After a nearly 6 month hiatus since Round 1 in Gottingen, Germany the Euro Offroad Series (EOS) resumed with Round 2 from Worksop in the United Kingdom on 7-9 October 2022. The EOS has been upset by the remnants of the Covid-19 pandemic and several events have been postponed over the last two years, so it was very encouraging to have nearly 200 class entries for the UK first ever EOS event. It is a definite sign that service is returning to normal.
The Worksop venue was organised by a mix of BRCA, RHR and Schumacher personnel and you could see the application of years of experience as soon as you entered the building. The track was a good compact and challenging design with a good mix of features and jumps. The main talking point is the surface – the majority of the track surface was made up of large cork tiles with a polymerised topcoat. The grip was unusual – get your entry speed into a corner correct and there was good grip, go in too hard and there was very little grip. You needed to put in precise and clean laps with no over-driving.
The reduced grip levels ensured that the speed of the cars was kept much lower than what the EOS is used to. The cars circulated at a pace more representative of US dirt tracks rather than European carpet. Drivers hunted for a setup which would give a significant and consistent amount of steering yet give very good forward drive. The organising crew of over 20 participants not only laid the track in a day on the Thursday before the event, but also built all the jumps from scratch – quite an achievement.
There was one individual at the EOS who was very welcome back. After two and half years of not being at the EOS meetings, everybody was very glad to see Scotty Ernst make the journey from Ohio in the USA to lend his voice to the commentary of the races. Scotty, who is a part owner of the EOS Series, is super-enthusiastic and he was able to tell me that he is more active than ever regarding getting EOS events on the calendar and he is very excited for the events coming up – all to be revealed when the details are set. It is hoped that the revised calendar will contain favourites from previous years including Daun, Germany and Arena33 – but only time will tell.
The Round 2 of the EOS Series had entries in four classes – 2wd Stock, 2wd Modified, Modified Truck and 4wd Modified. Some of Europe’s top drivers were in attendance including Lee Martin, Burak Kilic, Jorn Neumann, Michal Orlowski, Johnny Skidmore, Neil Cragg, Tommy Hall and Daniel Kobbevik – just to name a few. The quality of the entry gave us a good idea of how competitive racing would be and even a “B” Final slot would be quite an achievement.
The first morning of three kicked off with two rounds of free 2wd practice. Many of the drivers unfamiliar with the grip levels struggling to just get around. But by round 2 of practice there were huge leaps being made in the setup of the cars and things were greatly improved. It appears that most of the slower cars all have the same setup issue, the car is resistant to roll at the front causing understeer and then when it eventually starts to roll its too much too late and the rear end breaks away. Heads are down in the pit area between runs. After open practice comes two rounds of seeding practice where a driver’s best time for two consecutive laps is used to reseed the heats for qualifying. This is the point where we could see who was setting the pace, who was on pace and who needed more pace. The best outright lap went to Neil Cragg in seeding practice round 1, but over two laps it was Michal Orlowski who was top of the table. Cragg putting in a 20.77 to Orlowski’s 20.88 – not much in it. Joona Haatanen, Lee Martin, Micha Widmaier and Johnny Skidmore all there or there abouts. In round 2 of seeding practice Joona Haatanen set new fastest laps and a new fastest combined time going fastest. Cragg not far off in second with Lee Martin in third. Ben Smith checked his potential going fourth – he’s a shoe in for the win if the day goes his way. Wesley van Helmond rounding out the top 5.
2wd Qualifying was thrilling to observe. Neil Cragg put in a clean and precise run during round one – his car looking smooth and well behaved. Michal Orlowski responded in round 2 and then again on round 3 to put Cragg on the back foot. Orlowski’s time in round 3 didn’t look like it could be improved on, but Cragg was up for the challenge in round 4 and he took TQ in round on a faster time to secure pole position. Johnny Skidmore was the best of the rest in third closely trailed by Lee Martin, Wesley van Helmond and Ben Smith.
