The Top 10 touring car drivers in the World have just completed their practice final here in Thailand with Hara leading home Masami, on the time screens that is. As expected Hara and Rheinard battled up front from the start followed closely by Volker and Masami but catching a kerb Rheinard rolled his Tamiya onto its roof. Once up right again the German waited for Hara to come round slotting back into second just ahead of Masami. Sandwiched between Hara and Masami, who got passed Volker when he too rolled after riding a kerb, Rheinard closed right up on the bumper of his great rival. While he failed to get passed we suspect that neither driver was showing their true hand saving that extra 5% for when the results will really count.
Above is a video from the 5th round of qualifying which shows the action from Heat 13. This round saw Marc Rheinard take the win and overall round TQ, just beating out eventual top qualifier Atsushi Hara.
Although he’s a former World Champion he had never before TQ’d even a single round of qualifying at the bi annual event, but here in Thailand its a very different story for Atsushi Hara. Winning the final qualifier to confirm he will start tomorrow’s A Mains from pole, the Japanese ace topped the time sheets on 4 of the 6 occassions with his great rival Marc Rheinard the only one to denying him total domination.
Having ruled proceeding yesterday Hara’s run came to an end in the fourth round as he played with set-ups for Sunday’s finals allowing Rheinard to narrowly snatch the round TQ. The German repeated it again in the fifth heat but returning to his Friday set-up Hara resumed control to officially confirm himself as the Worlds Top Qualifier, a fact that was never really in doubt following his super fast time in the third heat.
Rheinard described his second spot on the grid as the ‘perfect position’ as he can apply the pressure rather than receive it. The German, who Hara acknowledges as being his toughest opponent, appears to be on a high about chasing down the first ever Touring Car World Champion. On pace the pair are very evenly matched but Rheinard has a reputation for being able to find 105% when needed. As 2006 podium finisher Paul Lemeiux put it ‘one good thing about not making the A Main is that I’m going to get to watch one hell of a dog fight’.
Third on the gird will be Ronald Volker. The German has been very fast throughout the event and has the speed to pick up the pieces if the two in front come undone. This is the second time the LRP/Hot Bodies driver has made the World final and he has set himself the goal of a podium finish. Turning things around today Viktor Wilck will start from fourth. The Swede will line-up directly behind his Tamiya Racing Factory team mate and says it is vital to make a quick get away so as to stop the front row making an early break.
Masami Hirosaka lines up fifth but still hasn’t given up hope of taking his first ever Touring Car World title. The Yokomo driver said his slump in performance after a stunning opening day was down to tyres. The Japanese legend said he made the wrong choice between new and used tyres for the different track conditions. Now that he has that figured out he said he is looking forward to a ‘clean race’ tomorrow.
Defending World Champion Andy Moore who TQ’d the last World’s will line up sixth. The British driver had an electrical problem in the last qualifier which cost him grid places but rekons thing are still wide open and it could all be decided at the first corner. Starting just behind him is fellow countryman Elliot Harper. Top Xray on the grid, this 15-year-old is sure to be on the shopping lists of a number of manufacturers for the 2009 season thanks to his impressive Worlds debut. Really happy to make his first Worlds final Harper, who unlike his rivals didn’t have the benefit of pre-event testing, said he would like to finish well but with everyone so close on times it will be tough racing.
Another big surprise finalist is local Thai driver Meen Vejrak who is also at the controls of Xray’s T2 009 chassis. A slipping belt cost him two good runs in the last two qualifiers but with this now fixed the FEMCA Nitro Touring Champion is aiming for a Top 5 finish.
Giving Hot Bodies the biggest share of the grid is Hayato Matsuzaki, the IFMAR 2WD Off Road World Champion claimed 9th ahead of Jilles Groskamp whose Tamiya takes up the final spot on the starting line-up.
Taking the unlucky honour of BQ (11th position) goes to Hupo Honigl but the Tamiya driver is joined in the B Main by some other unfortunate World Class drivers like Kyosho team leader Shin Adachi, 2002 World Champion Surikarn, TITC winner Teemu Leino, US Champion Lemieux and the newly crowned 1:12 scale World Champion Naoto Matsukura.
