For Europe’s top buggy racers today is the culmination of months of testing and preparation and in just over seven hours from now one of them will be crowned the 2009 EFRA 1:8 Off Road European Champion here in Wolbling, Austria. While weather was the big talking point at the start of the week, the sun is now beating down on the track for the big day. Currently the lower finals are underway with our coverage, which is supported by Team Orion, Mugen Seiki, LRP and Kyosho, getting underway with a round-up of the 1/4 Finals. For the Semi Finals and Main we will be bringing you live lap by lap updates as Top Qualifier Renaud Savoya looks to defend his title.
He took TQ honours on his way to the European title last year and if that pattern is anything to go by it is looking good here in Austria for defending Champion Renaud Savoya with him being crowned the 2009 Top Qualifier. The factory Mugen driver claimed the honour when his only challenger Yannick Aigoin rolled during his final attempt at being the No.1 qualifier. With his second European TQ safe in the bag, Savoya wasn’t quite finished however, going on to put in another superb drive to take his third 185 points maximum of the five qualification rounds.
Following a week which he felt did not start off well, Savoya said he was delighted to have turned things around and claim the TQ honours. The French ace reckons he is getting more and more confident with his set-up for the Wolbling track and will leave the car the same for tomorrow’s Semi. His immaculately prepared MBX6 will just get some fresh Ultimate Racing diff & shock oils and a thorough going over in preparation for tomorrow’s all important finals. Asked about fuel run time the RB team driver was very tight lipped but we expect him to pit somewhere between 9 and 10 minutes.
Taking second for the round to end up fifth in the overall ranking, Darren Bloomfield seems to have found his promised form. Running Revolver M3 tyres for the round the British driver felt they got hot near the end but was happier with the rear of his Losi after switching to a heavier oil.
He impressed us in the third qualifier yesterday but 13-year-old David Ronnefalk’s performance in the last heat was spectacular with American ace Richard Saxton going as far as saying that EFRA is about to get its first ever B and A Champion. The Swede was super fast at the controls of the Adrien Bertin engineered Orion Alpha powered Kyosho. During the run the European B Champion touched the rear of Savoya’s car a number of time so fast was his pace. A definite star of the future this confident youngster has already made his mark by qualifying directly into the Semi on his EC-A debut but he’s determined to be one of the 12 that line-up for the Main Final here tomorrow at 16:00.
Taking fourth for the round was Miguel Matias but the former World Champion missed out on a direct Semi final starting position following a tie break with Daniel Vega who claimed the 16th and last spot. Fifth fastest was very fast Czech driver Martin Bayer. The 2008 Finalist was on a potential TQ run for the round but rolled losing six seconds. Without such mistakes Bayer, whose younger brother is also competing here this week, could be one of the surprises tomorrow evening. Completing the Top 6 was Austrian National Champion Martin Karner with his Kyosho/Team Orion combination.
Elsewhere Robert Batlle missed his last qualifier after the pin fell out of his front CV shaft as his crew warmed up the engine in the assembly area. Despite the best efforts of his pit crew who did manage to get a new pin fitted to his RC8, it too fell out and the Spaniard was forced to retire. Having had three strong opening heats the former Champion will line up second in the semi A behind the man who took away his title last year.
Semi Final A Lineup
1. SAVOYA Renaud (FR)
2. BATLLE Robert (ES)
3. BLOOMFIELD Darren (GB)
4. RECKWARD Daniel (DE)
5. RONNEFALK David (SE)
6. CRAGG Neil (GB)
7. LEINO Teemu (FI)
8. HERNANDEZ Borja (ES)
Semi Final B Lineup
1. AIGOIN Yannick (FR)
2. BAYER Martin (CZ)
3. RABITTI Riccardo (IT)
4. AIGOIN Jerome (FR)
5. KARNER Martin (AT)
6. LAFFRANCI Alessandro (IT)
7. GOMEZ MALAGON Richy (ES)
8. VEGA Daniel (ES)
Our 3rd instalment of what’s new in the pits starts with a new line of buggy tires from LRP. The as yet un-named pattern has been designed specifically for this track, so for use on abrasive surfaces with little or no dust. Comprising of a row of hard X shaped pins in the centre for long wearing forward traction, a row of angled side pins offer stability over the bumps but can also be removed for more side traction. The pattern also makes use of a second stage system, that has ribbing on the tires surface that bring stability to the pins when new, and which when worn ensure enough the tire has enough rubber to make it to the end of a long final. LRP have brought their M compound to this race, which is their hardest compound, but it will also be available in soft and super soft versions too. Expect the release to come in the next 3 months as the company finalises the tires thread pattern.
From Italian brand Fast Race is a number of new items, including their new carbon service. A special treatment, it will give any plastic part on your car that great carbon look. Available to the public in around 2 months, they will have parts from Mugen, Xray, Losi and Kyosho buggies in stock and to obtain these parts you can either just buy them directly or send them the part, pay the service fee, and have the parts sent back to you. Its a great looking result and can even work with complex parts such as the transmission casing seen above.
