managed to get the gap down to 2 seconds. One more lap and the outcome could have been very different. Afterwards a clearly relieved Vejrak would find out that the loss of a rear body clip had allowed the body to lift with the opposite side cutting into his rear tyre to cause his handling issues.
Behind Jovanovic, the Australian Capricorn driver looking stronger and stronger as he bumps up for a third time, and Vejrak, Hudy would benefit from a fast last pitstop to get ahead of 2010 Top Qualifier Robert Pietsch in the pitlane. While the Mugen designer would come back at his Xray counterpart, unfortunately contact with Serpent’s Toni Gruber would end the German’s chances of getting a Top 3 to progress as he lost 2-seconds in the incident. Despite a sterling effort to recover, it is 2008 podium finisher Hudy who goes to the Semi, the separation at the finish just 1/10th of a second. The encounter would see the demise of a number of big names including two former champions Keisuke Fukuda (2006) and HB’s Adrien Bertin (2004).
In the second of the 1/4 finals, 2012 Top Qualifier Teemu Leino would also come close to succumbing to tyre issues. Top Qualifier of two rounds of qualifying but suffering run time issues in the final two qualifiers, the HB would start from pole and would lead from start to finish, but like Vejrak he would also struggle in the closing minutes. Afterwards the Finn said both his rear tyres had come unglued make the car ‘super difficult’ to drive. Leino would also have issues in his pitstop half way into the race when on releasing the R10 the roof collapsed forcing him to pit again on the next lap to have it fixed. Despite this he never gave up the lead.
4.6 seconds behind Leino, 2010 Finalist Sinnosuke Yokoyama, having secured the final bump-up position of the 1/8 B Final to start 10th, would take his OS Speed powered Xray to second. Thai 2012 Semi-Finalist Mongkolpan Lomrose would hang on to complete the Top 3 to again take his place in the Semis, his Maxima powered HB finishing 1.5 seconds ahead of 2010 finalist Takaaki Shimo. Unfortunately for Capricorn driver Kyle Branson, a roll just after coming out from his final pitstop while holding third would see him suffer an engine cut and put an end to his chances of progressing, with him coming home sixth.
The day teams and drivers have waited two years for has finally arrived at the 200mm World Championships, with proceedings in Thailand getting underway with the 1/8 Finals from which the biggest casualty of the two 20-minute encounters would be Dario Balestri. After a torrid time in qualifying due to run time issues, the Capricorn driver would start the race from 7th on the grid, quickly working his way to the front. Running second behind fellow Italian Alessio Mazzeo at 8-minutes his quest to progress would effectively end as his XRD engine cut. Although he would rejoin and set the fastest lap, the 2012 Semi Finalist would only recover to 5th. Behind the Max powered Serpent of 2013 European Champion Mazzeo, Japanese drivers Shoki Takahata, the KM Racing driver having bumped up from last nights 1/16 Final, and Sinnosuke Yokoyama completed the Top 3 to secure their places on the 1/4 Final grid.
In the first of the 1/8 Finals to run, 18-year-old Serpent driver Toni Gruber all but controlled the entire race having started from pole position. Having lapped the entire field, the German’s only hiccup came when he rolled his Novarossi powered 748 with 5-minutes to go. Behind, Capricorn’s Peter Jovanovic didn’t make things easy for himself but such was his speed he was able to get second. Having struggled like team-mate Balestri in qualifying with run time issues from his XRD engine, making the switch to Capricorn’s SQR engine Jovanovic managed to win yesterday evening’s 1/16 final. Starting the 1/8 final from 8th on the grid despite rolling his LAB C03 three times he was able to recover each time setting the fastest lap enroute to his second bump up. Thai Xray/Maxima driver Tanit K, who had a race long battle with Yamada Hayato before the pair came together for which the latter got a stop & go, would complete the Top 3 to make sure he continues in the event.
Dominic Greiner is the Top Qualifier for the 200mm World Championships in the Thailand, the Team Serpent driver putting in a stunning drive in the deciding final qualifier at the Huge RC Circuit in Bangkok to secure pole position on his World Championship debut. With just one direct qualifier for the 1-hour Main, the German needed to take Q6 to deny Alexander Hagberg the coveted position and that’s exactly what he did TQ’ing the round from the Swede to tie on points claiming an emotional overall TQ on tie break with the Xray driver. Behind, a strong drive saw Capricorn driver Kyle Branson take the top heat to claim third for the round with his former mentor Mark Green completing the Top 4. For reigning World Champion Meen Vejrak the final qualifier would be his best of the six with the factory KM Racing driver posting the sixth fastest time which leaves him to start his title defence from the 1/4 Finals.
