Elliott Boots has successfully defended his 1:8 Offroad European Championship title. Racing under the beating Spanish sun, the 45-minute final would take a dramatic turn with just 7-minute to go as David Ronnefalk and Robert Batlle looked set to duel it out for the win. Having just relinquished the lead to Ronnefalk, Battle would suddenly slow but before the gasping onlookers could get their breath back Ronnefalk would also come to a stop. With both drivers suffering from overheating throttle servos, it was Top Qualifier Boots who was there to pick up the pieces, the British driver having made a somewhat slow start to the race. With the demise of both Ronnefalk and Battle, the attention of the race was on who would make up the rest of the podium, former champion Yannick Aigoin as surprised as anyone to finish runner-up for Xray ahead of an equally happy Neil Cragg, the Associated driver describing it as the ‘best 45-minute final I’ve ever had’.
Only the 7th driver to win back to back titles in the 36 years the championships has been running, Boots said, ‘It all just happened in a heart beat. I can’t really explain it’. Changing from Pro-Line’s Fugitive light tyre to the standard tyre for the final, the British ace said, ‘I was probably lacking pace to begin with but I knew the tyre would get better as the race went on’.Following behind Ronnefalk and making their first fuel stop together, Boots would be slow due to a problem with getting the fuel gun into the tank giving Ronnefalk some breathing space. With a mistake later on allowing Battle through, Boots said when the pair starting battling he ‘slowly started catching up’. Going to the front just before the final stop, mastermind of Boots success Mick Craddock would conduct an extra safe refuelling letting his driver rev out his Reds Racing engine before releasing it with Boots knowing he just had to bring it to the finish such was the gap over 2nd place. An important win to register in this World Championship year, the former Worlds Top Qualifier concluded, ‘hopefully we can win the next now’, the next one being the WC in Vegas in October.
‘My goal coming here was to make the main for my sponsors but I couldn’t have expected this, I’m super happy’, was Aigoin’s reaction to finishing runner-up from 8th on the grid. One of the great ambassador’s of the sport, the French driver said, ‘The Top 3 were super fast but we were close all week to the pace of the others and I kept working on getting a set-up for my own speed’. For the Semi Final ‘we brought everything together that we learned over the week and the car was very good’. ‘I had maybe 1 mistake in the final and even if the others didn’t go out I should probably have been 4th or 5th which would have been a great result’.
‘The race of my life really to be honest’, was a very happy looking Cragg’s reaction to completing the podium.The long time Associated driver continued, ‘we loaded the gun for the final and changed a lot on the car. I knew in the warm-up this is good’. Running the RC8B, the former electric offroad World Champion said ‘I was having a good battle with Yannick and Darren (Bloomfield) and when the others started dropping out I thought, I could win this’. He concluded, ‘2nd would have been nice but I really enjoyed it’.
Having just scrapped into the main with sixth in the Semi he started on pole, Darren Bloomfield would finish 4th. Starting the final from last on the 12-car grid, the Agama driver said, ‘I did what I should have done a few days ago’. Struggling in the semi as he ‘ran out of diff and tyre’, they ‘threw a curve ball’ going up in the diffs, shocks and switching to a hard compound Beta Freeride tyre. A big improvement to his A215 he said he ‘was too far back’ to battle for a podium but the former champion added ‘I’m really happy with fourth’.
Looking like he had the race under control before a few errors appeared, Ronnefalk explained his retirement was caused after ‘the throttle servo overheated’. Asked about the race the 20-year-old factory HB Racing driver said, ‘I had a fast stop which gave me a gap but then made a few mistakes but I knew the speed was there and I just needed to put it together. After Robert got by I could see he was super slow out of the corners so I was just waiting for a mistake’. He continued ‘when I did (get passed) I was just driving to the end’. The Swede concluded, ‘when this shit happens it sucks’.
Asked about his race Batlle said, ‘I felt super good. my car and tyres were good and I was just fighting with David. For sure it was me or him for the win’. The Mugen driver continued, ‘It’s a shame we both didn’t finish and to have the same problem on the same lap is crazy but there was nothing else we could do. With Batlle’s retirement Juan Carlos Canas would be the top home finisher in 5th. Having a great battle with the other under 17-year-old driver in the final Davide Ongaro, the reigning Euro B Champion was to add the Junior European crown to his CV with outgoing champion Ongaro completing the Top 6.
