ETS ROUND 2
FEB 2-4 DAUN, GERMANY
After a 3-month break following the opening round in Austria, the Euro Touring Series travelled to another new location with the small town of Daun in Germany hosting Round 2. The second & final indoor carpet event on this season's calendar, it took place in the tennis hall of the holiday resort Sporthotel & Resort Grafenwald with the design of the large hall allowing for the creation of something different in terms of track layouts. The upside down T shaped configuration presented a high speed 'challenging' lap with the direction used a point that came up for much debate. Having won the season opener in Vienna, Marc was looking to continue his strong start, while Akio was looking to make Round 1 his throw out of the season.
In practice it quickly became clear that the biggest thing to overcome for the weekend would be the track. The speed and unique layout combined with the use of very few corner dots meant minimising mistakes would be key to a successful result. With the 300 plus entry making for a full schedule, drivers had just a single round of practice before going into the 2 seeding rounds. A long lap, the seeding would also see the times based off 2-consecutive laps compared to the traditional 3-lap format racers have become accustomed too. For Marc the seeding would put him 4th fastest with Akio 6th.
In the first of the four qualifiers, Marc would post the fourth fastest time. Feeling his car lacked steering and corner speed, the run also contained 1 or 2 mistakes, so the aim was to improve both the car and his driving for Q2. Akio would also have a mistake but his was much more costly than Marc's and he ended up well down the order. With the second qualifier kicking off Day 2, it seemed 4 was Marc's number as he once again found himself fourth quickest. Happy that he had improved his IF14 from Q1, unfortunately his attempts to improve his driving were less successful!
Widening the rear of the car for his third qualifying attempt, things took a big step forward and Marc was in contention for the TQ however a mistake at the chicane cost him 1-second and he ended up second fastest. For Akio, Q3 was an important turning point. Struggling to get his car to run straight in the previous round, mistakes normally ending in high speed contact with the boards, he changed car for his 3rd run and was back in the mix with the 5th fastest time. Needing a second good run in the final qualifier to put himself in the A-Main, Akio put in a safe drive to claim a 6th and secure 8th on the grid. For Marc the final qualifier netted him another P2 run, the chicane again putting amends to a possible TQ run, and he would line-up 3rd for the A-Main behind Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho and Ronald Volker.
The first of the three A-Main encounters would finish pretty much as it started, with Akio the only driver to make up a position to finish 7th. For Marc he got stuck behind a slow starting Volker which allowed Coelho to pull clear - the race highlighting just how hard overtaking on the track was. In A2, Marc struggled to find his rhythm in the opening laps and came under pressure from behind from Yannic Prumper. Eventually getting into his groove, he closed on Volker who then made a mistake promoting Marc into second. From there he set about trying to close on Coelho but the gap was too big and he ran out of time.
With second in A2 putting Marc in contention for second overall behind Coelho, he went into A3 determined to get ahead of Volker. Putting immense pressure on Ronald, a roll over appeared to end the challenge but Marc wasn't done and to the excitement of the crowd around the track put in an impressive recovery drive. Against all odds he closed and managed a pass on Volker to win A3, the reaction of the crowd showing their appreciation for what had been a rare sight all weekend. Getting second overall means that Marc comes away from his home event as joint leader of the championship standings. Not a huge fan of indoor racing, this is the best start Marc has had to an ETS season for quite some time and with the ETS moving outdoors for Round 3 he is looking forward to Spain in April. For Akio, the race was also positive as he moved up two spots to finish 6th on a track where overtaking was a far greater challenge than normal.