Pietsch provisional Top Qualifier in Ettlingen

Robert Pietsch

Mugen’s Robert Pietsch is the overnight Top Qualifier for the 8th running of the 200mm European Championships after the German ace bettered Patrick Schäfer’s Q1 topping time by over 5-seconds in the second round of qualifying this evening in Germany.

Having reported a lack of feeling in his throttle after Q1 following a change of gearing on his MTX-5, Pietsch discovered during the warm-up for Q2 that the settings on his distinctive Sanwa radio, which features the throttle on the right, had been tampered with.  Describing the discovery as ‘upsetting’, the 1:8 Onroad World Champion managed to reset the throttle positioning in time to start his run.  Able to put the matter to the back of his mind, Pietsch was able to run 31 laps in 7:06.232 saying a change to a harder shore tyre on his Novarossi suited the cooler conditions well. Bringing the matter of his radio being interfered with to the attention of race officials Pietsch plans to bag his radio for the remainder of the event but said despite this he is very happy with his day especially as rain is being forecast for tomorrow’s final two rounds of qualifying.

Patrick Schaefer Flame out

Using Q2 to test a different exhaust set-up with a view to attempting to run 5-minute stops in the finals, Schäfer said he just fell short of making the time. Pitting after 2-minutes his Novarossi powered Shepherd Velox V10 ran dry on the main straight on his final lap.  Having proven to himself that 5-minute stops are too high a risk, the German said he will stick with 4:30 stops. Very happy with how his car is working he said if tomorrow is dry the only change he plans is to revert back to the exhaust/manifold he used to TQ the opening qualifier.

Teemu Leino

Jumping from 11th fastest after Q1 to end the day 3rd, Team Xray’s Teemu Leino gave a lot of the credit to a super fuel stop by 1:12 European Champion Simo Ahoniemi who is here as his pitman.  The Top Qualifier at the 2007 Euros in Spain, where Xray made their 200m class debut, the Finn said it was a good run but he actually preferred the hotter conditions of Q1.  Having had to change little on his NT1, Leino said he particularly happy with the performance of his prototype LRP engine on the high speed track.

Impressing the establishment with his run to the fifth fastest time in Q1, local driver Simon Balk was able to better his time in the second round moving himself up to fourth.  The Xray/Orcan driver said that despite the better track conditions his NT1 was still difficult to drive, something he hopes to cure tomorrow, if the weather holds, by changing the shore of tyre he has been using.

Dario Balestri

Sitting fifth at the end of the first day of qualifying Dario Balestri managed only a single lap in Q2 after the rear diff broke in his KM Racing H-K1. Behind him in sixth Eric Dankel also failed to improve as he ran out of fuel.  The Xray driver said upon catching a group of four cars he descided to pit a lap earlier than planned but it left him short at the end of the 7-minutes. Xray team-mate Dirk Wischnewski also ran out of fuel due to pitting too early.  Describing his Orcan powered NT1 as ‘really good’ he felt he had the pace to TQ, a new fastest lap for the day proof of that. Having run out of fuel in both his qualifiers the 2009 Champion said he hopes tomorrow morning is dry so he can try put in a full run.  Despite stopping on his second qualifier the run was still fastest enough to move Wischnewski in the all important Semis with him lying 9th overnight.

Spataro Pits

Another driver moving inside the Top 14 was young Italian talent Biagio Spataro.  The Gi-Mar engines backed driver was running a very fast pace which put him on target for the second fastest time but he received a Stop & Go penalty for bad refuelling.  His pitman said afterwards that the rule was that the car and fuel bottle must remain behind the line and not his elbow but the race official who called the penalty said it was deserved.

Top 14 after Q2
1. Robert Pietsch – Mugen/Novarossi – 31/7:06.232 (Q2)
2. Patrick Schäfer – Shepherd/Novarossi – 31/7:11.444 (Q1)
3. Teemu Leino – Xray/LRP – 31/7:11.708 (Q2)
4. Simon Balk – Xray/Orcan – 31/7:12.029 (Q2)
5. Dario Balestri – KM Racing/Novarossi – 31/7:12.297 (Q1)
6. Eric Dankel – Xray/Novarossi – 31/7:12.643 (Q1)
7. Biagio Spataro – Xray/Gi-Mar – 31/7:13.131 (Q2)
8. Adrian Berntsen – Xray/Capricorn – 31/7:13.429 (Q1)
9. Dirk Wischnewski – Xray/Orcan – 30/6:55.806 (Q2)
10.Giuseppe D’Angelo – Xray/Max – 30/7:00.411 (Q1)
11.Giorgio De Felici – Capricorn/Novarossi – 30/7:00.610 (Q1)
12.Rico Kröber – Xray/Novarossi – 30/7:00.821 (Q2)
13.Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 30/7:01.383 (Q2)
14.Toni Gruber – Serpent/Xceed – 30/7:01.965 (Q2)

View the full event results here.

