August 4, 2017

Batlle takes Q4, 4-way TQ battle to be decided in final qualifier

Robert Batlle has opened the final day of qualifying at the European Championship with a TQ run, the Mugen driver becoming the fourth different driver to top the times to set the stage for a four way shoot out for the overall TQ in Sweden in the fifth & final round of qualifying.  After overnight rain, it was Ronnefalk who looked on target to set down the early benchmark but a near perfect run from the Swede would come undone on his last lap as he suffered a broken screw in his steering, handing Juan Carlos Canas the provisional TQ time after the first heat. Riccardo Berton would better that time in Heat 2 but Batlle, even with a 44 second lap, would finally hit the top of the times for the first time at the Gröndal Ring.  Just 3/10ths behind the Spaniard, Berton would end up second with reigning champion Elliott Boots completing the Top 3 ahead of Canas, Darren Bloomfield and Martin Wollanka.

‘Super nice’ was Batlle’s reaction to his TQ run.  The two time former champion, the most recent of those titles coming in 2011 in Germany, continued, ‘Looking from the outside the track had less grip after the rain so I chose Impact Supersoft and the car was really good.  It was easier to drive than yesterday’.  What made the former World Champion even more happy was that his TQ time came even with him having a mistake.  He said, ‘I saw another car crash and tried to avoid it but ended up crashing myself at the double double and lost 4-seconds’.  Describing himself as ‘quite comfortable with the car’ he plans to ‘leave it like it is but maybe use a harder compound (tyre)’ but with some dark clouds hanging around he concluded, ‘we’ll see what happens with the weather’.

Berton was very happy with his fourth qualifier calling it ‘a very good run’.  Switching to Pro-Line’s X2 Bow-tie tyre, the Kyosho driver said they were ‘better on the bumps and the car is now more easy to drive.’  On the track conditions the 18-year-old said ‘some parts it’s loose but it is not much different to yesterday.’  Running a 43/13 drive ratio, he will go to a 47/13 for the final qualifier looking to get more low down power. With the former European B Champion safely locked into a good Semi starting position he plans to use Q5 to work on his lines for tomorrow.

‘Not too bad. I had a mistake and a couple of rough laps’, was how Boots summed up his latest qualifier.  The Kyosho driver added, ‘it’s a bit better now the track, it’s not so edgy but we still need to improve the car and I need to improve too’.  Getting some racing practice in when he caught João Figueiredo in the run, he said, ‘What was João doing.  It took him half a lap to let me by and then he was on my rear gearbox pushing me around the track.  I lost my rhythm a bit’.  On tyres Boots would switch to X3 Big Blocks saying they were ‘a bit easier to drive on’ and he will run them again in the last round.

Canas said after two bad runs yesterday, a Stop & Go penalty in Q2 and loss of electrics in Q3, and the overnight rain, he was a ‘little nervous’ for Q4.  The Spaniard left his Mugen unchanged only switching to a softer compound tyre describing it afterwards as a little more loose on throttle.  With two P4 runs but needing a third good result to get into the Semis, the 2016 Finalist said, ‘I need to get something good in the last one so I will drive safe’.

‘I just wanted to make the Semi, I wish I’d got that result last night’, was Bloomfield’s reaction to posting the fifth fastest time.  The Agama driver continued, ‘I was leading my heat last night for 5 laps and was on for a Top 3 run but at the step up it exploded.  I landed in the middle of the step-up and had to be marshalled but he had to wait for cars to go by so I lost something like 8-seconds. I’m glad I hit a run and that I don’t need to do it in the last one’. For Q5, the former Champion will take off some anti-squat as well as switch from Beta’s Freeride tyre to the V-Max.

Completing the Top 6, Xray’s Martin Wollanka said, ‘that was the best the car has been, it was really really good’.  The Austrian had some bad luck on his last lap when he collected another car that was on its roof, the incident costing him around 2-seconds. Finding that the car, ‘sometimes slides on the rear’, the former Euros podium finisher will test a different anti rollbar in his final heat.

‘Better today than tomorrow’, was how Ronnefalk summed up his problem in Q4.  With the screw in the steering knuckle breaking, the World Champion continued, ‘the screw just broke, if it had been loose I would have felt it the lap before’.  Describing his heat as having been going ‘super good’, he concluded, ‘Anyway the TQ is still possible and 4 guys can take it so let’s see’.

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