Having come so close to winning his first European title last year in Austria, today in France Kyosho’s David Ronnefalk got his revenge, the Swede winning a thrilling final at the Reims track ahead of Xray’s Renaud Savoya despite the former 3-time champion being willed on by the huge home crowd who brought great atmosphere to the 33rd running of the 1:8 Offroad European Championships. The podium at the Reims track was completed by Savoya’s team-mate Martin Bayer, the Czech ace clearly delighted with the result.
Before the race even started there was drama in the warm-up as the No.2 Joern Neumann called for a 10-minute delay after a problem with his receiver battery lead. This would put the factory Durango to the back of the 12 car grid for the start but worse was to come for the German as he worked his way up through the field with engine problems ending his 2013 Euros at the 12-minute mark. Last year’s champion Darren Bloomfield would also retire, his race coming to an end at 18-minutes. The TLR driver said his 8ight 3.0 started to lose drive around 8-minutes into the final and got gradually worse with his engine eventually stopping on track due to the problem, ending his title defense as he retired the buggy.
Having declared at the start of the week here in France that he was out for revenge after the 2012 Championship, a slightly speechless Ronnefalk summed up the win as ‘good revenge’. The 17-year-old, who burst onto the scene in 2009 when he made his debut at these Championships as the European B Champion, said it ‘doesn’t get much closer than this’ adding that he really enjoyed his battle with Savoya. Happy with his start from pole position he said everything was going perfectly until the out-lap of his first pit stop when he make three mistakes which dropped him back to 5th. A driver who has matured greatly since last year, he said following the bad lap he told himself it was a long race and if he stayed calm and just did what he had done all week everything would be fine.
This approach paid dividends as he worked his way to the front eventually moving back into the lead at the mid point as he jumped over Savoya’s No.7 Xray. 2-minutes later however another mistake allowed Savoya back to the front but Ronnefalk never lost his nerve staying calm throughout to go back to the front. A roll on the penultimate lap fired back up the lively & vocal crowd as their man Savoya closed right in but having come so close last year a determined Ronnefalk put in the lap of his career. Commenting afterwards on the heart stopping moment for his pitcrew Pierre Ronnefalk and Adrien Bertin, he said he didn’t know what he did to put the MP9 on its roof but after some rapid marshaling to put it back on it wheels he said he knew if he could just keep it on its wheel for one more lap he had the pace to keep Savoya at bay. A long time Kyosho/Orion/AKA driver Ronnefalk paid tribute to all his sponsors for the support adding that today was a big day for his family who have also been great support including his mother & sister who were following the race back home in Sweden. Asked how he planned to celebrate he said that will have to wait as tomorrow he flies directly from Paris to Madrid for the electric Offroad European Championship adding that he hopes he can keep the momentum going next week.
Savoya was ‘pretty happy’ with his race adding that when he compares his package to that of Ronnefalk who has had equipment continuity for the past number of seasons it was a very encouraging result for him and the Xray team. Having changed tyre brand last season to Sweep, then engine this season to Orion and to come to the event with a new chassis he said it shows the future potential is huge. Complimenting Ronnefalk’s performance throughout the week saying the win was well deserved, he said while they improved the car a lot from the semi Final by running a longer wheel base and stiffer rear shocks, his prototype XB9 was still squatting a little too much in the final. Asked about the crowd he said while some might have found them a distraction he was spurred on by their cheering and he relished the ‘great atmosphere’ adding that the host club did a great job.
‘Amazing result’ was how Bayer summed up his race. The former Large Scale European Touring Car Champion was delighted at being so competitive against all the potential winners throughout the race. Ruing a few mistakes early in the race he said his LRP powered prototype XB9, the main feature of which is a new front end and rear geometry, was ‘brilliant’ and really consistent to drive allowing him to catch back up to Savoya until a mistake 4-minutes from the finish. One of the many drivers who have just one day to turn everything around for the electric offroad Euros, just how much the result meant to Bayer, who has previously finished on the podium with TLR, was still very clear as he departed the track still smiling from ear to ear.
Missing out on the podium by just under 10-seconds, Agama’s Jerome Sartel had mixed feelings about the race. After a flame out on the grid which left him a distant last at the end of the opening lap, the Frenchman said he was happy to prove how competitive the buggy is but at the same time he was disappointed to miss out on making the podium something he said would definitely been possible had he not had his problems at the start.
Having taken over the race lead at the 7:30 mark when Ronnefalk had his bad out-lap, Robert Batlle would fall down the order to finish fifth just ahead of his Mugen team-mate Lee Martin, the pair separated by just 3/10th of a second. His first European Championships since becoming World Champion, the Spaniard said that he was never a serious contender in the final as they struggled for grip due to a combination of tyre choice and chassis set-up. While he was able to post fast lap times he said the consistency wasn’t there for a 45-minute race and it was a disappointing performance.
Kyosho’s David Ronnefalk is the new 1:8 Offroad European Champion after winning a thrilling 45-minute final in Reims, the Swede taking the title by just 7/10th of a second from Xray’s Renaud Savoya after a nail bitting finish to the race in front of a very enthusiastic and vocal French crowd. The podium was completed by Xray’s Martin Bayer.
Kyosho’s David Ronnefalk will start the Main final which will decode the 33rd 1:8 Offroad European Champion from pole position after the Top Qualifier won his semi final in the fastest time with the other Semi Final winner Joern Neumann starting second on the grid for this evening’s 45-minute encounter at Reims in France. A great drive by reigning champion Darren Bloomfield, who had a difficult qualifying, will see the TLR driver try and defend his title from 3rd on the 12 car grid.
