Having surprised the entire paddock at RC Redovan when he was fastest in the opening timed practice, Daniel Bernabe quashed all question marks over his time by again topping the second & final practice at the 1:8 Offroad European Championships. Improving on his earlier 3-consecutive laps by 1-second, the SOAR driver again topped the times in Spain from defending Champion Elliott Boots, the Kyosho driver also bettering his CP1 time by 8/10ths. Pretty much a repeat of CP1, David Ronnefalk would again post the third fastest time, the HB Racing driver finding a similar improvement in time to Boots. Behind the former champion, Mugen’s Bryan Baldo will be seeded 4th for qualifying at his home race with Xray’s Martin Wollanka improving from 12th after the first practice to get P5 just ahead of Robert Batlle.
Admitting to being as surprised as everyone else competing at the 36th running of the European Championships, Bernabe said it as an ‘awesome feeling’ to be able to back up his opening performance with another P1 time. Only making a front droop change to his OS powered 998, the 22-year-old said the track changed between rounds and ‘it took (him) a few laps to get used to it’. Asked about if he felt he could transfer his quick 3-lap pace into a good 5-minute qualifying time, the Spaniard replied he was ‘pretty confident’ adding he feels ‘the consistency is there for a good time over the 5-minutes’. With SOAR boss Didian Ho doing all the work on Bernabe’s car, the Taiwanese car designer said the big call for the first qualifier will be on tyre compound and diffs. Running Pro-Line Fugitive tyres, he said the actual track temperature as opposed to the air temperature would decide what way they go with him considering going up 1K in the diff oils if it proves as hot as today.
Keen to find out more about Bernabe’s background, Boots said overall ‘we are looking good and for the last one I was trying to go for a longer run (rather than 3-laps)’. Suffering ‘a few bobbles with the wind’, the British driver added in qualifying ‘you’re going to need a lot of luck with the wind’. Focusing on consistency for qualifying he added, ‘we have the right set-up and tyres and we will go into to the first one as we are’. Asked who he felt looked strong for qualifying, Boots replied ‘obviously this guy (Bernabe) but Robert (Batlle), David (Ronnefalk) and the Baldo brothers are going to be there’.
‘I felt the car was faster that time so it was pretty good’, was how Ronnefalk summed up CP2. The former back to back champion said while there were ‘slightly too soft in the shocks’ on his D815 this wasn’t a big thing and depending on the temperature at the time of Q1 they will adjust that if needed. Hampered by coming together twice with a backmarker in the final practice which ‘cost (him) a few laps’, the 20-year-old said ‘the speed is there and I feel very good with the car’. Having been evaluating both AKA Enduro and Zipps tyres, he said he is ‘pretty sure to use Zipps’ adding while the times are the same ‘the feeling with (Zipps) is better for me’.
Not improving his CP2 time as much as his rivals, Bryan Baldo was slightly disappointed but together with his brother Oscar he said they are already working on a package for longer races namely the Semi Finals. Changing to a harder rear spring on his MBX7R he said this made for better stability in the long jumps with the wind. Describing the car as ‘really good now’, on tyres he said he plans to run Procircuit’s new unnamed tyre through qualifying and into the finals. Asked if they had enough of the prototype tyres available he said while they had limited numbers there was enough to see him through the rest of the event.
Wollanka said while his car felt ‘very good’ in the first practice a number of changes for CP2 had made it ‘near perfect’. Changing his rear diff, switching from a lexan to a plastic wing, and mounting his tyres differently, the Austrian improved his time by over 2-seconds. Running tyres from leading onroad foam tyre manufacturer and offroad newcomer Hot Race for the the Euros, the former podium finisher said mounting their medium compound Roma pattern the opposite way round had made his XB8 more aggressive. Asked if he planned any changes for the first qualifier he hinted that he might try a different bodyshell saying he would run ‘almost the same’ set-up for Q1.
‘Not bad’ was how Batlle summed up his controlled practice pointing out that being 0.9 of a second off over three such long laps was ‘nothing’. Mugen’s lead driver said a tyre and shock change for the last round had left his Ultimate powered MBX7R to ‘push a little in front’ but otherwise ‘the car feels good’ adding ‘its so easy to drive and consistent’. With a 5-minute shakedown practice in the morning he said he hoped to find a little steering in that and asked about going into the first qualifier he replied, ‘I’m happy’.
Continuing to lead the challenge of Italy’s young guns, Davide Ongaro would end seeding 7th. The reigning European Junior Champion, having finished 4th overall at the Euros at his home track in Sicile last year, has run his car pretty much unchanged throughout practice. With the 15-year-old showing well on the time sheets, the Mugen driver said he doesn’t see a reason to change the set-up for Q1. After Ongaro the next best Italian in seeding is Kyosho’s Riccardo Berton, last year’s 6th place finisher sits 11th ahead of former Champion Darren Bloomfield.
Working on getting his car ready for long run focusing on consistency rather than outright speed, Oscar Baldo was pleased with P8. The 19-year-old said his MBX7R had good consistency and he was ‘happy now’ with his package although in CP2 they ran his engine on the rich side. Behind Oscar, Serpent’s Joern Neumann improved in CP2 to claim ninth with Finland’s infamous Joseph Quagraine rounding out the Top 10.
