Having conceded Q3 to Ronald Volker with a series of driver errors Bruno Coelho jumped back into control of qualifying at the Touring Car World Championship in China. Claiming his third TQ run, the Xray driver was to top the fourth round ahead of Marc Fischer as his so far closest rival Volker crashed on the final lap breaking his Yokomo when a P2 was on the cards. Running in the same heat as Fischer, heat 14 of 15, Akio Sobue would get a third followed by Alexander Hagberg, both drivers not happy with the cars for the round. Having broken into the Top 6 for the first time in the previous round, Marc Rheinard would again post a P5 run ahead Yokomo’s Nicholas Lee.
With only Volker now able to deny him the overall TQ in Beijing, Coelho said his latest qualifier was ‘very good’ but added ‘the set of tyres was not good’. Making sure not to repeat the mistakes that left him P3 in the previous round, the 2014 Vice Champion said his Hobbywing powered T4 2017 ‘had super steering one side and not good other side’ something he said was down to the new set of tyres, Q4 designated a new tyre round. With the rear end getting loose a number of times at the end of the straight he said the way the car ran was ‘super strange’. Having to use the same set of tyres for the penultimate qualifier which will bring Day 3 of the Worlds to a close, he said he will have to ‘be careful’.
Having a previous best of a P7 in Q3, Fischer said ‘for sure it was something with the tyres, maybe I got lucky with my set’. Driving for the Italian manufacturer Capricorn, who are better known for their onroad nitro achievements which include the TQ at this year’s 200mm World Championship, the German said, ‘I also changed the car (set-up) and it was better but the biggest point was the tyres’. On his own driving he said, ‘at the beginning I take it a little bit easy expecting the car to push but it was better than before’. He continued, ‘I got lucky Ronald crashed but I’m happy with second’.
Having spun on his opening lap in the previous round missing out on a TQ run by just under 1/10th of a second, Sobue joked, ‘this time no spin’. The Tamiya Racing Factory driver continued ‘we made a small change, not good, the rear was loose and I can’t push’. With his car competitive in Q3, the 2014 Finalist who qualified 7th in Florida, plans to revert back to that set-up for Round 5.
After starting the day with a motor issue but solving it for Q3, Hagberg would suffer further electrical problems. The Xray driver said changes to his chassis gave him a ‘much better’ car but after 3-minutes he ‘had no power’. Asked what the problem is he said the electric are ‘overheating’ and this ‘probably cost me 2nd place’.
A somewhat defeated looking Rheinard said, ‘the car is good for the first minute but then it just gets slower’. Setting the fastest lap of the round, he continued, ‘Fischer could close in on me so easy, I just have no grip’. Looking at the time sheets he said, ‘working on 3-laps I’m almost there’. With Coelho best three consecutive laps 52.772, Rheinard was the only other drive to manage a 52-second pace on 52.810. It was an improved round for former World Champions with 2012 Champ Jilles Groskamp getting into the Top 10 for the first time with a P8 behind a much improved Awesomatix of Viljami Kutvonen who also posted his first Top 10 run. Inaugural Champion Atsushi Hara, who was seeded fifth, managed to round out the Top 10 however former team-mate & 2006 Champion Andy Moore, now team-mate of Groskamp at Team Infinity, couldn’t keep his run of P8s going, a mistake leaving him 13th fastest.
Talking after the round, Volker said, ‘we were head to head but half way the car started to understeer’. He continued, ‘I felt close again’, his fastest lap marginally quicker than Coelho’s. Asked about his error, the European Champions said, ‘the last lap I jumped the curb slightly and something broke and I lost second’. Afterwards Volker’s race engineer Yukijiro Umino confirmed the prototype BD8 suffered a broken c-hub.
