July 31, 2010

Lower finals complete, 38 remain

Takumi Matsuda

The lower finals of the 2010 World Championships have been run today and the six drivers who will progress to the big day here in Houston, Texas, have been decided.  Ending the day with the 1/8 Finals, two big names to see their event come to an end are 2006 World Champion Keisuke Fukuda and 2008 Finalist Teemu Leino. Winning the first of the 20 minute 1/8 finals was young Serpent driver Takumi Matsuda.  The rapid 14-year-old Japanese kid won from Jerome Renaux who in yesterday’s final qualifier secured himself a direct placing in the final only to have his time disallowed when his Xray was found to be under weight.  There was big drama in the final minute of the race when Leino hit a backmarker who had spun out at the end of the straight.  With the Finn’s NT1 damaged and practically undriveable, the factory Xray driver made a valiant effort to get the broken car to the finish line but former World Champion Adrien Bertin found a way passed on the last to take the last bump up place to progress to tomorrow’s 1/4 final.

Adrian Bernsten

In the other 1/8 Final, Norwegian Adrian Bernsten was in a class of his own lapping the entire field taking his Xray through to tomorrow.  Behind him Austrian Gerhard Kandlehart took second while Chinese youngster JJ Wang claimed 3rd despite massive pressure from Australia’s Steven Jovanovic who ran out of fuel 2 corners before the finish.  This is Wang’s second bump up having progressed from the earlier 1/16 final in which he also finished 3rd.  The winner of that final was Team Shepherd owner Patrick Schaefer but his 1/8 final lasted just three laps when his car was hit from the rear. Others to see their World Championship campaign end today was Xray’s Juraj Hudy, who went out in the 1/16, engine tuner Uriah Murnan who retired just after the half way distance of his 1/8 final and British Champion Kyle Branson whose his Serpent stripped 1st gear with just  2 and a half minutes to go.

The final day of the fourth running of the IFMAR 200mm Touring Car Worlds is almost upon us and 38 drivers remain in with a chance of glory.  Our coverage, which is supported by Matrix tires, Team Titan and Red Racing engines, will continue in the morning with 1/4 finals getting the proceedings underway at 10:00.

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July 30, 2010

Pietsch is Top Qualifier in Texas

Robert Pietsch Worlds TQ

Robert Pietsch has become only the second driver to TQ both nitro onroad World Championships after he was declared Top Qualifier for the IFMAR 1/10th 200mm World Championship at Gulf Coast Raceway in Houston, Texas, late tonight.  Held under flood lights the fifth and final round of qualifying failed to see anyone better the time set in Q4 by the factory Mugen driver who last year was the Top Qualifier at the 1:8 Worlds in Switzerland.  Pietsch retired from Q5 with radio interference but the German said under the artificial lighting a better time was never possible for him.  Only his second 1:10 Worlds appearance, the man responsible for designing Mugen’s onroad cars failed to make the final in Portugal after he hit problems in the Semi, but today he showed while his Matrix shod MTX-4R is one of the older chassis competing it is still competitive.  Having set himself a target of qualifying in the 1/4 Finals coming into the event, the European 1:8 Champion feels the track layout has really played to his advantage as he has been able to set-up and drive his car very much like an 1:8 scale.  Asked for his thoughts on the final, Pietsch said he hadn’t given it any thought yet and for now he just want to enjoy taking TQ honours by having a few beers and winding down after what has been an 16 hour day at the track.

Coming to within one second of Pietsch’s time, factory Kyosho driver Takaaki Shimo was fastest for the final round of qualifying.  Improving his previous best time by 8/10th of a second, the Japanese ace said his updated V-One RRR was capable of a TQ run but he did not like his first experience of night racing struggling with the lighting.  This was an element most of the top drivers had difficultly with.

Ralph Burch

Setting the second fastest time for the round following the exclusion of Jerome Renaux, whose car was found to be under weight, RC America’s Ralph Burch was very happy to record his first 35 lapper despite the fact he ‘cant really see in the dark’.  The Xray driver said his Max powered NT1 was really dialled in and he only wished he had the same car when racing was run during normal day light.  The American, whose time was good enough to bump him up to fourth, to secure him a direct placing in the main final, said it wasn’t very nice to get in at the expense of a fellow Xray driver but is he very happy to be in with the chance of becoming the first American to be crowned the 1:10 Nitro Touring Car World Champion.

Jerome Renaux car

Unfortunately after making major changes to his Novarossi powered NT1, that allowed him to run the second fastest time of Q5, Renaux’s car was found to be underweight.  A direct qualifier at last year’s European Championships, the loss of a 35 lap time means the 26-year-old drops from 3rd to 40th leaving him with a lot of hard work to do if he his to bump up and make the big final. The Belgian driver attributed his disqualification to excessive tire wear and switching from a hard to a softer front bumper, which left his car 10 grams under.