View our event image gallery here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Schäfer tops opening qualifier

Patrick Schäfer

Team Shepherd’s Patrick Schäfer has topped the opening round of qualifying at the 200mm European Championships in Ettlingen, Germany outpacing World Championship Top Qualifier Robert Pietsch by 11/1000ths of a second with former back to back champion Dario Balestri third fastest.

The owner of Team Shepherd which is based less than 30 minutes from the track, Schäfer said with rain forecast for tomorrow his target for Q1 was to just run a safe run and he never expected it would produce the fastest time. A clean run, the German said his car, engine and tyres performed perfectly and he had a really good feeling with the whole package.  Confident that his time of 31 laps in 7:11.444 is good enough to put him in the Top 14, and therefore in the all important Semis, Schäfer said he will use today’s second & final qualifier to test an exhaust he is considering using for the finals.

Robert Pietsch

Pietsch, who is not enjoying the incredibly hot conditions on the rostrum, said he ran a shorter gearing on the new MTX-5 which caused him to loose feeling in the acceleration.  A slower track than this morning, the Mugen designer said it was a clean run but he expects this evening to be faster as the temperature should be lower. The German ace said he will revert back to the longer gearing he ran during controlled practice.

Dario Balestri

Driving for KM Racing Dario Balestri was a lot happier with his car having changed to harder springs alround.  The Italian, who was champion in 2006 & 2007 when he drove for Team Magic, decribed the run as clean but thinks the times will tumble this evening and if the rain holds off feels tomorrow morning will be the ‘rocket’ round.  Setting the fastest time for the round he is not planning any major set-up adjustments for Q2 but will try a different shore of Contact tyres.

Eric Dankel

Setting the fourth fastest time despite one small mistake, Team Xray’s Eric Dankel said he was at 100% but the super hot conditions just don’t suit the NT1.  Having tried a number of set-up changes in free practice yesterday when it was also very hot he said what they are running now is the best set-up they have and he just hopes the weather will turn cooler.  Xray team-mate Dirk Wischnewski, who set the pace in practice, failed to finish his opening qualifier after he ran out of fuel.  The 2009 Champion said his Orcan engine wasn’t right and ran too rich causing his car to come to a halt with less than 10 seconds of the 7-minute heat remaining.

Local driver Simon Balk, who is competing in his first A Euros, said recording the fifth fastest time was fantastic but in terms of the car it was not so good.  The 20-year-old, who runs the same chassis/engine package as Wischnewski, said the hot temperatures made his car very difficult to drive.

Adrian Berntsen

Completing the Top 6 Adrian Berntsen was not happy with his driving feeling he could have been quicker.  The Xray driver said he couldn’t fault the car and he just need to tidy up his driving after making too many small mistakes over the run.  Just missing out on 31 laps, Giuseppe D’Angelo now driving for Xray set the seventh fastest time followed by Capricorn driver and fellow Italian Giorgio De Felici.

Elsewhere Biagio Spataro and Jilles Groskamp who both featured strongly in this morning’s controlled practice had a troubled first qualifier. Spataro rolled his Gi-Mar powered Xray when he had a back marker turn in on him while Groskamp had his Orion go off tune and pushing hard to make up for the lack of low end power also rolled his Shepherd.

