Boots gets faster, Ongaro best Top 10 improver
Elliott Boots continued to set the pace at the 1:8 Offroad European Championship in Spain, the reigning champion improving on his 3-consecutive lap time in FP3. Having lead the way after the first two rounds of free practice by half a second, Boots extended that advantage to 1.5 seconds, this time over fellow British driver Darren Bloomfield. Bloomfield improved two positions with his FP3 time demoting Robert Batlle, who failed to improve, back to third. The best place driver to move into the top 10 with his FP3, reigning Junior Champion David Ongaro would post the fourth fastest time demoting FP1 pace setter Bryan Baldo back to fifth, while also enjoying a strong improvement David Ronnefalk completed the Top 7.
‘I’m just learning the track again and getting into my rhythm’, was what Boots attributed his improvement too. Again posting the fastest lap, getting down to a 52.388, he said the track felt similar to the previous practice although adding ‘its dusting up in a few places and starting to break up’. He continued, ‘the concrete is taking time to get gripping but everything feels good so we’ll leave it the same for the last one (practice)’.
Taking a break from the heat and enjoying the ac in his rental car, Bloomfield was pleased with changes made to his Agama for the third practice. Changing the front caster block and top arm position he said this ‘helped carry more corner speed in the tight twisty stuff’. Looking to the final practice of the day, he said he will ‘just go again with the same set-up’ adding ‘it will be good to drive the same car again for once’.
Changing to a heavy shock oil, Batlle said his Mugen was ‘a little better’ but ‘trying harder (he) made two mistakes’ so the improvement wasn’t reflected on the time sheets. Feeling his engine was ‘maybe too rich’, the Spaniard said the car is ‘super easy to drive and thats the important thing’ adding ‘there is plenty of time to fine tune it’.
One of the stars of last year’s European Championship which as held as his father’s track in Italy, Ongaro said his improvement from 12th to 4th was simply down to improved driving. The 15-year-old, who ‘like(s) the track a lot’, said the only change he has made over the three practices is to fit a fresh set of Procircuit Road Runners tyres to his MBX7R. Planning to ‘leave all the same’ for final free practice, he said ‘if possible I will just try to drive better’.
Opting to not revert back to his FP1 suspension set-up and instead try the same Road Runner pattern as Batlle, Baldo said his Mugen was still ‘too nervous’. Having ruled out tyres he will now go back to the suspension set-up he started the day out with as well as going to lighter oil in the diffs. Bryan’s younger brother Oscar would also fail to improve on his best time, set in FP2, dropping to P8.
Improving his pace by over 4-seconds, Ronnefalk said his HB ‘felt a lot better’ but continued ‘we still need to find more speed’. Switching to AKA Impact tyres having run Enduros the first two rounds, the Swede said the car was ‘now confident to drive’ but with the track now ‘more like what we had at the warm-up’ he will go back to the Enduro and try it for the last run of the day. Apart from tyres, the other changes made for FP3 were small oil changes to reflect the extra heat there was due to the timing of the run.
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