Although he secured the Top Qualifier honours in the penultimate round, Elliott Boots capped off qualifying at the 1:8 Offroad European Championships in style with a 3rd TQ run in the final round. The defending champion would further improve on his best time over the 5-minutes to top the round from David Ronnefalk, the Swede ending up third overall which means he will line-up right behind the Brit in Semi-A. Rounding out qualifying with the third quickest time, which would end as one off his dropped rounds, Darren Bloomfield secures pole for the Semi-B ahead of Q1 TQer Davide Ongaro, the young Italian completing qualifying at RC Redovan with a P5. Two drivers to end qualifying with their best performances of the five rounds would be Martin Wollanka and Joern Nuemann claiming a P3 and P6 respectively.
‘I could be a bit more relaxed that one as whatever happened happened, but I finished 2-seconds up on David (Ronnefalk) so I’m happy with that’, was Boots’ reaction to Q5. Also the overall Top Qualifier last year in Italy, the biggest change they would make for the final qualifier would be to run his Reds Racing engine more rich as it was ‘so hot today’ with tomorrow’s Semi Finals set to run around a similar time of the day. He added, ‘it was a little slower on the straight but we knew that and overall we were still faster which is good for tomorrow’. Asked about run time, he replied, ‘We’ll probably play safe, I think everyone will as you cant afford to miss a lap because its so big’.
Commenting on his P2 overall Bloomfield said, ‘I’m happy with that. If you said to me on the journey over I would be second I would have said that will do me as I was very slow in Italy. I didn’t make the final there. Now me and Elliot are the most consistent’. Having to deal with understeer in Q4, the Agama driver would remove the under-drive from his A215, reverting to the standard drive and while ‘you need to be a lot more careful’ he was happier with the feeling and found steering. With the overdrive he said you were ‘burying the throttle everywhere to the get the car to pull out of the corner but now you can be more gentle with the throttle which is gaining fuel mileage’. He added, ‘I cant find steering with overdrive so I think I am going to go with the standard for the finals’. Switching to a hard compound Beta V-Max tyre for the final qualifier, a tyre which when he ran it in controlled practice caused a big drop off in pace, he said now he still had the same pace, helped by the overdrive removal.
‘Car was really good that last one’ was how Ronnefalk summed up the final qualifier. Losing 1-second on the last lap when he tangled with a crashed car just before the loop, the Swede said that wouldn’t have changed the result and for him the big thing was that they were able to improve the car from the morning qualifier. The HB Racing driver said, ‘I felt comfortable with the car and feel I can run this pace over a longer run’. Planning to just rebuild his Orion powered D815 but leave it unchanged in terms of set-up, on run time the 20-year-old said, ‘you need to be really sure of your mileage because if you miss a lap here you may be in trouble’. The 2013/14 champion concluded, ‘its a long way for the marshals to get your car so its going to be very important to stay on your wheels in the finals’.
‘Looking at the start I had, to qualify P4 is better than expected’ was Ongaro’s view on qualifying P4. The Mugen driver would use Q5 to test different tyres. Having run Procircuit’s Road Runner throughout the event he switched to the Spanish company’s new prototype tyre which fellow Mugen drivers Batlle and the Baldo brothers have been running but he will revert back for the finals. The 15-year-old said the new tyre was good but for him the Road Runner had more traction while still offering more corner speed, adding the wear was also better. Asked about fuel stops for the Semi final, he said while they could run over 8-minutes from his LRP engine ‘it was too risky because of long lap so we will would pit on 7-minutes’.
Ending up 5th overall, Batlle said for the last one, ‘we tried a different set-up which was not so good’. With an improvement not possible he said with his younger brother Dani in contention for a Semi position he backed off on the last lap to try help him but he failed to make the cut. Planning a few changes to test in the Semi Practice he said they will be ok for the race, the Spaniard adding, ‘I’m confident with the car and we are super close so I’m happy’.
