Teemu Leino topped the first round of timed practice this morning as things got official at the 1:10 200mm World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand. The HB driver took his R10 around the Huge RC Circuit in the fastest 3-consecutive laps to head the times from open practice pace setter Dario Balestri by 0.255 of a second with Kyle Branson completing the Top 3. Again defending World Champion Meen Vejak found himself somewhat off the pace with the KM driver posting only the 19th fastest time.
‘Really good’ was how Leino summed up his performance, the 2012 World Championship Top Qualifier putting his improvement down to the fact he ‘fired (his) mechanic’, himself, and got the car’s designer Takashi Miyashita to prep the car for today’s running. The Finn said while they changed nothing on the set-up, Miyashita just made everything perfect on the Novarossi powered R10 giving a car he was ‘super happy’ with. Suffering one spin over the 10-minute run, when he tried a different line through the centre section of the track, the dirty track offline causing the car to lose traction, he said with the track changing so much between runs he will not make any changes for the second timed practice. Expecting the track, which is producing unprecedented grip levels, to have less traction due to hotter conditions he said he wants to see how this effects the car before he goes about making any changes. Interestingly for Leino’s HB teammate Adrien Bertin, the former World Champion struggling in open practice, it was discovered last night that his Futaba radio had been pre-installed with the wrong software. With Hideo Kitazawa installing the correct software for today, Bertin said his Orion powered example of the R10 felt more normal today but he said the radio issue meant the last four days were wasted and now he has to start from fresh in finding a set-up.
Balestri said he was ‘very happy’ with the first timed run. The Capricorn driver felt his C03 set-up was ‘perfect’ but a clutch issue meant he could not get the most from the controlled Matrix tyres. With the clutch going loose and coming in too early about 3-minutes into the run, the Italian said this was when the tyres would start to come in but this issue aside ‘everything else was good’ and other than adjusting the clutch on his XRD engine he will run the car the same for the next one.
Capricorn team-mate Branson, who was 10th fastest over one lap in timed practice, said he always knew the consistency of his C03 was ‘super good’. Like Balestri he would also suffer some clutch issues saying it started to slip. Feeling the car had a ‘little too much front traction’ for the next run he will take off some front camber. Switching late yesterday to a new rear wing Protoform had sent over for its team drivers to deal with the unique traction levels, the 20-year-old said this helped a lot with improving the overall stability of the car. For TP2 the British ace will make an engine change. Very happy with how his XRD unit is running he wants to save it and get another ready should he need it later in the event.
Heading the Xray challenge in the first timed practice was Nicolas Lee. Running his Novarossi powered NT1 the same as he did in yesterday’s open practice when he was 9th fastest, the Singapore driver said he just worked on his driving. While pleased with setting the 4th fastest time, he feels he still needs to work on his overall consistency for qualifying saying 3-laps is very different to 10-minutes.
Setting the fifth fastest time was JJ Wang. One of only two US drivers contesting this year’s World Championships, the other being Xray driver Loran Whiting, the winner of the Worlds Warm-up Race declared his run as ‘solid’. The 16-year-old factory Mugen driver said with the track changing every run they have got to fine tune the set-up of his Novarossi powered MTX-6 but added his big focus is on his driving. ‘Not pushing hard’, he is working on consistency adding that ‘qualifying matters’ and consistency is going to be the key to a good 10-minute time.
Top Serpent for the round with the sixth fastest time was Yuya Sahashi. The Japanese driver used the opening run to test fuel mileage of his Picco engine on the large tyres, the timed practice being the first time it was mandatory for drivers to run on a brand new set of the pre-trued diameter controlled Matrix tyres. Pleased with the run time and performance of his engine, he said his 748 was on the edge in terms of wanting to traction roll and as a result he will make yet to be decided changes to his set-up for the second run.
Raising the front upper arms on his Shepherd, Dirk Wischnewski said the changes improved his Orcan powered Velox V10 ‘a little’ with it easier to drive and more consistent. Setting the sixth fastest time in the first 5-minutes a roll would cause his rear tyre to chunk, preventing him from getting the most of the tyres as the diameter reached its optimum. Pulling off early so as not to end up ‘destroying’ his car as it got difficult to drive due to the damaged tyre, the German said with the car now feeling ok he would stay the same and try to work on getting his confidence back in his driving.
Team-mate Francesco Tironi was next up with the seventh fastest time. The 2012 podium finisher said thanks to the ground work of team-mate Jilles Groskamp, who did the majority of Shepherd’s testing for the event, his car has been good each time. Describing his Velox V10 set-up as being ‘really close now’ for both himself as a driver and as a 10-minute qualifying car he said for CP2 they will just make camber changes once on track. In the engine department the factory Novarossi driver said he will also make an engine switch for the run.
Posting the 9th fastest time having been closest to Balestri in open practice, Alexander Hagberg said today he is struggling with a lack of corner speed. The Swede said his Orcan powered NT1 feels good but it is way too slow. Running a low centre of gravity head on his Orcan engine, which he said it is proving very advantageous for ‘problems’ presented by the unique track conditions, he is not yet sure what changes he can make to his car to try and sort his speed issues.
Completing the Top 10 was recently crowned Euro Nitro Series 1:8 Champion Simon Kurzbuch. The factory Shepherd driver, who is better known for his 1:8 Onroad exploits, said things are going ‘better & better’ with each run. Happy he has mastered both the driving style change required from switching from 1:8 to 1:10 as well as coming to grips with the massive traction levels, the Swiss ace said while his Velox V10 is ‘always on the limit’ he has managed to avoid flipping and for a 10-minute qualifier he feels both he and the car are ‘ok’.