Remarks – Top Singapore driver PY Tang is using the R11 from ARC with some new protype parts including motor mount and a new coating on the shock absorbers. Running optional low friction belts and pullies as well as hard plastic parts, PY came to the race with his base setup but has worked hard to get the car to steer more, changing to softer rear diff oils and harder shock oils. Still looking for more he has changed from progressive to liner springs while fine tuning the settings on his electronics to get more consistent power throughout the run.
Ronald Volker has TQ’ the third round of qualifying, the Yokomo driver capitalising on a number of mistakes from Q1 & 2 pace setter Bruno Ceolho. Running in the second fastest heat at the World Championships, Akio Sobue would set the benchmark for the top heat with an impressive time which Volker would just manage to better, his advantage over the 5-minutes only 0.095 of a second. For Coelho, who ran a slower time than Q2 while everyone else went faster, the round would give the Xray driver a P3 ahead of team-mate Alexander Hagberg. Having struggled in the opening two qualifiers just scraping Top 10 times, Q3 would be a big step forward for Marc Rheinard as he posted the fifth fastest time the gap to the TQ pace down from over 5 to 1.8-seconds.
While Volker declared ‘it’s a perfect result’ he conceded, ‘I definitely took benefit from the mistakes Bruno made’. Running Yokomo’s new BD8, he continued ‘but overall we are now closer (to Coelho)’. Making a shock change this made it ‘a bit better’ but it is ‘still not where we want to have the car’. Describing the current set-up as ‘a little too difficult to drive’ he said they will try to improve that for the second half of qualifying, 2 of the remaining 3 qualifiers still to be run today in Beijing. Shadowing Coelho over the run, setting the fastest lap of the round, Volker said while he could see he was faster than Coelho he knew he needed to keep pushing for a good time to beat Sobue and while close it ‘paid off’.
‘The car was super good but I one time spin on the first lap’, was how Sobue summed up his qualifier. Spinning in the chicane on the left side of the track, the Japanese ace said, ‘I touched the curb, my mistake’ adding ‘with no mistake I take TQ’. Having struggled with tyre drop off in the previous heat on his way to a P5 time, a shock change had given the car ‘better consistency’ over the qualifier. Happy with the shocks after the change and planning to leave them as is for Q4, the 1:12 World Championship podium finisher plans to make ‘a very small adjustment’ to another element of the car opting to not divulge what that would be.
Coelho gave a very simple explanation for not topping the times saying, ‘Three mistakes on three consecutive laps’. The reigning electric offroad World Champion said, ‘after the first mistake I tried to make back the time and made another mistake and then trying to make up for them both I made a third one’. Putting his mistakes aside he said, ‘the car is there, I was leading comfortably’. Hagberg described his P4 as ‘another solid run’. The 2014 Finalist added, ‘I lost too much time at the beginning again so we will make a set-up change to try improve the pace at the start’.
Running a different diff, Rheinard said while it was ‘a little better. It is still not great’. He continued, ‘for sure there is a lot of difference in the tyres’, adding ‘look at Viktor, right up there in the first two and now nowhere’. Getting a P20, Wilck himself felt his drop off was down to tyres saying the set was good yesterday in controlled practice but not good for the qualifier. Designated a used tyres round of qualifying, the 2004/8/10 World Champion said his TRF419X ‘starts good but then doesn’t feel to have a lot of bite’. Asked if he planned any car changes for Q4 he said, ‘to be honest I don’t know, I hope for new tyres’. Behind Rheinard, Yokomo’s Nicolas Lee again completed the Top 6 ahead of Capricorn’s Marc Fischer, Team Infinity’s Andy Moore, Yokomo young gun Naoki Akiyama and the Tamiya of Christopher Krapp.
Having concluded yesterday’s action by taking the opening round of qualifying, Bruno Coelho continues to be the man to beat at the Electric Touring Car World Championships in China. With four rounds of qualifying on today’s schedule, the Xray driver opened the third day of the event with a second TQ run again having the edge over Yokomo Ronald Volker. With Volker setting the early pace, it’s a blue sky sunny morning in Beijing, Coelho would put in a strong second half to top the times by 1.4 seconds. Behind them Alexander Hagberg would complete the Top 3, the Swede getting ahead of Q1 P3 finisher Viktor Wilck.
