The 2009 EFRA 1:8 Off Road European Championships is underway with cars now on track for today’s single round of free practice. Among the first group of cars on track was defending Champion Renaud Savoya who was faced with a very different track to that of the Warm-up race. Organisers were forced to cover the track with saw dust prior to the event to try protect the dirt surface from the rain leaving the first group of drivers with the role of acting as track sweepers. Savoya said the run proved little other than to warm up his thumbs for the days ahead.
Another early runner was Robert Batlle who was in group 2 and found the conditions terrible with his GRP powered RC8 just sliding around on the saw dust. The Spanish ace is unsure what to do in terms of set up because while the track is drying out now the overnight forecast is for heavy rain.
Running in Group 3 and on a much cleaner track, Factory GS Racing driver Borja Hernandez from Spain was pleased with his outing despite the slippy conditions. The 2008 finalist is running a CLX chassis fitted with the older CL1 front end and is happy with the resulting feel of the car. He felt his new RB9 engine used in the run was still to tight and so will switch to another unit for tomorrow’s second practice.
Neil Cragg said that the track got better throughout the run but will ‘ask the boss’, referring to Team Associated’s Richard saxton who is over from the US to support the team, about what changes if any they will make for tomorrow morning. Cragg suffered an engine cut during his practice but put this down to it being a brand new Reedy unit. After a quick adjustment of the idle screw it ran fine for the remainder of the run.
1999 Champion Daniel Vega said he made the wrong tyre choice for his first run having went for JConcepts Sevens. The Mugen/Ninja ace said the track was completely different to the Warm Up race but the set-up on his MBX-6 still felt good. He plans only to change tyres for Practice 2 and will make the choice between JConcepts Crossbow, Crossbar or Hit Men in the morning. Also in the same group was Darren Bloomfield who described the run as a ‘good start’. The British ace said his Associated RC8 has a really good balance and he plans just a few roll bar changes for the morning.
Right now the skies over the track are getting dark very quickly with the forecast rain looking set to start falling any minute now.
The sun is still shining here in Austria but the big question on all the top drivers minds is, what will track conditions be like following the beating it has taken from the weather since the Warm-up race back in May. The winner of that dry race was Yannick Aigoin whose Losi/Novarossi combination worked perfectly on that occassion but the 2006 European Champion admits that the track will be a very different challenge today. Predicting a close run race, Aigoin is tipping Savoya, 2007 Champion Robert Batlle and British duo Darren Bloomfield & Neil Cragg as his main challengers. Asked for views on the track layout the Frenchman said it is difficult and that it is also very hard to make time over your rivals.
Having endured a difficult final at the Warm Up race after trying something on his Associated that did not work, Batlle stayed on on the Monday for extra testing which he said went really well. However that was on a very dry track and the Spanish ace, who has already wrapped up the 2009 National Championship, says the difference is too much for that set-up to work. Although not used to racing in the wet the GRP backed driver, who is still running both GRP engines and tyres, says he actually likes the conditions but would still rather a dry event.
Current British Champion Cragg was on the podium at the Warm-up and the Associated team driver is being tipped by many of his rivals to be in the hunt come Saturday. Cragg was very happy with his car here back in May and feels if the rain holds off he will be in good shape. Fellow countryman Bloomfield, who was very complimentary of the hard work of the local club to protect the track from the elements, is concerned about changing track conditions and feels the early practice groups will be cleaning the track giving those who run later today a distinct advantage especially if conditions remain dry overnight. Drivers have just one 15-minute practice run today.
We could not let today pass without mentioning that former World and European Champion Daniel Reckward ends a successful 12 year stint of European Championships with Team Kyosho when he makes his first Euro appearance with Mugen Seiki. The German is full of phrase for his new team, who he made a surprise switch to at end of last year, and is really pleased with the close working relationship between the team’s drivers. Reckward, who is well known for his own range of tuning parts, last won the Euros back in 2002 on home soil when he successfully defended his 2001 title.
Wandering around the pit area we came across a number of new items on show starting with this modified LRP S8 BX. Spotted immediately is the new shape bodyshell that mounts the cockpit further forward for better airflow around the engine and rear wing and gives more space around the airfilter. This body will be released soon, but the car also features a number of new prototype parts that the LRP team are testing.
The biggest change being the new rear lower wishbones that, combined with the new lower bracket, gives the car less active caster than the standard kit version. The car also sports a new braking system that they are trying out, which has a larger brake piston for better braking. Finally they have mounted the RX battery to the outside front of the car for a change to the overall chassis balance. Track time will show whether these changes will have a positive effect on the car’s handling around this track.
