Elliott Boots is the 2015 1:8 Offroad European Champion, the driver renowned for his outright speed finally coming good to claim the first major title of his career. Top Qualifier at the 35th running of the championships, the Kyosho driver would end the reign of former team-mate David Ronnefalk by leading home the HB driver by almost half a lap of the Ongaroring. In front of a hugely supportive Italian crowd Alex Zanchettin would complete the podium in Sacile ahead of home hero Davide Ongaro. Unfortunately for Ongaro’s Mugen team-mate Robert Batlle his race would end before it had even started when his front centre driveshaft came out during the final countdown to the cars being put down on the grid.
Finding his first big title ‘quite emotional’ and struggling to hold back ‘tears of joy’, Boots said he was ‘unbelievably happy’ as he has ‘never won anything like it before’. Top Qualifier at the 2012 World Championships, but failing to make it into the Main in Argentina, Boots came into the event with a new approach saying he has been working on his consistency and being ‘less erratic’. Describing beating Ronnefalk as a ‘surreal feeling’, the 22-year-old said ‘no mistake basically’ was the key his victory. Starting 3rd on the grid behind Ronnefalk and Ongaro, he said he knew he needed to stay with Ronnefalk at the start as ‘its when he gets away that he is dangerous’. Admitting Ronnefalk was able to pull away slightly he said he just kept at it and when the leader made mistakes he was able to catch back up. Not realising Ronnefalk was on one stop less he said his pit crew of Michael Cradock and Marco Rossi did a superb job of updating him and talking him through the race. Giving Kyosho their third consecutive Euros title, the win marks the first title for Reds Racing, the Italian engine being the dominant brand of the event.
Ronnefalk said he wasn’t disappointed with second. His first year into a four year contract with HB/HPI Racing, he said ‘I’m still learning and every race is a new experience but we will be stronger next year for it’. The 19-year-old said he felt overall the pace was there and had he ran a clean race it would have been a very close finish. Having not had the right compound of the AKA City Block front and iBeam rear he had used in qualifying available to him for the final he said having run Impacts in Q5 knew they should be ok. Running the new ‘long wear’ soft compound he said they proved to be a little slower and around 20-minutes got soft making his car twitchy to drive leading to mistakes. Initially stopping for fuel at 6:40, he said with Boots having a little more speed they switched to 7:30 to make up the time by saving a stop. With his Orion powered D815 coming to an abrupt stop on a landing at the back left corner of the track due to a rock and ending up on its roof this negated much of the benefits of the long runs but Ronnefalk said while risky it still helped him to stay ahead of Zanchettin for second.
With this his first time to make the final at the Euros, 2014 World Championship finalist Zanchettin was delighted to finish on the podium a result that got him a huge cheer as he took the chequered flag. Describing the race as ‘amazing’, he said while it was great racing in front of a home crowd, just like at the Worlds, it also brought a lot of pressure. Starting the race undecided on whether to stop at 9 minutes or 7:30 he said when he saw others stopping at 7 he went safe. Suffering ‘two really bad mistakes’, the 20-year-old Italian Champion said his Reds Racing powered 8ight 3.0 was ‘really good’. A late push would see him close in on Ronnefalk until a mistake on the last lap.
Managing to snatch the lead just as the field came around to complete the first lap, Ongaro said while the result could have been better finishing fourth was still a great result. Admitting the crowd played a bit on his mind over the race, ever pass or bobble he made getting a huge reaction from the packed grandstand, the 14-year-old said a couple of mistakes cost him time that he couldn’t recover. Pleased to be in the mix with ‘some of the best in the business’ he said overall it was a great week for him.
Setting the fastest lap of the 45-minute final Joern Neumann would finish 5th ahead of another of Italy’s emerging talents Riccardo Berton. The Serpent driver had a ‘pretty bad start’, a crash losing him half a lap and dropping him to last. Describing his Maxima powered S811 as running ‘perfect’, the German said after that it was a good race and he was able to work his way back up to the front. While happy with his driver’s race, Neumann’s pitlane & Serpent designer Gerd Strenge was frustrated about having his Pro-Line fuel gun ‘robbed’ at the end of yesterday’s qualifying. With all the guns individually number Strenge said he hopes who ever took it will return it to its rightful owner.
David Ronnefalk will start his quest for a 3rd consecutive European title from pole position after winning his Semi at the Ongaroring in Italy. The HB driver won the first of the encounters ahead of Top Qualifier Elliott Boots and Euro B Champion Riccardo Berton. Entertaining the crowds from the start of the 20-minutes right through to the finish, a chaotic second Semi would see Davide Ongaro claim an easy win over 2014 Runner-up Martin Wollanka as all hell broke loose behind. Suffering a flame out that dropped him to 8th, Robert Batlle would work his way back through the field despite getting knocked around in a race that would see Martin Bayer loose his place in the final after a 10-second penalty was issued for contact with Marco Baruffolo right before the chequered flag.
