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
2000 World Champion Atsushi Hara sits in the overnight TQ position after dominating the opening day of qualifying for the Touring Car World Championships. Hara got his day off to the perfect start by topping the final practice and hasn’t looked back since, winning each qualifier in a faster time than the last. With three maximum scores to his credit, the current 1:8 Off Road World champion looks almost certain to start from the No.1 spot in Sunday’s A Mains. The only way the Hot Bodies/Team Orion driver can be denied this is if one of his rivals can win all three of tomorrow’s remaining heats and do so in a quicker time than the 19 laps in 05:09.045 he laid down in the third qualifier.
Having had the perfect day at the office, Hara says he is not yet finished and wants to TQ all six rounds of heats. The only driver that looks like having any chance of stopping Hara from taking the perfect TQ is fellow Hot Bodies driver Ronald Volker. The German is the fastest man around the RCS over a single lap having set a blistering 15.907 opening lap in Heat 3 on used tyres. The former European Champion has so far been the only one today to put pressure on Hara, something that the Japanese driver has acknowledged. Volker, with two second fastest run times to his credit, says it will be a tall order to deny Hara the TQ and will focus his attentions on securing P2 on the grid.
Third fastest in Heat 3 was Meen Vejrak, the Thai driver bouncing back after two disappointing runs earlier in the day. Running an Xray chassis, the 23-year-old feels he has the pace to run Top 3 again tomorrow and secure himself a place at the sharp end of the A Main grid. He currently sits 8th in the overnight qualification ranking.
Masami Hirosaka was fourth, equalling his best result from Round 1 but it has been a disappointing day for the man who led the way on Day 1 of this fifth Touring Car World Championships. The multiple 1:10 Off Road & 1:12 Onroad World title holder suffered with his nerves today but is aiming to topple his fellow countryman tomorrow by dominating Day 3 of the championships. He plans a number of set-up changes to help him mount his mammoth challenge.
Completing the Top 6 for the Round were Tamiya’s Marc Rheinard and Kyosho’s Shin Adachi. Rheinard only used one of the three permitted sets of control tyres today and lies 3rd in the qualification ranking but aims to use his fresh rubber tomorrow to deny Hot Bodies an all front row in the final. Adachi is carrying Kyosho’s A Main hopes and sits 9th overnight. Interestingly we saw the new 1:12 World Champion in the Top 10 for the first time this evening when he took his Yokomo BDM around the RCS track in the tenth fastest time. The 15-year-old could be one to watch tomorrow.
Also holding a provisional A Main grid position are defending Champion Andy Moore (5th), his Hot Bodies team-mate Hayato Matsuzaki (7th), Jilles Groskamp (6th) and the ever impressive Elliot Harper (10th). Unfortunately for Pre Worlds race winner Viktor Wilck his back luck returned in the third qualifier when he crashed out while on another strong run. The Swedish driver, who recorded the third fastest lap of qualifying, said tomorrow is going to be all about keeping it clean and steady. With two DNF results today he needs a minimum two good runs if he is to stand any chance of making the A Main.
Top 10 results from round 3
1. Atsushi Hara (HB/Team Orion) – 19 Lap 5:09.045
2. Ronald Volker (HB/LRP) – 19 Lap 5:10.565
3. Meen Vejrak (Xray/LRP) – 19 Lap 5:11.842
4. Masami Hirosaka (Yokomo/Nosram) – 19 Lap 5:12.047
5. Marc Rheinard (Tamiya/SpeedPassion) – 19 Lap 5:12.289
6. Hayato Matsuzaki (HB/LRP) – 19 Lap 5:13.080
7. Shin Adachi (Kyosho/Team Orion) – 19 Lap 5:13.429
8. Jilles Groskamp (Tamiya/SpeedPassion) – 19 Lap 5: 13.517
9. Andy Moore (HB/Team Orion) – 19 Lap 5:13.970
10. Naoto Matsukura (Yokomo/Nosram) – 19 Lap 5:14.638
Tomorrow drivers will start the day with a practice run before having three final opportunities to try an improve their starting position for Sunday’s all important finals. Once again we will bring you the news from Thailand as it unfolds with our continued live reports which are kindly supported by Speed Passion and LRP.
The people behind RC Racing TV, which airs on Motors TV, are here in Bangkok filming for the new series of their successful show and has asked to mention their short daily summary videos, 2 of which feature our Events editor Oisin. You can view them at hpi.tv.
The video above shows the action from the 2nd round of qualifying for the fastest seeded drivers in heat 13. This round saw Hara take his 2nd round TQ of the day to establish himself as the front runner for pole position. Try and ignore the poor camera work.
Atsushi Hara appears to be on a roll now here in Thailand, taking TQ honours for the second of today’s three qualifiers. A strong breeze made for cooler than expected conditions and times tumbled at the RCS track with the Japanese ace knocking 3 seconds of his Round 1 TQ time and 15/100 off his best lap.
Making it two former World Champions at the top, Marc Rheinard produced his first 19 lap run and is far more upbeat about the handling of his Speed Passion powered Tamiya. Running old rubber for the round, the German will run a new set of the Sweep control tires in the last of today’s qualifiers and is confident he can take it to Hara saying after the run ‘now I can start’.
Ronald Volker was running second for much of the heat but made two ‘stupid’ mistakes. The German said he tried a little too hard to catch Hara resulting in two driver errors. Despite the time lost he still managed third for the round and although annoyed with himself he is very happy with the handling of his car.
A stripped spur ended a very competitive run in Heat 1 but Viktor Wilck finally got to show us his true ability at the controls of the Tamiya TRF416 World Edition by setting the fourth fastest time. The Swede said his car was not as good second time round pushing a little on the front but he was happy to finally get a decent run in. His Tamiya team-mate Jilles Groskamp was next up just 3/100th slower.
Having made radical set-up changes to his Xray after discussions with the cars designer Juraj Hudy, 15-year-old emerging British talent Elliot Harper put in a stunning run to record the six fastest time and believes that with some small fine tuning his T2 009 can go even quicker.
Hayato Matsuzaki and Andy Moore posted the 7th and 8th fastest time respectively for Hot Bodies while Shin Adachi made the full run time to record the 9th fastest time for Kyosho. Making it all four former World Champions in the top 10, Surikarn was tenth just ahead of Masami who made a mistake and rolled his Yokomo coming onto the back straight.
Top 10 results after Qualifying Rd2
1. Atsushi Hara (HB) – 19 Lap 5:12.755
2. Marc Rheinard (Tamiya) – 19 Lap 5:15.286
3. Ronald Volker (HB) – 19 Lap 5:15.608
4. Viktor Wilck (Tamiya) – 19 Lap 5:16.050
5. Jilles Groskamp (Tamiya) – 19 Lap 5:16.088
6. Elliot Harper (Xay) – 19 Lap 5:16.302
7. Hayato Matsuzaki (HB) – 19 Lap 5:16.686
8. Andy Moore (HB) – 19 Lap 5:16.707
9. Shin Adachi (Kyosho) – 18 Lap 5:00.694
10. Surikarn C. (HB) – 18 Lap 5:00.860