The 32nd 1:8 Offroad European Championships was a race of firsts in Fehring, Austria as Darren Bloomfield won a thrilling last lap battle with Kyosho’s David Ronnefalk to become the first British driver to win the title as well as securing his first ever European title and giving Team Losi Racing and his tyre sponsor AKA their first crown in EFRA’s longest running championship. Bloomfield’s 1.9 second win over Ronnefalk, who retains his European Junior title, brings Mugen’s four year reign as manufacturers’ champion to an end as outgoing champion Robert Batlle had to settle for the final step on the podium.
‘It doesn’t feel real’ was Bloomfield’s first reaction to his historic win as fellow British racers Lee Martin, the current 2WD Electric European Champion, and former World Champion Neil Cragg where among the first to congratulate him. 2012 he said has been a very special year as along with winning the biggest title of his professional RC career he also became a dad for the first time back in February.
Going into the race Bloomfield said he knew he had the pace to win and with TLR team manager Kevin Gahan talking him through video footage of all his qualifying runs he said he also had the belief in himself that he could pull it off. Having ran No.1 throughout the event the Top Qualifier for the event had, after his drama in the Semi, run the No.6 on his Novarossi powered 8ight and this was to cause him problems at the first fuel stop. Having to move from position one to six on the drivers stand in correspondence with his race number the change of view caught him out on his first pit stop with his tyre just catching the wall and spinning the car. Knowing that Ronnefalk had an extra fuel stop to do he said he didn’t let the incident and his bad start to the race play on his mind focusing instead on just pushing 100% as the 45-minute race was all going to be about the final 5 minutes. Running one of Adam Drake’s own development 8ight chassis’, which arrived with the American on Monday, Bloomfield said having the US Star as his mechanic this week played a ‘massive’ part in today’s achievement.
A driver who marked himself out as a star of the future when Austria last hosted the Euros in 2009 when he was just 13-years of age, Ronnefalk said it was ‘almost the perfect race’. A former Euro B Champion and Junior Champion for the past two years, the Swede led the majority of the race and felt he was unfairly given a stop and go penalty by race director Dallas Mathiesen. One of the closest 1:8 Offroad finals witnessed, Ronnefalk came together with Bloomfield three times but on each occasion he showed true sportsmanship & respect by allowing Bloomfield to retake position so he felt the penalty was harsh when the racing was so close and other drivers were allowed to come in the battle. Also running AKA tyres, Ronnefalk said he made the wrong call on compound having went with super soft Enduro and in the last 5-minutes of the race he started to lose steering in particular through the concrete section where Bloomfield was particularly quick. Clearly disappointed at having come so close to winning his first A Championship title he said tomorrow he will be happy with his performance, his Orion powered MP9 setting the fastest lap of the race, and it comes as a huge boost ahead of the World Championship’s which take place in December in Argentina.
Having won the title last year from the same starting position as Bloomfield did today, Batlle said a flame out during his 4th fuel stop which lost him around 10 seconds effectively ended his challenge to defend his title. Running 7:30 stops, the Spaniard said it became apparent that he was too close on run time and rather than risk losing a lap by stopping out on track he backed off a little to protect his podium finish. Describing 3rd as an ‘OK’ performance, Batlle who was also champion in 2008 said they have to work even harder as he and his Mugen team now turn their attentions to the World Championships.
Missing out on the podium and the winning-est driver in the final having held the title from 2008-2010, Team Xray’s Renaud Savoya said while a win was never on the cards a podium was within his reach and to come so close was disappointing. The ‘Shark’ said an early incident with Bloomfield dropped him down the field and while his RB powered XB9 had good pace he lost a lot of time trying to work his way back through. The Frenchman also also had to serve a Stop and Go penalty as he came together with Joseph Quagraine whose JQ ran wide coming onto the main straight as Savoya left the pitlane after refuelling. A long time factory RB driver the rest of his package is new and he said this was for sure a disadvantage as the Top 3 all have years of experience with their respective manufacturers. Joining Xray at the end of last season and Sweep tyres at the start of this year he said they have work to do to improve the package but said his relationship with both companies is very strong and he feels while others might make small steps forward he believes his team can make a ‘huge’ amount of progress. With nitro racing much a team sport, Savoya wanted to thank his pitman Jerome Manu for his hard work and input.
Kyosho’s Jérôme Aigoin and TLR’s Miguel Matias completed the Top 6 but in 7th place and the only driver sporting a bigger smile than Bloomfield was Quagraine. Founding his own company JQ Products less than three years ago the Finn was delighted with his first European final appearance with his ‘The Car’ and ‘Against the Odds’ he was able to take to it’s best ever finish going one place better than Matias achieved for the small but ambitious company last year.
