Its another extremely hot day here in Italy as free practice for the 2009 EFRA 1:10 200mm European Championships continues at the beautiful Gubbio track. Drivers will get another six 10 minute sessions today but with no official timing we will have to wait till tomorrow’s controlled practice before we can get a clearer picture of who is doing what but many of the leading drivers say its going to be a very close competition.
Defending Champion Dario Balestri is here with his new Team Magic G4RS 09 but the Italian knows he will have his work cut out for him if he is retain a third consecutive title. After two sessions this morning he said his car is not perfect suffering from grip roll but with ten more runs to find a better set-up he is not too concerned yet. In Madrid Balestri struggled throughout the event with most writing him off but when it counted most he beat Jilles Groskamp to successfully defend his title. Groskamp is one of the drivers Balestri fears most here this weekend along with World’s podium finisher Martin Hudy and ex World Champion Adrien Bertin.
Hudy is part of a very strong Xray team. He didn’t attend the ‘Warm Up’ race but together with team-mate Teemu Leino he had a successful number of days of testing here in June. The Slovak driver said he is feeling very comfortable at the controls of his Max powered NT1 and is targeting a podium finish come Sunday. Leino, who was Top Qualifier in Madrid, is running his World’s car at the moment but in between practice rounds has been building a new NT1 that he will run later today. Also looking strong for Xray is Bumod Grand Prix winner Dirk Wischnewski. The German had a difficult time with set-up at the ‘Warm Up’ but stayed on after the race for two days testing. With the car to his liking now the SMI Motorsport team driver is looking strong posting some good (unoffcial) lap times. Other Xray drivers who can be expected to be competitive are Warm Up race podium finisher Niki Duina and top electric touring car racer Alexander Hagberg but the biggest surprise of the week could come in the form of 15-year-old Biagio Spataro who is putting in some extremely fast lap times with his JP powered car.
Having won the ‘Warm up’ Giuseppe D´Angelo is one of the favourites here this week along with his Mugen teammate Francesco Tironi who TQ’d the race. Having conducted a week of testing at the Gubbio track in preparation for the Euros, D´Angelo has developed a new chassis plate and new plastic parts for the MTX-4R and its very pleased with the results. Although they did not attended the warm up race D´Angelo has singled out Balestri and Leino as ones to watch. Other big names in the Mugen camp are Rick V. and Robert Pietsch. Rick V. hasnt raced 200mm since last year’s World Championship due to his 1:8 World Championship preparations and admitted its taking him time to readjust his driving style to 1:10. Although he is running the same engine/chassis package as D´Angelo the Dutch ace is having to find his own set up as he is running ZAC Project tyres but he said this morning has been very productive and he is much happier now with his pace. Also focusing on the 1:8 Worlds, which take place in Swtzerland next month, Pietsch has only competed twice in 200mm this year but has the benefit of one of them being the ‘Warm Up’ race. Although he retired from the Main final with a broken car, the Mugen designer said he was happy with his lap times and so far free practice has gone to plan but admits there are many more fast guys here now.
In our next report we will bring you news from the Serpent and Kyosho camps and the sports newest arrivals Shepherd and Capricon.
New in the pits is the Capricorn RC 200mm car, which is making its competition debut here in Gubbio. The car, which we featured CAD images of some time ago, is nearing completion with only a few parts left to be finalized before its scheduled release next month. We took a look at the car belonging to Martin Christensen, one of only two cars here and he talked us through it. The car is extremely low and as is the trend with modern 200mm touring cars, the bulkheads are machined from aluminium like on the new Serpent 733 and the Shepherd Velox V10. This provides a lot of stiffness and brings the weight more to the centre line of the car.
A conventional car regarding geometry and adjustment possibilities, the car sports a nice feature that allows the entire axles, along with CVD shaft, to be pulled through the blocks by removing a clip mounted on the inside. Other nice touches are the machined aluminium servo saver, that has carbon inserts to adjust the Ackermann, and the differentials that are using the company’s own composite diff gears for a large weight saving. With this weight saving, the car can now utilize a brass battery plate to bring the weight down as low as possible. Overall a nice looking car, especially with the red anodising, and one of the best things that Martin liked about the car is its simplicity and ease of maintenance.
View more images of the new car in our event gallery here.
This week the beautifully presented Gubbio track in the centre of Italy plays host to the 2009 EFRA 1:10 200mm European Championships. After a one year break due to EFRA’s hosting of the World Championship in Portugal last year, the sixth European title will be awarded on Sunday evening to one of the 120 drivers, from 16 nations, up on the Formula one style podium. Amoung the quality entry are 8 of the 10 World Finalists including World Champion Daniele Ielasi and the Top Qualifier Jilles Groskamp. The defending European Champion Dario Balestri is aiming for a European Championship hat trick on home soil having held the title since 2006 when he won in the Netherlands. Hoping to take the challenge to Balestri will be Top Qualifier in Madrid Teemu Leino and EC Warm Up race winner Guiseppe D’angelo. Other big names on the entry list include former World Champion Adrien Bertin and two time European Champion Michael Salven. In the pits the big story is the debut of the new Velox V10 from Shepherd, with just a single car here for Ielasi, and the new Capricon chassis. Danish ace Martin Christensen, a finalist at both the last Worlds and Euros, will race one of two of the Italian made cars entered.
Drivers have already had two days of free practice and this set to continue until Friday when we will get down to the serious business of qualifying. New for the Euros this year is the 7 minute qualifiers which are set to spice things up, particularly in the pitlane. After a long day of travel we have arrived in Gubbio to glorious 35 degree sunny weather and tomorrow morning our coverage, which is supported by Team Orion, Serpent and Mugen, will kick off in full.
