Last week-end was fifth round of ETS – Euro Touring Series – in Slovakia, at the very nice Hudy Arena facilities. Unfortunately, the rain perturbated a lot the event, and made several unhappy drivers in the pits. That’s life, and that was same for all.
Some days before the race, Patrick Gassauer, Kevin Ting (TM Taiwan) and me (manager and responsible of the car concept) decided to take the challenge to race this 5th ETS round with a pre-series version of the E4RS4. Kevin picked-up the necessary parts between production and anodization processes just one week before the race, to send me them by fedex. I prepared cars on Tuesday before the race.
First reactions in the pits was really good, due to very advanced part design, especially the motor mount and the servo mount “it’s a fu****ng expensive design, you are crazy” told my friend Giorgio Favaretto from Fenix Racing. “Nice to see interesting innovations” told me a driver from norway, about our middle longitudinal flex damper.
Of course, we had no experience with the E4RS4 assembled with all the definitive parts. Only some of them have been tested earlier this year (prototype motor mount tested during ETS at Riccione), as well as some parts which was optional for the E4RS III Plus (front driveshafts and spool outdrives with 3mm pins instead of plastic blades). But we clearly miss experience with new flex (design and also new material due to a new graphite plates supplier), and shocks.
To be honest, I was totally affraid to put the car on the track and to have something terrible to drive for Patrick; but Thursday, during the practices, the laptimes with fresh tires was very promising (top 5). For a first test, the car was a lot more competitive than expected. I can’t explain the emotions I felt at this moment.
All things became more complicated with the rain on friday and saturday. We was simply not able to continue setup development during the inexisting (because cancelled) practice sessions of friday.
Saturday morning, we just had a 2-minutes run to validate setup… so Patrick made the first and unique qualification of saturday like that, and made the 12th position. Not so bad (especially when we look on the name behind him), but far away of the TQ run he made last year (Patrick was the only non-Xray to ran a TQ run last year at Hudy Arena).
So, Sunday morning, 30 minutes before the second and last round of qualification (!), Patrick gambled to change the setup, to try to reach the A-final. Unfortunatly, he missed a bit his target. Second qualification was a little bit faster, but not enough. So, he finished overall 15th.
Of course it’s disapointing, and not the expected result, in regards to his fantastic result of last year and the laptimes of Thursday practices. But with only 2 runs on two complete days friday and saturday, with a totally new car, we can be happy to not be deeper in the classification.
For the finales, Patrick told me “you can change what you want in the car”. So, I decided to change some settings: higher front roll center / softer front springs / less camber overall / more bumpsteer.
First B-finale was simply incredible. Patrick started 5th, quickly passed 4th, tried to pass the 3rd car twice, and finally got 2nd position when the two cars in front of him had contact. He reduced the gap again and again at each lap to finish on the wheels of Johannes Sperr. Patrick just missed one lap to try to overtake. Feeling was nice, and some drivers told me the cars looks impressive on the track.
Of course, I watched the A-finale some minutes later, and had the surprise to see all the A-finalist finishing on a slower overal time than Johannes and Patrick; and again in the second A-finale !
For the second and last B-finale, Patrick asked to have more steering, so we changed a bit the setup… but the tires wasn’t good enough and the run wasn’t better than the first one.
I was really impatient to check the times of the third A-finale… to know if the Johannes and Patrick made a better result than all the A-finales… and no… Christian Donath won the third A-finale with a better time… but is the only driver to make a better result than the first B-finale. This show how the qualifications have been affected by the rain, and how fast is the new Team Magic E4RS4 !! That’s racing !
As team manager and E4RS4 concept designer, I felt really sorry for Patrick Gassauer, Jeremy Clavey (parts designer) and Team Magic people at Taiwan. They all deserved to see the E4RS4 in A-finale; but conditions worked against us, and things was unfortunately out of normal control. Patrick and me both made our best possible, but setup made by knowledge and theory needs confirmation on track, something we didn’t get.
Thanks a lot to Patrick Chev Gassauer, for all the efforts, dedication and confidence. Thanks also to Jeremy to designed the parts exactly as I asked, and thanks to Kevin and TM staff for all the job.
The E4RS4 is very promising, a real step forward on the performance side, and I’m sure future success will help us to forget the disapointment of today.