Describing his race as ‘safe’, Ronnefalk said at the beginning he was happy just following Boots and while ‘others were a little faster’ it was his own consistency that was key to the race. Suffering only one incident when he came into the brick section too fast and couldn’t get his D815 stopped in time causing him to hit Alex Zanchettin, on whom he waited to give back position, he said the rest of the race ‘was good’. Looking to the 45-minute final, the Swede said he was feeling good but added with the track ‘now pretty bad’ having got ‘really rough’ it was going to be hard to run a consistent race due to the conditions. Unfortunately for former champion Yannick Aigoin a broken clutch would force his retirement with drive issues also hitting Neil Cragg. In contention for the win, the Associated driver would lose rear drive. ‘Letting everyone else crash’ while he was ‘just driving around’ Cragg said it was ‘a shitty end to a tough week’.
With 14-year-old Ongaro in no way fazed to battle with 2012 World Champion Batlle in the final, the Mugen driver got by his senior team mate after an early mistake from the Spaniard. Batlle would retake the lead but just as he was about to make his first stop, his MBX-7R came to a stop one corner after the loop. Luckily it didn’t cut 2 corners early, the former 2-time champion said he could feel he was on the limit earlier in the lap and as a result was trying to at least just nurse it to the line. Knowing the engine was rich and planning to lean it out during the stop, he lost around 14-seconds to his rivals in the first round of fuel stops as marshals returned his car to the pitlane. Describing the race as ‘a crazy Semi final’, Batlle continued ‘there were crashes everywhere and no one showed respect for each other. It was completely mad’. Looking to the final in which he will start 7th on the 12 car grid, he said he would ‘at least try to make a clean start and then make it happen’. Asked about Ongaro matching his pace he said he was ‘ok with that’ and he was ‘happy with his car’. The biggest name to not progress from the Semi B was 2012 Champion Darren Bloomfield, the Agama driver one of those coming off worst in the frantic battle for bump up positions.
The Semi Finals line up is complete with 24 drivers remaining at the 35th running of the 1:8 Offroad European Championship. With a number of last years finalists finding themselves in the 1/4 Finals, the biggest casualty was Christoffer Svensson. Crashing into the chicane at the end of the main straight at the 9-minute mark his Mugen would suffer a broken shock forcing the Swede to retire and he misses the Main for the first time in three years. At the end of the 20-minute encounter it was Portuguese driver, and this year’s Euro B Championship Top Qualiifier, João Figueiredo who would take the win to progress to the Semi. Behind the Kyosho driver the younger of the Baldo brother, Oscar, would finish second ahead of Fabrizio Teghesi and France’s Tom Robin. Missing the cut after finishing fifth was Bryan Baldo, who set the fastest pace in timed practice earlier in the week, with the race also the end of the road for last year’s finalist Joesph Quagraine.
In the second of the 1/4 Finals, Teemu Leino dominated proceedings and his quest to again make the Main continues with him the only driver to run a 37-lap pace over the race. Behind the HB driver was former Euro B Champion Ricardo Monteiro took second ahead of last years runner-up Martin Wollanka. Starting sixth the Xray driver made a great pass on Dominic Bauer and then got by Lee Martin, Martin securing the final Semi Final starting position. For pole sitter Mirko Bianchi, a broken steering servo would end the Mugen drivers race after 12-minutes. The race would be the end of the event for former finalists Jérôme Sartel and Borja Hernandez who finished 6th and 8th respectively.
Hosts of the 35th running of the EFRA European Championships taking pace at the Ongaroring in Sacile, Italy, the Italian National Federation AMSCI have provided some insight into the equipment being used by races. While some racers opted not to specify all the various components that allow them to go racing the data is still a good breakdown of what is popular in the current European 1:8 Offroad market. In terms of chassis choice it is Mugen which is most popular with over 1 in four drivers racing the Japanese car. Reigning champions Kyosho are the number 2 choice on 16 percent followed by Xray with TLR a very close fourth.
As a choice of power it is Top Qualifier Elliott Boots’ engine sponsor Reds Racing which has the largest share of the market with almost a fifth of all drivers using the Italian engines. With 15% of drivers, OS are the second most used ahead of Novarossi. Chasing three consecutive titles in a row here in Sacile, Orion are fourth with 7% usage.