The fourth & final direct qualifier is Shinnosuke Yokoyama, the 17-year-old Xray driver being the real star of these championships.  Failing to improve his time in Q5, the up & coming Japanese talent is delighted to claim himself a place in the final. Admitting to being a little nervous ahead of making his World Championship final debut he is determined to try and back up his impressive qualifying performance with at least a podium finish on Saturday.

Hampered by his Max engine running too lean Alexander Hagberg dropped to fifth after Q5 but the 20-year-old Xray team driver is confident he can bump up from his Semi which he will start from pole. Starting the opposite Semi from pole will be Tadahiko Sahashi. The Japanese driver failed to improve on his Q4 time but as the sixth fastest qualifier he is the top Serpent driver with Scott Kimbrow the next best 733 in 13th position.

Daniele Ielasi

Defending champion Daniele Ielasi will line up in the same Semi as Shepherd team-mate Marc Rheinard as he improved in Q5 to set the 14th fastest time.  Having been in a Quarter Final position at the end of Q4, the Italian said he drove a safe last qualifier with the aim of moving himself into higher final.  Rheinard took the honour of being the fastest Velox V10 as he improved his time to place 8th.  The electric Touring Car World Champion was on target to match Burch’s pace but exiting the pits following his fuel stop he clipped a corner marker loosing valuable seconds. Top qualifier at the last World Championships, Jilles Groskamp had a difficult day, failing to complete any of his 3 runs and the Dutch ace finds himself on pole in the quarter finals.

So after one of the longest days we’ve ever experienced in the sport, qualifying is complete and apart from the Top 4 qualifiers the other 122 competitors will have to depend on bumping up if they wish to fill the other 6 places on the grid. Tomorrow kicks off the first of the lower finals running through to the 1/8 final.  Our coverage which is supported by Matrix tires, Team Titan and Red Racing engines will commence tomorrow afternoon and continue again on Saturday when the 4th IFMAR 200mm World Champion will be crowned.

Final qualifying order
1. Pietsch Robert (Mugen/Novarossi)
2. Shimo Takaaki (Kyosho/OS)
3. Yokoyama Shinnosuke (Xray/OS)
4. Burch Ralph (Xray/Max)
5. Hagberg Alexander (Xray/Max)
6. Sahashi Tadahiko (Serpent/Picco)
7. Wischnewski Dirk (Xray/Novarossi)
8. Rheinard Marc (Shepherd/Novarossi)
9. Terauchi Takehiro (Mugen/Novarossi)
10.Andersson Christer (Carpricorn/Sirio)
11.Balestri Dario (Team Magic/Novarossi)
12.D’Angelo Giuseppe (Mugen/Reds)
13.Kimbrow Scott (Serpent/Novarossi)
14.Ielasi Daniele (Shepherd/IDM)
15.Lemieux Paul (Xray/Max)
16.Morganti Paolo (Serpent/Novarossi)
17.Salven Michael (Serpent/Mega)
18.Swauger Michael (Mugen/Novarossi)

Complete final qualifying listing can be found here (PDF)

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July 30, 2010

‘Houston we have a problem’

'Houston we have a problem'

The final round of qualifying for the 2010 IFMAR 200mm World Championship has been interrupted by a power failure at the Gulf Coast Raceway here in Houston with the flood lights going out as the drivers in Group 7 were just finishing their run.  The black out has resulted in a 45 minute delay to the schedule but the lights are back on and qualifying has just resumed.

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July 30, 2010

Pietsch ends Japanese rule in Texas

Robert Pietsch

He was the Top Qualifier at the 1:8 World Championship last year and now Robert Pietsch is on target to repeat that achievement in 1:10 having just set the fastest run in the penultimate round of qualifying here at Gulf Coast Raceway. The factory Mugen driver ran 35 laps in 10:14.072 to move into provisional pole from factory Kyosho driver Takaaki Shimo who also broke into the 35 laps for the first time.  The German, who was on a TQ run in the third qualifier until he stripped second gear, said his MTX-4R was again really good but at the start of the run he didn’t feel the track conditions were good enough for a TQ run until he heard his lap times.  Pietsch said while his car is not the fastest in terms of lap times it is very consistent and unlike many of his rivals, run time with his factory Novarossi is no problem.  Finding tyre wear had increased slightly today he started the heat with a larger set of Matrix tyres which he said had also helped.  Asked about this evening’s fifth and final qualifier, the 1:8 European Champion said running under the flood lights could prove difficult but in terms of his car he doesn’t plan to make any changes.

Takaaki Shim and Takehiro Terauchi

Depite setting his best 10-minute run, Shimo said his Kyosho didn’t feel good, with the updated V-One RRR suffering from understeer. Unsure what changes he will make for tonight’s Q5, the friendly Japanese ace doesn’t know what to expect having never raced under flood lights before.

