This year’s European Campionship IC for the 40+ generation of RC-Racers took place at the nice Monaco track from 16th to 21st of September. The entire week showed perfect sunny wheather conditions with about 25°C and a light wind from the Mediterranean Sea. The track itself shows a good mix of narrow and fast corners added by some challenges by humps in the the fast ‘Parabolica’.
Arriving on Wednesday morning after driving the 1,250 km from the north of Germany while the night we started immediately the training. We had to compensate the last two days while the competitors made already 10 rounds of 15 mins sessions. With me was my well proven mechanic Merlin Depta who accompanied me successfully already while last two ECs 40+.
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Also there was my team mate Hartmut Rose with his famous mechanic Bertram Kessler. Knowing Hartmut is a really fast guy and a hot candidate for the title I was very curious who else of the field would be a candidate for the title. On one hand there was Daniel Grosso from Monaco and on the other hand there was Alexander Naumov from Russia showing best pace while the training sessions. We all were close together wirt Hartmut in the lead followed by Daniel, myself and Alexander.
Trying some different setups and tires while the training sessions I was not quite confident. Nor the speed was good as it should be to win, nor the car allows a constant drive. But making some further steps of adjustments I was able to take the lead at the end of the practice sessions. Hartmut was still the fastest on one lap, but over the 5 mins distance I was in front. Now the car was easier to drive but needs some more speed. I used the first two rounds of qualifying while Thursday afternoon to work on my setup, assuming these would not be the rounds with the best conditions for qualifying.
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Decision was right, on Friday morning we saw the result. While the 3rd round of qualifying I was able to do the fastest lap of the event and to take the pole position ahaed of Alexander. Due to the fact the wheather conditions should allow a further fast qualifying I decided to postpone my preparations for the finals and trued my tires for a next qualifier. Finally I did another 19 lap run ahead of Alexander and fixed my pole. On 3rd position was Guiseppe D’Arrigo from Switzerland followed by Hartmut and Daniel. Daniel was faster, but runs out of fuel some times while the 5 mins heat.
Knowing that the rising sun will not allow to run faster qualifyings I used the rounds 5 and 6 of qualifiers to prepare for the final. While round 5 I tried another type o rubber, but the car was difficult to drive with a tendency to spin in the Parabolica. Two times I was able to compensate but the 3rd spin ends in the wall made of concrete. What a desaster. A lot of broken parts at left front including the radio plate. That means a lot of stress to prepare the car for the last round, because I had still to sort out the right tires for the final. Being prepared intime I tried my favorite set of tires, which where fast and the car still well balanced.
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While a final training session before the main final I continued to use this set of tires to learn the amount of tire wear. Tire wear was absolutely at the limit for the 45 mins final, but comparing lap times with the competitors I was confident to manage this. Being two 10th of a second faster then the second fastest one I was sure using a conservative driving style to preserve the tires that finally they will last for the full distance. Nevertheless we were prepared to change the tires if there would be a need.
The start of the main was on Saturday at about 3 pm. Eveything was well prepared. Everybody was quite curious to get the dicision who will be the next champion.
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The start was clean and I was able to pull ahead of the field immediately. After 5 laps I created already a gap of about 3 seconds, but in lap 6 I rolled my my car at a curb ending at the roof and loosing about 10 seconds. Fortunately the engine was still running and so I started my pursuit. At the second fuel stop I closed the gap without challenging my tires to much. At this time Hartmut was in the lead and we refueled more or less at the same time. Unfortunartely for my team mate at this lap the 2nd gear was stripped and it was easy to pass him. Nevertheless Hartmut continued with fast laps not much slower then before. It was only a question whether his Orcan-engine would be able to survive this torture.
The next 25 mins were w/o any highlights resulting in a lead of about 2 laps ahead of Hartmut and Alexander. Only a crash at the end of the straight with another car at full speed increased my blood pressure but luckily nothing was broken. While the remaining 10 mins the challenge was to secure the lead knowing my tires will bring me in trouble at the end of the race. Hartmut was out of the competion for the first spot but Alexander was approaching quite fast. Finally and after 152 laps I finished 3 seconds ahead of him followed by Hartmut only 2 laps behind. On forth position the real gentleman racer Christer Jansson ended after a clean race without any mistakes securing a 1-2-3-4 result for the NT1.
I can resume I have achieved 100% my own target to do the hat-trick after victories in Wiesbaden in 2011 and Lyon in 2012.
I would like to thank to the entire team of Fédération Monégasque de Modélisme for this nice event. It was a real pleasure to be there and I would appriciate very much to be there again. Last but not least I would like to thank Merlin for his reliable work in the pit lane – it was our common succes.