More new items from Japanese company Xenon, who are present here in Vila Real to support their customers and first up is an exclusive look at their new touring car rubber tire. Called the Max, it is designed to be used as a control tire with the rubber having similar characteristics to the Sorex tire that is currently in use at this weeks Euros. Aiming to be considerably cheaper to purchase than other similar products, the tire has been finalised and is in production, however the insert together with the wheel are still in the final testing stages. Also new from Xenon are some new greases, the first of which is used together with silicone o-rings, such as those used in the cars shock absorbers, while the other grease we were shown is to be used together with driveshafts.
Practice for the 2008 EFRA European Championship for Electric Touring Cars is over and it is defending Champion Ronald Volker who is officially the fastest man around the Nitro 15 track as we get ready for the first of five qualifying heats.
The Hot Bodies/LRP team driver produced 17 laps in 05:06.832 in the last of the 6 practice runs the drivers have had to prepare for the event. The German was again at the controls of his newer Cyclone TC for the run switching only to a Jaad 3.5 degree rear mount and has now nominated this chassis for the big event. Although it doesn’t count for much Volker said it felt good to top the practice.
Failing to improve his time Teemu Leino, the fastest man after P5, described his last practice as a ‘bad run’ loosing some 5.5 seconds on his earlier pace. Fellow Xray driver Steven Weiss also lost time but in the German’s case it was just 7/10th of a second.
Andy Moore was a lot happier with his Hot Bodies having switched back to his older chassis and motor. Also trying the Madza Speed 6 over the regular Mazda 6, the British ace said the Speed 6 gave him a little more corner speed and as a result he will run this in qualifying.
Another to switch back to their old chassis was Marc Rheinard. The Tamiya Factory Racing team driver ran a faster 5 minutes with the old car which he described as looser but it was also faster than the more stable new chassis he tried in the earlier run today.
Fourth fastest in P6 and improving his overall time was Dutch ace Jilles Groskamp. The Tamiya/Speed Passion driver ran a lightweight bodyshell which gave him more steering but the ETS Champion still needs to find more. Groskamp is struggling to match the pace of his rivals over the opening few laps and is uncertain as to why this is.
Others to improve their times in the final practice include British Hot Bodies driver Olly Jefferies (13th fastest), Austrian Thomas Pumpler (15th), Swede Alexander Hagberg (16th), Flying Finns Sebastian Trazaska (17th) & Simo Ahoniemi (18th) and Slovak driver Martin Hudy (20th).
The first of today’s two qualifiers is due to get underway at 14:00 local time.
Xray’s lead driver Teemu Leino took advantage of cooler track conditions in the first of today’s controlled practice runs to up the pace here in Spain. The Finn knocked 1.5 seconds of the previous fastest five minute run, set yesterday evening by Marc Rheinard, after reverting to the set-up he used in the second practice of the event.
Leino was pretty pleased with his run and the handling of his T2 008 which he plans to leave the same for the final practice. The TITC Champion said it is difficult to change set up due to the big temperature differences for each run with as much as a 20 degree increase between the coolest and hottest heats.
Making it two Xray’s at the top of the time sheets Germany’s Steven Weiss, who TQ’d last year’s event in France, was much happier with his car. Fitting a new Orion speedo and motor for the run, Weiss said the package was working much better now and he had a really good feeling with the car. Asked if he felt he could repeat his 2007 qualifier performance he replied, ‘I really hope so’.
Failing to improve his best run from yesterday Marc Rheinard drops to third while Steen Graversen jumps to fourth. Graversen, who says he hates the track because it doesn’t suit is driving style, was the third fastest in the morning run with his prototype Kyosho. The Danish ace felt the car was more difficult to drive but on the clocks it is proving faster and if they can make the A Final he will be super happy. With the car still in the development phase, Graversen & Kyosho have set themselves the target of making the A Final at each event they attend and on current form the look set to achieve that this weekend.
Setting the fourth fastest time for the run and his best so far was Andy Moore. The British driver, whose on/off switch stayed firmly in place this time, tried a new car and motor but found it to be slower although he did improve his 5 minute run time. Moore will revert to his previous combination for the last practice as it was quicker in terms of lap times. Another Hot Bodies driver to improve was Danish National Champion Jonas Kaerup who enjoyed a run that was just a tenth off his World Champion team mate.
Moving into the Top 10 for the first time and heading up the Associated challenge is up and coming Finnish talent Christer Andersson. The 16-year-old has adpated his driving style so that he is easier on the car at the start of the run and this appears to help the TC5 over the final few laps. Andersson says he still wants to do better however.
His Associated team-mates Juho Levanen and Joel Myberg both had their fastest run this morning but are still somewhat off the pace. Finnish Champion Levanen says his driving style today is suiting the car better while Swedish National Champion is reporting his TC5 as being super steady and easy to drive but just lacking corner speed. The pair sit 17th and 31st respectively on the time sheets.
Unfortunately we have just received news that reigning British Champion and top Yokomo hope Chris Grainger will take no further part in the event. Yesterday we reported he was suffering from suspected food poisoning which sadly has not improved and the rather ill Grainger has opted to get the first available flight back home to England. We wish him a speedy recovery.
