FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Coelho's incredible run to the 4WD world championship [VIDEO]
Friday, Oct 13, 2017 06:46am
By Aaron Waldron
Everybody knows that Friday is meant for reminiscing old times. Each week we take you back in time as we flashback to some of R/C racing's greatest moments, products, drivers, and more!
Bruno Coelho climbed atop the IFMAR 4WD world championship podium at Yatabe Arena
Tuesday, October 10, marked the two-year anniversary of Bruno Coelho’s incredible run to the 4WD world championship. Despite entering the event with relatively little electric off-road experience, he shone brightly under the pressure of competing at the first off-road world championship held on bright-green astroturf at the historic Yatabe Arena. And unlike the breathtakingly unpredictable result of the 2WD portion just days prior (which you can relive by clicking here), Coelho left little doubt he’d win from the first time the cars hit the track with the clock running.
Prior to the start of racing action, 2013 world champ Steven Hartson led the LiveRC broadcast on a track walk to explain the features — which were rearranged after 2WD:
Once the clock had been turned on for the first practice rounds, Coelho was the fastest car on the track.
In controlled practice, however, Kyosho’s Yusuke Sugiura — who had finished behind teammates Naoto Matsukura and Jared Tebo at the warm-up — earned the top seed.
After that, though, it was the Coelho show; the Portuguese star was fastest in four of the five rounds of qualifying, eclipsed only by Matsukura in Q3. The margins were close — only once was the difference more than two seconds between first and second — but it was clear going into the finals that Coelho’s XRAY would be tough to beat.
Behind Coelho came another surprise - then-13-year-old Schumacher star Michal Orlowski, just two months removed from winning the European Championship on a totally different style track.
Kyosho’s Naoto Matsukura, the runner-up in 2013, struggled with consistency throughout the 4WD portion of the race as he tried to recreate the speed he showed at the Warm-Up. Still, he was the only driver other than Coelho to TQ a round which helped propel him to third on the grid.
David Ronnefalk may not have been the HB Racing driver most expected to see at the top of the charts at Yatabe, but the Swede started off hot in 4WD qualifying. He finished the first three rounds in the top four to secure fourth on the grid, but struggled in Q4 and Q5.
The finals started with controversy, as Coelho jumped over the center tabletop on lap two and landed on the wrong side of the pipe. He hesitated before resuming, but never gave up the lead and eventually won by 2.2 seconds. Orlowski crashed on lap three, which dropped him to ninth, and he could only claw his way back to sixth by race end. In his place, Matsukura and Ronnefalk finished second and third. In fact, Orlowski’s crash was the only position change inside the top five.
After the race completed, a member of the Japanese team — no doubt with Matsukura’s benefit in mind — protested Coelho’s victory by pointing out that the winner did not concede a position before rejoining the race following his corner cut. However, the protest came after the 15-minute allotted protest period and so the win became official.
If Coelho’s mistake in A1 offered a momentary glint of opportunity for anyone else on the grid, A2 crushed those hopes soundly. Coelho had no such troubles in the second leg, leading every lap and cruising across the finish line to claim the championship.
Crossing the line 2.6 seconds later was Orlowski, who ran mistake-free but simply didn’t have the pace to catch Coelho.
Another four seconds back was TLR’s Ryan Maifield, who raced his way up from ninth on the grid to third for a bright moment in an otherwise disappointing week.
With Coelho absent from the front row, Orlowski led the field into turn one in A3. Matsukura set up the Polish youngster heading into the bumpy corner on the left side of the track to take the lead.
Less than a lap later, Orlowski crashed in front of the drivers’ stand and dropped further back.
Matsukura held on for the win by 1.6 seconds over Ronnefalk, which clinched second and third on the podium, respectively.