The round saw a number of drivers run out of fuel while on a TQ pace.  Factory Mugen driver Takehiro Terauchi, who was the only driver to record a 16 second lap, was on to take provisional pole when his Novarossi powered MTX-4R ran out of fuel.  This left Xray’s Alexander Hagberg, who was running in the same heat as the 18-year-old Japanese ace, on a TQ pace but one lap later the Swede’s Max powered NT1 also ran dry.  Despite failing to complete the run Hagberg’s time was still good enough to move him into the all important Top 4.


Having TQ’d the opening three rounds of qualifying Yokoyama was unable to maintain his domination, a problem with a chunked front tyre making his Xray difficult to drive.  Despite the tyre problem the 17-year-old still recorded the fourth fastest time for the round just behind Hagberg but drops to third in the overall ranking.

Tadahiko Sahashi

The biggest mover for the round was Team Serpent’s Tadahiko Sahashi. Having failed to finish the opening three qualifiers, the younger of the two Sahashi brothers, finally recorded a full run to go fastest Serpent with the fifth fastest overall time.  The 21-year-old, who runs Picco engines, said he made a large number of changes to his 733 which had greatly improved the car but he plans to adjust his clutch for the final qualifier.  Running in the next heat up his brother Yuya was on a potential TQ run when his Mega powered 733 ran out of fuel.

Marc Rheinard

Two other drivers to improve their times were Team Shepherd’s Marc Rheinard and Serpent driver Scott Kimbrow.  Setting the seventh fastest time for the round Rheinard moves into 8th overall but the 3 times Electric Touring Car World Champion is still far from happy with the set-up of his Novarossi powered Velox V10.  American Kimbrow said his car was working well since the start of practice but this was the first time he managed a trouble free round.  A crash put an end to his first qualifier, trouble in the pits messed up Q2, and in Q3 his Novarossi powered 733 ran out of fuel.  Taking a more conservative approach to his driving style in the final part of his run so as to make sure he didnt have a repeat of Q3, Kimbrow said he was very happy to get a good run in and break into the Top 10.

Paul Lemieux fuel stop

Elsewhere Paul Lemieux was on a strong run but his fuel stop was to go terribly wrong.  As pit man Fabio Domanin grabbed his Xray the body shell crumpled, pushing the fuel gun away from the tank. All the fuel didn’t made it into the tank, as captured by our camera, and the American Champion’s car stopped 8 lap later.

Overall Qualification standing after 4 rounds
1. Robert Pietsch – 35 Laps in 10:14.072
Mugen/Novarossi/Matrix/Sanwa/SRC Cruzer
2. Takaaki Shimo – 35 Laps in 10:15.817
Kyosho/O.S/Active/Futaba/SRC Cruzer
3. Shinnosuke Yokoyama – 35 Laps in 10:17.209
Xray/O.S/Xceed/Sanwa/Xceed Cruzer
4. Alexander Hagberg – 34 Laps in 09:56.577
Xray/Max/Matrix/KO/SRC Cruzer
5. Tadahiko Sahashi – 34 Laps in 10:00.595
Serpent/Picco/Xceed/Sanwa/Protoform P56
6. Dirk Wischnewski – 34 Laps in 10:00.624
Xray/Orcan/Matrix/Sanwa/SRC Cruzer
7. Takehiro Terauchi – 34 Laps in 10:01.139
Mugen/Novarossi/ZAC Project/Sanwa/Blitz
8. Marc Rheinard – 34 Laps in 10:02.076
Shepherd/Novarossi/Contact/Sanwa/Protoform P56
9. Ralph Burch – 34 Laps in 10:02.135
Xray/Max/Capricorn/KO/SRC Cruzer
10.Scott Kimbrow – 34 Laps in 10:02.519
Serpent/Novarossi/Matrix/Spektrum/Xceed Cruzer


Complete listing after 4 rounds can be found here (PDF)

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July 29, 2010

Extra ‘Rocket Round’ Qualifier added

Extra 'Rocket Round' Qualifier added

Having lost two of the six scheduled rounds of qualifying due to rain, the International Jury have just announced that agreement has been reach among the four blocks to add an extra round of heats to today’s schedule.  This will mean drivers get five chances to set a time for the finals however its going to mean a late night for the top teams.  Running in order from Group 1 to 14, the fifth round of qualifying will start at 19:00 and will finish around 23:00 under flood lights.   Defending Champion Daniele Ielasi was very happy with the announcement but elsewhere drivers like Jilles Groskamp feel it could be very costly for some of the big names.  Due to the cool conditions the track is expected to be considerably faster in Q5 meaning if a driver currently in the Top 10 hits any problems they could drop right down the order.  Ielasi’s pitman Eduardo Picco is not impressed by the additional round of heats as he is normally in bed at that time of night!

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