So another European Championships is in the history books and Britain has their first every champion with Darren Bloomfield ending the five year title rivalry of Batlle and Savoya. We would like to thank our sponsors, Serpent, Team C and Mugen Seiki, who made our coverage possible for this event.
Team Losi Racing’s Darren Bloomfield won a thrilling battle which went down to the last lap with pole sitter David Ronnefalk to become the first British driver to win the 1:8 Offroad European Championship this evening in Fehring, Austria. The win is also TLR’s first win in the championship’s 32 year history bringing to an end Mugen’s four year reign at the top.
16-year-old reigning European Junior Champion David Ronnefalk will start the Main final at the 2012 1:8 Offroad European Championships from pole position after the Swede won his Semi in a faster time than that of reigning champion Robert Batlle’s Semi winning time.
Starting from pole Ronnefalk controlled the 20-minute encounter to take a comfortable win over the Xray of Renaud Savoya and his Kyosho team-mate Elliot Boots who had to recover from a first lap off that left in at the tail end of the 12 car field. While the top 3 appeared to have everything under controlled in relation to their progression to the final the main battle of the race was over 4th, 5th and 6th position. In the end having bumped up from the 1/4 final Team Xray’s Martin Bayer just pipped JQ’s Joseph Quagraine to the line for fourth while behind them LRP driver Borja Hernandez secured the final place on the grid having had to recover from an number incidents early in the race and a battle with Ignacio Candell and former 2 time Champion David Tortorici.
In terms of drama it was the first Semi which produced the biggest moment so far as Top Qualifier Darren Bloomfield’s TLR came to a halt while the British driver was out front. Half way through the race Bloomfield looked as though he might suffer the same faith as last year when while also holding a bump place he suffered a flame out. With his car stopped on the track when the marshal picked up the Novarossi powered 8ight a stone fell out of the rear wheel. Turning the wheels backwards the car had drive again and he was able to resume in fifth position. Setting the fastest lap of the Semis two laps later Bloomfield was able to recover to take fourth which puts him 6th on the grid, the first of the cars that will start around the corner of the split starting grid.
After Bloomfield’s scare it was the No.2 starting Mugen of Batlle that went on to win ahead of the man he beat to claim last year’s title Jérôme Aigoin. Having been Top Qualifier the last two years and started on pole 12 months ago, the French Champion will line-up third for this evening’s 45-minute title deciding encounter. Two former champions to bump from the first Semi were TLR’s Miguel Matias who finished third and Yannick Aigoin who finished fifth and will be the sole Associated on the grid. Finishing fifth to make Kyosho the most represented brand in the final with four MP9s was Christoffer Svensson who will line up 9th.
Having successfully defended his 4WD Electric European Championship title at the track just last month Team Durango’s Joern Neumann, who made the final last year, will not be adding to his trophy cabinet this evening as he could only manage 9th in his Semi. Also missing the cut, finishing 7th in the same Semi, was former champion & Agama team driver Daniel Vega.
Former World Champion Daniel Reckward’s 2012 European Championship campaign is over after the Mugen team driver went out in the 1/4 Finals when his throttle servo feel foul of muddy conditions in Fehring, Austria. A three time European Champion and a podium finisher in Germany last year, Reckward endured a tough qualifying. Despite breaking into the Top 10 for the first time with the seventh fastest time in the final round of qualifying he finished up 25th overall to line up 5th on the grid for the 1/4 Final-A. Waking to an overcast morning in Fehring the rain finally arrived just as the first of 1/8 finals was coming to an end continuing for the second 1/8 and leaving the track very slippery for the 1/4 finals.
In the first of the 1/4 Finals, Spain’s Daniel Bernabe having won his 1/8 final from pole position came through the field to take a 4-second win over former Champion Daniel Vega to secure his third bump up and a place in the Semi Finals along with young German talent Dominic Bauer and Finland’s Ari Heinonen.
The other 20-minute 1/4 Final saw 2-time champion Davide Tortorici take his Bliss powered Mugen to a narrow victory over 2010 podium finisher Martin Bayer who will join his factory Xray team-mate Renaud Savoya in the Semi Final-B. Securing the final two bump up positions to the Semi finals were British pairing Lee Martin, who only recently retained his 2WD Electric Buggy European title at the Fehring track, and Simon Willetts.