Other new items include the previously mentioned Tourex X500 tires, which have been specially designed for this track and will take to the track for the first time later today. For team drivers only, RB Products have their new 45% nitro mix here and will be running it with a view to releasing the blend in the near future. More new products later.
The top off road drivers from across Europe are arriving to a sunny track here in Austria for the opening day of action at the 2009 EFRA 1:8 Off Road European Championships, but predictions are that things are going to get muddy for the rest of the week. Race organisers had a busy morning pumping the heavy overnight rain off the huge covers that have been in place for the last few days to protect the dirt track from what is turning out to be one of the Austria’s wettest Summers. Unfortunately the rain is set to return tonight and continue for much of the week.
Heading the entry here in Wolbling is defending champion Renaud Savoya. Having improved his result in this event by one position each year since taking fourth in 2005, the French ace can’t continue that trend this year but his current form gives him a real chance of becoming the first driver since David Tortorici in 2005 to successfully defend his Euro title. Currently leading his home National Championship, one of the toughest in Europe, Savoya says his Mugen/RB package works well here but the forecast wet conditions could make it a real lottery as the water can cause so much to go wrong with the cars. Asked who he felt would be his closest rival, the Worlds podium finisher said it would be all the usual candidates but singled out fellow Mugen/RB driver Elliot Boots as one to watch.
16 year old Boots, the defending European Junior Champion, has set himself the goal of making the Main final come Saturday but the English driver’s name is coming up in the predictions being made by many of the industries best known figures. The teenager was very fast here during the warm-up race and as he put it himself, ‘coming from England we are well used to racing in the rain’.
Drivers are still arriving at the track and once they have got their pit areas set up we will start to bring your their thoughts on the week ahead including that of the 2006 Champion and the Warm-up race winner here in Austria Yannick Aigoin. Our coverage of the 1:8 Off Road Euros is brought to you with the support from Team Orion, Mugen Seiki, LRP and Kyosho and will continue with regular daily updates right through till Saturday evening when one of the 180 entrants will be crowned 2009 Champion.
Having set the pace in practice, secured TQ honours in qualifying, factory Mugen driver Robert Pietsch completed the perfect weekend with victory in the final to become the inaugural 1:8 Bumod Grand Prix Champion. The German National Champion completed 191 laps in the one hour final to head home the Serpent of American DJ Apolaro, who was 2 laps adrift, with Turkish Mugen driver Alparslan Ozanturk taking a hugely popular third.
Pietsch’s race did not get off to a good start as an altercation at the first corner dropped him down the order with Shepherd team driver Patrick Schaefer taking the early lead. First big casualty with just over a minute of the race run was Serpent’s Michael Salven. The multiple European Champion cleaned a front corner off his 966 after a high speed collision with a car that had spun in front of him on the main straight.
Seven and a half minutes in and another big international name was to exit the race. Leading and having laid down the fastest lap of the race, Schaefer made a driver error breaking an upright off his Velox along with destroying a servo. ‘One mistake was one too much’ the German said afterwards. This allowed Pietsch to take control from Apolaro. Both running factory Novarossi engines, the German was to have a strategy advantage over his rival opting to make one tyre change while Apolaro would have to complete the task twice on the Team Serpent car. Behind, the big battle was for third with Sabrina Lechner overtaking early third place runner Ozanturk. The fast lady, who did her second TV interview of the weekend right before the driver presentations, was starting to make third her own but hit engine trouble. Her Max eventually cried enough with 10 minutes to go and the 19-year-old dropped back to sixth in the final classification behind the Motonica of Switzerland’s Pacor Ender and Bulgarian National Champion Borislav Tranchev’s Mugen. This allowed Ozanturk to run untroubled to claim the final spot on the podium.
After the race Pietsch said his MRX-4X worked really well and he was really pleased with the weekend. The German believes with a slighly larger set of RPM tyres he could have made the 1 hour without stopping. Working with a new pitman this weekend, his regular one having prior buggy commitments this weekend, he said his refuelling was a little slow but it got faster as they worked more together. A definite finalist contender for the 1:8 World Championship in Lostallo, Pietsch believes the Bumod event, due to the track layout and the 1 hour final, was good preparation for the Worlds.
Apolaro looked shattered after the race, this being his first time to run a one hour final in 1:8. Pleased to finish on the podium on his first race outside of the US the Team Serpent driver was complimentary of the good pitwork by his mechanic. ‘The car was good and Scott (Rister) did a good job in the pits. It was a good team effort but having to do two stops against Pietsch’s one ruled us out of going for the win’. We expect Apolaro, who raced both 1:10 and 1:8 here this weekend, will sleep extremely well tonight.