Top 14 after Q1
1. Patrick Schäfer – Shepherd – 31/7:11.444
2. Robert Pietsch – Mugen – 31/7:11.455
3. Dario Balestri – KM Racing – 31/7:12.297
4. Eric Dankel – Xray – 31/7:12.643
5. Simon Balk – Xray – 31/7:13.003
6. Adrian Berntsen – Xray – 31/7:13.429
7. Giuseppe D’Angelo – Xray – 30/7:00.411
8. Giorgio De Felici – Capricorn – 30/7:00.610
9. Rico Kröber – Xray – 30/7:01.504
10.Mark Green – Serpent – 30/7:02.086
11.Teemu Leino – Xray – 30/7:02.558
12.Alexander Hagberg – Xray – 30/7:02.830
13.Patrick Nähr – Shepherd – 30/7:02.981
14.Manuel Huber – Xray – 30/7:04.701

View our event image gallery here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

CP2 Update

Robert Pietsch

The second controlled practice, the final ahead of qualifying for the 200mm European Championship in Germany, was to prove slower than this morning’s session with Robert Pietsch topping the sheets from Xray pairing Eric Dankel and Adrian Bernsten.

Although Pietsch improved on his morning time he was unable to match Dirk Wischnewski’s fastest time.  Using CP2 to run ‘Final’ tyres Wischnewski also used the session to run in three new glow plugs and so the German didn’t post a representative time.  The 2009 Champion said they have been experiencing problems with new glow plugs blowing if run under race conditions from new and by running them for a short time in the car it eradicates the problem.  Running the larger diameter tyres he said the car felt pretty good on them.

Erik Dankel

Sixth in CP6 Dankel managed a 31-lap run this time out, the German saying his NT1′s steering was much improved after he lowered the rear roll centre. The German added that he also found a lot of time in cleaning up his driving.

Bernsten

The current Norwegian National Champion, Bernsten was very happy with his run after a change to heaver oil in the rear of his Capricorn powered NT1 gave him the steering he was lacking earlier.  The 17-year-old is confident he can carry his new pace into the opening round of qualifying.

Dario Balestri

2006 & 2007 Champion Dario Balestri enjoyed his best run taking his Novarossi powered KM Racing H-K1 to the fourth fastest time.  Behind the Italian local German driver Simon Balk put his extensive track knowledge to good use by setting the 5th fastest time outpacing back to back Vice-Champion and fellow Xray driver Alexander Hagberg by 1/1000th of a second.

Third fastest in the morning Biagio Spataro was unable to better his time going only seventh fastest but the Italian teenager did post the fastest lap time of CP2.

View our event image gallery here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wischnewski tops first controlled practice

Dirk Wischnewski

Continuing his free practice pace Dirk Wischnewski has topped the first round of controlled practice this morning at the 200mm European Championships in Ettlingen, Germany.  The Xray driver set the pace over 7-minutes from Mugen’s Robert Pietsch with Italian teenager Biagio Spataro 3rd.

Wischnewski, who also set the fastest lap with 13.380, said his Orcan powered NT1 felt better than yesterday’s final day of free practice due to this morning’s cooler track conditions.  Using the practice to try his spare engine he said it was slightly too rich but overall he is happy that he is well set-up for qualifying.  Declaring he doesnt expect to be fastest in CP2, the final practice before this afternoon’s opening qualifier, the 2009 Champion will use the session to run a set of ‘Final’ tyres.

Robert Pietsch

‘Quite Happy’ was how Robert Pietsch summed up his run.  Running close to Wischnewski on track the 1:8 Onroad World Champion said it was possible to see his new MTX-5 was quicker through the right section of the track but that the Xray had the advantage on the left side.  Happy with the feeling of his car he will just make some very fine tuning adjustments to try and make his car better through the section after the main straight.  Pietsch said his pit stops need to improve with Wischnewski gaining about .5 of a second in the pits.

Spataro

16-year-old Spataro, who was one of the finds of the 2009 European Championships at Gubbio in Italy, used CP1 to run a second engine to ensure he has a good spare should he have any issues with his race engine. Not quite as good as his main engine he said he lost some time during his pitstop as his mechanic checked the engine temperature and adjusted the tuning but overall he is very happy with his pace.  Behind Spataro was another front runner from the Italian National Championship Giorgio De Felici who drives for current champion manufacturer Capricorn.

Jilles Groskamp

Fastest Team Shepherd driver with the fifth fastest time was Jilles Groskamp.  The Dutch ace said while his lap times were not ‘spectacular’ his Orion powered Velox V10 was very consistent.  Planning to run different springs in CP2 he said he and his mechanic were a little rusty on the pitstops and this was an area they need to work on.

