Michael Salven is the quickest driver over five minutes as the first round of timed practice has just been completed here in extremely hot conditions. The Serpent driver recorded 17 laps in 5:04.728 and had another 3/4 of a lap in reserve after the run. The German says his car was not as good as this morning with the chassis feeling a little stiff but hesome changes planned for the next session.
Mugen driver Andrea Pirani was second fastest 0.9 of a second behind the former European Champion. Running the same set-up as he ran at the Warm Up race, the Italian thinks an 18 lap run is possible but only in the morning or the last run of the evening when the temperatures are lower. Leaving the car the same for his second timed run this evening the youngster will change engine running a Collari so as to save the factory Novarossi unit he just ran.
Daniele Ielasi took third but reckons the times are not a true indication of everyone’s pace as the difference in driver levels in the unseeded 15 car sessions at this stage is too big and the top drivers are having to be cautious. In fact Massimo Fantini and Adrien Bertin clashed during their run as they both tried to pass a back marker.
Big surprise of the run was former European B Champion Jernej Vuga who clocked the fourth fastest time with his Novarossi powered Mugen. The talented Slovenian has had very limited running this season and did make a few mistakes during the run but overall appears to have found a nice rythm and is pleased with the balance on his MRX4. Running large diameter tyres he will try smaller tyres for his final run of the day.
Mark Green was happy with fifth saying he was running one of his less powerful engines so as to save his good Mega for qualifying. Andrea Cristiani completed the Top 6 ahead of Walter Salemi and Belgian Champion Robin D’hondt.
While 5 minute run time was less of a problem for the field one or two leading drivers didn’t make it including Shepherd ace Robert Pietsch, Italian Motonica driver Stefano Solaroli and reigning Spanish Champion Oscar Cabezas.
Free Practice runs 3 & 4 saw little change in terms of lap times as the temperatures here in Valencia rose and the track lost pace. In general the track appears to be 2 to 3 tenths slower than this morning. The only big change came from local hot shot Oscar Cabezas who produced a 17.544 to go fourth quickest on overall lap times but the Serpent driver appears to be well short on run time.
Kyosho appear to be still struggling with too much grip on the Evolva M3 and this is hampering their efforts to make 5 minutes as the engines are being made to work that bit harder. Bertin, Ilia Van Gastel and newly crowned German National Champion Stefan Hanauer are all reporting the same problem and so far have been unable to find a solution however with their quality line up, which includes 2 World Champions, they are sure to find some solution in time for all important qualifying.
Now official timing is underway to determine the seeding for tomorrow’s heats with drivers having two chances this evening to post a 5 minute run. With a number of top drivers having avoided our timing radar so far we should get a true indication later today of who is in contention for the 2008 EFRA 1:8 Onroad European Championship title.
Michael Salven produced the fastest lap time in the opening two practice sessions this morning with the Serpent driver producing a lap time of 17.480 to head team-mate Massimo Fantini at the top of the time sheets.
Salven said his first run was very good with his 960 08 working really well, but the German said his times may be fractionally too fast as he crossed the timing loop at 4:59. This would mean doing an extra lap and with fuel run time so marginal here at the Autet track that may not be possible. In the second of his runs Salven tried a different engine but the Mega unit was not as quick as the previous one and was also heavier on fuel consumption.
Fantini is also pleased with his car but run time remains a problem for the man behind Max engines. A late delivery of engines and parts, which arrived this morning, will give the Italian more options to try and get a 5 minute run.
Robert Pietsch and his Shepherd Volex are third fastest, just 1/100th of a second off Fantini. Pietsch had a problem with his engine which he believes was caused by dirt in his fuel line but says the car is still good. The German has returned the steering servo saver back the rear hole setting having found the grip levels had increased this morning and the car had too much turn in. For Run 3 Pietsch will try softer rear springs and lighter oil.
Fabio Domanin who was the unofficial pace setter yesterday was next up in terms of out right lap times as he continued to try different body options. Also running Max engines, the 2006 Champion is making less run time than team-mate Fantini but will be hoping too to benefit from the late shipment.
Posting the fifth fastest time is former European B finalist Philip Eberle at the controls of his Mugen, while Shepherd owner Patrick Schaefer completes the top 6 however not all drivers are running transponders yet. These will be mandatory for the final two runs todays as 5 minutes run will be used to seed tomorrow’s qualifying heats.
Mark Green had a mix up with front tyres in the first run this morning with a 33/35 combination being fitted to the front of his car in error. Due to the high grip this caused the front to twitch and initially the English driver thought he had a radio problem. In the second run Green used the session to make sure that the tyres were in fact the issue and to complete a 5 minute run.
Current Champion Lamberto Collari continues to struggle with his Kyosho again complaining of no steering. The Italian star will try a shorter wheelbase and different shock positions to try an cure the problems which also plagued him yesterday.
