The pre-event favourite to win this year’s 1:8 Offroad European Championships, many onlookers were not convinced that the Warm-up race winner could pull off victory following a below par performance in qualifying but when it counted most Robert Batlle was there to claim his second European title. Moving to Mugen for the 2011 season after the departure of Renaud Savoya, Batlle’s victory marks the fourth consecutive Euros title for Japanese manufacturer.
Having won his first European title in 2007, Batlle said he was delighted to be back on top after three years of being in contention. In what started out as a difficult week for the Spaniard, who struggled to repeat his pace from the warm-up race, he said everything came together for him in the final. Running a different fuel strategy to his rivals Batlle said with one less stop to do that advantage would play out in the final part of the race and it did. Working closely with Novarossi on his preparations for this year’s Euros he thanked the Italian engine manufacturer for making his winning strategy possible.
Having come so close to successfully defending his first EC title in Greece in 2008 until he was hampered by a broken wishbone on his then Hobao buggy, Batlle said this played on his mind for the last five minutes of today’s race. Having to repeatedly tell himself to stay calm over the last few laps he said the finish couldn’t come quick enough. The race was not entirely without incident for Batlle as he earned a ‘Stop & Go’ penalty for cutting the track. He also had a heart stopping moment with Jerome Sartel in the race. Lapping the Agama driver on the run down the straight the two touched wheels with Batlle’s Mugen coming off worse and ending up on its roof at the pit wall.
Securing the honour of Top Qualifier and then winning his Semi to secure pole position for the final, Jerome Aigoin said he wanted to be the winner but so did eleven others and in the end he was ‘very, very happy’ with second having never made the podium at the European Championships before. Describing his Novarossi powered Kyosho as being very close to having the perfect set-up, he said it was a tough race with the aggressive track conditions making it very hard not to make any mistakes.
A driver who knows what it is like to win Europe’s most important race, three time former champion Daniel Reckward said after such a close race he couldn’t be disappointed with third. Switching to a harder set-up on his RB powered Mugen after the Semi, the German said his package was the best it had been all week in the final and he paid particular praise to RB on their new tyres of which he ran the harder compound. The 1998 World Champion, Reckward said there was nothing between himself, Batlle and Aigoin in terms of pace and he was surprised by how little separated them at the end of the race.
Adding to Reckward’s joy was the performance of his Mugen/RB team-mate Marcel Guske who finished a very impressive 4th. Surprising everyone by qualifying second overall, the 22-year-old recovered from a flame out at the start of his Semi to bump up in to the main for which he started 10th. After a poor start to the main race which left him at the rear of the field the German Nationals podium finisher said once he settled in to a rhythm he was able to cut his way up towards the front and still finish on the lead lap. His first time to contest the European Championship he said at the start of the week the idea of making the final was unimaginable so he was delighted with fourth saying he ‘might have to go and do next year’s Euros’.
The top TLR in the race, finishing fifth one position ahead of team-mate Yannick Aigoin, Martin Bayer felt the speed was there for a better result but two clashes with David Ronnefalk were too costly. The Czech driver said his 8ight felt good in the final but with the pace of the race so fast it was not possible to recover the lost time.
Ronnefalk, who retains his European Junior title, was clearly disappointed with his race finishing in 10th. Surviving a number of engine flame outs, the 15-year-old Swede believes heavy contact with the wall on the main straight caused damage to his throttle linkage. Causing his Orion powered MP9 to stop intermittently on the exit of corners, the factory Kyosho driver could on reflect on what could have been as he showed he had the speed, setting set the fastest lap of the race with Guske the only other driver to record a 28 second lap.
So the 31st running of the 1:8 Buggy EC is in the history books and the dust can now settle for another 12 months. Forced to watch his first final from the sidelines a year can not pass fast enough for Renaud Savoya who has already vowed to take back the title he has held for so long. A unique track that produced an entertaining race we would like to congratulate the MSC Sand club on putting on a well organised event. We would also like to thank our sponsors Team Durango, LRP and Mugen Seiki who made our coverage possible for this event.
