He was the talk of the paddock when we arrived and he has made it official that he is the pace setter by putting his name at the top of the time sheets as 5 days of practice comes to an end and qualifying for the 2008 1:10 200mm World Championships beckons.
Jilles Groskamp produced the fastest run over 10 minutes in the second of today’s two controlled practice notching up 32 laps in 10:12.223 with his Sirio powered Kyosho. Running a larger head shim for the practice, as Team Sirio played with run time, the Dutch star said the car was not as quick but they had plenty of fuel left after the run and the test would now help them to work out a better compromise between power and consumption.
Second fastest on the official time sheets was Daniele Ielasi. Having put his huge 1:8 European Championship disappointment behind him the Italian ace ended up only 3/10th off his Dutch rival. Running his own brand IDM engines Ielasi, who did his fastest time in the morning run, said all is OK with the bumps his only real problem, a common complaint with all the drivers here at the Monsanto track. Driving an older Kyosho V-One RRR, the Worlds Warm-up race winner used the second of the days two runs to test a second of his Picco based engines.
Niki Duina was very happy with his day as he put his Xray third on the time sheets. The Italian said the track looks easy but to run fast is very difficult due to the bumps as they unsettle the car. Although he would like a little more steering on his Max powered NT1, Duina says he will not make any changes for the first qualifier in the morning which many predict will be the faster of the 2 heats each day due to the cooler conditions.
Former double World Champion Adrien Bertin is the leading official factory Kyosho in fourth. The French driver who is also responsible for Team Orion’s engine program said today things turned good for him and he is finally competitive after finding a cure to run time issues which hampered him in earlier practice. As a result of having to focus his main attention on finding the best engine set-up for the controlled Merlin fuel, Bertin says he is struggling a little still with his chassis set-up and needs to find a few more tenths if he is to be on the finals pace.
Fastest of the non-Europeans is American electric star Paul Lemieux, the US Electric Touring Car National Champion posting the fifth fastest time ahead of defending World Champion Keisuke Fukuda. Lemieux, who admitted to being a little surprised by how fast the pace was when he first arrived in Portugal, switched to the same set-up as his RC America team-mate Ralph Burch and is now happier with his Xray although he says the car is still very loose on the straight.
Although Burch doesn’t feature highly in the timing, the US star is quick around the Lisbon track as is fellow countryman Chris Tosolini. Pleased with how his NT1 is working, Burch said his Max engine was running a little rich and as a result he has failed to complete the full 10-minutes. Tosolini also had fuel issues on his second run while running on the tail of Groskamp. It was a drama filled CP2 for the Kyosho/Sirio driver as on his out lap for the warm-up his car was launched into a roll after hitting one of the bumps at the end of the back straight causing damage which his pitman was luckily able to complete in time for the timed run itself.
Defending Champion Fukuda completed the Top 6 but in terms of outright lap times was fastest. Running the new Ninja .12 engine in his Mugen, the Japanese ace was one of the few that didn’t have an issue with the bumpy surface saying it was very similar to tracks in Japan and so for him it was OK.
Leading Serpent at the end of practice was their Serpent Driver Development program team member Oscar Cabezas in seventh position. The young Spaniard is complaining of his car being very loose at the rear which means taking big risks every lap especially on the left hand sweeper at the end of the main straight. Cabezas hopes to cure the problem for the morning while his Serpent team-mate Mark Green hopes to cure his lack of steering. The English driver’s 720 is traction rolling not because of high grip but due to the amount of lock he has on his car in an attempt to get it to turn in.
Two drivers that are currently running below the radar are reigning European Champion Dario Balestri and fellow Italian Francesco Tironi who according to current pace setter Groskamp are very strong. Tironi says he has resolved his run time problems and will be OK for qualifying. While his Kyosho is sliding around a lot at the end of the straight it feels good on the rest of the track despite the compromised set-up needed to combat the bumps.
The 2008 IFMAR 1:10 200mm Onroad World Championships officially opened this evening with the introduction of the complete driver line up and so the stage is now set for a thrilling battle to decide who will take TQ honours as the first of six qualifying rounds, which will be run over the next three days, gets underway here in Portugal at 09:30 local time. Thanks to our event sponsors Kyosho, Xceed and Serpent we will bring you full coverage througout the day.
We have finally arrived in Portugal where conditions are overcast making for welcomed cooler conditions. After a quick walk around the pits to say hello to drivers the main talk is that of the blistering pace of the Sirio team drivers and in particular electric touring car ace Jilles Groskamp. The Dutch driver is fast and more importantly very consistent although a 2 speed one-way bearing failure in the warm-up for the first controlled practice means we will have to wait till this evening to get a true indication of his pace over 10-minutes. Groskamp is really happy with the combined pace of his engines and Kyosho chassis which he says are allowing him to comfortably run fast consistent laps.
While most drivers combat boredom with around 4 hours to kill between runs, we killed some of Barry Bakers waiting time to chat about the America veteran’s new collaboration with Team Magic who have won two European titles with their G4 in the hands of Dario Balestri. Making your competition debut with a new manufacturer is a daunting task at the best of times but doing so at the World Championships is the ultimate challenge and thats exactly what Baker is doing along with former World & newly crowned European Electric Touring Car Champion Marc Rheinard for whom the event is also his nitro racing debut!
