Reigning champion Elliott Boots is Top Qualifier at the 1:8 Offroad European Championships, the Kyosho driver claiming the honour early with a second TQ run in the penultimate round of qualifying in Spain. Opening the second day of qualifying with his fastest time around the huge RC Redovan track, Boots would top the times ahead of fellow Brit Darren Bloomfield who was just 2/10ths off the Q4 pace. Winner of the second round of qualifying, Davide Ongaro would complete the Top 3 ahead of yesterday’s other TQ driver David Ronnefalk, a bad tyre choice ending the Swede’s chances of overall TQ honours.
‘Stage one complete I suppose’, was Boots reaction to claiming his second consecutive Euros TQ which last year he was able to convert into a first European title. Switching to the light version of Pro-Line’s Fugitive tyre for the fourth qualifier he said the tyre was really good adding it might be an option for the Semi Final. Having run the standard Fugitive in the previous qualifiers, he said while the tyre is around 3/10th slower than the light it the perfect tyre for the Main adding his MP9 is ‘really comfortable and nice & easy to drive’. While the overall TQ is already wrapped up, the former World Championship Top Qualifier’s competitive instinct hasn’t waned. Asked if he would use Q5 to test for anything for the finals, he replied, ‘It would be nice to have the TQ with three perfect scores’.
Pleased with another P2 run, Bloomfield said, ‘we ran the car the same but it understeered a bit and that was on my mind the whole run’. The Agama driver added, ‘I don’t know why really (it had understeer) but we will have to try something (for Q5) but I haven’t thought it through yet’. One idea he has it to glue the insert to the wheel but as Beta tyres come pre glued he said ’its a big job’. The 2012 Champion said ‘seeing as I was that close (to Boots) I don’t know if I need to change much’. He continued, ‘I was slow through the whoops once and then on the uphill section I hit the pipe which put me out in the dust. Without these I could easy have been 2-seconds ahead of Elliott’s time’.
15-year-old Ongaro was pleased with the start to his day, the Italian’s only report a mistake in the whoops which he said cost him about 1-second. With the only change to his Mugen a fresh set of Procircuit Road Runner tyres he said the car was ‘again all perfect’. With the result locking him into the Semi after a poor Q1, the reigning European Junior Champion said the plan for the final qualifier is to ‘just push’.
‘OK, I went for the wrong compound’ was Ronnefalk’s reaction to Q4. Going for a soft AKA Zipps tyre he said it was too soft leading to ‘one pretty rough lap as the car was tricky to drive’. The HB Racing driver added ‘I’m sure the problem was just the compound as it was good in the warm-up but then in the race to good hard to drive’. The former back to back champion said ‘even with the car not good I could still get 4th so its all good and the aim now for the last one is to get the pole for the Semi B’.
Deciding in the end to copy his brother in changing to a heaver centre diff in his Mugen, Bryan Baldo said he ‘didn’t like it’ but was happy to get a 5th for the round. Planning to go back down in the diff for Q5, the Spaniard said with three solid qualifiers now he would use the final qualifier to try some things, one being a different tyres just to get a comparison to the new prototype tyre he has been running thus far in qualifying. His brother Oscar who got a P9 for the round also didn’t like the diff change and he too will revert back.
2015 finalist Marco Baruffolo would claim his first Top 6 but the TLR driver wasn’t overly happy with the run. The Italian said ‘I never got the whoops right so I never had one clean lap’. Adding one degree more anti squat for the round, this improved his Picco powered 8ight giving him more corner speed but needing another good run he will make no more changes for the final qualifier and try drive cleaner especially through the whoops. Behind Baruffolo, surprise of Q1 João Figueiredo would post a second Top 10 finish with a P7 to go with his P5.
Elsewhere Robert Battle would end up 21st after a simple mistake but as he tried to return to the track his Mugen got caught up on one of the pipe retaining pins costing him over 6-seconds. Other than this the former World Champion said his car was good as he posted his best lap of qualifying with a 52.739.