At the end of the opening day of the 1:10 EP Touring Car Euros it is German ace Marc Rheinard and his Tamiya that top the time sheets here in Vila Real.
Rheinard knocked a second off his opening timed run to remain fastest of the 145 runners while team-mate Viktor Wilck, who was the next fastest in P4, jumps up into second to put the TRF416 one-two overnight. The German ran a new car for the final run of the day which he said felt different to the chassis he used in the earlier runs. The second car had more traction but was pushing more and so he remains undecided as to which chassis he will nominate for the start of qualifying.
Wilck also suffered similar handling with his TRF416 saying the car didn’t feel good to drive suffering from too much push in the mid corner. Although pleased with his time the young Swede will try some small changes to try and make the car more driveable again and improve the feeling.
Germany’s Marc Fisher enjoyed a very strong run with his Corally jumping from a lowly 25th fastest to third quickest overnight. The GM Racing team driver described his run as ‘Much Better’ but was giving little else away other than the fact that he fitted a fresh differential to his RDX Phi.
Second fastest after the first round of timed practice, Ronald Volker dropped to fourth after he had to pull up early when he lost the pin out of one of his front CVDs. Another of the quick runners who did not finish was Andy Moore. The current World Champion was on for a quick run in P4 but suffered an unusual incident in which the on/off switch on his HB Cyclone TC came undone and the car turned itself off causing him to have a heavy impact to the front left of his car as he lost radio control.
Teemu Leino, who rolled his Team Orion powered Xray twice during the final run, drops to fifth fastest. The Finn who is always keen to try new things in practice will revert to the setting he ran on his T2 008 during the second of the days’ runs.
Jilles Groskamp, Steen Graversen, Thomas Pumpler and Dirk Wischnewski complete the Top 10 here on Day 1 of the Euros. Tomorrow competitors will have their final two chances to dial in their cars ahead of the all important qualifiers.
Tamiya driver Marc Rheinard has topped the time sheets for the first of the timed practice runs here at the 2008 Euros. Posting a time of 17 laps in 05:10.830 the German was 2/10th faster than fellow countryman and defending champion Ronald Volker over the 5 minute run. The 2008 European 1:12 Champion, Rheinard said his TRF416 was pretty good but he will run a fresh car in the last run of the day.
Volker used the run to try a brand new Cyclone TC which he said was good but he will try older shocks from the previous Cyclone in the P4 to get a comparison with the newer version.
Third fastest man Teemu Leino changed his shock settings but his Xray was not as good as this morning and the TITC winner will now try a totally different set-up for his next outing.
Euro Touring Series Champion Jilles Groskamp, who is running a very similar set-up to Rheinard only with heavier shock oil, ran a different motor but will revert to the prototype Speed Passion unit he ran in the first two runs of the day. The Dutch driver said the power delivery of the prototype is better.
Hupo Honigl ran a brand new car and was very happy with the performance. The Austrian ace is finding his car is going off more than his rivals in the latter part of the run but is not sure if it is the car or him being more aggressive early in the run. Hupo will run his older car in the final practice of the day and then decide which chassis he will race. Tamiya team mate Viktor Wilck completed the Top 6 despite a suspected differential problem during his run.
Top Kyosho on the time sheets was Steen Graversen in seventh. He ran different rear springs but he wasn’t happy with the change and will revert back to those used in P2. The Dane is lacking steering and will make a number of changes to try and cure the problem but is pleased with his pace as he’s already running faster than he did during testing.
Heading the UK Challenge with the eight fastest time is Olly Jefferies who decribed his pace as ‘Not Bad’ considering this is his first visit to the Nitro 15 track. The Hot Bodies driver said he needs to be a little more consistent so as to get a good rythm going. Many drivers have commented how even the smallest mistake on one corner destroys the flow through the next few corners.
Elliot Harper switched to shorter drive shafts on his Xray which have improved intial turn in and sitting in ninth he is very pleased with his pace. Alexander Hagberg from Sweden rounds out the Top 10 also driving an Xray T2 008.
A quick look through the pits here in Vila Real have revealed a number of new products being run and tested by some of the top drivers. Corally racer Marc Fisher from Germany is running some new prototype parts on his RDX Phi. There are new rear uprights that have 1mm lower top mounting points, also the front steering blocks have received some attention together with the new servo saver part that has simpler to adjust Ackermann.
Over at the Schumacher pit, the whole team are running the company’s new Mi3.5, which is much lighter than the original Mi3 and is better suited to rubber racing with the use of soft plastics in the car to help generate grip. Also seen on the car of Chris Ashton, is a new servo saver part, which is very similar to that seen on the RDX Phi, allowing for easy Ackermann adjustment. The steering round mounting positions are in the same position as on the original servo saver yet in this configuration it just seems to work better.
Our friend Taru from Xenon has made the trip from Japan to be here and he was showing us their tire additive ‘Tire Performa’, which is in extensive use by the racers on this track. While not new in Japan, released over a year ago there, in Europe the product has just become available.