Leo Arnold will carry the number one on his car throughout tomorrow’s four scheduled rounds of qualifying here in the Netherlands. The French driver’s time just held off a late charge from Jilles Groskamp, who ended up four hundredths of a second slower over the three lap times with his Infinity team mates Teemu Leino and Milan Holthuis putting in the third and fourth best times, and Thilo Todtmann rounding out the top five.
“The car was good – but it’s very close,” was how Arnold summed up his Practice result. Explaining that his car was the same he used to TQ in Bologna, the Xray driver said that “consistency is most important for qualifying”, with the “top five or six drivers” very close on pace. Aiming to make his car as easy to drive as possible, he concluded by stating that “we are on a good way” to getting the car how he wants it.
Groskamp, who won this event last year, said that it was “really close” and that he was “right there with the benchmark,” referring to rival Arnold, who he believes will be the driver to beat in qualifying. Happy with his car, particularly noting the good power from the engine, he feels he can go faster but isn’t sure how to unlock that extra speed. Believing he is not driving as aggressively as the other drivers around him on the leaderboard, the Dutch driver said that he will not change his driving style as he thinks that will come to benefit him in the finals.
Setting the best time in the opening timed practice, but dropping back to third after TP2 as seven of the top ten drivers set their best times in the slightly cooler conditions, Leino was characteristically reserved when describing his run, smiling and reporting that “the car is OK”. Commenting that tomorrow and Sunday are more important, he will make use of the short free practice round on Saturday morning to try to cure a little understeer he feels his IF15 had today.
Dutch driver Holthuis was the final driver to set a three lap time in under 44 seconds, reacting with a big smile and “very happy” when asked how he felt after practice. Admitting to having struggled through the earlier free practice in getting the engine feeling right, he reverted to the setup they ran yesterday and with the engine issues resolved for Controlled Practice, was clearly very pleased to be on the pace. His aim for Qualifying will be “to stay in the same place”, but knows that “this will be difficult as it’s a very close field”.
Shepherd Racing’s Todtmann described the run as “OK” for himself, saying that his focus was on recovering from a bad 2018 season. Just missing out on a podium place in Bologna, the German said that every time they took to the track it felt different as the conditions changed – something he will need to stay on top of throughout qualifying in order to secure a good starting position for the finals.