Jilles Groskamp has taken the opening A-Main at the TITC, the Infinity driver challenging his team-mate Akio Sobue before the Top Qualifier crashed out at the 3-minute mark. A much more competitive looking Groskamp, who qualified second, was able to put Sobue under pressure for the first 2-minutes of the race before things settled down and the Japanese driving managed to get himself some breathing room. Suddenly it all turned on its head as Sobue came around to complete his 12th lap, his car shooting off into the barrier as a loose pinion meant he couldn’t brake. With Groskamp well clear of the rest of the field, the Dutch driver could cruise to the finish 2.8-seconds ahead of Viktor Wilck while, taking full advantage of the many incidents in the race, Nicholas Lee came through from 8th on the grid to complete the Top 3.
Summing up A1, Groskamp said, ‘My car felt good at the beginning of the race. I was actually faster than Akio and had to back off a few times. I could have tried to pass but didn’t want to hit him. I was really surprised the car was really competitive at the start’. The former World Champion continued, ‘after 2-minutes Akio pulled away a little but I still felt I could have had another go at him later in the race. To get the first one in the bag is always nice’. Having improved his IF14-II by switching to a softer top deck he also increased the toe-in again which made the car more stable. Looking to A2, he said, ‘I’m not sure if I can fight Akio in the second half of the race but the pressure is on him now and it’s going to go to the third final, unless of course I win again the next one. I am going to leave the car the same, it was perfect’.
Explaining his sudden exit from the race, Sobue said, ‘the pinion came off and I couldn’t stop’. The 2018 Champion added, ‘today was more loose and Jilles had more pace. It was not so easy for me today but I think I would have still been OK for the win’. Asked if he planned to change his car for the second A-Main, he said, ‘It was a big crash so I will just check over everything and leave the set-up the same so I know it is all OK’.
Causing some of the opening lap chaos, Wilck explained, ‘At the start I touch Ryosuke (Yamamoto). we were side by side and closed in and touched’, continuing ‘after everyone spun off or had problem I could come back to 2nd’. On his race pace, the Swede said, ‘I changed the set-up again but it was too stable so for the next one I am going to go with what Jilles has. Now his car is working good’. He concluded, ‘It is very low traction now and windy so it is easy to spin’.
‘Fortune was on my side’ was Lee’s reaction to his 3rd place adding, ‘I had a clean race while the others made or got caught up in mistakes’. The Singapore driver added, ‘the grid is too close and everyone is going for it in the first corner’. With the Yokomo team struggling in qualifying, asked if today marked any improvement in set-up, the former TITC runner-up said, ‘My car is still not what I like so we are still trying to get it better’.
In the Open Brushless class, the first corner saw Top Quailfier Dominic Vogl unceremoniously pushed off through the first corner by second place starter Kriengsak Suttiprawat sending them both back down the field. With no official Race Referee the incident also went ahead with no repercussions. Eventually Suttiprawat found his way back to the front with Trin T, who was also flipped over at the start, hot on his heals and Vogl in third. On the final lap the pressure seemed to get to Suttiprawat as he overshot the penultimate corner and in similar style to Sobue’s spectacular 2018 A3 win, Trin launched his car at the loop to take the win by 1/10th with Vogl salvaging third, 7/100ths off 2nd.
Having wrapped up the overall TQ in the penultimate round of qualifying at the 2020 TITC, Akio Sobue has gone on to complete the clean sweep by making it four out of four in the final round. Having topped seeding on Thursday, the Infinity driver has maintained a distinct advantage over his rivals taking the final qualifier ahead of fellow countryman & new for 2020 team-mate Ryosuke Yamamoto, his advantage once again a commanding 3-seconds. With Naoto Matsukura getting up on two wheels during his final attempt, Jilles Groskamp would hold onto his second place starting position, the Dutch driver finishing 3rd ahead of Naoto in the weekend’s fastest heat. Meen Vejrak again managed a Top 5 run and the fastest lap of Q4, Day 2 of qualifying going much better than yesterday, and with that result the Yokomo driver will line-up 6th for tomorrow’s A-Mains when four Yokomos will go up against six Infinitys.
