September 21, 2014

Batlle tops opening run of final practice day


Reigning World Champion Robert Batlle topped the opening practice on the concluding day of the extended practice at the 1:8 Offroad World Championships in Sicily.  With overnight repairs making for a slightly dustier track for the first of the days 3 scheduled 10-minute runs, the Mugen driver topped the time sheets with a time of 1:52.525 compared with Ty Tessmann’s 1:50.580 outright fastest time which was set in yesterday’s closing practice.  Running in reseeded heats today based on each drivers fastest times from the opening three days of practice, behind Batlle it was Darren Bloomfield who was second fastest just 0.163 off over 3-laps with Ryan Lutz completing the Top 3 for the run.


Batlle used the run to test tyres running both a new and a used, almost slick, set of Procircuit’s Hot Dices.  Overall the Mugen driver said there was little difference between the two indicating the issue of wear on the high abrasion track does not pose much of a problem.  The Spaniard also used the track time to work on his driving trying ‘more aggressive laps’. Cautious not to get lost with set-up he said for the next practice he will try just some minor adjustments to his Novarossi powered MBX7R.


Making one of the most significant improvements on his previous time, improving by 1.5 seconds, Bloomfield said he was a little surprised by how competitive his time was saying he ‘thought it was (the run) worse than it turned out’.  Moving out the front shock position on his Bullitt powered Agama, the former European Champion said he has been pretty happy with the car from the start of the event and they have just been making small changes each run but continuing in the same direction with the set-up.  Openly declaring himself not a big fan of the 3-consecutive lap timing saying he doesn’t go into the run focused a stringing 3-laps together he said with 3 Top 10 runs based on overall times to his credit he is very happy with where he is at.  Suffering a broken bodyshell after a bad landing he said in addition to fitting a new shell for the next run he will also look at possible changes to try a make the rear end a little more stable.


‘Getting there’ was Ryan Lutz’s response to his opening run of the day.  The Team Durango driver said he has been having lots of little issues which he hopes are now sorted.  Fitting new brakes for yesterday’s final run he said they melted into the diff.  With a fresh brake set-up installed for this morning he said on the starter box they looked a little loose so he dialled that out on the radio but about 5-laps into the practice they kept locking up but on inspection afterwards he is hopeful they are now bedded in and are good for a problem free run.  In terms of the buggy set-up he said the few laps it was running without issues it felt pretty good.


Setting the fourth fastest time Adam Drake described his start to the day as ‘better than yesterday’.  In the first of the two practice runs the TLR driver didn’t even complete a full timed lap after he got hooked up on a pipe with the stays holding it in place breaking a front hinge pin on his Novarossi powered 8ight.  Making no changes for the second run he said the conditions were too hot for the set-up he was running.  Saying it was nice today to be running with guys of a similar speed after the heat reseeding, he said small changes had made the car easy to drive and with the solid run his confidence was growing which he feels will help him to improve on his speed in the next run.  In terms of set-up he will try going up in the front diff oil as well as running less toe.


A change of tyre left Tessmann only 5th for the round.  Running in the opening heat, the Canadian switched to Pro-Line’s Ion tyres but said due to the dust created by the overnight track repairs they did not work very well.  Apart from choosing a different tyre for the next practice, the US National Champion said they will mainly just freshen up the D812 shocks and diffs for the next run.


Completing the Top 6 was Jared Tebo.  The Kyosho driver described the run, his fastest of the event so far, as ‘better’ adding they ‘just got to keep the progress going’. Making just small changes to his Orion powered MP9 for his next run he will fit a different engine.  In terms of his pace he said the biggest improvement was going to come from his driving as he gets more and more comfortable with the high bite conditions.


Running Associated’s all new prototype RC8, a car which team manager Brent Thielke says is still very much in the early stages of development and most likely to see a lot of changes before going into production, Ryan Cavalieri posted the 7th fastest time.  The multiple 1:10 Offroad World Champion described his latest run a ‘really good’.  Describing his new car as ‘more predictable and easier to drive’ he said he didn’t change the car from yesterday instead finding time by attacking the track more.  Running medium compound AKA Catapult tyres he said he really happy with the tyre which other than one run on Enduros he has stuck with throughout the practice.  Planning to freshen up the car for the second of the day’s three practices he will also stiffen up the oils for the hotter conditions, today already feeling a lot warmer than previous days.


Behind Cavalieri was former long time team-mate Ryan Maifield.  Maifield said he ‘went a little crazy’ with the set-up on his TLR for yesterday’s final practice which didn’t work out.  Going back to his base set-up for this morning but going up in oils he sad they are now headed back in the right direction. Running JConcepts Diamond Bars tyre he said these are what he plans to use on the longer runs and so if he can get the car good on this now it should set him up well for later in the event.  Team Losi Racing team-mate Dakotah Phend, who should have been classified in the Top 6 yesterday but was instead 15th after the official timing didn’t count his final run time, no reason for the error being given, tried a different shock set-up today which he said didn’t work out.


Elsewhere European Champion Davd Ronnefalk looks set to revert to his original car which he used to top Day 2 of practice.  Having run his second car yesterday and this morning the Kyosho star said he doesn’t feel confident with that car and will now switch back.

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