Top 10 results from round 6
1. Atsushi Hara (HB/Team Orion) – 19 Lap 5:11.387
2. Ronald Volker (HB/LRP) – 19 Lap 5:11.906
3. Marc Rheinard (Tamiya/SpeedPassion) – 19 Lap 5:12.172
4. Hayato Matsuzaki (HB/LRP) – 19 Lap 5:13.760
5. Elliot Harper (Xray/Nosram) – 19 Lap 5:14.037
6. Masami Hirosaka (Yokomo/Nosram) – 19 Lap 5:14.273
7. Jilles Groskamp (Tamiya/SpeedPassion) – 19 Lap 5:15.273
8. Steven Weiss (Xray/LRP) – 19 Lap 5:15.299
9. Hupo Honigl (Tamiya/LRP) – 19 Lap 5:15.886
10. Teemu Leino (Xray/Team Orion) – 19 Lap 5:16.559
So tomorrow is D day and with Scotty Ernst on the mic there is not going to be a more exciting place to be in the world than at the RCS in Bangkok. Drivers will have one practice session to settle the nerves before the 15 most important minutes of racing in their careers will determine who is the World’s No.1. We will try to share that excitment with you through our continued Speed Passion and LRP supported live reports from Thailand.
Atsushi Hara has TQ’d the 2008 IFMAR Electric Onroad World Championships. The 1:8 Off Road World Champion will line up on pole for Sunday’s three leg A-Main finals here in Bangkok after going fastest in the sixth & final qualifier.
Day 1 of the World’s was Masami day, yesterday was Hara day and right now it looks like today is going to be Rheinard day as the Tamiya ace notched up his second TQ. The 2004 Champion once again swapped times with his Japanese rival Hara, but over the final three laps the German had the advantage allowing him to pull out 6/10th and finish with the best time of 19 laps in 05:15.111.
Describing his Speed Passion powered TRF416 after the round as ‘good’, not something we hear often from the German who is always looking to get the very last from his car, Rheinard is looking very confident now and is determined to show Hara that he intends to take it to him tomorrow when it counts most. The current European Champion still has a fresh set of Sweep tyres for the last qualifier and even though today’s warmer conditions mean Hara’s fastest TQ time is safe, winning all three of today’s heats would be an important psychological victory going into the last day of the championships.
Hara, who is very evenly matched with Rheinard for four of the five minutes, said his car is over heating the tyres and with three laps to go it starts to slide around a lot. The dominator yesterday, Hara thinks he has a set-up that will cure the problem and will try it in the final run.
While Rheinard is the man of today his team-mate Viktor Wilck is also coming good now. Having finished a much need fifth fastest in Round 4, the Swede is getting his confidence back laying down the third fastest time. Wilck has been tipped for the title since winning the Pre World’s back in April but yesterday he looked like he was not even going to make the grid for the A Main. With a place in the big race now secured the 21-year-old can relax, and when relaxed he is at his best.
Defending Champion Andy Moore was next up going fourth quickest. The Englishman said he ran safe to make sure and secure a Top 10 placing in the Qualification ranking. Still suffering from a small amount of understeer the Hot Bodies/Orion driver hopes he can get another good run and replace the 8th place finish that currently makes up his best three rounds.
Making it two UK drivers in the Top 6 for the round was World Championship debutant Elliot Harper. The 15-year-old is making a big impression here in Thailand and has shown up his more experienced Xray team-mates. The hot conditions are not suiting the T2 009 but Elliot is keeping it in title contention. US Champion Paul Lemieux was the second fastest Xray finishing 10th to claim his second Top 10 qualifying time.
Making it three Tamiyas in the Top 6 Hupo Honigl took his LRP powered example to sixth. The Austrian said he had two small slides but was happy with what has been his best run so far. The fourth member of the Tamiya factory team Jilles Groskamp failed to finish the round due to a problem with his diff.