With the cloud cover having cleared allowing the sun to come out, the track is set to have at least a dry racing line for the running of the Semi Finals.
Team Losi Racing’s Darren Bloomfield is the Top Qualifier at the 1:8 Offroad European Championships, the British ace wrapping up the honour in Fehring, Austria, in style when he took his Novarossi powered 8ight around the high speed track in the fastest time of the 32nd running of the event in the fifth & final round of qualifying. Having set the pace in yesterday’s opening qualifier, Bloomfield was already assured of his first overall Euros TQ before his final heat as challengers David Ronnefalk crashed on his run and Renaud Savoya got T-boned as he was on a TQ pace. In the group that would bring qualifying to a conclusion still to run Bloomfield drove a ‘nearly perfect’ 5-minute run to once again post the fastest lap of the round and a new outright fastest run time.
Changing to soft compound AKA Enduro tyres, having used super soft in his previous four heats, Bloomfield said they ran the harder tyre with a view to the finals and the results were very promising. Running a development version of the 8ight which was brought over for the race with 1:8 offroad star Adam Drake on Monday and features new geometry, Bloomfield said the set-up they ran in qualifying is his race set-up so he is very confident for tomorrow. The man doing all the work between runs on Bloomfield’s car, Drake was very happy with both his driver and the performance of the car and looking forward to the finals said they only changes he envisaged would be related to the weather as this would determine the tyre compound and the weight of shock oil they would choose. Qualifying third at last year’s event, only to suffer two engine flames outs in his Semi while holding a bump up position, Bloomfield added that his engine is returning ‘excellent’ run time a factor that played a huge part in Batlle’s victory 12 months ago.
Only fifth fastest in Q5 after another ‘usual mistake’, Kyosho’s Ronnefalk was surprise to secure 2nd overall and pole position in the B Semi-Final. Having lowered the rear camber link on his MP9 he said it was better in the fast sweepers and also in the 180 corners as he slides around more and he could steer it on the power. Also running soft compound AKA Enduro tyres the 16-year-old, who is the defending Junior Champion, said they felt ‘really good’ and he was able to use them to post his fastest lap of the event. Having coming to Austria looking to be secure a Top 5 starting position in the Semis due to the grid layout of the track, the Top 5 starting on the straight with 7th to 12th starting around the corner in front of the drivers stand, the talented Swede said the event has gone better than planned so far and he is really looking forward to his Semi.
Starting behind Bloomfield in the Semi A will be Batlle. Chasing his third European title and Mugen’s fifth consecutive win, the Spaniard was second fastest in the closing qualifier to claim third in the final ranking but were it not for his Q4 disqualification he would have secured pole in the Semi B. Commenting on his DQ, which was due to his Mugen being deemed too wide, he said it was very frustrating to put in a lot of hard work in preparation for the event and then making sure everything is perfect in terms of the rules, exactly as it was for all previous rounds, only to have someone’s interpretation of the rule result in disqualification. Earlier in the event Joseph Quagraine raised the matter of the angle of the box through which the car must pass with EFRA’s Carlos Gomez but his concerns were dismissed. Looking ahead to tomorrow Batlle said he thinks overall they are in much better shape going into the finals day than a year ago when he pulled off a very tactical victory over Top Qualifier and pole position holder Jérôme Aigoin, the Kyosho driver claiming 7th in the final qualification ranking.
Set to line up second behind Ronnefalk in the 20-minute Semi B, Renaud Savoya after topping Q4 said he was going for the overall TQ in the final round and it was ‘very disappointing’ when someone else denies you that chance. Having not looked like a TQ challenger yesterday the ‘Shark’ turned things around today and was on target for a second TQ run until he was T-boned by German driver Carsten Kelleher mid way through the run causing the two cars to tangle costing the factory Xray driver valuable seconds leaving him to post only the 12th fastest time. Planning to test Sweep Exagon tyres in his final heat Savoya was forced to run Double Action once again as with the Exagon fitted to his RB powered XB9 the car wouldn’t pass through the technical inspections width box. Savoya said they will work on the car to make it narrower as the Exagon will have better wear for the final.
Some of last year’s title contenders to miss the Top 16 Semi final cut in Austria are podium finisher & 3-time champion Daniel Reckward who could only manage 25th overall as he struggled to find a good set-up for his Mugen although the German did manage to post his first Top 10 time in the final qualifier. Fellow German Marcel Guske, who TQ’d the final qualifier last year and finished 4th in the final, has fared even worse than his former team-mate with the recently signed TLR driver ending up down in 88th position.