Naoto Matsukura has finally come good at the World Championships in Japan, with the pre-event favourite TQ’ing the third round of qualifying from Q1 & 2 pace setter Bruno Coelho. After a frustrating 2WD event, in which he finished 20th overall, the Kyosho driver had a close battle with Coelho to take the Q3 by 0.266 of a second with David Ronnefalk again completing the Top 3. Overall it was a better performance from the host nation’s star drivers with qualifying top seed Yusuke Sugiura also putting in his best performance to take a fourth for the round.
Having lost steering in Q1, the speedo traced as the cause of the problem, and then struggled with the settings of a new speedo fitted his Lazer ZX6, Matsukura said Q3 was ‘perfect’. 8th fastest in Q2, the Warm-up Race winner and 2013 Vice-Champion said that his run was hampered by the speedo having a different feeling leading to early mistakes. Having too much punch, with that rectified for Q3 the 22-year-old said he had a good feeling with the car which he said also had ‘good speed’. A major confidence boost for the 4-time Onroad World Champion, he said the focus is to ‘keep it going now’.
No stranger to battling with Matsukura, finishing a very close second to the then Yokomo driver at the Touring Car World Championships in Florida, Coelho would lose out on a potential overall TQ due to a mistake. Asked about the roll the electric offroad novice said ‘I am all the time learning’. Over jumping at the table top he would land wide and trying to get back onto his line turned too early causing his XB4 to traction roll. Despite the ‘rookie mistake’, he said it was still a good qualifier and again he was full of praise for his car which again would set the fastest lap for the round.
Describing his third qualifying run as ‘even better’, Ronnefalk is clearly growing in confidence with his HB car. Putting more weight in his D413 this ‘found steering’ with the Swede able to make a ‘huge improvement’ in pace. Knocking 2/10ths of a second off his lap times he feels he can now challenge for a TQ run. Making one error when he overshot the roller and flat landed it he said his ‘times are now pretty close to Bruno and Naoto’s highlighted by the fact that they were the only 3-drivers to run an 18-lap qualifier.
Sugiura said Q3 was better but admitted it was a nervous 5-minutes. Posting a 10th and 11th for the opening two qualifiers, the Warm-up Race podium finisher said he knew he needed a good result and the pressure of that got to him a bit. With the P4 lifting the pressure a little he is targeting a repeat run in the day’s closing qualifier.
View the complete overall qualifying standings after Rd3 here (PDF).
Bruno Coelho has backed up his impressive Q1 topping performance with another TQ run in the second round of qualifying at the IFMAR World Championships at the Yatabe Arena. Despite a less perfect run, the Xray driver making one mistake when he rolled his XB4 in front of the drivers stand losing over 3-seconds, Coelho would still top the times. With the margin this time only half a second rather than the massive 5-seconds he had in Q1 second would be Michal Orlowski with David Ronnefalk third a further 1.5-seconds adrift. It would turn out being an all European Top 6 with Tom Cockerill fourth followed by former European Champions Martin Bayer and Lee Martin with American Ryan Maifield posting a P7 run.
‘Not perfect but still really really good’ that was the reaction of the 1:10 Offroad World Championship debutant Coelho. Having only made his international event debut last month at the Euro Offroad Series in Germany, the star of onroad racing said while they knew from testing at the Hudy Racing Arena prior to travelling to Japan that the new XB4 would be good he ‘didn’t expect as much from the car’. Posting the fastest lap of qualifying so far with a 17.124, Orlowski and Ronnefalk’s best being 17.4 laps, he said he just needs to drive the car. Asked about his error which saw his car tumble across lanes and require marshalling, he replied ‘It was just a bad landing, I think it landed on its back wheel’. For Q3, when he could potentially claim the overall TQ, he said the plan was to go out and try to repeat what he’s done so far only less the Q2 mistake.
Another driver to make a mistake in front of the driver stand, Orlowski said other than the single mistake it was a ‘very good run’. Explaining his mistake the Schumacher driver said ‘I jumped too far and then when I turned in it traction rolled’ adding that he felt grip was higher in Q2. Surviving a number of moments when his CAT K2 got up on two wheels, the reigning European Champion and EOS front runner said he is ‘too slow to catch Bruno’ and for Q3 he will ‘try to change something in the car to get it to go faster’.
‘No stupid nerves that time’ was the reaction of a much more relaxed looking Ronnefalk. Having struggled to hit his lines in Q1, he said in the warm-up he knew changes to his HB meant he had a much better car leaving him relaxed for the qualifier. Changing the steering geometry and shock set-up, he said his D413 was way better. Rolling over once which cost him ‘about a second’, for Q3 he will leave the car unchanged with tyres his main focus, the Swede unsure whether to continue on the same set of Schumacher controlled tyre which have already done Q1 & 2, or fit new ones.
Cockerill, whose previous best at a Worlds was 20th place in Chico, said he ‘over the moon’ with his P4. A surprise second in the first qualifier, the Yokomo driver said he just did the same thing as Q1 and kept it clean. Describing his YZ-4 as a ‘little bit edgy’, he said he wants to go for thicker sway bars but doesn’t want to change it considering the results he is getting out of it as is. Saying he is ‘not the fastest in his heat’, the British driver running in the second fastest group, he said ‘everyone else is crashing’.