So the inaugural Bumod Grand Prix has come to a close. The hospitality of the race organiser Ozan Tercan and his team was outstanding and all the international competitors are more than impressed with this very impressive facility. Full of enthusiam and a willingness to learn, the potential is there to make the Bumod GP a major international event for nitro cars. One suggestion doing the rounds amoung the team drivers is that the Bumod Grand Prix could be moved to later or earlier in the year and become Europe’s version of the Winternats. There is definitely an opening for an out of season onroad nitro race. Turkey has the weather and Bumod has the track. We look forward to the 2010 Bumod Grand Prix.
1/8th scale final results
1. Robert Pietsch (DE) – 191 Laps in 60:05.139
2. DJ Apolaro (USA) – 189 Laps in 60:18.703
3. Alparslan Ozanturk (TUR) – 166 Laps in 60:22.748
4. Pacor Ender – (CH) – 150 Laps in 60:18.054
5. Borislav Tranchev (BUL) – 138 Laps in 57:22.174
6. Sabrina Lechner (DE) – 137 Laps in 49:20.897
7. Damian Petrov (BUL) – 131 Laps in 60:02.865
8. Gokmen Cakan (TUR) – 123 Laps in 46:19.696
9. Patrick Schaefer (DE) – 22 Laps in 7:34.623
10.Michael Salven (DE) – 3 Laps in 1:12.374
After one hour of racing in intense heat it was Dirk Wischnewski who is the first ever 1:10 Bumod Grand Prix Champion. The German Team Xray driver took the win ahead of Thailand’s Surikarn C. and Austrian Gerhard Kandelhardt to make it an all Xray NT1 podium in Turkey. The race started off with a very fast starting Kandlehardt leading the field ahead of Top Qualifier Surikarn and Wischnewski. Starting from the no.2 spot on the grid Jilles Groskamp got sideways at the first corner after his team fitted new unscrubed tyres right before the start. Driving his prototype Serpent 7XX Groskamp soon found his way to the front. After 10 minutes the Dutch ace was looking in control opening up a 10 second gap over ‘Kandi’ but drama was to unfold as the receiver battery fell out of his car. This left the Austrian in the lead followed by Surikarn and Richard Furtner but just coming up on 15 minutes he ran out of fuel.
Surikarn suffered the same faith just as his car passed the pitlane and he dropped down the order. Wischnewski was now in the lead from Furtner and Kandi but former Electric Touring Car World Champion Surikarn was on a charge. At half race distance he was back up to second but five minutes later he again ran out of fuel. The leader now had a three lap advantage and had switched to cruise control as he was guided through the race by his pitman Bertram Kessler of SMI Motorsport. The race was for the other two podium placings but fastest man on the track was Groskamp who had rejoined with a new battery fitted. Benefiting from fresh tyres he was able to record a time of 19.289. A number of engine cuts and a loose left rear wheel meant the 2008 Worlds Top Qualifier would eventually finished a disappointing 8th 25 laps adrift of the winner. Surikarn got back up into a solid second, one lap up on Kandi, Furtner and Dirk Stammler who after 45 minutes were all running on the same lap. In the end it was ‘Kandi’ that claimed the final podium placing finishing just four second up on Stammler’s Serpent 720. American Scott Rister, who made the most impressive pitlane exists once DJ Apolaro had fuelled him up, took his Max powered Xray to sixth.
‘I am very happy with this win’ said Wischnewski after the gruelling and very hot 1 hour race. ‘I started with very big tyres and the car was not so good, then I made a mistake which cost me around 5 seconds. I then started to settle down and drive my own race and this plan worked out well.’ Runner up Surikarn said he was caught out after richening his OS engine for the hot conditions. Able to run 5 minutes and one lap yesterday, this was not possible today and he paid the price. The Thai driver struggled with a very loose car over the last five minutes as his tyres started to go. ‘Kandi’ was delighted with his impressive start but had a problem when the strap on his fuel tank lid broke making it very difficult and slow to refuel. The former European 235mm Champion was pleased with third saying the it was a very long race due to the high temperatures.
1/10th scale final results
1. Dirk Wishcnewski (DE) – 173 Laps in 60:08.222
2. Surikarn C. (TH) – 172 Laps in 60:20.288
3. Gerhard Kandelhardt (A) – 169 Laps in 60:13.025
4. Dirk Stammler – (DE) – 169 Laps in 60:17.036
5. Richard Furtner (A) – 168 Laps in 60:10.824
6. Scott Rister (USA) – 162 Laps in 60:10.652
7. Gorkerm Gur (TUR) – 159 Laps in 60:15.641
8. Jilles Groskamp (NL) – 147 Laps in 60:09.237
9. Martin Petrov (BUL) – 142 Laps in 60:06.037
10.Serdar Sakallioglu (TUR) – 122 Laps in 60:02.718