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Race report by Robin Frischkopf
Round 1 of the Swiss Championship took place in Oberbüren on the weekend of May 12/13, with 110 drivers in both categories. After the cancellation of the round (originally in Montagny) due to weather, it now also looked very bad. When we arrived on Saturday morning the track was very wet and partially under water. The rain kept coming and coming and didn’t stop until the late afternoon.

Even though the rain had stopped and the MORC club had removed the puddles, the track was totally soaked, very slippery (for marshalls) and so there was no running at all during the whole day and it was decided to try again on Sunday with one qualification round and then straight onto finals. It was actually a fun and relaxed Saturday like that, where we finally had some time to talk to each other while some used the time to prepare their cars some more.

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On Sunday morning the weather looked a lot better and the sun even came out a bit. The track had been totally covered in sawdust over night to try to dry it up and this worked very well. The first few groups that ran had a somewhat dirty and dusty car, but when we ran only a bit of mud stuck to the car and it was quickly cleaned. Since it was the only qualification round we would have at this race, I drove very safely and not that quick. I didn’t make any mistakes but in the end I had some traffic and ended up missing TQ by only 0.8 second. TQ went to Marco Stettler who was very quick.

But that wasn’t so important. The car was running well and I was looking forward to the finals. Every race day should be like this, with less qualifying rounds and more actual racing.

On the other hand, drivers who did not have two practice rounds and 4 qualifyings to sort out the problems with their cars had almost no chance and many failed to bump up because of technical problems or mistuned engines.

Half a day of racing and a lot of pit duties later it was time for my semi-final practice. The track was now completely dry but not dusty and a lot more blown out than I had anticipated, with some huge holes and ruts. The car was okay though and I only made some small changes.

The semi-final went well. In the beginning I had a cool duel with Swiss champion Jeremy Pittet and we traded places several times. He was a bit quicker though and my car was sometimes a bit difficult to drive – especially over the holes – and that had now even worsened after the 2 amateur and one expert semi-finals had also ran. In the end I was about 10 seconds behind Jeremy even though I had pitted at 10 minutes and decided to make some changes.

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The amateurs ran their final in the 30 minutes between my semi-final and the expert final. Meanwhile I wanted to change and soften the rear shock oil and middle diff oil to make the car more forgiving over the rough sections. I went from 450 to 350 in the rear and from 10000 to 6000 in the middle diff. Thanks to my mechanic Etienne and my friend Björn’s help we changed the oils and checked the rest of the car with time to spare.

I started the 45 minute final from P2 and the start went very well. I immediately put pressure on Jeremy and he made a mistake in the first lap. I thought I was now clear but my clubmate David Kreienbühl, who drove his first expert race and was always very quick in Oberbüren, came from P10 and took the lead from me. We battled for some laps and soon Jeremy was behind me again. He also had some traffic though and was stuck. It is very hard to overtake cleanly in Oberbüren because it’s such a tight track and even drivers who are 1 second slower per lap can hold you up for a while.

I was very happy that the set-up changes worked beautifully and the car was now much easier to drive and not slower. I managed to take the lead back and extend it to about 10 seconds. Behind Jeremy, David and Yves Schmidlin, a very quick young local driver, were fighting for the other positions.

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I was now driving very concentrated and I wanted to keep and possibly extend this lead and let the others fight among themselves. This worked very well and during that phase I made no mistakes at all and drove very consistently. Jeremy meanwhile took 2nd position and charged after me. He was doing the quickest laps of the race, sometimes half a second per lap quicker than me, but he also made a few more mistakes. It was a very exciting long-range duel that lasted about 10 minutes and kept me on my toes. Then at about 22 minutes I saw Jeremy’s car not move anymore and he left the rostrum. He had broken his car landing from a jump.

I felt bad for him because I enjoyed our duels, but now all the pressure was gone and I started cruising and was actually a bit bored. Then after 10 minutes all of sudden Yves came out of nowhere and was very quick. I had relaxed too much and he caught up with some very quick laps.

There was still 15 minutes to go and we battled for the lead, changing position several times. I was still somewhat at ease though because I knew I would have to do one stop less than Yves. Then when Yves came in for his penultimate stop the engine stalled in the pit lane and could not be restarted for almost two laps.

Now I concentrated on bringing the car home with no mistakes. Something can easily break on the many jumps, walls, and concrete obstacles on and around this track. I managed the 45 minute final in the end with just two times on the roof and I won the race almost a lap ahead of Christoph Affolter who had quietly and with a consistent running sneaked onto 2nd place. Yves was able to claim 3rd place even though he lost almost 2 laps.

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It’s great to begin the new season with the fourth consecutive win in Oberbüren, on the track where the Euro-B will be in just a few weeks. This gives me a lot of encouragement for a good result there as well.

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Final results
1. Robin Frischkopf – XRAY XB9
2. Christoph Affolter
3. Yves Schmidlin
4. Marc Heim
5. Fabian Wagner
6. Patrick Hess
7. Daniel Galliker
8. Dominique Gross
9. David Kreienbühl
10. Ronny Lüber

Robin Frischkopf