David Ronnefalk will start the final of the the 36th running of the 1:8 Offroad European Championships from pole position. In a repeat of last year’s opening Semi final, the Swede again took the win ahead of Top Qualifier Elliot Boots, the defending champion having a slight bobble on the opening lap which let the former back to back champion slip through to a lead he would hold for the rest of the 20-minute encounter. Making it a three way train around the huge RC Redovan track Robert Battle would drop back a little after the first fuel stop as a wrong tyre compound choice saw his tyres go off. The Spaniard would hold on for third as he managed a comfortable gap over the Xray of Martin Wollanka. In the second Semi the result would also be a repeat of 12-months ago as Davide Ongaro took the win. Starting second Ongaro got by Darren Bloomfield on the opening lap and like Ronnefalk took control of the rest of the race. With Bloomfield falling to sixth to just make the cut, Bryan Baldo would take second followed by former champion Yannick Aigoin, Marco Baruffolo and Oscar Baldo, the locals ecstatic the Baldo brothers are into the final at their home track.
‘Everything was really good, I wasn’t planning to pass Elliott, he made a mistake’, was Ronnefalk’s reaction after the Semi. The 20-year-old said, ‘my car is very easy to drive. I knew in qualifying we would have a good car for the 45-minutes and now myself and Elliott are very close now’. Commenting on his race, Boots described it as, ‘not bad. Just put it into the final was the key objective’. He continued, ‘I got grip roll which allowed David to slip through and then it got a bit windy again and I had a tumble which caused me to hit Robert (Batlle), it was a racing accident’. Finishing 16-seconds back, Battle said the race was ‘very good’ adding ‘we just had a problem with the tyre compound after 7-minutes so I just drove to bump up’. Despite using too soft a version of Procircuit’s new prototype tyre, the former champion said his Mugen is good and with a harder tyre they are ‘looking good for the final’.
Winning his Semi by just 1.7-seconds, reigning Junior Champion Ongaro was lucky to hang on for the win. Getting by Bloomfield when the Agama driver got out of shape over the jumps, the 15-year-old pulled clear but after his first stop started to experience brake problems. With the link eventually coming undone, he would have to finish the race with no brakes at all. The Mugen driver also struggled for tyres his front slicks by the end of the race. Running Procircuits Road Runner tyre he will now switch for the final to the same prototype tyre as second placed Byran Baldo used in the Semi. Big names to go out in the Semi included the TLRs of Renaud Savoya and 2015 podium finish Alex Zanchettin.
Chassis – Mugen MBX7R Engine – LRP ZZ.21C Tyres – Procircuit Road Runner Blue Fuel – Nitrolux Radio/Servos – Sanwa/Futaba Body – Ultimate MBX7 Pro Buggy
Remarks – Best of the Mugen pack in qualifying, finishing 4th overall, Davide Ongaro is running an MBX7R equipped with a few option parts from Fastrace, such as kevlar side guards, +5mm rear shock mounts and 20g rear chassis weight. He is also using steering ballcup reinforcers and clutch by DKT, the latter sporting a steel flywheel. The aerodynamics is taken care of by an Ultimate Pro Buggy bodyshell and a Pro-Line Trifecta wing.
The Semi Finalists line-up is complete for the 36th running of the 1:8 Offroad European Championships at RC Redovan in Spain. Having just missed the Top 16 cut in qualifying, former champion Miguel Matias would take victory in the first of the 20-minute 1/4 finals, the Portuguese driver leading from start to finish to put his Mugen through. With four bump up spots up for grabs, behind Matias it was another of last year’s finalist Riccardo Berton who finished second, the 2015 Euro B Champion followed by the SOAR of Daniel Bernabe and the Kyosho of Jerome Aigoin. A finalist in 2014 in Germany, JQ’ boss Joseph Quagraine would miss the cut finishing 5th 5-seconds behind Aigoin.
In the second of the 1/4 final encounters it was also a former champion who would control the race to book his place in the final 24, with 3-time champion Renaud Savoya winning from pole. Behind the TLR driver, Carlos Duraes, who already bumped up from the 1/8 Final, would put his Serpent into the Semi with second. Having missed the Semi cut in qualifying despite the help of his World Champion brother Robert, Dani Batlle got it done in the 1/4 finishing third ahead of young Agama driver Burak Kilic, the German one of three juniors drivers to make this year’s Semi finals. Two big names for whom the 1/4 B marked the end of the event were Mugen’s Lee Martin, who bumped from the 1/8 final, and Xray’s 2013 podium finisher Martin Bayer, the pair finishing 5th & 6th respectively.
Remarks – 3 time European Champion Renaud Savoya is running the 4.0 version of the 8ight from the American manufacturer. The Frenchman’s car is equipped with aluminium steering knuckles and rear uprights, aluminium servo saver arm, machined top servo saver plate and a rear 20g chassis weight. He is using a full JConcepts aerodynamic setup with the Silencer body and an Hybrid polycarbonate wing.