Securing sixth overall, Bryan Baldo said, ‘I’m very happy, it’s my first time to qualify Top 10 at a European Championships’. Making a switch to Procircuit’s Road Runner tyre for the final qualifier, the race host and track owner said, ‘it works well but was less predictable than the prototype (tyre) so I will go back for the Semi Final’. With his brother Oscar also making the Semis with 10th overall which puts them up against one another for a bump up position, Bryan said, ‘tomorrow I will just try and drive a good Semi and try to make the final’.
Top Xray with seventh overall, Wollanka was happy with his Q5 performance but felt his shocks were too soft for the hot temperatures adding the P4 was down to a clean run with ‘the lap times not so fast’. Planning to run heavier shock oil in the Semi, the Austrian said his XB8 was ‘consistent’ but he will try a combination of the best things from his previous set-ups in the Semi practice. Switching to Hot Race tyres for the event, the former podium finisher was again running the Roma pattern and as he ‘like(s) it’ and will stay on them for the Semi.
Finishing fifth in Italy last year having qualified 6th overall there, Neumann claimed 9th this time round just behind TLR’s Marco Baruffolo. Sixth in the final qualifier boosted the Serpent driver’s result considerably, the German saying afterwards, ‘I needed a safe one as in the first one I was fast but crashed’. Describing his Maxima powered SRX8 as ‘good’, for the Semi he would ‘just check everything over and its good to go’. Asked about the longer race distance, the multiple electric offroad European Champion said, ‘we have been working on longer distance set-up from the start as you need an easy car for this track, so the set-up is already good for finals’. Running Pro-Line’s Fugitive tyre he will stick with that for the Semi saying it ‘should last 20-minutes easy and for 45 it should be OK too’.
Piero ‘No Fuffa’ Cresta from Italian company Fast Race showed us some interesting new products he has on display here in Spain. In the tools department we were shown new black and gold hex drivers as well a precision scale that features a 3D printed differential housing, handy to gauge the oil quantity in the diff. New for both the Mugen MBX7R and the Associated RC8B, and available in different colours, are 3D printed receiver battery boxes, while just for the MBX7R are new Kevlar mud guards to be mounted to the rear arms.
Despite being a newcomer in the offroad scene, Hot Race tyres is making good progress and is showing well here in Spain due in part to their new Amazzonia tire. Created to answer the need for a low wear tire, the Amazzonia features small square pins laid out in a very tight pattern so as to improve their longevity. The shape of the tire features rounder edges compared to the rest of their line, and sports reinforced side walls.
Chassis – Mugen MBX7R Engine – Ultimate M4R Tyres – Procircuit Road Runner Blue Fuel – Nitrolux Radio/Servos – Sanwa /Power HD Body – Ultimate MBX7 Pro Buggy
Remarks – One of the event organisers here on his home track in Redovan, Spanish front runner Bryan Baldo is running an MBX7R equipped with a carbon servo saver plate and some Fastrace options such as the 20g rear chassis weight, carbon battery mount and +5mm rear shock mounts.
Reigning champion Elliott Boots is Top Qualifier at the 1:8 Offroad European Championships, the Kyosho driver claiming the honour early with a second TQ run in the penultimate round of qualifying in Spain. Opening the second day of qualifying with his fastest time around the huge RC Redovan track, Boots would top the times ahead of fellow Brit Darren Bloomfield who was just 2/10ths off the Q4 pace. Winner of the second round of qualifying, Davide Ongaro would complete the Top 3 ahead of yesterday’s other TQ driver David Ronnefalk, a bad tyre choice ending the Swede’s chances of overall TQ honours.