Proving a very popular Top Qualifier, the German was unable to mask the emotion of his achievement as he was engulfed in congratulations from his Serpent team and rivals, he said he ‘never thought (he) would TQ (his) first World Championships’. Knowing nothing but a TQ run would do for the round, the 22-year-old said he knew he had to push 100% and other than 2-small mistakes caused by nerves it couldn’t have went any better. Moving the 748’s moveable chassis weights more towards the rear of the car for the run he said the set-up ‘was perfect’. ‘Having worked so hard the last 2-years’ with the the 748’s designer Michael Salven he said he was ‘so happy’ adding that it was a team effort and without the input of all the Serpent team drivers the TQ would have not been possible. Looking to the final he said with the car so easy to drive and his Max engine ‘so safe’ in terms of run time he ‘couldn’t ask for a better package’.
Hagberg, who will start on pole position in his 30-minute Semi Final, said he ‘drove perfectly but was too slow’. ‘On the limit’ he ‘couldn’t have done any better’ adding their ‘5-minute pace was a little too slow’. Describing his Orcan powered NT1 as easy to drive he said he is confident for the longer distance adding that once he can bump up, racing the Semi could be beneficial in terms of getting into a rhythm for the main event.
Describing his LAB C03 as really good, Branson said his re-found pace came from him just getting more used to the Max engine. Having struggled with run time issues in the first four qualifier while running XRD engines, the British talent who was seeded in top heat said because of this he knew he couldn’t push too hard as he needed the result knowing it was border line between making the 1/4 or the 1/8 final. Declaring himself as being ‘back on track’ with a car & engine now that are working really good, the 20-year-old is confident he has the equipment to bump up come Saturday.
Although he topped two rounds of qualifying, Teemu Leino will join Branson in the same 1/4 Final. Having run out of fuel in the penultimate qualifier, the 2012 Top Qualifier would again not have enough fuel to go the 5-minutes in Q6. Having turned the lower jet in one full turn, the HB driver said his Novarossi engine was still rich causing it to run dry on the final lap. Having had no such run time issues yesterday or in he opening qualifier of the day which he TQ’d, the Finn said he was ‘confused by the problem’ but ‘with something was not right’ he would fit an new engine for the final.
Set to run in the opposite 1/4 final to Leino and Branson, Vejrak said after ‘a lot of mistakes yesterday’ today had gone ‘much better’ but he paid the price for getting ‘no points from the first three qualifiers’. Very happy with how his OS Speed powered HK-1 ran in the last qualifier the Thai ace said it should be very good for the ‘long game’ and if nothing happens drama wise he is confident it has the pace to take him to the Main final.
Although he flipped his Xray in the final qualifier, Nicholas Lee would end up 3rd in the overall qualification ranking. The Singapore driver said a caster change to his NT1 for Q6, one of the few changes he would make over all of the qualifiers, gave him a better car. Planning to run it as is for the Semi Final he will start on pole, he said his car was good but added with it being nitro racing, a class in which so many things can go wrong, he was taking nothing for granted in terms of his progression to the Main.
With fourth in Q6 securing Green fifth in the overall ranking just behind team-mate & 1:8 World Champion Tadahiko Sahashi, Serpent having the most cars in the Top 10 with Yuya Sahashi 9th overall, the former finalist said he is ‘looking very good’ for the finals. The British National Champion said having worked towards 10-minute qualifying strategy in practice before they went and changed the heats to 5-minutes, his 748 takes a long time to come in with his fastest lap always coming towards the end. Describing it as ‘super safe to drive’ he said this is ideal for the final and other than giving the car ‘a spit & a polish’ he was going to run it unchanged for his Semi.
The top Mugen in the final qualifying order, securing 6th, Surikarn Chaidajsuriya used his last heat to test a Maxima engine for the final. Describing its performance as ‘OK’, the owner of the Huge RC Circuit said it had really good run time with the former electric touring car World Champion predicting he should be able to get 6-minutes between refuelling saving him one stop off the semi final distance.
2012 podium finisher Francesco Tironi would end his qualifying with his best performance taking 5th in Q6. Tying on points with his Shepherd team-mate Simon Kurzbuch but getting 7th overall on the tie break, the Italian said while he had one bad lap in the last round the overall performance of his Velox V10 was ‘really good’. Set to start third on the 10 car grid of his Semi, he said he is confident he is competitive enough to bump up.
Kurzbuch, who pushed Greiner hard for the TQ time before hitting a curb and rolling his Velox V10, said while disappointing to make such a mistake he was really happy with his race engine. Fitting the Novarossi unit for the final qualifier in preparation for the final he said ‘it was perfect’. In terms of the car set-up the Swiss ace will make just a small adjustment to make it a little less aggressive adding he might also need to ‘calm down’ his driving style for the long race too and with both changes he should be in good shape.