August 27, 2016

Final qualifier in Beijing shows Coelho still in command


Having wrapped up the overall TQ honours yesterday in the penultimate round of qualifying, Bruno Coelho used the final round of qualifying at the Electric Touring Car World Championships to show his rivals that he is still in command in China.   Coelho would head an Xray 1-2 in the sixth qualifier, topping the time sheets for a fifth time with a 2.5-seconds advantage over team-mate Alexander Hagberg.  With second on the grid already locked up, Yokomo’s Ronald Volker would get 3rd for the closing qualifier ahead of long time arch rival Marc Rheinard, the 3-time World Champion set to start 5th on the grid his worst every Worlds starting position.


Pleased to cap off qualifying with an another TQ, Coelho said, ‘was very good but at the beginning I was struggling a bit to the left side’.   Suffering too small mistakes early on as the rear of his Hobbywing powered T4 got loose, he continued, ‘it was ok after that and I just drove safe to make no mistakes’.  Still managing the fastest lap despite driving ‘safe’, looking to the finals the ETS Champion said, ‘In the final everything can happen. I know I am a little faster but everything can change, the pressure is different now’.


Using the qualifier to test a different set-up as he couldn’t better his grid position, Volker said, ‘we tried a set-up more to Naoki (Akiyama) as he was very fast in practice this morning’.  Describing the set-up as ‘too easy to drive’, the European champion would still be the only driver to get close to Coelho’s outright fastest lap pace, their best laps just 0.059 apart.  With a practice final on the schedule for the A-Main drivers, the German said, ‘we need a more aggressive car so we will try something halfway between my previous set-up and Akiyama’s and test it in the practice’.   Looking to the final the German said the aim is to ‘finisher higher than I start’.  Having qualified P2 in Florida behind outgoing champion Naoto Matsukura, who will race in the C-Main in Beijing,  Volker would concede second to the 2014 Worlds P3 starter Coelho.


With his P2 from Q6 one of three counting rounds, Hagberg was much happier this morning saying things are ‘a lot better today because we got yesterday’s electrics issues sorted’.  He continued, ‘I was able now to push to the end and that shows in my lap times so a big thanks to ORCA for solving my problems’.  Matching his previous best Worlds qualifying position of 3rd in the grid, achieved in Germany in 2010, the Swede concluded, ‘I am very confident for the final’.


Posting the 5th fastest time in the final qualifier, a result he would count, Akio Sobue will be the highest place Tamiya on the grid.  Making a shock-oil change for Q6, the 22-year-old said it left his TRF419X suffering from understeer.  Admitting ‘Bruno is very fast’, the 2014 Finalist who qualified 7th and finished 9th, believes he will be able to race with both Hagberg and Volker for a place on the podium.  He added, the Fengtai R/C Model Area track has ‘many places to overtake’.


‘Still 5-seconds off’ was Rheinard’s reaction to getting a P4 for the final qualifier.  The Tamiya driver continued, ‘the start is good but the drop off is still too much’.  Completing the top half of the grid, the German said for the final ‘there is no pressure on me and what happens happens. I’ll be trying for a podium’. Asked about car set-up changes, he replied, ‘I just hope I get a good set of tyres for the final’, continuing, ‘look at Naoki he was fastest this morning in practice and then he couldn’t even do a lap in the final qualifier’.


Having showed strong in early qualifying but then struggled, the final qualifier moved Viktor Wilck from a dangerous P10 overnight to 6th on the grid.  Posting a P8 for Q6, the Serpent driver said, ‘the car is now good again but I still have a power problem’.  The Swede said, ‘the car loses power in the last minute and that time it cost me three positions’, adding the overheating problem ‘is now worse than before’.  Feeling 3rd on the grid to 6th are all very close on pace, he added, ‘6th is not ideal but my aim is a podium and anything can happen in a Worlds A-Main’.  Behind Wilck the line-up for the title race of the 9th running of the Touring Car World Championships will be completed by TRF’s Christopher Krapp, Capricorn’s Marc Fischer and the Yokomo’s of Nicolas Lee and Naoki Akiyama.



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