Not a name instantly associated with 1:8 Onroad racing, Infinity driver Naoto Matsukura has topped seeding on his debut in the sport’s original World Championship. The reigning 1:12 World Champion capped off an impressive day of controlled practice to top the times for a second time as he set the fastest time of the day in CP4 ahead of reigning World Champion Simon Kurzbuch. Fastest in CP2, the P2 in the fourth and final practice will see Kurzbuch seeded number 2 for qualifying tomorrow. Putting in a surprise fastest time in the opening controlled practice, Jesse Davis would secure 3rd overall in the seeding ahead of Bruno Coelho and Shoki Takahata. Davis will be joined in the top heat by fellow Aussie Jeff Hamon who the made most of the cooler night time conditions to set an even more surprising third fastest time ahead of Carmine Raiola, the Italian completing the overall Top 6 seeding ranking.
Summing up his CP4 time, Matsukura said, ‘My car was pretty good and easy to drive and this time I had no mistakes. I didn’t drive at 100% but maybe 80%.’ Having changed to a different engine to save the previous OS unit he used to top CP3, he added, ‘I changed engine and this one was actually better’. Declaring himself ‘happy to be top seed’, asked his approach for tomorrow’s qualifying he replied, ‘I need to make clean 7-minutes with all the same lap times. Even (driving) at 80% the lap times are good and there is less chance of mistakes. I hope (with this approach) I can TQ’.
‘It was a very good day’, was how Kurzbuch summed up Day 3. The Shepherd driver added, ‘free practice was good and three of the controlled practices were good so I’m happy’. He continued, ‘I am (seeded) second behind Naoto so I will follow him and see what he is doing and match his speed. Our strategy for the first one is to be on the safe side and get a result and then react to what we need to do after that’.
‘So so’ was Davis’ response when asked his thoughts on seeding third. The Infinity driver added, ‘tomorrow I will go back to my white body’. Having ran the opening two rounds of controlled practice with a white shell he switched to his race painted body for CP3 & 4 but said it didn’t feel the same. While the bodies are mounted slightly differently he said, ‘I think the weight of the paint is also making a difference. I gave it 2 shots but I didn’t like it’. Feeling he has a good car for a consistent 7-minute run, he will change back to his ‘race engine’ for Q1, this being the OS Speed engine he had in when he topped CP1.
Only 10th quickest in the final practice, going off the track a number of times, Coelho said, ‘we tried different things on the car expecting it to be easier to drive but still fast but it was just slower, it was not so good’. He continued, the car before was very good but we will always try to go faster and try things but we know we have a good set-up to go back to’. The Xray driver concluded, ‘the car is very easy to drive so it is looking good for 7-minutes so I’m confident for tomorrow’.
Mugen’s leading challenger so far, Takahata was pleased to put his MRX6 in the top heat for qualifying. The former KM Racing driver who only joined Mugen this year said having made no changes to his car between CP3 and 4 he was happy with how the car worked in the different conditions. Unlike many drivers going into Q1 who are looking to post a result on the board, the 23-year-old said his approach will be to push for a TQ run. Having taken a surprise TQ in the fourth round of qualifying at last year’s 1:10 World Championships in Italy, he is confident he has a car he can push for the entire 7-minutes.
‘I’m in the Top 10 so tomorrow we compete with the best guys’, was former World Finalist Raiola’s reaction to his 6th place seeding. The Infinity driver used the last practice to complete the break-in of a new engine saying he used up a lot of time visiting the pitlane as a result of tuning the engine so fourth for the round was a decent result. Planning no set-up changes for Q1 he concluded, ‘I think I have a good car for the 7-minutes so there is no need to change anything’. Behind Raiola, Robert Pietsch will carry the No. 7 with fellow Mugen driver Hamon 8th. The line-up for the top heat is completed by Free Practice pace setter Dario Balestri and French driver Romain Picard.
