BLITZ ARX take 3rd in Dutch EFRA GP Apeldoom with John Ermen
Last weekend we had a Dutch EFRA Grand-Prix in Apeldoorn. The same track we had our 5th Dutch Nationals.
There were 27 drivers from Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switserland, France and Italy. The weather forecast was a little bit doubtful with rain here and there but through the weekend it was nice weather for this time in the year. There was only a little bit of rain fall on Saturday morning and so we could do only 2 dry qualifier runs in the afternoon.
Some drivers were already on the track on Thursday, but because we had our 5th national on this track I decided to go on Friday to do some practice and the first qualifier. The car was working fine, because we used the setup from the last national, we only tested with the different tire additives to fine-tune the setup. We tried some different engines and tuning the gearing for optimal performance on this somewhat short track. At the end of the day I was satisfied with how the way my Xray/R&B/Contact/Tornado/Blitz combination was working!
At the end of Friday the first qualifier was held. Because of the changing weather and temperature conditions the engine needed to be adjusted a lot before the start. When the qualifier started I immediately noticed that the engine was too lean and I came in to adjust the engine and therefor couldn't set a good run.
On Saturday morning the track was still a little bit wet from rain overnight and when it was almost completely dry it rained again causing the first 3 qualifiers in the morning to be wet. After the lunch break the qualifying resumed on an almost-dry track. Because of the shadow in front of the pit lane the track was still completely wet on that section causing the laptimes to be 0,2 – 0,3 sec slower than with a complete dry track. Because I was sitting on last place I decided to do a clean run just to get qualified in the semis.
In the last round we made some small setup changes on the springs and shocks making tha car stiffer all round. The car was handling perfect and in the first few laps I was already driving 13.6 lap times and the car could go faster. As it was not for me, just taking the corner onto the straight a bit too short. When accelerating my left rear tire was still on the curb and I chunked my tire on the curb causing to retire the last qualifier.
After the qualifications I was on a 9th spot directly in the semi A final. Standings after 6 round of qualifying:
I was in the Semi A with number 5 so I was in the middle of the field. After the start we all went to the first corner and it was a clean start, after a few corners when we came onto the straight Michael and I hit each other. Michael spun and got hit by the rest of the field causing him to start from scratch; luckily I could go through and was on 3rd spot. After the first fuel stop my crew pulled off a 1 second faster fuel stop then Gunther’s crew which caused me to be on the tail of Gunther’s Serpent 966. A few laps further in the race I could overtake Gunther’s 2nd spot. Rick was on first place and due to the overtaking and start I lost a lot of time. Because tire wear was utmost important I took it down to cruise control to take the 2nd place after Rick in the A Semi.
After the B semi the final starting order was:
Nr. Naam Nat  Model Motor
VRIELIJNCK Rick NL  Xray RX8 Picco
D'HONDT Robin BE  Motonica Vox
ERMEN John NL  Xray RX8 '12 R&B CX
SALVEN Michae NL  Serpent 966 Xceed
KURZBUCH Simon CH  Shepherd Velox twelve Max Power
VAN STAEY Gunther BE  Serpent 966 Xceed
HÄCHLER Silvio CH  Mugen MRX5 Novarossi
CUYPERS Steven BE  Mugen MRX5 Picco
JACOBS Daan NL  Serpent 966 Xceed
10  BAGGEN Frank NL  Serpent 966 Picco
Because of the additives the tire wear was a lot higher than normal. But we measured the tires we had run in the semi and as calculated we could do only 1 tire stop in the final as most of the finalists had a 2 tire change strategy.
After the start everyone had a clean start and I could notice the pace difference between the drivers who were doing a 2 tire stop and me. Rick and Robin were pulling a gap straight from the start. Because I was driving huge tires (78/71) I could not compete but I waited my change when the tire stops came up. Just after 15 minutes the first tire changes came up and I was in the lead from thereof on. Rick came close real fast but I was keeping the door closed so he could not pass for about 4 minutes. Then we came into the pit at the same time, but my mechanic Izzy was about 1,5 seconds faster with refueling so I had a little bit of space. It took about 2 laps for Rick to close that gap again. And he was back on my tail. I was driving on the inner sides of every corner and Rick was looking for a place to get past, but there wasn’t any room. My tires were getting smaller by the minute and it was close to my first and last tire change. Because of the smaller tires my steering was getting less and less. Rick then hit me on the rear side and we both spun out. Rick drove through. Next pit stop was my tire change and I was still in 2nd spot after the change. I came back onto the track just before Rick could lap me. This meant that I was still on schedule. It was still 20 minutes to go when my clutch bearings broke and my clutch got stuck. Acceleration was gone immediately and with the next fuel stop my engine flamed out! Izzy fired it up in no time and literally threw my car on the track to keep it running. I was losing a lot of time on the track because I had no acceleration what so ever. My lap times were up with about 0,7 – 1 sec per lap! Just before the next stop the acceleration came back into the clutch but it was still stuck. Izzy yelled to come in full speed, so I did. He catched the car and luckily it kept running. I was still in 2nd place but the gap between me and Silvio was 2 – 3 seconds. Rick was a lap ahead but still needed to change tires. At the next fuel stop my engine flamed out again due to the clutch but was re-started fast. I lost my 2nd place to Silvio, after my flame out. He was also on a 1 tire change strategy it seemed.
The difference between me and Silvio was - with 10 minutes to go - almost a lap and the difference between me and Gunther was also a lap. I was therefore in a comfortable 3rd spot when I crossed the finish. Rick finished 1st with 2 laps on Silvio and Silvio had 1 lap on me.
After 45 minutes this was the result:
Pos  No Driver Laps  Total Time Laps Car/Engine
1 VRIELIJNCK Rick 183  45:08.664 13.355 Xray RX8 / Picco
7 HÄCHLER Silvio 181  45:10.193 13.776 Mugen MRX5 / Nova
3 ERMEN John 179  45:09.078 13.816 Xray RX8 / R&B CXr
6 VAN STAEY Gunther 178  45:04.198 13.758 Serpent 966 / Xceed
5 KURZBUCH Simon 177  45:00.253 13.799 Sheperd Velox / MAX
9 JACOBS Daan 173  45:06.536 13.910 Serpent 966 / Xceed
2 D'HONDT Robin 169 45:01.533 13.485 Motonica / VOX
10 BAGGEN Frank 160  45:03.741 14.187 Serpent 966 / Picco
8 CUYPERS Steven 158 41:34.278 13.761 Mugen MRX5 / Picco
10  4 SALVEN Michae 0:13.443 0.000 Serpent 966 / Xceed
Full results:
I’m happy with the result as we choose the right pit-stop strategy but it hasn’t worked out 100% due to the clutch problems. Any way I was satisfied with the result! Thanks to my pit crew Izzy and my dad for the fast refueling and tire change. Thanks to Xray, R&B Products, Contact Tires, Tornado Fuel, RC Car Colour, Team Titan / Blitz and RC Connect for their support.