‘We achieved our objective’ was how Renaud Savoya summed up winning back to back European titles here in Austria this evening. The Mugen ace withstood intense pressure from fellow countryman Yannick Aigoin to win the title by 7 seconds after 45 minutes of thrilling action.
The result came close to being very different however when Savoya’s RB powered MBX6 started to run out of fuel on his in-lap for the last pit stop. Flaming out just as he reached his pit crew he fell back in to the clutches of Aigoin with both cars leaving the pitlane for the final 9 minutes racing together.
Entering the first corner the pair clashed but in a great sporting gesture Savoya waited for his great rival and the battle between these two ultra professional drivers resumed. Aigoin hounded Savoya for two laps but rolled giving the reiging champion the break he needed to go on and take a very popular victory. Asked if there would be big celebrations Savoya replied, ‘I think now we deserve a party tonight’.
Aigoin was quick to pay tribute to his arch rival, ‘It was very close and I did my best. I won the Warm-up race and Renaud has won today. He deserves it.’ Asked if he felt pressure from Martin Bayer in the closing laps the 2006 Champion said, ‘Martin was very fast but he is a very fare driver so I just tried to make no mistakes so as to not let him passed. Having the two of us on the podium is a good result for Losi.’
Taking third, Bayer was delighted with his first ever European Off Road podium finish. ‘I’m so happy, everything was perfect’. After a bad start the Czech driver slowly worked his way through the field closing right up with Losi team-mate Aigoin in the closing moments of the race. ‘When I saw the gap closing to Yannick I really started to push hard but in the end my tires weren’t so good.’
Missing out on the podium, last year’s runner up Robert Batlle was clearly unhappy with his performance. Opting for a 7:30 fuel strategy the Associated driver needed to do one extra stop over his rivals and the 2007 Champion said this forced him to push too hard to try and make up the time. The result was many driver errors and excessive tyre wear leaving the Spaniard to finish a frustrated fourth. Summing up the event he said afterwards, ‘Next year we’ll be back’.
The other former champions in the final also had difficult races. Having changed the set-up on his car for the final German Daniel Reckward said they went the wrong way with diff and shock oils and his car was difficult to drive resulting in 8th position. Fellow Mugen driver Daniel Vega felt his JConcept shod MBX-6 was the best it had been all week but intermitent radio problems were to hamper him throughout the race.
Having shown plenty of promise in qualifying Darren Bloomfield was left visably frustrated when a jammed open throttle robbed him from challenging for a first European title. Eventually freeing itself, the British driver went on to set some very fast lap times recovering from 11th to end the race in seventh behind the Kyosho of Jerome Aigoin who recorded the fastest lap of the final with a 43.814.
So the dust has settled on another EFRA 1:8 Off Road European Championship and the title is once again heading back to France. Could Savoya become the first driver to win three back to back European titles? We will have to wait 12 months to find out but its a bet seriously worth considering. Roll on Portugal.
Provisional finishing order
1. SAVOYA Renaud – Mugen/RB – 60 Laps in 45:39.284
2. AIGOIN Yannick – Losi/Novarossi – 60 Laps in 45:46.429
3. BAYER Martin – Losi/Novarossi – 59 Laps in 45:00.232
4. BATLLE Robert – Associated/GRP – 59 Laps in 45:05.483
5. CRAGG Neill – Associated/Reedy – 59 Laps in 45:21.939
6. AIGOIN Jerome – Kyosho/Sirio – 59 Laps in 45:32.076
7. BLOOMFIELD Darren – Losi/Novarossi – 58 Laps in 45:05.754
8. RECKWARD Daniel – Mugen/RB – 58 Laps in 45:17.219
9. LEINO Teemu – Xray/Orion – 58 Laps in 45:40.521
10. VEGA Daniel – Mugen/Ninja – 57 Laps in 45:19.230
11. HÖNIGL Hubert – LRP/LRP – 57 Laps in 45:44.832
12. RABITTI Riccardo – Losi/Sirio – 17 Laps in 14:48.218
We would like to thank Team Orion, Mugen Seiki, LRP and Kyosho for supporting our coverage here in Austria and congratulate the MSV Wolbing club on doing a superb job running a great event. Finally a special word of thanks to Carlos Gomez of EFRA for his efforts.
Renaud Savoya is the 2009 EFRA 1:8 European Champion after successfully defending his 2008 title in a thrilling race here in Austria. The Mugen driver beat fellow countryman Yannick Aigoin to become the first back to back champion since 2005. Third was promising Czech driver Martin Bayer.
Provisional finishing order
1. SAVOYA Renaud – 60 Laps in 45:39.284
2. AIGOIN Yannick – 60 Laps in 45:46.429
3. BAYER Martin – 59 Laps in 45:00.232
4. BATLLE Robert – 59 Laps in 45:05.483
5. CRAGG Neill – 59 Laps in 45:21.939
6. AIGOIN Jerome – 59 Laps in 45:32.076
7. BLOOMFIELD Darren – 58 Laps in 45:05.754
8. RECKWARD Daniel – 58 Laps in 45:17.219
9. LEINO Teemu – 58 Laps in 45:40.521
10. VEGA Daniel – 57 Laps in 45:19.230
11. HÖNIGL Hubert – 57 Laps in 45:44.832
12. RABITTI Riccardo – 17 Laps in 14:48.218
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