Commenting on his clean sweep, Akio said, ‘I went with the same set-up as the last controlled practice but now it was a little loose. It had good pace but it was difficult to drive’. Asked about tomorrow’s finals, the 2018 Champion replied, ‘It all looks good for tomorrow. My car still has better pace than the other cars’.
‘I got my P2 (on grid) so I’m happy with that’, was Groskamp’s reaction after Q4. On his final qualifier, the 2012 World Champion said, ‘I had a few moments when the car got loose in the sweeper but I was able to catch back up to second (in the heat). The track conditions were crazy different again so it was hard to tell exactly what set-up changes are doing but I think I might go back to the set-up I was running in Q1 and Q2’. On his chances for the final, the Infinity driver said, ‘the gap is still there to Akio so I’m happy to settle for second but I’m going to have to fight for it with Naoto’.
Summing up his Q4 performance, Matsukura said, ‘the car was better than before but still not close to Akio, the track was also better for this one. One time I went on the curb too much and almost flipped. That made me lose my rhythm and hade a few moments so I lost about 1-second in total’. Starting 3rd on the grid, last year’s runner-up said, ‘It will be difficult to win. I have to pass Jilles and then Akio and he is very fast but I will still do my best to try and get the win’.
After impressing in the opening qualifier with a P4 but then dropping off a little in Q2, Yamamoto put his impressive P2 in the final qualifier down to both an improved set-up for the conditions and being more relaxed. Suffering slightly from nerves after his strong start to qualifying, the 20-year-old ran a softer front spring on his IF14-II for the final qualifier and having already locked himself in to the A-Main on his TITC debut he could drive with no pressure.
Demoted to 5th on the grid by Yamamoto, Viktor Wilck said, ‘I can’t find a middle point. The car is either too loose or too stable. I went with the wrong set-ups today. I should have run this set-up in the morning and the morning set-up in the evening. It’s a little frustrating. Still overall it’s a good result for the team and the new car. We will see what I can do in the final’.
Setting a marginally faster best lap time than Sobue in the final qualifier, Vejrak said, ‘I am really happy with the last one. I feel the car can come back into the game except against Akio who is really fast’. He continued, ‘I had the best lap for the last one which is promising but I need to improve the car more for tomorrow. I need more overall grip but finding it is not easy. When it is hot the car is ok and the drop (in performance over the 5-mins) is OK’. Asked about the layout in terms of racing for track position, the Thai driver said, ‘It is not a difficult layout but it is fast so it could be difficult to pass and I also have all Infinity drivers in front of me’.
In the Open Class, Austria’s Dominic Vogl is the Top Qualifier. Having returned after making his TITC debut at the Infinity Addict Circuit last year, the Awesomatix driver came back from destroying his car in Q3 to TQ the final round in a car prepared for him by Australian team driver Ryan Maker. Explaining his crash on his warm-up lap, he said, ‘I was running rear, rear tyres and maybe needed to be more patient warming up the tyres. The car was destroyed so Ryan prepare a car for me fitted with the geardiff from my car and my set-up and it was much better’. Starting tomorrow’s A-Main ahead of Zero Tribe driver Kriengsak Suttiprawat, Infinity’s Trin T and Serpent’s Bowie Ginting, he said, ‘I will go with lighter oil in the geardiff and be more patient at the start, then it should be fine. From the middle to the end I should be fine, but at the start Suttiprawat can challenge me’.
Chassis – Serpent X20 Motor – Zombie Evo 13.5T ESC – Hobbywing Xerun XR10 Battery – Zombie 6000mAh Tires (handout) – Ride Radio/Servos – Futaba/Team Powers Body – Xtreme Twister
Remarks – Running in the Open Brushless class here at the TITC, Indonesian driver Bowie Ginting has put his Serpent X20 4th on the grid for Sunday’s triple A-mains. Running a standard version of the car, the only changes are the use of carbon arm braces for the front and rear arms to reduce flex and the optional top deck stiffener post. Used to running in the same track conditions in Jakarta, he has only modified his home setup a little, running softer oils all around, standing the up the shocks to prevent body roll and widening the track width slightly. An interesting item is the body supports on the front upper a-arms that prevent the body from diving under braking, made using linkages from the previous Project-4X car.