Chassis – HB Racing D815 Engine – Orion CRF “HB Ronnefalk edition” Tyres – AKA Zipps Long Wear Medium Fuel – Runner Time Radio/Servos – Sanwa/Highest RC Body – JConcepts Silencer
Remarks – Two time European Champion David Ronnefalk is running a D815 that features a pre-production, lower rear shock tower that is meant to be used together with a shorter body shock taken from the truggy, the package to be available soon as an option part. The Swede is also using the longer version of the chassis – 4mm longer in the rear – and rear carbon arms stiffeners, while the front end sports 20° c-hubs. Lunsford titanium screws and turnbuckles complete the mounted options.
Chassis – Xray XB8 2016 Engine – FX Tyres – HotRace Roma Medium Fuel – Nitrolux Radio/Servos – Sanwa/Xpert Body – Standard
Remarks – Xray factory driver Martin Wollanka is running the 2016 version of the Slovakian made XB8 buggy. His car is equipped with vented brake discs and optional brake pads that allow for the use of a retaining spring. In terms of setup he opted for bigger swaybars and thicker oil in both the shocks and differentials, and is using the front active diff.
There were a few surprised faces at the end of the first round of controlled practice at the 1:8 Offroad European Championships in Spain as the name Daniel Bernabe appeared at the top of the timing screen ahead of reigning champion Elliott Boots. A former European Semi Finalist, Bernabe would take his SOAR to the fastest 3-consecutive laps in the first of the two seeding rounds by just 6/100th of a second from yesterday’s free practice pace setter. Behind them 3/10th back, David Ronnefalk would complete the Top 3, the Warm-up Race winner finally showing some strong form around the massive RC Redovan track as he posted the fastest lap with a time of 52.654.
A regular finalist in the highly competitive Spanish National Championships, Bernabe, who was only 42nd in free practice, appeared to benefit from a raft of set-up changes to his 998 which were carried out by SOAR owner & designer Didian Ho on hand to support his drivers. Changing to a longer rear arm, the suspension & diff oils as well as switching to a softer clutch spring & shoes to make his OS engine less aggressive, the 22-year-old Spaniard said these made his car ‘more comfortable to drive now’. Running on Pro-Line’s Fugitive tyre in M2 compound, the driver from Murcia said he has no plans to change anything for the final seeding round that will complete Day 2’s action.
‘We just missed out but it wasn’t bad’, was Boots reaction to being knocked off the top of the time sheets for the first time since taking control of proceeding in the second free practice yesterday. The Kyosho driver who ran the same package as yesterday, only running a new set of Pro-Line Blockades, the British driver said they were ‘a bit edgy’ at the start but planning to run them in CP2 he feels they should be good on their second run. In terms of the car, while he felt conditions are ‘hotter today’ which affects everything on the car including the flex of the plastics but added, ‘everything still feels pretty good’. Feeling the track is starting to break up in spot which ‘catches you out’ he said ‘the wind picked up too during the run which was a bit of a nightmare’. Planing to leave his Reds Racing powered MP9 unchanged for the final practice he said, ‘tomorrow will be more about consistency’, the action switching to qualifying in the morning.
‘This one was pretty good. I got my three laps pretty decent’, was how Ronnefalk summed up his P3 seeding time. The former champion who lacked the kind of fast lap form expected of him added, ‘we are getting there slowly’. Pleased with where his Orion powered D815 is, the HB driver said ‘the key thing now is deciding what tyre to go for’. Switch between AKA Enduro and Zipps, the Swede said they both bring ‘similar lap times but feel a little different’ and he needs to ‘just decide what I want the car to do out there’. On the wind, he said ‘you can really feel it on the back section but its not bad on the infield’. Concluding that dealing with the wind was ‘ok’ he joked ‘you just need to stay low’.
Bryan Baldo would post the 4th fastest time, the race host pleased with how his Mugen performed. Having used the 5-minute shakedown run this morning following overnight track work to test Procircuit Road Runner tyres on his MBX7R he said, ‘I didn’t like them, they made the car difficult to drive’. Switching to Procircuit’s new as yet unnamed prototype tyre for CP1 he said they were ‘much, much better’ making the car ‘more comfortable and stable’ and he will continue with this package for the second seeding round. Bryan’s younger brother Oscar would take his similar Mugen/Ultimate package to P7.
‘Quite good’ was how Robert Batlle summed up his P5 time. The 2012 World Champion would do a tyre change during the 10-minute seeding practice switching from Procircuit’s new tyre to their Road Runner. Describing the prototype tyre as ‘so much faster’ he will run this for CP2. Also making rear shock adjustments during the tyre stop, he said this was ‘not good’ and he will go back to the previous setting for the next one. Asked about track conditions this morning, the Spaniard replied ‘it’s super nice now’.
Completing the Top 6 would be Davide Ongaro. The leading Italian challenger so far in Spain, the 15-year-old Mugen driver was 4/10ths of a second off the similar car of Batlle. With Oscar Baldo next up, Joseph Quagraine would continue the good form he showed in free practice to take his JQ to the 8th fastest time in front of the Kyosho of Riccardo Berton and the Agama of Darren Bloomfield.
Chassis – Serpent SRX8 Engine – Maxima B2 Tyres – ProLine Blockade X2 Fuel – Maxima Radio/Servos – Sanwa / K Power HBL836 Body – Serpent High Downforce
Remarks – Serpent factory driver Jorn Neumann is running a SRX8 buggy featuring the newly released beefier front arms, equipped with top and bottom carbon stiffeners. His car also sports a rear aluminium shock tower, bigger (2.5mm) swaybars and is prepared with thicker diff and shocks oil than usual to deal with the high temperatures of the Spanish track.