Portuguese driver Miguel Matias will carry the No.1 on his car in the top heat at the 2009 EFRA 1:8 Off Road European Championships after topping the time sheets in final practice with the fastest run of the day. Posting 7 laps in 5:24.219, he ended the round 2.1 seconds up on Yannick Aigion, who will be placed No.2 in the reseed.
Former World & European Champion Matias said his prototype GS Racing CLX was better in the second run, the biggest change coming from running a lower oil in the centre diff. Now easier to drive, he will leave his Ninja powered prototype the same for the morning opting to get used to the car and to also see how the track changes. The heavily modified chassis, which features a double front shock towers, is being developed by Matias on behalf of the GS factory to better suit European market as the original CLX was designed more for US style tracks.
Aigoin made a number of changes to his car following his fastest time earlier, some of which he said were good but others were bad. The 2006 Champion, who rolled during the run, said the raised ride height was the wrong way to go and he will now make a compromise set-up between the two.
Richi Gomez who set the early pace for the second timed practice, ended up dropping to third but the result was good enough to see the Spanish Hong Nor driver reseeded as car No.3 ahead of the Kyosho MP9 of Jerome Aigoin, twin brother of Yannic. Interestingly Gomez is running a standard plug in his Novarossi Plus 4 to get better fuel consumption.
Fourth for the round was former Champion and top Mugen Daniel Vega followed by fast Brit Darren Bloomfield and defending Champion Renaud Savoya who both felt they made the wrong tyre choice for the second run.
Craig Drescher, who apart from racing is also looking after the Associated team drivers along with American Richard Saxton, had a strong second run to set the seventh fastest time. Driving the new RC8 B he described the run as ‘steady’ but he feels there is more to come from the car across the team. The B version of the car is slightly different to that which they ran at the Warm Up and they are still learning it but Drescher is confident they can close the gap tomorrow on their rivals.
Having not featured on the radar so far, electric off road ace Hupo Honigl made a huge leap forward after pretty much changing everything on his LRP S8BX buggy allowing him to post the eight quickest run for the round. Also using LRP engines, the Austrian said the car is working really well now and that it is not far away in terms of the ideal set-up. Honigl will be reseeded 12th just behind 2006 Champion Robert Batlle.
Top 10 reseed
1. Miguel Matias (PT)
2. Yannick Aigoin (FR)
3. Richi Gomez (ES)
4. Jerome Aigoin (FR)
5. Daniel Vega (ES)
6. Renaud Savoya (FR)
7. Darren Bloomfield (GB)
8. Martin Bayer (CZ)
9. Riccardo Rabitti (IT)
10. Craig Drescher (GB)
A late addition to the timetable here this evening in Wolbling is a very short 3-minute practice run for drivers in their reseeded heats but the real business of the 2009 Euros gets underway tomorrow with three of the five scheduled qualifiers making up Thursday’s timetable. Our live coverage, which is supported by Team Orion, Mugen Seiki, LRP and Kyosho, continues in the morning.
Richi Gomez has put in a very strong time with his Novarossi powered Hong Nor X2 to put himself top of the time sheets from former Champion Daniel Vega. Gomez put his improved time of 5:27.633 down to him driving better and is very pleased with the car, so much so he plans no changes for the first round of qualifying in the morning.
Vega, who won the title 10 years ago, was very happy with his run saying the the track is starting to come to his Ninja powered Mugen. The Spaniard, who is running JConcepts Nines, said his car is still a little nervous and he plans a few small changes for tomorrow that he hopes will make the steering less aggressive.
Having been just outside the top 10 in the first timed practice Darren Bloomfield is looking stronger this time round. Currently holding the third fastest run for the round, he said his choice of Calipers was wrong as the car is moving around a lot and Revolvers would have been a better choice. He is still pleased with his run but is finding it hard to adjust to the lack of grip on the track compared with his last visit here but he feels the track is starting to get back to that level now.
The man everyone has come to Austria hoping to deny him back to back titles is Renaud Savoya and he is currently fourth after making the wrong tyre choice. Having switched tyre compound from the M3 he ran this morning to M2 for he feels the lower track temperature resulted in less traction. Top Kyosho driver Jerome Sartel completes the current Top 5 for now but the big dangerman is his brother Yannic who topped the first timed practice and has yet to compete his second run.
Yannick Aigoin is the pace setter here in Austria after the first full round of timed practice followed by another former European Champion Miguel Matias. Aigoin described the run as OK but he would like more steering on his Losi and will try a lighter oil in his front diff for the final timed practice. Portuguese ace Matias, who briefly topped the time sheets having knocked Jerome Aigoin from the No.1 spot, said he was pleased with his Ninja powered GS Racing CLX which is a completely different car to that which he used at the Warm Up. Like fellow GS Racing driver Borja Hernandez, he is running the front end from the older CL1 model but is also running a Fiorano front diff and Mugen shocks. He too will also make some changes in attempt to get more steering. The other big mover late in the first timed practice round was Czech driver Martin Bayer. Using a Losi/Novarossi combination he was just shy of defending champion Renaud Savoya on overall run time describing the run as safe. Asked how his Caliper M2 shod Eight was working he reply, ‘Car is good, its just the driver thats the problem’.
