Jilles Goskamp has taken the opening round of qualifying at 2022 IFMAR 1:10 Nitro Touring Car World Championship in Bangkok, Thailand. As we finally got down to the serious business of qualifying following 5 days of practice, the Infinity driver was fastest in the first of the six scheduled rounds. Behind Mugen’s Shoki Takahata was closest, followed by Jesse Davis, the latter making a big improvement on the form he produced in practice. Reigning Champion Naoto Matsukura would open his title defence with a P4 despite an engine cut during his fuel stop with team-mates Dario Balestri and Takaaki Shimo completing. Having topped seeding and leading the fastest heat out of pit lane for the first qualifier, Dominic Greiner would traction roll early on, damaging his car, resulting in him flipping twice more. In the end the 2016 Champion come out of Q1 with a P7.
‘I’m really happy to take the first round, it lifts the pressure for the rest of qualifying’, was Groskamp’s reaction to his TQ run. The veteran Dutch driver continued, ‘I just thought I would put a safe run in cause I could see Dominic pull away at the beginning. Then he flipped but I could see Dario was coming but then he flipped. I thought I could go a little quicker if I push harder but then maybe I flip too.’ He concluded, ‘It’s a good start’.
Asked about his run and if he had any issues, the question sent the Mugen pit area into laughter. Speaking through an interpreter, Takahata explained that he started the warm-up having forgotten to tighten his engine screws. Loosing warm-up track time as the school boy error was rectified, he said he had to be a little more cautious at the start of the qualifier as his tyres weren’t fully broken in. Despite his issue, the reigning 1:8 World Champion was pretty pleased to come away with P2. A clean 7-minute run, he is confident he has more to come for the next one.
Running in the second fastest heat having ended up 15th in seeding, asked about his new found form Davis replied ‘the car his completely different today’. He explained, ‘the first day of practice was good but then the sun came and I struggled to get steering. Last night I spoke to Jilles (Groskamp) and we figured things out. The car feels comfortable now’. In terms of the run, he chunked a tyre in the warm-up and then during his fuel stop he touch the wall and also got over fuelled with the fuel getting on the gearbox and leaving him with out second gear for a lap. Despite this, the Australian was happy to show good pace and said the aim is a Top 6 for Q2.
Matsukura said his ‘car was very good’ and ‘easy to drive’ and he feels without his fuel stop issue he could have been very close to team-mate Groskamp. ‘I lost 2-seconds with the engine cut and I think without this I could fight for the top spot. It was a very good start’. Asked about his engine, he said it was his own error in timing with the throttle during the refuelling.
Having described the unique conditions of the RC Addict track yesterday as ‘the most difficult conditions’ he has experienced, Balestri said it is ‘super hard to manage the car in the shade’. With the front part of the track shaded while the hot sun is on the rest of the track, the change in traction caught out the Italian as he flipped during the run. For Q2 he is hoping for more even sun coverage of the track.
On his P7 result, Greiner explained, ‘I hit the steel barrier when I flipped and it damaged the car’. With the rear aluminium bulk head missing a chuck out of it, he said the car was really difficult after that, leading to him putting it on its roof two more times. Like Balestri, he said in the shaded parts of the track it is ‘super tricky’ as the car just has ‘too much steering’. Having checked the chassis plate he is confident it is still ok and a rebuilt of the back end should fix things for Q2.