ETS ROUND 4
MAY 12-14 RICCIONE, ITALY
Round 4 of the Euro Touring Series took our EP team to Riccione, Italy, and following their successful showing at the previous round in Spain they were looking forward to building on our strong start to the outdoor season. While Marc, Jilles, Naoto and Andy all had previous experience of the Marco Simoncelli RC Circuit, for Akio it would be his first visit and his first time to take on the track's infamous bump situated on the high speed entry to the main straight. In Free Practice, the IF14 would show well with it occupying four of Top 10 spots on the timesheets. Fastest in FP2, Marc would end up third quickest ahead of Akio with Naoto sixth and Jilles 10th with all drivers reporting themselves happy with the set-up work they had conducted.
Using two round of controlled practice to determine the seeding for qualifying, in the first, Marc would post the second fastest time for 3-consecutive laps. With a wind making for more difficult conditions in the second run, a shock spring change after CP1 would result in a big improvement from Jilles. Setting the second fastest time for CP2, his time would be the second fastest overall, meaning he would start Q1 behind top seed Ronald Volker. Unable to better his CP1 time, Marc would end up third with Akio (6th) and Naoto (8th) giving us four cars in the top heat.
With the opening round of qualifying bringing the first official day of the event to a close, the cooler evening conditions would make it the rocket round. Marc would be in the TQ mix ending the 5-minute qualifier second fastest in-between Bruno Coelho (P1) and Volker. Despite performing an unplanned donut on his run, Jilles would open with a P5 while Akio ended up 12th following a more substantial error. With an allocation of two sets of tyres per driver on which to complete the four rounds of qualifying, Naoto would opt to sit out Q1 to save his two sets for Day 2.
With tyre strategy coming into play on Saturday, an issue the ETS organisers will address for the next round of the championship, the day didn't start out well for the team. Marc would suffer a high speed off in Q2 ending his run after a lap. Opting to run his second set of tyres in Q3, that run was looking strong but a minute in he would fall victim to ‘the bump'. Luckily able to continue, he would salvage a P3 from it while Jilles using a combo of new rears and used fronts posted the 4th fastest time. Unfortunately for Marc his mistakes in Q2 & 3 left both his sets of tyres damaged forcing him to run the final qualifier on the rear tyres from each set. With the tyres done, he slid off the track a number times quashing any chance of improving on his P4 grid position for the final. With Jilles running his unique mixture of new & used tyres again in Q4 an early mistake left him with dirty tyres and he couldn't improve on his previous results which were good enough for 5th on the grid. While Akio would end qualifying with his best run, a P4, it wasn't enough for him to make it three ETS A-Main appearances in a row as he ended up taking the BQ.
In the finals, the first encounter would net Jilles a fourth ahead of Marc after an altercation with ‘the bump' dropped Marc back to 7th but he would snatch 5th from Viktor Wick right at the finish line. A2 wasn't to prove any better for Marc. Having to check-up at the start as Elliot Harper got out of shape in the first corner, contact from behind would drop him to 8th. For Jilles the race would see him repeat his A1 result to again finish 4th while Marc recovered to 6th. With the overall win decided in A2, Bruno wrapping up his third win of the season, Marc and Jilles would finish the closing final 3rd & 4th respectively to claim 4th and 5th overall. Not quite the result that had been hoped for, on summing up the weekend Marc was however pleased with the car's performance saying, ‘the pace of the car was there for sure for a podium and I think also the potential was in the car to challenge Bruno but I messed it up in qualifying with my own driving mistakes'.
With 5-weeks until the next round of the ETS, which takes place at the Hudy Arena in Slovakia (June 16-18), Marc, Akio and Naoto will now set their sights on the team's debut at the world famous Reedy Race of Champions in California later this month.