By Tyler Hooks
Race Report from EFRA:
In a day of drama here in Portugal we crowned an unexpected but popular new European Champion. As the Semi finals began, all the talk was of who would be runner up to Davide Ongrao, such was his dominance during qualifying. However just 90 seconds into the race all that changed as the Italians car first flamed and then retired with a broken front right hub. However due to a recent rule change at EFRA events all was not completely lost for Davide as there was a Last Chance Qualifier race. The LCQ event pits all the non-qualifiers from the semi-finals together in a winner takes all race for the final spot on the A Main Grid.
But starting last Ongaro would have his work cut out to get to the front in the 10 minutes of the race. After a rocky start the young Italian began to scythe through the field, and managed to hit the front with a minute to go, meaning he would stat 13th in the final.
Lining up at the front of the A Main was World Champions David Ronnefalk who seemed to have put his woes of qualifying behind him with an imperious display in his semi Final. Next up was young Spaniard Jaun Carlos Canas with Local Hero Bruno Coelho in 3rd and reigning European Champion Robert Battle due to be in 4th before he had to call a 10 minute timeout and therefore would start from the pitlane.
From the start the drama came with a mistake very early on dropping pole man Ronnefalk down to last as the field streaked through before he could be marshalled and Ongaro and Battle beginning to rapidly climb up the order. At the front Jaun Carlos Canas was establishing a small lead from Bruno, but all eyes were now on Ongaro’s progress as he began to drag up to the leading pair. At halfway the challenges of Ronnefalk and Battle had disappeared on the slippy surface and the lead was rotating between Canas and Coelho as they pursued slightly different pit stop strategies.
Ongaro was getting closer but around the 30 minute mark of the 45 minute final Canas’ bid began to falter and it would be left for Davide and Bruno to fight it out to the finish. It quickly became apparent that Bruno had a pit stop in hand so despite being close on the track he was actually in a comfortable position. That last stop was carried out by his stellar and world championship winning crew of Gord and Ty Tessman and the Portuguese superstar drove it home to the wild acclaim of the crowd.
With this result Bruno now can rightly be considered up there with the other greats of RC, winning European championships in 1:10th IC Track, 4WD Electric Off Road (2) and now 1/8th IC Off Road, added to his WC in electric Off Road, Runner up in the 1/10th Electric Touring Car Worlds and a finalist at 1/10th and 1/8th IC WC’s. Is he the best ever? Well at the moment that crown probably belongs to Atsushi Hara but with 3 World championships coming up 2 of which he’ll be among the favourites for that could all change!