Both Baker and Rheinard are running special WC spec cars which features new front upper suspension brackets with convention roll centre adjustments and rear lower suspension brackets in which whole block can be adjusted up and down. Balestri continues to run the G4+ version as its a package he knows works and the Italian is once again showing the potential of the car running some very impressive lap times here. Moving to Team Magic is a brave move for Baker who previously ran Xray but the vastly experienced multi discipline racer says he has been really encouraged by his dealings with the Asian company to-date. Despite his limited running with the cars, Baker says the factory are very open to his feedback on developing their range of competition cars and this is key to the success of any team driver/manufacturer relationship.
We will bring you a full round up of the day’s controlled practice and the views of the leading driver in our next update once we have settled in and got all the hand shaking duties out of the way. With a near capacity entry booked in and with all the major manufacturers here to support their team drivers the pits is a hive of activity.
Marc Rheinard has won the European Touring Car Championship for the second time in one day!! Having won the second leg of the A Mains the German looked to have wrapped up his first ever Touring Car Euros title only for his cells to fail post race scrutiny. Excluded from the results of Leg 2 this meant the title would have to be decided in the final Leg and shadowing Top Qualifier Ronald Volker throughout the race, Rheinard put in a calculated drive to take second and reinstate himself as the 2008 Champion.
With Leg 1 victory to his credit, Rheinard knew he only needed to finish in a podium placing and ahead of his team-mate Viktor Wilck, who inherited the Leg 2 victory, to clinch his second European title having won the 1:12 Euros earlier this year. Glued to the bumper of Volker, the Tamiya ace appeared to have slightly better pace than the defending champion. Passing him on the back straight on lap 14 Rheinard very briefly led only to out brake himself into the hairpin. A slight mistake on the next lap as they came onto the straight was enough to give Volker the breathing space he needed to claim a deserved victory.
‘I knew second place was OK and because of this I drove a sensible race. My car was very quick especially down the back straight. I’m delighted to win my first Touring Car Euros and really pleased for Tamiya who finished 1-2 especially as Kiyo (Suzuki) was here supporting us all week.’
Race winner Volker was happy to finally get a good run in the finals. Pleased with his car which remained unchanged from Leg 1 & 2 other than a new set of tyres, the Hot Bodies/LRP drivers suspects bad tyres were the cause of his earlier handling problems. The result was enough to give 2007 Champion the final place on the overall podium.
Viktor Wilck fought back from an early clash with Teemu Leino to finish third, which combined with his Leg 2 victory secured him Vice Champion honours and an impressive 1-2 result for Tamiya’s TRF416.
At one stage it looked as though the Japanese marque would dominate the podium as Jilles Groskamp held third in the final Leg but the Dutch ace was to come to a hault on lap 9 when his pinion came off. Although disappointed for himself as the non finish dropped him to seventh in the final ranking, Groskamp was happy for his team-mates and Tamiya on taking the top two positions.
Missing out on the podium Andy Moore had yet another troubled run finishing in eight but his results from the opening two legs were good enough to give him fourth ahead of Leino, Alexander Hagberg, Groskamp and Weiss who all finished up with 9 points.
Finishing 9th overall, promising young UK driver Elliot Harper should be very proud to come away with the European Junior title. The Xray driver did well against his more experienced rivals and is sure be a leading force in future Euros. Marc Fisher, whose Corally made it four different manufactuers in the A Main, completed the ranking that will now go into the EFRA history books as the 10 best drivers in Europe for the 2008 season.
Red RC would like to thank all the race officials and the Nitro 15 club for making us feel so welcome during our time here in Vila Real. We would also like to thank our sponsors LRP and Speed Passion for supporting our live race coverage.
Final results (Official)
1. Marc Rheinard (DE) – 3pts [Tamiya]
2. Vikor Wilck (SE) – 4pts [Tamiya]
3. Ronald Volker (DE) – 5pts [Hot Bodies]
4. Andy Moore (GB) – 7pts [Hot Bodies]
5. Teemo Leino (FI) – 9pts [Xray]
6. Alexander Hagberg (SE) – 9pts [Xray]
7. Jilles Groskamp (NL) – 9pts [Tamiya]
8. Steven Weiss (DE) – 9pts [Xray]
9. Elliott Harper (GB) – 11pts [Xray]
10. Marc Fischer (DE) – 16pts [Corally]
Action from Leg 2 of the A Mains at the 2008 EFRA Touring Car European Championships at the Nitro 15 track in Vila Real, Spain. The result of this final looked to have secured a first Euro Touring title for Marc Rheinard but afterwards the German driver’s cells failed scrutiny pushing the title battle to go to the wire in Leg 3.
Breaking news here from Vila Real is that Marc Rheinard has been excluded from his victory in A Main Leg 2 after his cells failed post race scrutiny. The cells failed to meet the maximum permitted length as laid down by the sports governing body EFRA. The exclusion hands the win to Sweden’s Viktor Wilck and means the European title is still wide open with anyone of seven drivers still able to win the title.
Revised Leg 2 results
1. Viktor Wilck (SE) 17 05:03.051
2. Andy Moore (GB) 17 05:04.790
3. Jilles Groskamp (NL) 17 05:05.966
4. Ronald Volker (DE) 17 05:06.553
5. Steven Weiss (DE) 17 05:07.854
6. Elliott Harper (GB) 17 05:08.354
7. Alexander Hagberg (SE) 17 05:09.051
8. Marc Fischer (DE) 17 05:11.480
9. Teemo Leino (FI) 16 04:46.269
10. Marc Rheinard (DE) DQ