Bruno Coelho has TQ’d the opening round of qualifying at the Electric Touring Car World Championship in China. As predicted by his rivals, the Xray driver was fastest as the timing switched to 5-minutes with him topping the first of six scheduled qualifiers. Setting the fastest lap by over 1/10th of a second, Coelho would take Q1 by almost 2.5 seconds from Ronald Volker, the Yokomo driver having led away the top heat after setting the fastest three laps of the final control practice. Topping the two rounds of seeding practice, Viktor Wilck completed the Top 3 a second back on Volker, with Alexander Hagberg opening his campaign with a P4.
Looking rather ragged on his opening lap, Coelho said, ‘the first few laps are difficult anyway but I forced too much and almost lost the car’. Starting the heat fifth, after a mistake on his opening three laps in the final control practice, the Portuguese driver said he knew from his warm-up laps he had a good car and despite his less than perfect lap he knew he still had the pace to be fastest over the 5-minutes. Making a ‘small change’ to his Hobbywing powered T4, he described the track as ‘now perfect’ due to ‘no wind and less temperature’ adding he plans to ‘keep the car same and see tomorrow (if changes are needed)’. With opinions divided over the daily sugar watering of the track, with it having been done each day so far, the ETS champion said it should continue highlighting that it would be needed especially tomorrow following all the drivers walking on it for this evening’s opening ceremony. After this morning’s low traction following the sugar watering IFMAR called a team managers meeting where it was agreed that the procedure would be conducted each morning albeit at an early hour.
‘P2 isn’t too bad and I had a comfortable gap to the drivers behind me’, was how Volker summed up his performance. The German said, ‘it was a good thing starting ahead of the field but half way through I lost a bit of overall traction and we need to figure out how to improve that’. Running Yokomo’s soon to be released BD8, he continue, ‘I was only a few tenths behind Bruno so for tomorrow we will try a different set-up to try to be able to challenge him’.
Having to start the top heat last after having his time disallowed for running an unmarked motor in CP3, Wilck said he ‘just had a safe run’. Forced to change his ESC, and motor, after problems in the final practice the Swede turned down the timing on the ESC after his early issue and as a result said he ‘could have done with a little more speed’. Planning to up the timing for tomorrow morning’s second qualifier, in terms of his 4X’s performance he said, ‘I think the car as good’ but conceded, ‘Bruno has the extra edge right now’.
‘Not so good’ was Hagberg’s view of his first qualifying attempt. Suffering ‘a couple of mistakes’, the 2015 European Champion also reported a motor issue in his T4 saying, ‘the motor faded in the end and I had no power the last couple of laps’. The drivers demeanour after the qualifier gave the impressive the Xray driver felt a strong result was there for the taking had he not lost power.
Heading the Tamiya challenge in the first qualifier would be Christopher Krapp who as the only TRF driver in the top heat posted the fifth fastest time. The multiple Worlds finalist said, ‘I’m happy about the run’ adding, ‘we struggled a little in controlled practice but worked together and improved for Q1 but it seems we can get the car working for colder conditions but must focus now on a set-up for hot conditions’. With Q1 bringing Day 2 of the championship to a close with temperatures noticeably lower than those of the second controlled practice when the sun managed to break through the clouds, the German concluded, ‘it is good to have one good run in the bag’.
Running in the second fastest heat Krapp’s Tamiya team Akio Sobue, who early in the week finished his first 1:12 Worlds on the podium, posted the 6th fastest time. The 22-year-old wasn’t overly happy with his run describing it as ‘so, so’. Elaborating on why, he said his TRF419X was on the ‘right side (of the track) OK but on left side so so’. With the car suffering from a little understeer and said it was also ‘on power a little bit loose’. Suffering ‘a small mistake’ during the heat, he said while the car is ‘not so bad’ he will try to get more steering for Q2. For traditional TRF team leader and 3-time World Champion Marc Rheinard, who finds himself in the second fastest heat at the Worlds for the first time, he would open qualifying with a P10, a result the German will be determined to count as one his 3 dropped scores. In between Sobue and Rheinard, Nicolas Lee posted the 7th fastest time from Team Infinity’s Andy Moore and Yokomo team-mate Loic Jasmin.