May 20, 2017

Kurzbuch & Coelho to battle it out in final qualifier

Simon Kurzbuch and Bruno Coelho are set to battle it out for the first TQ of the new season at ENS France.  Having taken the opening qualifier, engine trouble for Kurzbuch would see Coelho post his first ever 1:8 TQ in the second round bettering the class master’s Q1 time.  With the fastest time the deciding factor should qualifying come down to a tie breaker, Kurzbuch would fight back in the penultimate qualifier with a second TQ run that improved on Coelho’s pace by 6/10ths. For Coelho mistakes in the round would leave him with a P3 with Naoto Matsukura just pipping him by 0.003 of a second, the 1:12 World Champion looking to have taken to 1:8 Onroad like a duck to water.  On current form the Japanese driver is on target to start tomorrow’s 45-minute Main at the difficult Mulhouse track 3rd on the grid although a TQ in the final round could see him split Kurzbuch and Coelho.

Commenting Q2 & 3, Kurzbuch said, ‘we had an engine issue in Q2.  In motorsport these things happen when everything is on the limit. We put in another engine for Q3 and I pushed hard to get a better time than Bruno and managed it.  Now in the next one we will try to bring the point home’.  With the overall TQ carrying a bonus championship point, the reigning champion is confident in his Shepherd/Novarossi package with only another 2nd gear adjustment planned to compensate for the reducing tyre size with the Swiss driver adding the ‘the grip levels are getting better and better each round’.

Summing up his two encounters, Coelho said, ‘I was having a good fight with Simon in Q2 but then he got a broken engine and after that I just tried to push to the end.  The time was faster than Q1 was it was perfect’.  On the third round, the Xray driver added, ‘I ran the same set-up but had two mistakes which cost me 1.5-seconds and the TQ so for the next one I will try to make no mistakes’.  Asked about going for the overall TQ, the Portuguese driver replied, ‘For sure I will go for it but with 2nd or 3rd on the grid I am already happy because I don’t think I have ever directly made it to the A-Main  This result is good for our new car’.

Somewhat overshadowing Coelho’s new found competitiveness in 1:8, Matsukura’s reaction after Q3 was ‘almost’.  Finishing just less than 7/10ths off Kurzbuch, the Infinity driver is really pleased with how qualifying is going saying his own driving is improving everytime he gets on track.  Making a set-up change to get his car to steer more through the rear of the car, he said this had induced a little bit of understeer which he hopes to dial out with a further change ahead of the final qualifier.  With the Top 3 clearly making their mark in Mulhouse, outside of them new WRC Racing signing Toni Gruber is current best of the rest sitting fourth with a round to go.  The German had engine issues in Q1 but came back with a P3 in Q2 and a P5 in his latest run. With a fourth in Q2, Mugen’s Robert Pietsch holds provisional 5th on the grid going into the fourth & final qualifier.

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