Naoto Matsukura has just gone fastest at the 1:8 Onroad World Championships in Monteux, France. The Infinity driver hasn’t run outside the Top 3 and finally went top of the timing sheets in the penultimate round of controlled practice becoming the third different driver to do so in as many rounds. Behind the multiple electric onroad World Champion, fellow Japanese driver Shoki Takahata posted the second fastest time coming good on the form he showed in free practice yesterday. It would be a strong round for Xray with Bruno Coelho setting the 3rd quickest time and being joined by team-mate Alessio Mazzeo, the Italian finding a lot of time to post the 4th fastest time. It was also a good round for reigning 1:10 World Champion Dominic Greiner as he took his Serpent to the 6th fastest time ahead of the reigning 1:8 Champion Simon Kurzbuch.
‘I changed engine so I had more punch and top speed’ was the reason Matsukura gave for his quickest time, his fastest lap also the fastest seen so far today. The reigning 1:12 World Champion, who was originally signed by Infinity for its EP programme having never raced 1:8 Onroad competitively until the start of this season’s Euro Nitro Series, continued, ‘I have made no changes to the car today only the engine and this one is a keeper so I will go back to another engine for the final practice’. Crashing out of the previous controlled practice saying he didn’t get the most from his tyres, while he did get the best of the tyres this time the run did still contain a crash with left him with a front right damaged tyre. Despite this he said not only is the speed there but so too is the consistency, pointing out his laps on his phone.
Only managing a P10 in CP2, Takahata put his improvement down to changing the programme on his new Sanwa servo. With Mugen team-mate Robert Pietsch moving away from the illustrious radio manufacturer’s new offering due to a lack of time to work with the programming options, the 23-year-old seems to have got to terms with it. Finding his car too nervous in the previous runs, he said he programmed his steering servo to be less aggressive and the changes suited the track giving him a more stable car. Focusing on getting his car ready for qualifying rather than good for outright pace he said he will do more to make the car even more easy to drive for CP4 planning to talk to his team about possible changes to achieve this.
Coelho said his focus this round was to simulate a qualifying run and declared himself happy as his RX8 was ‘very consistent’. Only pitting once over the 7-minutes for fuel, he added, ‘after this run it is looking very good’. Having left the car unchanged from CP2 he said they will discuss whether or not to make any changes to try in the final practice, the track expected to be at its best due to the cooler night time conditions.
‘I’m very surprised’ was Mazzeo’s reaction to his P4 time. He continued, ‘I haven’t been able to find a set-up but Fabio (Domanin) gave me some help and now the car is fast and easy to drive’. The Italian who finished runner-up at the 1:10 World Championships last year, added, ‘It has been a slow start to this event but now its amazing and I hope we can continue this way’. Asked what changes had brought about the improved car set-up he replied, ‘we were running too soft a set-up, now through the radio tray we have made the car much stiffer and its much better’. Asked if he planned any fine tuning to his new set-up he replied definitively ‘No. I will only try to push’. Behind Mazzeo fellow countryman Carmine Raiola would post the 5th fastest time.
With Kurzbuch making the podium at the 1:10 World Championship last year as the reigning 1:8 champion, Grenier would like to match the Swiss drivers achievement, with CP3 the first sign of the German finding his way in 1:8. He said, ‘the day started very bad as I completely destroyed the car and the engine when I crashed on the straight and into the pitlane. We rebuilt the car but then in the next run a screw came loose and I had no brakes but this time it was pretty good’. On the current car set-up he said, ‘the tyres change the balance of the car a lot (over the run). The car is fast but I’m a little too nervous. I prefer to have it more easy and more stable so we will work for this in the set-up’.
Setting the 7th fastest time, Kurzbuch put his drop in performance down to having tried ‘different things with his engine’. The factory Shepherd/Novarossi driver said as a result, ‘I don’t think I had enough power to be competitive against the others so we will go back for the last one’. On his Velox set-up he said, ‘the car was good which is important in these changing conditions so I’m happy with that’.
Reigning World Champion Simon Kurzbuch has hit the top of the time sheets for the first time in France as he set the pace in the second round of controlled practice. Starting Day 3 of the 21st running of the 1:8 Onroad World Championship with a confidence boosting time in the final free practice that left him P2 behind Dario Balestri, the Shepherd driver after struggling with windy conditions in CP1 adjusted his car perfectly for CP2 to set the fastest 3-consecutive laps of the afternoon run. Behind him it was his new for 2017 rival Bruno Coelho who was second fastest, the Xray driver also making improvements to his car after struggling in the the opening controlled practice. The first time an Infinity hasn’t filled the top spot on the time sheets, it was Naoto Matsukura who was their quickest driver setting the third fastest time despite crashing out of the 7-minute run. For free practice pace setter Dario Balestri a rear drive shaft failure in the warm-up would prevent him from taking the start of CP2, the Italian saying the drive shaft was due to for changing after the run.