A few drivers worth a mention outside the Top 10 are Darren Bloomfield who is 11th just ahead of former World Champion Guillaume Vray and top Hong Nor driver Richi Gomez. Neil Cragg looks to have a bit of to do with in 14th ahead of fellow Brit Elliot Boots. Former double European Champion Davide Tortorici lies 21st with his prototype Crono RS9 while the other double Champion Daniel Reckward managed just a single lap and lies last of the 177 runners to post a time.
Top 10 times for first timed practice
1. Yannick Aigoin – 7 Laps in 5:25.227
2. Miguel Matias – 7 Laps in 5:26.978
3. Jerom Aigoin – 7 Laps in 5:29.506
4. Renaud Savoya – 7 Laps in 5:29.692
5. Martin Bayer – 7 Laps in 5:29.762
6. Riccardo Rabitti – 7 Laps in 5:30.475
7. Robert Batlle – 7 Laps in 5:30.905
8. Alex Laffranchi – 7 Laps in 5:31.403
9. Peter Pinisch – 7 Laps in 5:31.850
10.Fabio Boero – 7 Laps in 5:32.363
His brother set the early pace here in Austria but now Yannick Aigion is the pace setter after posting a 5:25.227 on his way to a 7 lap run. 2003 Champion Miguel Matias from Portugal had briefly took control of the Practice 2 time sheets, with a 5:26.978, but drops to second following Yannick Aigoin’s time with Jerome Aigoin and his Kyosho being pushed back to third. In terms of outright pace it is still the defending champion Renaud Savoya and his Mugen that top the time sheets but Yannic Aigoin came close with a 45.473 lap.
The other big mover since this morning is Italian Losi/Sirio driver Ricardo Rabitti who holds the fifth fastest time just behind Savoya and ahead of Robert Batlle. Elsewhere Richi Gomez had got his Hong Nor X2 into the top 10 briefly. The 2008 podium finisher who is running Italian RCW tyres says the run was good but will try lighter shock oil for the third practice and switch from the B Fast to the B Cobra pattern.
One of the pre-event top tips Neil Cragg is just outside the Top 10. The Associated/Reedy driver tried Proline Bow ties on the rear and Crimefighters on the front of his RC8 but will switch most probably to Revolvers all around next time, along with a high centre diff oil.
Practice 2, which is being timed over 5 minutes is underway and it is French driver Jerome Aigoin with his Kyosho/Sirio combination who has set the early over defending Champion Renaud Savoya. Aigoin, who completed 7 laps in 5:29.506, said his Inferno MP9 was working well and other than changing from the soft compound AKA Cityblock tyre to the medium version he will leave the car as is for the next run.
In terms of lap times Savoya is fastest completing a best lap of 45.443. The Frenchman recorded 7 laps in 5:29.692 and is pleased with his Mugen MBX6 but admited to a mistake that lost him around 5 seconds. The factory Mugen driver will try heavier shock oil for the final free practice and depending on the temperature may also switch from the Proline Caliper M3 to the M2 compound. We are now starting to the sun appear through the early morning clouds and the temperatures are rising fast.
Third fastest is Robert Batlle who said things were better than yesterday but the former Champion is reporting that the rear of his Associated RC8 is very nervous on throttle but he will remain on the same set-up as the Warm Up race as the grip should be well up come his next round of practice. The Spaniard was running GRP’s new Cayman tyre. Next up with the fourth fastest run time, after the first four of the 15 groups practice had done there run, was former World and European Champion, Alex Laffranci with his Max powered Xray 808.
It was like a scene from a past Wimbledon as club staff ran across the track with huge covers here in Austria as the forecast rain arrived early causing race officials to postone practice for groups 13, 14 and 15 until the morning. Some of the big names in the postponed groups included 2004 World Champion Guillaume Vray, quick Czech Martin Bayer, Italian Riccardo Perin, Bergonzoni factory driver Raul Peris and reigning European Junior Champion Elliot Boots.
Just getting in a run before the rain was one of the pre-event favourites and Warm Up race winner Yannick Aigoin but like the rest of the front runners he found track conditions totally different to those experienced back in May.
The rain is falling very heavily now but according to EFRA 1:8 Off Road chief Carlos Gomez tomorrow is to be a dry day. Our coverage, which is supported by Team Orion, Mugen Seiki, LRP and Kyosho continues in the morning when official timing will be released and we can start to get an idea of who is fast and who has work to do.