Fast Race also released a new chassis, currently for the MBX-6, and being used by top Italian racer Fabio Boero, it is 4mm thick and machined on the top side to reduce weight and because it is so rigid, there is no longer a need to use chassis stiffeners. Other features of the chassis plate include a ventilated radio box, which is super important in hot racing conditions. Expect a version for Kyosho and Xray in the coming months. Finally, Fast Race have released a new 83mm diameter buggy wheel called the VXL, which is super strong and comes in both yellow and white.
Finally, PSM Racing have shown us their new 0 degree engine mounts that convert the Hyper 9’s angled engine to a conventional upright position. Blue anodised, and finned for aiding the cooling, the set also comes with a small carbon plate and aluminium post for converting the throttle linkage to work with the now upright engine. Having your engine stand up straight aids the cooling of the motor as the cooling head is now more exposed that with the previous angled engine.
Renaud Savoya has repeated his 2008 feat winning the last qualifier here in Austria to be crowned the Top Qualifier for the 2009 EFRA European Championships. The only driver with a chance of denying the Mugen driver the overall TQ honours was fellow countryman Yannick Aigoin but the Losi driver rolled onto his roof during his run. Second fastest for the fifth round was Darren Bloomfield with rising young star David Ronnefalk completing the Top 3.
Renaud Savoya has TQ’d the penultimate qualifier here in Austria becoming the first name to appear at the top the time sheets twice. The defending Champion ran an identical car to yesterday changing only to the softer M3 Revolver to win the round from Darren Bloomfield and promising Czech driver Martin Bayer. Track conditions for the first of today’s two heats was slippery compared with yesterday due to the damp conditions but Savoya said his car worked well and combined his no driver errors he was very pleased with his heat which puts him in with a strong chance of repeating his overall TQ at last year’s European Championships.
Having completely changed everything on his Losi last night the hotly tipped Darren Bloomfield finally put in a strong run, finishing just 8/10th off Savoya. The English driver was clearly much happier with his car which he said is running half way between the set-up from the Warm-up and that being used by Yannick Aigoin. Finding the rear of the car a little too soft still he will make appropriate changes to cure that for Heat 5.
One of the surprises of the 2008 Euros in Crete, Martin Bayer is again making a name for himself claiming a very strong third fastest time. Having posted three good runs yesterday he said he could push harder today as a result and found his Losi 8ight very easy to drive. Taking the third fastest time he plans only a small front caster adjustment for his last qualifier. Newly crowned Italian Champion Riccardo Rabitti took fourth for the round after a safe run. After failing to post a time in the first qualifier due to a battery problem, the Losi/Sirio driver said he drove a ‘safe’ run so as to ensure he had a third decent times to move him up the qualification rankings. While most opted for the M3 compound Revolver, Rabitti chose the M2 and said his car was very well balanced. He plans to push hard in the final round now that he has 3 strong results on the board which currently sees him lying 5th in the ranking.
Missing out on a Top 3 placing for the first in qualifying was Yannick Aigoin. The overnight Qualification Ranking leader tried 6mik tyres in the warm-up period for his heat but thanks to super fast work by his mechanics switched to M3 Revolvers in time for the timed 5-minutes. The Losi driver is considering trying Calipers for the fifth & final qualifier as he has not tried the tyre yet and wants to test it as an option for tomorrow’s Semis. Having had a few days now to gauge his opposition Aigoin feels his biggest challenge will come from Savoya as well as his own Losi team-mates Bloomfield, Rabitti and Bayer.
The fastest man on the track for the round was Jerome Aigoin but two mistakes meant he would only take sixth. The winner of the opening qualifier, the Kyosho/Sirio driver was the only one to break into the 44 second laps with his AKA shod MP9 and is very happy with the handling but needs to cut out the mistakes. Without these he could have come very close to Savoya’s TQ time.
Better known for his Electric Touring exploits factory Xray driver Teemu Leino from Finland enjoyed his strongest run of the event taking his Team Orion powered XB808 into the Top 10 for the first time with the seventh fastest run. Having put in some super fast laps yesterday but making too many mistakes, 16 year old Elliot Boots finally got it together to post the 8th fastest time while Associated’s Neil Cragg and former World Champion Alessandro Laffranchi completed the Top 10.
Elsewhere it was a disastrous fourth round for 2007 Champion Robert Batlle who finished way down the order after choosing to run GRP’s X compound Cubic tyre which gave his car far too much grip and overheated during the run.
Drivers have woken up this morning to wet conditions in Wolbling, Austria. After a sunny day yesterday the weather took a turn last night with the wet conditions set to continue throughout the morning, however right now it is not actually raining at the track. The track itself is only very slightly wet thanks to the efforts of the local club who covered it up after the final run yesterday in anticipation of the overnight downpour. At 07:00 EFRA 1:8 Off Road chief Carlos Gomez gave the go ahead for it to be removed in preparation for the penultimate round of qualifying which gets underway at 09:00, starting with Group 6.