‘A good start to the day’ was Coelho’s reaction afterwards but the Portuguese ace was less impressed by his own start to the qualifier. He said, ‘the first three laps I had some mistakes as I forced a little too much’ adding it is ‘harder’ today as ‘the track is super hot’. Commenting that pushing too hard early on will leave you struggling with the tyres by the end, he said as his driving improved he was able to make back the time he lost early, adding his T4 ‘was ok to the end’. Leaving his car unchanged despite the much warmer conditions compared to the evening time Q1, he plans to again keep it the same for Q3.
Volker summed his second qualifier as ‘a similar story to yesterday’. ‘Matching Bruno’ and ‘probably a little ahead’ over the first two & a half minutes, the German said ‘half way through I start to loose overall grip’. Making a set-up change after Q1, he said while it was better it left his new BD8 ‘difficult but fast’ and with drop off still a problem they ‘definitely need more set-up changes’. He concluded, ‘P2 is OK but I want more’.
Having reported a drop off in motor power after his P4 time in Q1, Hagberg said, ‘we solved the motor problem and I had consistent power for the whole run’. With a new motor the solution to the problem, the Xray driver felt there is further improvement to come from his driving. Finishing little over a second off Volker, the former European Champion said, ‘I was driving too cautiously at the start which lost me time’.
With the P3 and P4 order the reverse in Q1, the drivers appear to have also swapped issues. Losing out to fellow countryman Hagberg in the second half of the qualifier, Wilck reported a motor problem for Q2. Declaring it an ‘ok’ run, the Serpent driver added, ‘my motor slowed down too much the last minute’. Having lacked power due to a conservative speedo setting yesterday, turning up the power setting this morning he said while ‘a little better’ it was ‘still slow’. Feeling the hot track temperature may have been a factor, talking to 4X designer David Ehrbar, he will fit a new motor and also gear up for Q3.
Going one better than Q1 to post the 5th fastest time, Akio Sobue would be the top Tamiya for the second qualifier. With team-mates Marc Rheinard and Christopher Krapp P9 & 10 behind former Champion Andy Moore, the Japanese said changes to his TRF419X had improved the car over the first 2-minutes but he had a big drop off. The 22-year-old said, ‘I can’t save the tyres so we will make a small change to try and get it more consistent (over the 5-minutes)’.
With Yokomo using these World Championship to launch their new BD8 platform, running prototypes of the upcoming kit release, Nicolas Lee put his example in the Top 6 ahead of team-mate Loic Jasmin. P7 in the opening round when a diff bearing issue left the belt tension loose, the Singapore driver ‘just fixed that’ and ran the set-up unchanged for Q2. Saying the ‘car is good’ he added ‘I just need to drive better’. Running a P4 pace in the top heat, the 25-year-old said he ‘got a little nervous’ causing him to drop a little off the pace.
Remarks – Current European Champion and 5-time ETS Champion Ronald Volker, who along with the Yokomo Factory team, is using a prototype of the all new BD8. The most visible change on the car the centre drive train which sees both belts on the same side of the spur, which along with moving the motor 2mm closer to the centre line of the car, help reduce tweak on power. In terms of geometry there is new front c-hub system and rear uprights, Volker choosing for the rear ARS system, which obviously work to give more steering and rear traction. The chassis plate has also been changed with the car’s flex point now moved to the centre of the car compared to the older car where it was more to the front. With all 4 corners able to be swapped with the current BD7 this gives a large range of options to fine tune the car’s setup for different conditions. Ahead of this race both Volker and team mate Meen Vejrak tested extensively in both Japan, at SRT and Green Park, and China, at ARC Internation Raceway, and have kept that setup, with some minor tweaks, until this point.