Having dropped from running a TQ pace in Q1 to finishing up 31st after a series of driver errors, Bayer said he just went for a ‘super safe run’. The lead Xray driver said ‘I know the car has the pace’ but that time I needed to get good points so went safe’. With Jared Tebo and Naoto Matsukura running behind him, he said it wasn’t easy but he was happy to get a P5. For Q3 he will again take the ‘safe approach’.
Completing the Top 6, Lee Martin was annoyed that he again made an error at the same spot as he did in Q1. The Euro Offroad Series Champion, who kicked off his title defence recently with a win in Germany, said his ‘pace is ok’ but he is ‘not driving amazing’ with the mistake costing him 3-seconds. On the blind approach to the table top he said he was told his Yokomo caught the dots sending it onto the jump upside down. Having traction rolled coming off the table top in Q1, he said hopefully its third time lucky in the next one and I don’t crash there.
Asked how his qualifying was going, Maifield replied, ‘better than some’. Having one mistake in Q2, the TLR driver said his TLR22-4 is ‘really consistent and easy to drive’. While admitting to not being able to better 17.4 lap times, the American said the cars got Top 5 performance but he needs to put together a clean full run. Behind Maifield, Matsukura would set the 8th fastest time with Kaito Akimoto and Kohta Akimoto rounding off the Top 10.
View the complete overall qualifying standings after Rd2 here (PDF).
Bruno Coelho has TQ’d the opening round of qualifying at the 1:10 4WD Offroad World Championships in Japan. Having ended yesterday’s seeding practice second fastest, the Xray driver would go on top the first of the five qualifiers by a substantial margin of almost 5-seconds from Yokomo driver Tom Cockerill. The start of qualifying would be very much a European affair with Michal Orlowski and David Ronnefalk next up, 2nd to 4th covered by just 0.024 of a second. With top seed Yusuke Sugiura suffering ‘too many mistakes’, the Kyosho driver would end up tenth while reigning champion Steven Hartson would continue to struggling posting only the 24th fastest time. One of the pre-event favourites, Naoto Matsukura was in contention for the TQ until his Kyosho steering locked left as a result of an electrics issue. The powerhouse nation of offroad, the best American for Q1 would be Carson Wernimont in 5th.
‘No mistakes, the run was perfect’, was how Coelho summed up Q1. Racing in only his second ever major 1:10 Offroad event, the 22-year-old said, ‘I was just driving safely looking to get a Top 10 for the round’. Describing his XB4 as ‘really amazing’, the European Nitro Touring Car Champion said after at the start he did for a moment have concerns something was wrong. Running on used tyres, the Portuguese star said the rear of the car was loose and on each of the opening two laps he had to save the buggy from crashing. Thinking ‘whats happened’ he said from the 3rd lap on it was perfect allowing him to run clean to the end of the 5-minutes. Looking to Q2, he said he planned to leave the car as is and ‘try to repeat again’ his run. Xray team-mate Martin was laying down the early TQ pace but after a mistake the Czech driver struggled to regain his rhythm leading to more costly errors that left him 31st.
‘Pretty epic’ was Cockerill’s reaction to his surprise pace. The British driver said ‘I just cruised around with no mistakes’ admitting to losing a few 1/10th as nerves kicked in over the closing laps. Opting for used tyres to give him an easier car with which to go for a banker, the former Schumacher designer said his Yokomo team was still ‘lacking a touch of pace’ and aiming for another banker in Q2 he expects others to feature more strongly as they get more consistent over the 5-minutes.
European Champion Orlowski said he went for a safe run but still made mistakes and also having an issue with traffic felt combined they cost him around 4-seconds. Having found his car twitchy in seeding practice yesterday, the 14-year-old said after trying a shorter wheelbase in the morning’s practice run they went back and the car was now working really good. Happy with the result, saying a Top 3 was his goal, the Schumacher driver said his CAT K2 was good and he will just fit new rear tyres or Q2.
Describing his fourth as ‘decent’, HB’s David Ronnefalk added ‘I wont say it was super fast but it was clean at least’. With his Orion powered D413 ‘really good’, the Swede said he got ‘super nervous’ starting out but stayed that way throughout the 5-minute causing him to not once hit his lines but luckily he didn’t crash. Feeling the ‘pace is there’, he said ‘I just need to relax, hit my lines and I should go faster’. Team-mate Ty Tessmann would take his D814 to the 7th fastest ahead of TLR’s Ryan Maifield.
Saying ‘we’ve come a long way from yesterday to today’, Wernimont felt it was a ‘pretty good’ start to qualifying. Suffering one crash which required the new Yokomo signing’s YZ-4 to be marshalled, he said the rest of the run was ‘pretty safe’. Planning some small set-up tweaks for Q2, he said the main aim is just to keep his driving clean.
Behind Wernimont, former 2WD World Champion Hayato Matsuzaki was pleasantly surprised to complete the Top 6. The Yokomo driver said ‘it went better than I thought’ adding like Wernimont they have ‘improved a lot’ the YZ-4. Aiming to keep his car the same, he said having crashed twice in Q1 he would try to improve his driving. Yokomo lead driver Lee Martin would end the round 11th.