Mugen’s Robert Batlle is the 2011 European 1:8 Offroad Champion after a thrilling final that saw the Top 3 covered by little over 5-seconds after 45-minutes of intense racing at Sand-am-Main, Germany. Starting from pole Kyosho’s Jerome Aigoin finished runner-up with Daniel Reckward completing the podium at the 31st running of the championships.
Jérôme Aigoin is safely through to the final after controlling the first of the Semi Finals from start to finish at the 1:8 Offroad European Champions. The Top Qualifier headed a Kyosho 1-2 in the 20-minute encounter taking the win by 5.4 seconds over Swedish teenager David Ronnefalk and will start on pole for the main event in Sand-am-Main, Germany. The winner of the second Semi over Daniel Reckward, TLR’s Martin Bayer will start from second on the grid.
There was drama at the start of both Semis as former Champion Miguel Matias flamed out just as the car when to grid in the first race and pole sitter from the second Marcel Guske suffered a similar faith. The mechanics of both drivers made a dash back to the pits to get their drivers running again incurring penalties. In the case of JQ driver Matias, who was starting from last on the grid, his pitman ran down the main straight earning the Portuguese driver a 10 second penalty that would be added to his final race time. This was to cause some controversy as Matias who recovered to sixth made it to the line just before the 20-minutes expired. Unfortunately for Team Xray’s Teemu Leino, who was within 10 seconds of Matias, he did get to the line before the 20 minutes making the penalty ineffective. In the case of the find of these championships, Guske was called in to serve a Stop & Go penalty. A lap down due to the flame out, the 22-year-old Euros debutant made it back up to fifth after passing Elliot Boots on the final run to the finish and will start the 45-minute final from 10th.
There was cruel luck for the British Champion Darren Bloomfield who suffered two engine flame outs while holding a bump up position in the opening Semi just after the halfway point. Setting the fastest lap of the two Semis, the British Champion who qualified 3rd finished 10th two and a half laps down. Pre-event favourite Robert Batlle lines up 6th on the grid after a messy race to fourth in his Semi.
European Champion for the last three years, Renaud Savoya’s quest to lift a fourth consecutive title is over after the French ace suffered a broken steering servo horn in the 1/4 final while running in a bump up position. Starting from fourth on the grid for the 20-minute encounter, Savoya looked on target to progress to the Semi but as the race came up on mid distances his buggy lost steering ending his long reign as Europe’s top buggy racer.
Having bumped up from the 1/8 final, the race was eventually won by Durango team-mate Joern Neumann from 2008 Finalist Borja Hernandez and Riccardo Rabitti who made the final in Austria in 2009. Securing the final bump position of the 1/4 B finals was Austrian Team Agama driver Martin Karner.
In the 1/4 A final last year’s third spot podium finisher Miguel Matias, who also bumped up from his 1/8 Final, took the win with hs JQ buggy ahead of former finalists Hupo Honigl and Riccardo Perin. After a great battle with Daniel Vega, Joseph Quagraine snatched fourth spot from the Spaniard on the last lap to claim his third bump up of the day having started out in the 1/16 Final.
Three of last year’s finalists who will play not further part are Tamiya’s Lee Martin who pulled up after 15-minutes in his 1/4 Final with a servo problem and Serpent duo Rodrigo Luis and Alberto Garcia who failed to progress from the respective 1/4 and 1/16 Finals.
Semi A line-up
1. Jérôme Aigoin (FR)
2. Darren Bloomfield (UK)
3. Robert Batlle (ESP)
4. David Ronnefalk (SWE)
5. Teemu Leino (FIN)
6. Yannick Aigoin (FR)
7. Carsten Keller (D)
8. Neil Cragg (UK)
9. Miguel Matias (PT)
10.Hupo Honigl (A)
11.Riccardo Perin (IT)
12.Joseph Quagraine (FIN)
Semi B line-up
1. Marcel Guske (D)
2. Daniel Reckward (D)
3. Simon Willetts (UK)
4. Elliot Boots (UK)
5. Martin Bayer (CZ)
6. Jérôme Sartel (FR)
7. Ignacio Candel (ESP)
8. Carlos Durães (PT)
9.Joern Neumann (D)
10.Borja Hernandez (ESP)
11.Riccardo Rabitti (IT)
12.Martin Karner (A)