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
German Serpent driver Dirk Stammler and Turkish Mugen driver Gorkem Gur have won their respective 1:10 Semi finals to progress to the Main final of the Bumod Grand Prix which is taking place near the city of Bursa in the north-west of Turkey. The Semi A saw Stammler take an easy win from American Xray driver Scott Rister. The pair were running on the same pace for much of the race but Rister’s Max cut in the later part allowing Stammler’s OS powered 720 to cruise to victory. In the Semi B, Winternats Champion DJ Apolaro took an early lead having started from pole position but two minutes in his prototype Serpent stripped a gear handing the lead to Austrian Richard Furtner. Rejoining 10 laps down, Apolaro set about a recovery drive lapping faster than any of his rivals but contact with another car broke something on the 7XX ending his chances of taking part in both Main finals later today. Furtner also hit some problems and dropped back to second with Mugen/Sirio driver Gur taking the win. Bulgarian Martin Petrov made it a good day for his family as he made it into the Main by finising third, his father made it into the 1:8 final from the earlier 1:8 Semi A.
Bulgarian National Champion Borislav Tranchev and Swiss driver Pacor Ender have won their 1:8 scale Semi Finals here at the inaugural Bumod Grand Prix to secure their places in the one hour A Main final which is scheduled to get under way at 15:25 Turkish time. In the Semi A, pole sitter Sabrina Lenchner was comfortably leading when she got punted off the track and hit the curbing which resulted in two wheels coming off her Serpent 966. Dropping down to sixth, the German rejoined the race recovering to finish second despite a very difficult handling car which had stripped a front belt. Fresh from racing at last weekends Euro B Championships in Italy, 17-year-old Tranchev drove a very calculated race up front taking his Picco powered Mugen to a 1 lap winning margin. With the Top 3 moving up from the Semis to the Main final Damian Petrov, also from Bulgaria, took the final bump up position. Austrian Meisinger who started from second on the grid had a terrible start. Put on his roof at the first corner he recovered to run second but then a front trackrod came off his Serpent 960. A less dramatic Semi B saw Ender take his Motonica to a comfortable win over Turkish Mugen pairing Alparsian Ozanturk and Gokmen Cakan.
In a dramatic final round of qualifying here in Turkey for the Bumod GP it was Team Xray driver Surikarn C. who snatched TQ honours for tomorrow’s one hour main final. The 2002 Electric Touring Car World Champion made the most of the cooler evening track conditions recording 31 laps in 10:14.521 with his OS powered NT1. Running in Group 1, the Thai driver then had to wait nervously to see if his great electric touring car rival Jilles Groskamp who was running in Group 3 could also improve on his morning pace which saw him hold provisional TQ throughout the day. The Dutch lived up to the challenge and was running a slightly faster time but with 1 minute to go some ambitious driving by a slower driver ended the challenge as he pushed the prototype Serpent off the track. The incident was to cost Groskamp approximately 12 second and a certain TQ run.
Surikarn was very pleased with his TQ run saying track conditions were much better in the evening and he was glad he made the most of the run. Asked about his plan for the final he said he will run harder tyres opting for 42 on the front and 45 on the rear but he still feels a tyre stop will be nessecary. In terms of the car set-up he will leave it the same. Groskamp, who was justifiably annoyed to have his run ruined, feels he has a slight edge over Surikarn and is determined to give the new Serpent 7XX a win on its debut.
Third in qualifying thanks to his morning run was Dirk Wischnewski. Having started the day so well the reminder of qualifying was to be a nightmare for the Team Xray driver. Following his dramas in the second and third qualifiers he was on for making the most of the cooler conditions in the fourth but ran out of fuel a lap before he was due to pit. Completing the Top 4 who directly go forward to the main race tomorrow is Austrian Gerhard Kandelhardt, he too having to rely on a time set earlier. Running a fast pace in the fourth round the Xray driver pushed too hard and rolled his NT1 which in turn flamed out. Starting on pole for the Semis will be Germany’s Dirk Stammler with a Serpent 720 and DJ Apolaro driver the second of the prototype 7XX making the race debut here this weekend.
In 1:8 Robert Pietsch bettered his earlier TQ time becoming the only driver to break 34 laps. The factory Mugen and Novarossi driver was very happy with his combination and plans no changes, his biggest worry for tomorrow being the tyre strategy. The German found tyre wear much higher today and while all drivers say a minimum of 1 stop will be necessary it may also be necessary to stop for a second set of his own branded RPM tyres.
Second on the grid will be DJ Apolaro who can take some satisfaction from his 1:8 performance on what has been a difficult weekend. The Serpent driver is busy running in both categories but things are going to be even more hectic tomorrow with the US ace set to run around two and a half hours if he can bump his sedan up into the Main. Making it three different cars at the front of the grid is Shepherd’s Patrick Schaefer. The German recorded the fastest lap in the last round of qualifying but flamed out as he came in for his fuel stop ending any chance of improving his time.
Michael Salven, having seen his latest creation robbed of a pretty certain TQ, was dealt another blow shortly afterwards when his receiver battery died as he warmed up for the fastest round of the day. Sabrina Lechner was fifth fastest and will start pole for the Semi A with Swiss driver Pacor Ender’s Motonica heading the grid in the Semi B.
1/10th scale qualifying results
1. Surikarn Chaidajsuriya – Thailand
2. Jilles Groskamp – Netherlands
3. Dirk Wischnewski – Germany
4. Gerhard Kandelhardt – Austria
5. Dirk Stammler – Austria
6. DJ Apolaro – USA
7. Richard Furtner – Austria
8. Scott Rister – USA
9. Arman Maralan – Turkey
10.Gorkem Gur – Turkey
1/8th scale qualifying results
1. Robert Pietsch – Germany
2. DJ Apolaro – USA
3. Patrick Schaefer – Germany
4. Michael Salven – Germany
5. Sabrina Lechner – Germany
6. Pacor Ender – Switzerland
7. Michael Meisinger – Austria
8. Gokmen Cakan – Turkey
9. Boritslav Tranchev – Bulgaria
10.Alparsian Ozanturk – Turkey