Former European Champion Fabio Domanin was the unofficial pace setter at Day 3 of the EFRA European Championships which are taking place at the Autet track here in Valencia, Spain. The Italian set an unofficial lap time of 17.204 with his team-mate Massimo Fantini next fastest in terms of lap times but both Serpent drivers have still to cure the problem of making a full 5 minute run.
Mark Green was one of the first of the leading drivers to make a full 5 minute run and so used his final runs to test body shells back to back. Running both the Xceed Zytek and Central Lola, the Serpent driver reported that the Central was faster over a single lap but the Zytek was quicker over five minutes as it was easier to drive.
Robert Pietsch is another who appears to have solved the run time problem, running two Novarossi engines today he was able to complete full runs with both units but the German says he must run Team Orion’s CPD. Responsible for creating the Shepherd Volex, the German ran the steering servo saver in the forward position in his last run resulting in more steering. Tomorrow the EC Warm Up Race winner will try more engines and experiement with clutch settings.
Kyosho’s two star drivers here appear to be struggling. Current World and European Champion Lamberto Collari appeared frustrated with his day, the Italian struggling to get his Evolva M3 to turn in. Adrien Bertin says he is improving all the time but unfortuately so is everyone else. The problem for the Frenchman is that his car is bitting on the curbs and this makes the car nervous to drive. The Team Orion engine development project leader says this is also effecting his run time as the engine is being forced to work harder.
Motonica’s top hope Dario Balestri is very happy with his car and the day in general but says he is still 5 seconds short on run time. Together with Novarossi, the Italian has a few things he will try in the morning which they believe can give them those vital seconds.
At the end of practice on the pit table of local hot shot Oscar Cabezas, Fabio Domanin’s pitman was seen working on the front end of the Spanish Champions car. Running the same chassis as today’s pace setter, Cabezas is hoping that running Domanin set-up will give him more steering for the first of tomorrow’s timed practice runs.
While most of the field are scratching their heads wondering how they can make five minutes, Mark Green continues to complete the full 5 minutes at blistering pace. The Serpent/Mega driver switched engines to save what he believed was a very good engine for qualifying but found the second engine was just as good and also gave better run time. Green’s car looks really good with the Englishman running the soon to be released Italian foam Xceed tyre on also soon to be released lightweight OS2 rims.
2006 European Champion Fabio Domanin is another quick Serpent with the Italian running very low 17 second lap times but run time still plagues him. A switch to 16% did give him an extra lap but he still needs more if he is to complete a heat without needing to do a stop.
Bruno Coelho is reporting that the RB pipe is working perfectly with his Sirio. The young Portuguese Mugen driver’s biggest problem was with the Collari 905 body shell, which he says is causing his car to run too hot. For his final run today he will revert to the Central Lola to see if that cures this problem.
In general, very few of the top drivers are experiencing much problems with chassis set-up the big issue continues to be fuel consumption. Speaking to engine developer Rody Roem, the France based Dutch man believes drivers will need to adjust their driving style in order to conserve fuel. The new EFRA pipe has slowed the cars and as a result the drivers are on full throttle more which could be part of the problem. The former World Champion however believes if they switched back to 2007 spec pipes fuel would remain a problem as the engines are simply being pushed to their limits.
As the drivers continue to get their laps in, in a bid to find those extra few tenths of a second and improve their run times, we took a look through the paddock to discover more new products and developments. Current European 1/10th scale Champion, Dario Balestri, is testing a new rear end on his Motonica. The car is using a prototype aluminium rear upper wishbone mount as well as prototype upper wishbones and the Italian is pleased with resulting changes in handling.
In the Novarossi cabin we were shown some new products that the company is testing, including a manifold. At the 1:8 Off Road Euros two weeks ago there were problems with the interputation of the new EFRA on manifolds and following clarification at the meeting on the Crete Island, Novarossi have been quick to exploit the new terms of the ruling which states the diameter of the inlet and outlet of the manifold should be 13mm. The prototype part complys to this regulation but uses a larger 15mm diameter tube (right) in an effort to gain more power. The company has seen some improvements but they say it needs further testing before they decide whether it should go into production.
Also new from Novarossi is this back pressure radiator that their team drivers are currently running on their cars. Mounted inline with the back pressure tubing, it helps cool the gases that are flowing through it with the device measuring upwards of 80 degrees celcius when measured after a 5 minute run. Early indications from their drivers show that it does help and using it gains them a small advantage in run time, however the Novarossi team are still coming up short in this area.
Also shown to us by French company KD Racing, are these machined aluminium and titanium parts. Available for Kyosho, Mugen, Serpent and Shepherd cars, these new chassis come in two versions, light and ultralight, with the difference being the amount of machining that has been done to it. The light chassis gives a saving of 50 grams, while the ultra light version, which is noticably lighter when holding it, saves 80 grams. KD Racing also have a number of other option parts including titanium mid axles, brake discs and and 2 speed oneway carriers, as well as full sets of ceramic bearings. Racers wanting custom machining can contact them with their request, with contact details being found on their website here.