Top 10 results from round 5
1. Marc Rheinard (Tamiya/SpeedPassion) – 19 Lap 5:15.111
2. Atsushi Hara (HB/Team Orion) – 19 Lap 5:15.743
3. Viktor Wilck (Tamiya/SpeedPassion) – 19 Lap 5:16.425
4. Andy Moore (HB/Team Orion) – 18 Lap 5:01.613
5. Elliot Harper (Xray/Nosram) – 18 Lap 5:01.836
6. Hupo Honigl (Tamiya/LRP) – 18 Lap 5:01.955
7. Masami Hirosaka (Yokomo/Nosram) – 18 Lap 5:02.186
8. Hayato Matsuzaki (HB/LRP) – 18 Lap 5:02.259
9. Ronald Volker (HB/LRP) – 18 Lap 5:02.921
10. Paul Lemieux (Xray/Trinity) – 18 Lap 5:03.257
Marc Rheinard has TQ’d the fourth round of qualifying for the 2008 IFMAR Touring Car Worlds to bring to an end Atsushi Hara’s domination. The two former World Champions swapped times throughout the heat with Rheinard finally stopping the clocks in the faster time by just 2/10ths of a second.
The Tamiya driver used a fresh set of tyres for the high temperature run and said afterwards that he feels the TRF416 works better than his rivals Hot Bodies which has had the advantage around the RCS track when conditions are cooler. The German, who is chasing second on the grid, said Hara’s fastest TQ time will be impossible to beat has another set of new tyres but doesnt know which of the last two heats to use them in. Heat No.5 will be another hot run while the final qualifier should be a lot cooler. Currently it is 37 degrees here in the pits.
Hara was slightly frustrated to see his run of TQs end saying ‘just 2/10th, it was so close’. The Japanese Hot Bodies/Orion driver used the session to try a set-up for the first A Main which is scheduled to run at around the same time tomorrow. Running used tyres and a set-up to give his Cyclone TC more steering, Hara said the car had too much bite. With one new set of control tyres at his disposal he plans to try another set-up in the penultimate heat.
Meen Vejrak continues to impress, the relatively unknown Thai driver coming into this event, again finished in the Top 3 with a time that was just 1.7 seconds off two of the biggest names in the sport. Running an LRP powered Xray, Vejrak said he feels he is going the right way now with the set-up. Currently on target to be the top placed Xray in the finals the humble 23-year-old is not taking anything for granted just yet.
Ronald Volker said he was unable to attack due to bad understeer which he is putting down to a new bodyshell. The German, who still holds the fastest lap time of this championships, ran a new standard Protoform Mazda Speed 6 featuring a different paint design but will revert to his first shell which he feels worked better.
Having endured a tough first day of qualifying, Pre World race winner Viktor Wilck got Day 2 off to a good start posting the fifth fastest time. Two DNF’s yesterday meant that a good run was essential if he was to stand any chance of securing a place in the A Main and afterwards the factory Tamiya driver admitted to being very relieved. Wilck said he will again drive on the cautious side for Heat No.5 and should that go well he will give 110% in the last to try and put himself as high up the grid as possible.
Sixth fastest time with the fastest 18 lap time was Masami Hirosaka’s Yokomo followed by Jilles Groskamp, Elliot Harper, Hayato Matsuzaki and Surikarn who completed the Top 10. Top Associated for the round was Rick Hohwart with 11th fastest time while Shin Adachi was fastest of the Kyosho runners in 14th. Reigning Champion Andy Moore didnt finish his run after rolling his Hot Bodies.
Top 10 results from round 4
1. Marc Rheinard (Tamiya/SpeedPassion) – 19 Lap 5:14.198
2. Atsushi Hara (HB/Team Orion) – 19 Lap 5:14.445
3. Meen Vejrak (Xray/LRP) – 19 Lap 5:15.997
4. Ronald Volker (HB/LRP) – 19 Lap 5:16.069
5. Viktor Wilck (Tamiya/SpeedPassion) – 19 Lap 5:16.803
6. Masami Hirosaka (Yokomo/Nosram) – 18 Lap 5:00.026
7. Jilles Groskamp (Tamiya/SpeedPassion) – 18 Lap 5:00.818
8. Elliot Harper (Xray/Nosram) – 18 Lap 5:01.359
9. Hayato Matsuzaki (HB/LRP) – 18 Lap 5:01.513
10. Surikarn C. (HB/SpeedPassion) – 18 Lap 5:02.084