April 21, 2024

Early flameout forces Ongaro to work hard for PM24 win

Team Associated’s Davide Ongaro was forced to work a little harder than expected for his latest Philippine Masters win, the reigning World Champion suffering an early flame out that handed Atsushi Hara a lead he would hold for almost half of the 1-hour final.  With the crowd fully behind the legend that is Hara, when pitted for fuel at the 38-minute mark Ongaro would take back up the race lead where he would stay to the finish.  The attention then turned to a battle between Hara and Ryan Pavidis, the American getting by the former World Champion in the final 3-minutes having been last of the 15 car field after the opening lap.  Not far behind Joern Nuemann would finish as he started, P4.  Having made it an Associated 1-2 in qualifying Alex Bernadzik’s race came undone around 37-minutes in with a flame just as he was called to fuel the next lap, the Australian eventually finishing 6th.  The second round of the Asian Buggy Championships, Round 1 winner Ryan Lutz suffered similar fate earlier in the race and records a P7 on his first trip to Manila.

‘That was a little more intense than we expected’, was how Ongaro summed up what his fourth win here in the Philippines capital. The Italian explained, ‘it was all going good at the beginning but then we had a problem with the fuelling in the first stop. Hara’s pitman was helping my father and the car moved during the stop so not all the fuel went it and because of this we didn’t make it to the second stop’. Rejoining down in P8 almost a lap down, he said, ‘After this I just tried to give 100% and try to come back. Everything was perfect for the rest of the race, the tyres after 1-hour look new.’ He concluded, ‘I’m happy with my race. It was an intense final and good training for the Worlds.’

Marking his Philippine Masters debut with a second place, Pavidis whose only other international race outside of the United States was the Worlds in Redovan, Spain, declared himself ‘pretty happy’. The Sparko driver continued, ‘the first half of the race was terrible. I made a mistake in the beginning trying to avoid Lutz which put me last and then with all the traffic I had some other run ins. By the time I got into the top 5 my tyres got really good and I was getting faster and faster laps and getting into a good groove. I could tell I had the pace of Hara and Neumann so I was confident I could catch him.’ Asked his thoughts on the race, the 22-year-old replied, ‘It was awesome. It’s one of the best tracks in the world, it right there with Redovan and Perris. We also don’t have anything like this at home in terms of the track conditions.’ Highlighting that his F8 is still a pretty new buggy and therefore not yet common at track he said he had to work out the set-up on his own and with that in mind said, ‘I’m pretty happy with my pace compared to Ongaro. To be only a few tenths off on average laps I’ll take that’.

‘Tired, I’m done, the car was OK but the last 10-minute was very hard for my body’, was Hara’s reaction after his major international offroad final in many years. Explaining how his race panned out, he said, ‘I didn’t realise there would be problems that early so I was not really prepared for that. I thought we would see all the problem near the end. I knew Ongaro had way more pace but it was still nice to lead the race for a long time. At the end my body was struggle, my right hand had no feeling so my steering was bad when Ryan was chasing me down. The car was really comfortable and I think I was on one less stop than the others, my engine was really good’. Having been excited about the prospects of the 1-hour final since the opening qualifier on Friday, Hara said, ‘the best part of the final was really enjoying this race and it made we want to come back to more big races but I think maybe one a year is enough and I think I will just do Philippine Masters. A big thank you to Edward and Ricky for everything to make it possible to come here.’

Missing out on the podium by only a few seconds after an hour of racing, asked about his race Neumann said, ‘I had a pretty bad start and after the first 15-minutes I was already a lap down. I had a bobble and the car was very loose. I also had to stop two more times than the others so I had no chance to catch up. It took a while for the car to come good and when it did I was only 3/10ths off Ongaro but my start cost me a podium. Behind Neumann, Sworks team-mate Christian Wolhuter would finish fifth.


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