With the final round of qualifying to be held on Saturday morning, pole position for the 3 legs of A finals has already been determined after a dramatic conclusion to Friday’s qualifying sessions – drama which saw the race referee get involved and ‘influence’ the race… Here are the overnight standings, remember you can rewatch each round’s top heat of quali on our YouTube channel.
1/10 Offroad News
Drama arrived in Q4, but more on that a little later – first of all, we have an overall TQ for 4WD, the deserving Bruno Coelho.
Once again Tom Cockerill dominated his B heat, setting a time only bettered by the top 4, starting first in the top heat was Naoto, from the off Bruno Coelho appeared to reel him in and Naoto looked a little uptight with a couple of minor minor errors, but enough to see Coelho come steaming up behind. Naoto, after a small error at the start of the straight pulled off an extremely sporting move allowing Coelho to sweep past at the end of the straight early on, almost to the extent of getting out of his way, but rather Naoto latched onto Coelho and seemed to pressurise the Portuguese driver somewhat towards the latter stages of the heat.
With a minute left and Coelho securely in the lead and Matsukura back up to 2nd on pace by about 2 secs over Matsukura, head referee Dallas made the rather bizarre call and asked pace leader and probable Q4 TQ to move aside for the car behind – 2nd placed Naoto Matsukura – also his main challenger for TQ of the event (had Naoto gone onto TQ Q4…), Coelho thought initially Dallas had been advising Naoto that the car infront was the leader and beware, however the surprise call resulted in him losing focus and dropping concentration.
The strange official call enabled Matsukura to light the afterburners after being let by, he shot off whilst Coelho lost some of his momentum, it was only yet another turn of events that would swing the balance back in Coelho’s favour…
With Coelho still on course to TQ, by a projected half a second with a lap left, Naoto suffered an issue halfway through the lap, as poor gear mesh saw him lose some drive, and he limped over the line with an 18.994, Coelho himself had a poor last lap – 18.118, without that problem, and Naoto doing another 17.2 lap and with Coelho’s tardy last lap, Naoto would have TQ’d and taken it to the decider in Q5.
Asking around in the pits, many seasoned veterans failed to understand the call – many summing it up as, you don’t ask the leader to move aside, we understand the referee had said to Bruno that ‘everybody’ is racing the clock – however given the unique circumstances of the call and the two pacesetting protagonists involved it seems unusually high-profile and under scrutiny.
Round 3 witnessed the winds of change as Naoto Matsukura would claim it by 0.266 secs, it wasn’t all plain sailing however, despite coming out the gate with a fast pace which he held on for until lap 11, Bruno Coelho refused to be beaten, slicing his way into Naoto’s gap with a trio of 17.2 sec laps, it looked a lost cause as race announcer Scotty bellowed across the hall that Coelho had taken up the pacesetter baton, compounded when on lap 14 Naoto suffered traffic, however two laps later he got a lucky break.
A poor landing from Bruno led to a rare mistake from the double TQ’er he lost a good 2 secs that lap and despite two follow up 17.2, Naoto managed to hold his nerve – the home nation spectators erupting in collective applause as overall TQ would go to Q4 at least and a home driver finally made them proud. Also making the 18 lap cut was David Ronnefalk, running the special modified D413 buggy he looked visibly quicker in Q3, justified by the pace shown – not so for Michal Orlowski who ended up bottom of his heat, suffering two poor laps in the opening circuits.
Making his ascent back towards the top was Yusuke Suguira, setting a time good enough for 4th overall, 3/10ths better than Martin Bayer. Most notably however in 6th, the return of Team Associated, who are rather sadly having a bit of a torrid time in 4WD, this is the first we’ve seen of the newly crowned 28x World Champions in the top 10.
David Ronnefalk (Sweden), 19
Chassis: HB D413 / RED Workshop
Motor: Team Orion VST2 LW
ESC: Team Orion R10.1 Pro
Battery: Team Orion Carbon Pro XS Shorty
Radio & Servos: Ko Propo EX-1 | Ko Propo RSX One10 low profile
Event: 2015 IFMAR World Championships, 4WD. Yatabe Arena, Japan
Notes: David Ronnefalk is running a special RED Workshop produced aluminium chassis which is 4mm longer in front as well as HB’s new slipper clutch produced for this event. Expert wiring skills from Levin Tuning Co.
Round 2 and the same name at the top, and same top 4 just in a different order as Tom Cockerill took provisional TQ in the B heat, underlining his own pace as well as the Yokomo’s. Out front however once again Bruno Coelho shot out of the blocks and if it hadn’t have been for a cartwheeling crash moment he would have swept past the loop for the day’s first 18-lap run.
Whilst the times are closer on the results, the true story is that Orlowski kept a cleaner race with only one off lap whilst Coelho had significantly better pace over the 5 mins but one lap of over 20 secs and a last lap of 18.1 which ultimately cost him the additional victory TQ lap.
Moving into 3rd David Ronnefalk, running a modified HB D413 buggy, whilst Martin Bayer had a considerably better round, but looks like he has the pace for the top 3. Once again Naoto Matsukura was running strongly near the top for a top 3 finish but a roll over after the table top cost him his chance, whilst Yusuke Sugiura has endured a rubbish first half of quali with a 10th and an 11th place in Q2.