Completing the Top 6 and just missing out on 31 laps was Xray’s Eric Dankel.  The German National Champion said his Novarossi powered NT1 was not as good as yesterday, the car having developed oversteer.  Making a few driver errors during his run, he said the oversteer resulted in very high tyre wear but he hopes by lowering the rear roll centre the steering should be better for CP2.

Mark Green

Setting the seventh fastest time with 30-laps in 7:02.785 was Team Serpent’s Mark Green followed very closely by top French driver Basile Concialdi at the controls of his Orion powered Capricorn LAB-C01.

View our event image gallery here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Volker angered by handling of additive accusations

Volker angered by handling of additive accusations

EFRA testing for tyre additive got off to a controversial start last night in Ettlingen when tyres from two drivers failed the test.  Drivers competing in the first four groups of heats had to present their tyres to the impound last night due to their early start time and during testing two failures where detected.

On making the discovery Frank Noens called a meeting of all the Team Managers where he informed them that two unnamed drivers had presented tyres that failed the test.  Noens, who is determined to tackle the issue with a heavy hand, put the decision on the action to be taken to the team managers who unanimously voted to exclude the drivers from the event.  Following the vote the team managers for Germany and Russia were asked to remain.  While no names where given publicly rumours of the German driver spread rapidly through the pit area with world class touring car driver Ronald Volker only becoming aware of his exclusion from his pitman Daniele Ielasi who inturn only heard of the problem from another competitor.

Tire bags

On further inspection of the two suspected treated tyres it was discovered the Russian driver had used a marker pen to write the diameter on his tyres, the chemicals of which resulted in the detection of a banned substance.  In Volker’s case a second & third test resulted in the tyres getting the all clear with the initial failure blamed on a contaminated bag, each driver having been issued with the impound bags by the race organisers.  After the retests the pending exclusion of both drivers was dropped and they will continue to compete in the event.

One of the sport’s most genuine and fair drivers, Volker was shocked to hear his tyres had failed and extremely annoyed that he had received no official correspondence regarding the issue only learning of the matter from fellow racers. Last night the German made his anger very clear on Facebook when he was critical of EFRA.  The post sparked a rafted of reactions with Vokler adding in a later post he wanted an apology from EFRA which on receiving he would delete the rapidly growing post.  On arrival at the track this morning Volker was asked by EFRA Secretary Willy Wuyts to remove the post, which he did, but the Team Shepherd driver said he is still waiting on an official apology.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

European 200mm title up for grabs in Ettlingen

Track

In the build up to all major championships the person to beat is the defending champion but at this year’s 1:10 Nitro Touring European Championships this is not the case with last year’s title winner Martin Christensen missing from the 121 car field here in Ettlingen, Germany.  The eighth running of the EFRA event, three of the five 200mm Euro champions are present with Team Xray’s Dirk Wischnewski, the man who lost his title to Christensen in Sweden 12-months ago, and fellow German Robert Pietsch the men everyone else is trying to match as the third day of free practice is completed.

Additive Test

Unfortunately on our arrival at the Ettlingen track the use of tyre additive was the big talking point.  A problem that dogged the 1:8 Onroad World & European Championships this year, doing great damage to the Formula 1 class of rc racing, the matter now looks like it may overshadow the 1:10 200mm event.  Having been caught out at the 1:8 Euros in Luxembourg 3-weeks ago, the sports ruling body EFRA have come to Germany a lot better prepared to deal with the matter.  A tyre impound area comes into effect from tomorrow with drivers having to present their tyres a minimum of 1 hour prior to their run.  In this time the tyres will be tested using a sniffer device but aware that this is unable to detect some of the newer chemicals known to be used in additive a Spectro Analyzer will also be used.  This procedure will see one of the tyres placed in water and a sample of that water tested in the Analyzer.  Due to the testing process it has been recommended that drivers present 6 tyres to impound.

EFRA 1:10 200mm Section Chairman Frany Noens demonstrated the procedure and the results of an untreated and treated tyre to representatives of the various manufacturer present in Ettlingen who praised him for his efforts to try and eradicate the problem.  Noens also made it very clear to both the manufacturers and the Team Managers that EFRA was taking the matter very seriously and anyone found using treated tyres would be sent home with their tyres sent to a lab for professional analysis so EFRA could proceed with having that driver banner from competition for 5-years.

