Masami Hirosaka has made his intentions clear here in Thailand by setting the fastest run in first controlled practice. Having won multiple World titles in all the other electric categories the Japanese Yokomo driver wants this one badly and made this clear with an 18 lap run in 5:01.604 to beat fellow countryman & former Touring Car World Champion Atsushi Hara.
Hirosaka said the hotter conditions had made for less traction but he had made allowances for this by turning down the punch on his Nosram speedo which made the car more manageable. Paying attention to every little detail, the sport’s legendary driver has monitored the weather conditions over the past few days and charted it out by time allowing him to choose the best setting for the particular time of day he is running at. For controlled practice no.2 he will ‘turn on punch button’ as the track will be much cooler for the last run of the opening day.
Hara described conditions as being a little worse than this morning’s free practice runs but said his Hot Bodies was good. The 2000 World Champion admitted Hirosaka was ‘pretty fast’ but said for the moment he was happy with his own pace. Making it an all Asian Top 3 for the session Hara’s team-mate Surikarn, who would love to regain the World title on home soil, said his car was fast but suspects his chassis is slightly tweaked.
Former European Champion Ronald Volker was fourth fastest with his Cyclone TC. The LRP team driver, who is running a 4.5 version of the new Vector X12 motor, was not so happy with the set-up of his car but said it was consistent and his run to fourth was an OK start to the event.
Heading the Tamiya challenge with the fifth fastest time was Jilles Groskamp. A member the Tamiya Racing Factory team, the Dutch driver was pleased with what was only his second run, his first free practice lasting just one lap due to a speedo failure. Groskamp’s Speed Passion powered TRF416 World Edition felt good at the beginning of the run but then started to feel loose. Having lost five minutes of track time to his rivals this morning he said he is still playing around with finding the best racing line. Current 1:10 2WD World Champion Hayato Matsuzaki driving a Hot Bodies completed the Top 6 just ahead of Andy Moore.
Heading Xray’s challenge is Teemu Leino, a driver many are tipping as a possible winner come Sunday evening. The Finn said the track feels completely different to when the Slovak team tested here. Running a 4.0 Orion motor in his T2 009, Leino says he is still playing around with the set-up but he wasn’t going to make an major changes. His team-mate Alex Hagberg was tenth fastest running the set-up from pre-event testing but the Swede’s car doen’t feel nice to drive and he is unsure of what to change to improve it.
One of the stars of the 1:12 Worlds earlier this week, when he became Vice-Champion, Associated team driver Juho Levanen was happy with ninth fastest time. The Finn’s TC5 feels good over five minutes and with some fine tuning for the next outing Levanen is confident he can improve but the 23-year-old thinks we could see a repeat of the 1:12 practice when on Day 2 the track conditions changed completely and turned everything on its head.
Elsewhere the highest placed Kyosho was Shin Adachi in a lowly 22nd while top Corally was Australian Simon Nicholson who recorded the 28th fastest time.
Second free practice is complete and once again the fastest man over 5 minutes is Meen Vejrak. The relatively unknown Thai driver just pipped former World Champion Marc Rheinard to the fastest time posting 18 laps in 05:03.843 compared with the German’s 05:03.891. The reigning FEMCA 1:10 Nitro Touring Champion, Vejrak is delighted with his early performance reporting his Xray T2 009 as working very well on the controlled Sweep tyres.
Rheinard, who described today’s track conditions as having a lot less traction than when the Tamiya team conducted their Pre-World’s testing, says his car is pushing a little and he will change shock positions & camber links to try and increase steering. Third fastest for the session, Andy Moore also suffered from understeer but the Englishman said its a compromise as having good turn in causes the tyres to overheat resulting in a loose back end.
On lap times Atsushi Hara was again fastest, this time producing a 16.469 with Rheinard second on a 16.569. Describing his run as ‘much better than 1:12 scale’, Hara switched cars half way through the session. His first Cyclone TC had a harder front end and although he set his fastest lap with the softer set-up he preferred the feeling of the first car. Third fastest on lap times was Masami Hirosaka with a 16.696. The reigning Japanese Champion was another to switch car but his purpose was to try different motors. Running first a Nosram 4.5 the Yokomo team leader switched to 4.0. While the latter gave considerable more top speed the 4.5 proved quicker over a lap and this is what Hirosaka will run in the first controlled practice. Another to switch cars was Xray’s main hope Teemu Leino. The Finn described the track as loose but found the setting on his second car the better of the two.
Controlled practice is up next and as this determines the reseeding for the six qualifiers we will be able to bring you a more indepth run down of who is at what with a full ranking list set to be issued after each of the two sessions. From this we will also be able to bring you a summary of which drivers are leading the challenge of each of the manfacturers here in Thailand.
The two year wait is finally over for the world’s best electric touring car drivers as the fifth IFMAR Electric Onroad Championships is go here in Bangkok, Thailand. Heading the 115 entries from around the globe is defending Champion Andy Moore along with the three champions to go before him, setting the stage for what is certain to be an exciting four days of action at the RCS track.
For the past two world championships it has been the Top Qualifier that has gone on to the take the title. Driving for Hot Bodies, Moore TQ’d in Italy in 2006 from where the Englishman went on to become the World’s No.1. German ace Marc Rheinard achieved the same perfect result when he won the 2004 title in Florida for Tamiya. 2002 winner Surikarn, who now represents Hot Bodies, won the title in South Africa for Tamiya beating pole sitter Barry Baker from the US who is abscent this time round.
Atsushi Hara was the first ever Touring Car World Champion winning the title in his home country for Yokomo back in 2000. Also now with Hot Bodies, Hara is statistically the most consistant driver over the four World Championships having been on the podium in three of the four events and this year the Japanese star added the 1:8 Off Road World title to his CV making him one of the sports all round greats.
Outside of those to have achieved the greatest accolade the sport has to offer, one driver to have come so close and who possess a serious treat here this week is Masami Hirosaka. The five time 1:12 World Champion sat out 1:12 this year so as to focus on winning the title he has come so close to winning in the past but which has frustratingly illuded him. In 2000 he TQ’d and finished on the podium and last time round he finished runner-up to Moore.
With such a pool of world class talent in the pits here picking the A Final line up is like trying to choose the numbers for the weekly millions lottery draw but two drivers that stand out are young Swede Vicktor Wilck and fellow Scandinavian Teemu Leino. Wilck won the Pre-Worlds for the Tamiya team here while flying Finn Leino won the TITC event earlier in the year for Xray so they have shown they have what it takes to challenge the famous four and Masami.
Drivers have just completed their first free practice, which has been randomly grouped, with most just using the 5 minute run to settle in and get rubber down on the track which is a different layout to that used for the 1:12 World’s earlier this week. In terms of laps it was Thai driver Meen Vejrak at the controls of an Xray who topped the charts from Wilck with 18 laps in 05:05.286 while the fastest lap was from Hara who posted a 16.531. One more free practice followed by two controlled practices, which will determine the reseed for tomorrow’s qualifiers, make up the rest of today’s timetable.
Here is the video of the action from Leg 2 of the A-mains at the 1/12th scale World Championships in Bangkok, which saw Naoto Matsukura come back and take the win to ensure the title would be decided in the 3rd leg.
Above is the full 8 minutes of the first A-main here in Bangkok, Thailand. This leg saw Levanen take the win, following a collision between Matsukura and Rheinard, while the Japanese driver was leading.