Overall top 10 after 2wd qualifying:
|1||Neil Cragg||0 [0 (4) (5) 0]||15/5’2.79|
|2||Michal Orlowski||0 [(4) 0 0 (6)]||15/5’3.06|
|3||Jonathan Skidmore||4 [2 (3) 2 (12)]||15/5’4.12|
|4||Lee Martin||6 [3 (5) (7) 3]||15/5’8.09|
|5||Wesley Van Helmond||8 [(94) 6 (13) 2]||15/5’5.62|
|6||Ben Smith||8 [5 (7) 3 (19)]||15/5’4.97|
|7||Tommy Hall||9 [(9) 2 (8) 7]||15/5’7.81|
|8||Burak Kilic||11 [6 (8) (10) 5]||15/5’9.64|
|9||Joona Haatanen||12 [(8) (12) 4 8]||15/5’5.34|
|10||Jorn Neumann||16 [7 (14) 9 (87)]||15/5’19.44|
2WD A-Main 1
From the audible tone at the very start of the race Michal Orlowski was on the attack from second position. Cragg from pole got off to a smooth start, but by the time the lead cars were passing under the drivers stand for the first time, Orlowski was looking up the inside of Cragg and in response was having the open door firmly shut resulting in some light contact. Cragg completed the first lap in scrappy fashion, tagging some hoses and apexes and the uncertainty of what was about to possibly happen seems to have led to Orlowski backing out of any further challenge and letting a small gap develop. On the second lap, the gap developed further as Orlowski had his own bad lap. By lap three things had settled down and the battle was back on. For several laps Cragg and Orlowski circulated around together with Johnny Skidmore in a distant third.
Orlowski made attempts to rattle Cragg by leaving his braking very late allowing him to draw up beside Cragg only to overshoot slightly without ever getting any real chance at a pass. Two minutes into the race, Cragg closely followed by Orlowski carried too much speed into the ninety-degree tabletop and barrel rolled down several steps, luckily landing back on his wheels – but the brief excursion was enough to let Orlowski through. Where Cragg was lucky, Orlowski was not. Only a few corners after taking the lead, he turned in too early off the tabletop and clipped the apex leading to a flat roll and marshalling required. The marshal was quick, but not enough to prevent Skidmore passing and taking up the second position at the race midpoint.
With Cragg now breaking away at the front, all eyes turned to the battle for second between Skidmore and Orlowski. Coming off the wall of death, Skidmore tagged the second apex allowing Orlowski to get very close whilst following down the straight and around into the ninety-degree tabletop. Orlowski looked up the inside whilst going down the steps but was denied. At the following hairpin, Skidmore turned in a little too soon and just tipped the apex. With the car over-slowed and up on two wheels, Orlowski couldn’t get stopped in time to avoid contact – driving over Skidmore and rolling onto his roof. The impact had put Skidmore into a spin, and he was then collected by the chasing pack led by Lee Martin. The result was a five-car pileup. Skidmore was first out of the melee but must have been distracted as he missed the second apex of the chicane and became airborne over the track markers. As Lee Martin and Tommy Hall were still entangled and Orlowski was on his roof, it was Burak Kilic who took the advantage and assumed third position just behind Skidmore with 2 minutes to go.
Kilic chased Skidmore for a couple of laps, but never got close enough to make a move. His challenge was over when he lost control on the straight at high speed and broke his car on a track marking – his race was done. With Cragg’s lead growing out front and Skidmore slightly isolated in second it was now the battle for third between Hall, Orlowski and Martin taking centre stage. Orlowski managed to carry a little more speed through the tabletop and force Hall off line slightly. Over the following two corners Orlowski managed to develop the move into a pass, with Lee Martin now looking at Tommy Hall’s back bumper also. On the following lap, a bad landing from Hall, promoted Martin to fourth with just a minute to go. Orlowski then got the hammer down and started reeling in Skidmore at a very impressive pace. Over the following 2 laps, he closed a nearly 3 second deficit and when Skidmore jumped on of the small jumps off line, Orlowski was straight in to make the move and it stuck. The race continued at a furious pace, but no further passes occurred. Final order – Cragg, Orlowski Skidmore.
