A driver who showcased his talents at inaugural MIBO International last year finishing runner-up in both buggy classes, Bartek Zalewski elevated himself up a step on podium this year heading an Xray 1-2 in 4WD. Starting out the weekend in Horotovice by topping seeding in both 2WD and 4WD, it was to be the later that proved his better hunting ground. Fresh from his EOS podium finished in Germany, the 17-year old would secure the overall TQ in the final round of qualifying denying his XB4’s designer Martin Bayer the top spot in his native country. Carrying his morning Q5 form into A1, winning by 3.6-seconds from Schumacher’s Daniel Kobbevik, he was looking to seal the deal in A2 as he gapped the field but a brush with the tracks rubber dividers popped a steering link, as it had done in one of Saturday’s qualifiers, and the dream of packing up early for the trip back to Poland was over. With Bayer taking the win from Kobbevik and new 2WD Champion Joern Neumann, A3 was now a pressure situation for Zalewski but despite the best efforts of Bayer he would remain claim and hold his senior off until the multiple European Champion crashed out as the race reached 2-minutes. Managing his lead he would take a comfortable win over Team Associated’s Joona Haatanen to become a popular Champion of this year’s MIBO International. Bayer made it a 1-2 for Xray, the event a truly family racing affair for the Hudy family with three generations competing. Kobbevik would complete a podium double at the Sport V Hotel adding 3rd in 4WD to his earlier 2nd in 2WD.
Happy to get the win and continue his strong start to 2024, Zalewski said, ‘A1 was perfect. The car felt pretty nice so for a first run I was looking forward to the second one. I had a few seconds gap on Martin (Bayer) but then lost my steering link like before. We changed the plastics each round so I don’t know what happened. Martin is really fast so there was now big pressure for A3 but after he broke I could breath again and just focus on driving a safe clean run.’ Just missing out on the podium in 2WD last year’s Top Qualifier in the class added, ‘In 2WD I was close to the podium. From 6th on the grid a podium is difficult but even with a 2nd and a 3rd I didn’t get it which is crazy.’
Summing up his efforts in A3, Bayer said, ‘I tried to challenge Bartek for it but hit the board and that was it done’. Opening the triple finals with a P3 and inheriting the win in A2, while disappoint his A3 battle didn’t got the distance he was complimentary of Zalewski performance saying, ‘He was driving very well so well done on getting the win’.
Making his MIBO International debut, Kobbevik was pleased with his third place but felt there was more for the taking. Tying on points with Bayer as he did in 2WD but losing out on the tiebreaker on this occasion, he said, ‘4WD was good and I’m happy with third but it could have been better’. The tall Norwegian vouched to, ‘go home and work harder’ for the next time.
Joern Neumann came out the surprise winner of 2WD Buggy at MIBO International, the Sworkz driver having lined up 5th on the grid for the three action packed A-Mains at the Czech Republic race. With team-mate Micha Widmaier leading the challenge of the Sworkz team in qualifying, holding the overnight TQ and one of four drivers to go into Sunday morning’s fifth & final qualifier in contention for pole position, Neumann was running well under the radar. The first of the finals changed all that as the multiple European Champion picked up the pieces as those ahead cracked under the pressure and he took the win, even the German himself having a smile of surprise on his face as he went to out marshal afterwards. A2 was a similarly incident filled race, this time Neumann following home the Xray of fourth place qualifier Martin Bayer to finish P2 helped by late contact between the top 2 qualifiers Daniel Kobbevik and Joona Haatanen. Top Qualifier Kobbevik would finally deliver in A3 taking his Schumacher to the win ahead of Widmaier but a late incident between Bayer and Haatanen who define the outcome of the podium. Running second at the time and with a faster winning time than Neumann, the incident cost Bayer the overall win as he finished 3rd on tie break with Kobbevik as Neumann became the Champion of the second edition of the MIBO International.
‘It is important to be first at the end not at the beginning’ joked Neurmann when asked about his victory. Summing up the finals, he said, ‘A1 I was a little lucky, they all crashed ahead of me and then I was in first. After that I just tried to manage the gap over Bartek (Zalewski). A2 I got second after a little chaos but then A3 there was bad luck on my side when another car collided with me but it turned out the luck before was OK to give me the win’. As about his form this weekend, he said, ‘my car in the end was good but I think everyone was very similar (on pace) at the end on this track’.
Summing up the finals action, Kobbevik said, ‘The mains were tough. A lot happened in all of them so in the end I am happy to win the last main while on the other side I am disappointed not to end the day at the top of the podium’. On his A3 win, the 19-year-old said, ‘I was fighting for my life in the last main to keep everyone behind me. I worked hard for that one.’
‘It was an unfair game for me’ was Bayer’s response when asked about A3. The Czech driver elaborated with, ‘I was in 2nd place which was good for the overall (win) but got taken out by Haatanen. A proper take out, Game Over, and that is very unfair especially when the driver has no regrets. I know it can happen to anyone but when you go to the driver after and they are OK with what they did it is even more frustrating.’