Beautiful sunny conditions greeted competitors at the opening day of the 2007 EFRA European 1:10 200mm Championships in Madrid today with each drivers getting three 10-minute practice sessions to familiarise themselves with the ARCA track and to acclimatise to the rather hot Spanish weather.
Round 1 of free practice turned into a systems check for all competitors due to a total lack of grip. While the grip levels improved for Round 2 it was not until the final run of the day that drivers really got up to serious race speeds and started to get a true feel for how their cars were working.
Current Champion and Team Magic driver Dario Balestri is hoping for a better day tomorrow, ‘This is my first time to race on this track and it was difficult because there was not much grip. I did not make any car changes today but tomorrow the track will be better. I think grip roll might become a problem when grip levels build up.’
Serpent team leader and mulitple European Champion Michael Salven was happy with his day, ‘Good start and we have a good base set-up to work from. The car is a little lose and we need to find more steering but we have many options to try. I’m happy with our first day.’ Salven’s comments were echoed by team-mate Mark Green, ‘Great opening day. I ran Michael’s set up in the last run and its a great starting point for everyone. Tomorrow we can start to fine tune it.’
Top Mugen driver Rick Vrielijnck was happy too with his day, ‘I’m quite happy with my car and my engine is running good. I need to find more steering but in general it was a good day for me.’
With one of the biggest top name teams in the event, European Championship debutants Xray have an army of NT1’s in Madrid. Factory driver Gilles Groskamp has switched to Sirio engines for the Championships and the Dutch driver was very happy with his new powerplant. Despite a crash in his final run in which he broke his front right suspension he was pleased with day 1 of the championships.
‘Satisfying’ was how Team Orion driver Adrien Bertin described his day. ‘I worked a lot on engines today. Its a very technical track but we have a good package.’
Tomorrow racers will get an 4 rounds of controlled practice and with the tracks grip levels improving teams and drivers will be able to get down to some serious testing. Red RC will bring you extensive coverage tomorrow as the pace starts to build up.
Next Monday sees the start of the 5th running of the 1/10th scale 200mm EFRA European Championships, and this year the event takes place on the ARCA circuit in Madrid, Spain. This track has already played host to the well attended but rain affected Spanish EFRA GP earlier this year, and on that occasion it was Team Magic driver Darren Johnson that took the overall win. Since that race a lot of teams have gone back to the track for further testing, hoping for some dry weather running to help fine tune their cars setup and gain valuable track time prior to next weeks event.
So who are the favourites to win in Spain? Well as with previous European Championships there will be a quality field of drivers and cars at the event with a lot of potential event winners amongst them. Beginning with current European Champion Dario Balestri, the Team Magic driver who won last year in Holland is out to defend the title and along with his team mate Darren Johnson who finished 3rd in last years Euros, should both be battling for the win. Serpent have a number of drivers in with a shout at the title, beginning with 2003 and 2004 European Champion Michael Salven as well as 2 time runner up Mark Green and top Spanish racer Oscar Cabezas. Mugen will be present with Teemu Saarinen, who along with Rick V. should prove to be the quickest racers at the event with the MTX while Kyosho come to the event with a large amount of top French talent, including Arnaldi, Wartelle and 2004 World Champion Adrien Bertin as well as the always fast Tironi from Italy. The largest team of top drivers and the greatest unknown will probably be the Xray team who are making their big time debut with the NT1 and they are coming with the big guns including Groskamp, Leino, Walti, Peracho, Pietsch and many more all in with a chance to make the final.
Racing begins Monday the 13th of August and our reporter Oisin O’Briain will be uploading photos and bringing multiple daily reports from the event, which can be all seen on events.redrc.net