‘Stage one complete I suppose’, was Boots reaction to claiming his second consecutive Euros TQ which last year he was able to convert into a first European title.Switching to the light version of Pro-Line’s Fugitive tyre for the fourth qualifier he said the tyre was really good adding it might be an option for the Semi Final.Having run the standard Fugitive in the previous qualifiers, he said while the tyre is around 3/10th slower than the light it the perfect tyre for the Main adding his MP9 is ‘really comfortable and nice & easy to drive’.While the overall TQ is already wrapped up, the former World Championship Top Qualifier’s competitive instinct hasn’t waned.Asked if he would use Q5 to test for anything for the finals, he replied, ‘It would be nice to have the TQ with three perfect scores’.
Pleased with another P2 run,Bloomfield said, ‘we ran the car the same but it understeered a bit and that was on my mind the whole run’.The Agama driver added, ‘Idon’t know why really (it had understeer) but we will have to try something (for Q5) but I haven’t thought it through yet’.One idea he has it to glue the insert to the wheel but as Beta tyres come pre glued he said ’its a big job’.The 2012 Champion said ‘seeing as I was that close (to Boots) I don’t know if I need to change much’. He continued, ‘I was slow through the whoops once and then on the uphill section I hit the pipe which put me out in the dust.Without these I could easy have been 2-seconds ahead of Elliott’s time’.
15-year-old Ongaro was pleased with the start to his day, the Italian’s only report a mistake in the whoops which he said cost him about 1-second.With the only change to his Mugen a fresh set of Procircuit Road Runner tyres he said the car was ‘again all perfect’.With the result locking him into the Semi after a poor Q1, the reigning European Junior Champion said the plan for the final qualifier is to ‘just push’.
‘OK, I went for the wrong compound’ was Ronnefalk’s reaction to Q4.Going for a soft AKA Zipps tyre he said it was too soft leading to ‘one pretty rough lap as the car was tricky to drive’.The HB Racing driver added ‘I’m sure the problem was just the compound as it was good in the warm-up but then in the race to good hard to drive’.The former back to back champion said ‘even with the car not good I could still get 4th so its all good and the aim now for the last one is to get the pole for the Semi B’.
Deciding in the end to copy his brother in changing to a heaver centre diff in his Mugen, Bryan Baldo said he ‘didn’t like it’ but was happy to get a 5th for the round.Planning to go back down in the diff for Q5, the Spaniard said with three solid qualifiers now he would use the final qualifier to try some things, one being a different tyres just to get a comparison to the new prototype tyre he has been running thus far in qualifying.His brother Oscar who got a P9 for the round also didn’t like the diff change and he too will revert back.
2015 finalist Marco Baruffolo would claim his first Top 6 but the TLR driver wasn’t overly happy with the run.The Italian said ‘I never got the whoops right so I never had one clean lap’.Adding one degree more anti squat for the round, this improved his Picco powered 8ight giving him more corner speed but needing another good run he will make no more changes for the final qualifier and try drive cleaner especially through the whoops. Behind Baruffolo, surprise of Q1 João Figueiredo would post a second Top 10 finish with a P7 to go with his P5.
Elsewhere Robert Battle would end up 21st after a simple mistake but as he tried to return to the track his Mugen got caught up on one of the pipe retaining pins costing him over 6-seconds. Other than this the former World Champion said his car was good as he posted his best lap of qualifying with a 52.739.
David Ronnefalk finally came good in the third round of qualifying at the 1:8 Euros in Spain to become the third different driver to post a TQ run in Redovan. The championship’s last back to back champion, the HB Racing driver concluded the first day of qualifying with the overall fastest time finishing 4/10ths of second up on Darren Bloomfield. Taking the opening qualifier and second in Q2, Elliott Boots would complete the Top 3, the reigning champion holding the overnight TQ ahead of tomorrow’s final two qualifiers. Taking the TQ in the second qualifier, Davide Ongaro would back up his P1 run with fifth just behind Mugen team-mate Robert Batlle with Byran Baldo completing the Top 6.