In terms of tyres the two American brands Pro-Line and AKA dominate the market of providing grip with two thirds of drivers running them. On 36% Pro-Line are the leading brand with defending champion David Ronnefalk’s sponsor AKA second. Of the rest it is Beta with almost 10% making them the 3rd most popular supplier.
Firing everything up here at the Euros, fuel offers racers the greatest choice of options with American producer Byron the biggest supplier ahead of Spanish brand Nitrolux.
Elliott Boots is Top Qualifier at the 35th running of the 1:8 Offroad European Championships in Italy. The former World Championship Top Qualifier secured his first Euros TQ when he posted the second fastest time in the final qualifier ahead of defending champion David Ronnefalk – the only driver who could deny him the honour. With different drivers taking the opening four qualifiers, Robert Batlle would be the only driver to top the times twice when he set the fastest 5-minute time around the Ongaroring in the fifth & final qualifier. That result would promote the former champion to second in the final ranking ahead of Ronnefalk with young Davide Ongaro best of the many local talents, ending up fourth. With all 12 drivers for the 45-minute final having to progress from the Semis, the Top 16 direct Semi qualifiers includes the last 5 champions who have reigned over the class for the past 9-years setting the stage for some tough racing in Sacile tomorrow.
‘Well happy’ was Boots’, a multiple Junior European Champion, reaction to securing the overall TQ in what was an interesting two days of qualifying with not one driver dominating. The 22-year-old Kyosho/Reds Racing backed driver said it was consistency which got it for him. Winner of the warm-up Race, the British ace said looking after tyres was going to be key to success come the final. With most finishing the Warm-up Race Main with slicks and the track conditions getting near to how they were for that event back in May, he said it was ‘happy days’ for him. Very comfortable with his Pro-Line shod MP9 he said the track suits his driving style and having focused on consistency from the start of the event on Tuesday he is feeling confident for the finals. Asked about his rivals, he said Ronnefalk looks to have to drive really hard to be fast and Batlle while fast is making more mistakes than usual. While planning to leave his car unchanged for the Semi practice he expects the track to change a lot by then following the running of the lower finals.
Pleased to TQ the final qualifier, Batlle said ‘It was a good battle with David and Elliott’ but added his Mugen is ‘not 100% ready’. Winner of the last of his two titles in 2011, the former World Champion after his clean final qualifier feels his Ultimate engined MBX-7R is maybe too comfortable and they need to change it to get more speed for the final. Predicting racing tomorrow to be ‘really tough’ he believes there will also be a lot of crashes, adding he wouldn’t be immune to making mistakes as the track is now ‘so difficult’.
Switching to AKA Impact tyres for the final qualifier, Ronnefalk said he was a bit slower, lacking the speed to keep up with Batlle. The HB driver, who was Top Qualifier for the previous two years, said the set-up of his Orion powered D815 ‘really good’ and they just now needed to think about tyres. Predicting a ‘pretty close race’ and a much tougher race than the previous two years he said tyres were going to be key to the final. Chasing a third consecutive title, him missing out on a first title in 2012 to Darren Bloomfield after a thrilling close race finish, the 19-year-old said he is going to have to stay on ‘top of (his) game’ from start to finish as the track gets more and more difficult.
One of five of Italy’s emerging offroad talents to qualify directly for the Semis, Ongaro said after how practice went he was expecting worse. The 14-year-old said coming into the event he had set himself as a high target and ending up fourth was no better than he expected. Top Qualifier when the track, which is owned by his father, hosted the Euro B Championships in 2013, the Mugen driver said qualifying fourth showed he could match some of the best drivers in the world. He said while he knows the track better the others have got it figured out now so he has no advantage that way. Asked about the final he said it was going to be tough but unlike his rivals he said it wasn’t going to be due to the track but down to the quality of drivers. He said qualifying fourth showed he can match them and with his car and LRP engines working good its all down to him to get it into the final. Behind Ongaro, newly crowned Euro B Champion Riccardo Bertin secure 5th with his Kyosho after P8 in the final qualifier moved him ahead of Serpent’s Joern Nuemann and the highest placed TLR of Q4 pace setter Alex Zanchettin.
‘I say I am happy with sixth’, was how Neumann summed up his qualifying. His first European Championships with Serpent, the German described his final qualifier as ‘medium’ adding ‘maybe the driver was too aggressive’. Also his first season with Maxima engines he said everything was good for the finals as he had been working from the start of the event towards the longer races rather than 5-minutes. Expecting the race to be tough on the cars he said it is easy to make mistakes everywhere and due to the high speed of the track that’s going to be hard on equipment.