‘A very good consistent run at at the end we also had the best three laps so I’m very happy’, was Kurzbuch’s reaction to topping the times. He continued, ‘the changes paid off and now we are even more prepared for qualifying. We know what to do if it’s windy or if it is perfect conditions’. Happy he has all set-up options covered, the factory Novarossi driver said which engine to run is now his next focus. ‘I am testing some different engines but I don’t have a favourite yet because they are all working great but we will keep trying until we choose one’.
Coelho summed up his run as ‘very good now’ adding ‘it was much better than the first one’. The Portuguese driver continued, ‘It was very difficult to drive and on power was very loose so we completely changed the car and now it is much better. We were super close to Simon so it is a big improvement’. Looking to the third controlled practice, he said, ‘maybe I will make just a small change but with having made so many set-up changes I would like to focus on having the same car again to try to get more out of my driving rather than having to get used to another set-up’.
Matsukura felt third wasn’t a true reflection of his pace. Making his 1:8 Worlds debut, the Japanese driver said, ‘I don’t make three good laps. I was on new tyres so the first 2-minutes was breaking then in and I was only starting to get up to speed when I crashed so I didn’t get the best from the tyres’. Asked about his off, which sent the marshal running for cover and resulted in broken rear body support, he said, ‘it was my mistake. I was looking at another car which crashed ahead of me. I think I ran wide and then the wind got under the car’.
Behind Matsukura, team-mate Carmine Raiola posted the 4th quickest time. The 2013 World Championship finalist said, ‘Now it was OK. I changed back to my set-up from yesterday and it made the car more stable and I could drive it easy’. The Italian continued, ‘the focus is on qualifying not three laps so I’m happy with the car now’.
Fastest in the opening control practice, that time still the quickest three laps, Jesse Davis would set the fifth fastest time in CP2 describing the run as ‘different’. Having had a braking issue in CP1, the Australian continued, ‘the brakes are still not sorted but the track felt weird for me. I couldn’t put three laps together so I just went for a clean Top 10 run for the seeding’. For his next run, the Infinity driver will fit his race engine as well as his race body to ‘check it is all ok’ for tomorrow’s qualifying as well as trying to get to the bottom of his brakes issue.
‘Now I think I can get into my rhythm’, was Robert Pietsch’s reaction after CP2, the German adding, ‘It already feeling a lot better’. Switching back to standard Sanwa servos having started out the event with a new programmable servo the Japanese company have released but which he hasn’t had enough time to familiarise himself with, the Mugen driver said he got a more true feeling of where his car is at. On that he feels he is missing a little steering on the entry into the corner and for the next one he will change the front geometry but concluded he was ‘happy, now we are on the right way’.
Chassis – Shepherd Velox V8 Simon Kurbuch Edition Engine – Novarossi Mito WC Tyres – Matrix (Handout) Fuel – Energy Radio/Servos – Futaba Body – Xtreme Aerodynamics R18Strong Remarks – Defending World Champion Simon Kurzbuch is running a Velox V8 from German company Shepherd equipped with a few option parts, such as aluminium wheel axles, a set of top titanium screws and a brass under LiPo weight. His car is also equipped with a complete set of Brilliant bearings.
Chassis – Creation Model Infinity Engine – OS Speed R2013 Tyres – Matrix (Handout) Fuel – Runner Time Radio/Servos – Sanwa Body – Protoform R19 Remarks – Australian driver Jesse Davis is running an updated rear end on his Infinity car. The bulkheads are now narrower with the arm pins closer to each other, while the brake has been moved to the gearbox axle. The bulkheads also feature easy access to the rear axle and the lower shock position has been moved to compensate for the different arm position. Featuring a new chassis to work with the different bulkheads, Jesse’s car also sports a new battery plate with an extra screw, that allows the user to play with the flex, and a new longer front bumper.