The final day of free practice started out with slightly clearer weather conditions, for those arriving only today (Borja Hernandez, Baldo brothers) they could immediately see the pleasant yet foreboding view of the active volcano Mount Etna some 25km away, the words ‘safety’ and ‘security’ take on a new meaning when you’re camping out and racing in the shadow of one of Europe’s most famous volcanoes.
Geography lesson over, Sunday at the World’s longest practice session aka Day number ‘I don’t remember’, started out with owner and organiser Salvatore Schepis taking a moment of his time to show us a couple of track fixes the active crew had made overnight, patching some of the holes that had developed after the countless practice laps had been done.
It should be noted that despite inaccurate reports, the track is not ‘concrete’ – it is a very hard packed finely sieved dirt mixture with a little bit of resin to bind it, the result is so far pretty darn impressive holding up track, which bear in mind has to hold for around 10 days – a length of time no 1/8 Offroad event to our knowledge has come close to. So the organisers have been smart and done a worthy job on the track, not forgetting the facility as a whole.
Onto the action, three 10 min rounds were run today with the mornings early round seemingly always slower, probably down to track temperature, Robert Batlle setting the pace once again followed by a strong run from Darren Bloomfield.
Round 2 belonged to a name we’ll likely see many many more times here on this site for the next week; Ty Tessmann. Demolishing the competition with a run that had no less than FIVE 36 sec laps, his fastest a 36.520 – doing 3 laps in 1:50.743, David Ronnefalk the closest driver with a 1:51.951 although Ty looks to able to turn low 37 sec laps consistently without major issue whilst Ronnefalk and Batlle in 3rd (1:51.956) seem a little more unpredictable. Although we’re early days, it would seem that looking ahead to controlled practice tomorrow, Tessmann hold’s the ace card with Ronnefalk & Batlle searching for around 0.5 sec a lap to really challenge Tessmann. -> See videos of Tessmann, Bloomfield, J Aigoin, Batlle, Boots, Ronnefalk & Bayer
All that said, we must remember 3 laps are 3 laps, qualifying is 10mins per round, so all can and probably will change!
The final round of the day saw Ty revert to a previous chassis he had tried and plans to race with until the end of this Worlds, the young Canadian with a smile from ear to ear as we interviewed him as he would go fastest ahead of two new faces in the top 3; Ryan Maifield in 2nd and Yannick Aigoin in 3rd. The last day of free practice at the Worlds before… yes more practice but ‘controlled’ which actually matters; seeding the drivers for qualifying, get it right and you’re on course, get it wrong and you’ll be in a slow heat and maybe look at some bumpage (and even grindage).