Ronnefalk, who has been portraying a new level of maturity and confidence this weekend, took the first of the semi finals from Bloomfield after an early battle with Renaud Savoya until the 3-time champion crashed. The Swede said following his early but ‘clean battle’ with Savoya he was able to pull away and focus on running the fastest time for the 20-minute race saying he wanted to ensure he would start the final from pole. Running his race 11-seconds faster than Neumann’s winning time of a very exciting encounter, Ronnefalk said everything worked perfectly as it has all week and other than freshen up his Orion powered MP9 he will go into the main with the buggy as is.
Having only qualified 13th, Bloomfield appears to have found his rhythm, the British driver saying he doesn’t exactly know what it is but its working. Having had a toothache early in the event he said that has now gone and for sure this is helping him to drive better and he is ‘now ready to rock’. Very happy with his AKA shod 8ight 3.0 he said he other than fitting a fresh clutch to his Novarossi engine he will leave the buggy as is. While most drivers stopped twice for fuel in the Semis, Bloomfield only stopped once and this could be his trump card in the Main.
Third in the first Semi was Mugen’s Lee Martin. The British driver said the run was ‘alright’ adding that he is still looking for more steering and so for the final he will change the anti squat and roll-bars on his Proline Big Block shod MBX-7.
Savoya said his XB9 was ‘perfect’ for the first 10-minutes but for the second half of the race it was not so good. Planning to change to a heavier shock oil for the main event he is confident this will give him a more consistent buggy and all will be ‘OK’.
The semi B final which saw a great battle between Neumann, Battle and Martin Bayer. Neumann described his race as ‘good’ saying they have been working to a plan with his prototype Durango and it is now starting to come good. The German said his Picco powered buggy is easy to drive but said the field is very close with ‘all the top guys very similar in speed’ and he expects a very close final.
Bayer was just 7/10ths off the winner. The Xray driver said the race was ‘proper preparation for the final’ and he was pleased at making it through. Having changed his LRP powered XB9 after qualifying the Czech ace said his buggy was not very good in the Semi Warm-up session and so they changed for the actual Semi and he is very happy with how it worked. World Champion Batlle, who started his Semi from pole, would finish third, the Spaniard saying they ran too light an oil in the diffs of his Mugen.
After a morning of lower finals the 33rd running of the 1:8 Offroad European Championship has been whittled down to 24 drivers who will now compete in the Semi finals in search of one of the 12 places in the evening’s title deciding 45-minute encounter. With the Top 16 decided in qualifying the 20-minute 1/4 Finals decided who joins them with the 1/4 A final ensuring two young chargers keep their hopes of making the main event in Reims. Starting from pole, up & coming 12-year-old Italian Davide Ongaro took the win, the European B Championship Top Qualifier taking his Mugen to a 10-second winning margin over the S-Workz of Portugal’s Carlos Duraes. Third place went to Nicolas Rodriguez who just held off Spanish star of the future Oscar Baldo, the 16-year-old securing the final bump-up spot to join his older brother Bryan in the Semi finals.
In the second of the 1/4 finals former champion Daniel Vega managed to get pass JQ boss Joesph Quagraine, who started from pole, late in the race to put his Agama in the same Semi in which World Champion Robert Batlle starts No.1. Having qualified in the 1/8 final it was a good morning for Mugen’s Simon Willetts, having just bumped up on to the back of the 1/4 final the British driver moved up through the field to finish 3rd just behind JQ booking his place into his third final of the day. Also coming up from the 1/8 Final Finald’s Ari Heinonen claimed the final available spot for the Semi finals.
Notable names that will play no further part in the event include HB’s Teemu Leino who starting second in his 1/4 Final had a fraught race plummeting down the order to eventually finish 9th. The same race also saw the end of the road for multiple electric offroad European Champion Hupo Honigl, the Durango driver only able to finish 6th. In the other 1/4 final we saw the demise of reigning European B Champion Marco Buruffolo and former Worlds finalist and LRP team driver Borja Hernandez.
Semi Final A Grid
1. David Ronnefalk – Kyosho/Orion
2. Renaud Savoya – Xray/Orion
3. Jerome Aigoin – Kyosho/Novarossi
4. Lee Martin – Mugen/Beat
5. Renaud Monin – Mugen/Bullitt
6. Elliott Boots – Kyosho/Novarossi
7. Darren Bloomfield – TLR/Novarossi
8. Bryan Baldo – Mugen/Novarossi
9. Davide Ongaro – Mugen/RB
10.Carlos Duraes – Sworkz/RB
11.Nicolas Rodriguez – Hongkor/Falcon
12.Oscar Baldo – Mugen/Novarossi
Semi Final B Grid
1. Robert Batlle – Mugen/Novarossi
2. Yannick Aigoin – Associated/nVision
3. Martin Bayer – Xray/LRP
4. Joern Neumann – Durango/Picco
5. Jerome Sartel – Agama/Bullitt
6. Christoffer Svensson – Kyosho/OS
7. Neil Gragg – Associated/LRP
8. Miguel Mathias – TLR/RB
9. Daniel Vega – Agama/Bullitt
10.Joseph Quagrine – JQ/JQ
11.Simon Willetts – Kyosho/Novarossi
12.Ari Heinonen – Kyosho/Alpha