Summing up his improved performance a much happier looking Ronnefalk said, ‘That was really good’. Winner of the Warm-up Race but up to now lacking the ultimate pace of his rivals, the Swede continued, ‘it was stressful after Q2, the car was just too slow even though I had a good run so we decided to do a full rebuild’. Using the rebuild to take a different direction with the set-up, the 20-year-old said this decision ‘turned out great, it helped find the pace we needed’. With his Orion powered D815 ‘faster’ after the changes, it was also ‘easier to drive then before’ but he said ‘it got a little more difficult to drive at the end of the heat’. Feeling the car is maybe ‘too soft’ he said they will ‘try something for tomorrow’.
‘Very good’ was how Bloomfield described Q3. The Agama driver said his A215 seems to work better in the cooler weather and this was the key big factor in his improvement, the British driver setting the fastest lap of the round. With the ‘temperature coming to the car’, the Brit admitted he was ‘tempted to go down in the tyre (compound) as (he) though it would be better as it was colder’ but said the decision to stick with the medium compound BetaV-Max ‘worked out good’. His second P2 of the day leaving him third overall overnight, he said they the need to try for hotter conditions to imitate how the cars feels on a cooler track with ‘harder tyres and maybe different roll bars are the way to go’.
A driver who looks to be driving well within his limits, when asked about Q3 Boots replied, ‘I had bad luck really as a hurricane came through during the heat and I had to almost roll the back jumps which cost me the TQ’. He continued, ‘I’m just a little unlucky as there is a lot of wind in my run while the other 2 (top heats) are OK. Hopefully tomorrow it might be the other way round’. Happy to leave the track with the overnight TQ, the British driver concluded, ‘the others seem to be pushing quite hard while I’m more comfortable with my car which is what you want for the finals so it’s looking good so far’.
‘We found the steering we needed but we need more forward traction’ was Batlle’s reaction to his P4 in Q3. Improving his Mugen’s steering by reducing the rear toe in, the Spaniard said he had a little issue with traffic but said of the day overall it was ‘not bad. Two 3rds and 5th enough to be in the Semi Finals’. Feeling the traction he is lacking, highlighting its ‘just a little not a lot’, is in his MBX7R he said ‘we don’t know exactly what we need to change but maybe after I talk with my pillow tonight I will have the solution for the morning’.
Declaring himself ‘super happy’ with his Mugen, Ongaro described Q3 as ‘another good clean drive’. Needing another good run to lock himself into a semi final position as he managed only a P21 in Q1, the Italian teenager said he will play it safe in Q4 but ‘after that will go for it’, that being another TQ run. Having left his MBX7R unchanged all day, only changing to a different tyre insert for Q2, he said the only planned change for tomorrow would be to fit a fresh set of the Procircuit Road Runners that have been his choice all day.
Posting a second P6 run for the day in Q3, two driver errors in the opening qualifier leaving him only the 30th fastest time, Bryan Baldo said a decision to run a plus 5mm rear shock mount had made the rear end of his Mugen more stable. Feeling he found good rhythm allowing him to but together good laps he said ‘we need to find a little more speed to get close to the top’. With his younger brother Oscar, who sits sixth in the overnight standings with three Top 9 runs, planning to try to find extra speed from switching to a harder oil in the centre diff of his MBX7R, Bryan will play safe and leave his car unchanged for Q4 wth the aim of registering a decent third run so he can drop his Q1 result.
Wrapping up the day with his best qualifier, Xray’s Martin Wollanka posted the 7th fastest time. The Austrian, who had a P8 in Q2, said the run was better but felt his ‘last lap was not so good’. The former podium finisher added, ‘I prefer racing to qualifying but hopefully we can get one more good run tomorrow’. Asked about his FX powered XB8, he said, ‘it works very well and for me I would be happy to leave it unchanged but maybe Juraj (Hudy) has some things he wants me to try’. Behind Wollanka, Oscar Baldo was 8th quickest with the Mugen of Juan Carlos Canas and Serpent’s Joern Nuemann completing the Top 10.