Stand

With the matter of tyre additive hopefully put to rest, tyres will still play a big part with drivers reporting very high tyre wear which should make for interesting finals.  Unlike previous years the Top 4 at the end of qualifying will no longer qualify directly for the Main final instead all 10 finalists will have to bump up from the Semi finals.  The new format, which takes away a little from the honour of being Top Qualifier, meaning drivers first target will be on setting a qualifying time that puts them inside the Top 14 and a direct Semi final position.

Dirk Wishcnewski

A specialist of 200m racing, Wischnewski was happy with how the opening three days of practice had gone.  Having done a number of days pre-event testing, he described his Orcan powered NT1 as ‘perfect’ during Monday and Tuesday but said today’s blisteringly hot conditions had made for very different conditions and he had to work a little harder on his set-up.  Asked about the simple looking track layout the German said while it may not look a difficult track to drive it was actually quite hard to go fast around.

Robert Pietsch

Debuting the new Mugen MTX-5, the car’s designer Pietsch said he is pretty happy with how things have been going so far.  The 2010 World Championship Top Qualifier using the new car predessor, he said while he has tested his latest creation a lot, coming to a race situation is very different and they still have a lot to learn about how the new chassis reacts to various conditions.  Echoing Wischnewski regarding the track being more difficult to drive than it looks, the 1:8 World Champion said it was easy to overdrive and lose a large chunk of time.  Mugen have just three MTX-5 competing with Dutch ace Rick V and Italian 200mm specialist Francesco Tironi the other two drivers.  A podium finisher at last month’s 1:8 Euros, Rick V hasn’t run 200mm for two years and has used practice to reacclimatise to the class. A day behind the rest of the field having only arrived yesterday, he said the new car is very stable to drive and he hopes he will be more up to speed come qualifying which gets underway tomorrow afternoon after two rounds of controlled practice.

Schaefer

For German manufacturer Team Shepherd this is very much a home race with their factory less than 30-minutes from the track.  Team boss Patrick Schaefer who is competing himself is very upbeat admitting he has a lot of knowledge of the track.  The winners of the European B Championships in May with Patrick Nähr, Shepherd have brought in Electric Touring Car top guns in former champions Ronald Volker and Jilles Groskamp who came to Germany directly from making the final at the electric Euros in Austria last Sunday.  Groskamp is an experienced nitro driver being Top qualifier at the 2008 Worlds while for Euro Touring Series Champion Volker nitro is still a relatively new experience. Groskamp said for him the track does not offer much of a challenge and is more about car & engine rather than driver ability. Volker said he is still trying to adapt to nitro but with former World Champion Daniele Ielasi as his pit man he is sure to be one to watch for.

In addition to Wischnewski current World Champion manufacturer Xray have two more potential winners in Alexander Hagberg and Eric Dankel both of whom were pleased with their pace in free practice.  Hagberg has been close to winning his first EC title for the past two years finishing runner up in both Italy and his home country of Sweden.  The world class electric touring car driver said he found the track quite easy and although he struggled a little today after fitting a new engine he feels all should be fine for qualifying.

Michael Salven

Elsewhere the winner of the inaugural 200mm EC in 2003, which he successfully defended in 2004, Michael Salven said he struggled a little today as did the other double champion Dario Balestri.  The co-owner of Serpent, Salven said he went from having understeer yesterday to oversteer today while everyone else complained at loosing steering due to the hot conditions.  Team-mate Mark Green was very happy with his 733 saying everything has been running really well.  Using Serpent’s new SL6 gearbox the multiple British Champion said the new unit is far more consistent that the previous version.

While today drivers got baked in the sun it is not looking too good for Friday with the forecast predicting the arrival of heavy rain tomorrow evening.  Our coverage, which is supported by Team Shepherd, Matrix Racing Tyres and Mugen Seiki, will get up to full speed tomorrow when we will have updates after each of the two control practices and opening two qualifiers.

View our event image gallery here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Introduction

Red RC are in Chico, California at Outback Raceway for the 2014 JConcepts Summer Indoor Nationals. Some of the best racers from around California (including some World Champions), as well as neighbouring states, will be attending this event to battle it out for victory in this electric offroad event. Red RC's coverage of the event begins in full on Friday morning (11th) and we will be trackside bringing you reports, insights, videos and photos directly from the track throughout the event.

Local time in Chico, USA

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