2WD A-Main 2
Leg two of the A Main was a similar race to the first. Cragg led the field away in a very smooth and controlled manor with Orlowski behind and the two circulated with no incident or two laps. At the start of the third lap, Cragg’s rear suspension appeared to over-compress as he exited the straight, causing the car to break sideways and force an inside front wheel up into the air. He maintained the lead, but had shed all of his speed allowing Orlowski to attack at pace. Orlowski got up the inside of Cragg coming down the steps and briefly led the race, but on the last step Cragg hit the power and jumped down onto Orlowski’s roof bouncing over him in scrappy fashion once again. The disruption to both cars forward motion then led to more contact as the two cars tried to settle and get back under way. I counted three separate times that the cars came into contact between two corners. Eventually, things settled down and Cragg was back in the lead, Orlowski chasing hard, Skidmore and Martin in third and fourth. With only a minute of racing done there was still plenty of time for the order to settle.
After Cragg and Orlowski managed to achieve two laps without touching, Orlowski made a move in front of the drivers stand going into the tabletop after Cragg got a bad landing of the small jump preceding. He wasn’t able to make it stick as Neil shut the door through the tabletop section. Although the pass wasn’t successful, Orlowski had Cragg under pressure. He tracked the former World Champion perfect though the infield and up onto the wall of death. Holding a tighter line, Orlowski carried more speed and and drew up along side Cragg heading for the first corner. Cragg moved across to squeeze Orlowski, but Orlowski backed out just in time as Cragg found himself off line for the tricky first corner. The result was that Cragg came in contact with the apex of the first corner causing a roll and letting Orlowski through. To add insult to injury – although Cragg was marshalled very quicky, a train of cars led by Skidmore occupied the line and passed through before Cragg could fully re-join. The order with two minutes down – Orlowski, Skidmore, Van Helmond.
A lap later, coming off the tabletop Van Helmond made a sweet pace on Skidmore promoting him to second. Van Helmond held the position for the few laps before getting a bad bounce on entry into the ninty-degree table top and allowing Skidmore back through. And at the same point a lap later things got worse form the young Dutch driver when he rolled allowing Martin and Haatanen through. For the remaining two minutes, Lee Martin drew up to the back of Skidmore, but no further passes occurred. Final order – Orlowski, Skidmore, Martin.
2WD A-Main 3
With Cragg and Orlowski having an A Main win a piece the title was going to a leg 3 decider. Leg 3 was a very different race. Cragg led away from the start with Orlowski in tow and the two played a game of cat and mouse for the several of the early laps of the race. Visually, Orlowski’s car was much better off the straight and up to the ninety-degree tabletop – so it was predicted that if a move was going to happen this is where it would be. At the midpoint of the race, Cragg ran short on the wall of death and to avoid him Orlowski went slightly wide and as a result he came in contact with the apex at the wall exit. Orlowski requiring marshalling wasn’t back on track will Skidmore had passed through. Skidmore’s hopes for a second place finish were dashed when he rolled off the end of the straight putting Orlowski back into second place with Martin in third and Skidmore fourth. Orlowski again put the hammer down and chased after Cragg in the lead. The major battle was for third between Martin and Skidmore. Skidmore has excellent drive and speed down the straight and he was able to out drag Martin to put himself into third with a minute to go. On the same lap just as Skidmore made his way towards the wall of death, he was briefly collected by a barrel rolling Tommy Hall which reinstated Lee Martin to third and the battle was back on.
At the front, Cragg had a significant lead over Orlowski as the clock wound down. In third, Martin was under serious pressure from Skidmore but was holding his ground. Skidmore had a couple of looks up the inside of Martin resulting in light contact but couldn’t make it stick. As the final tone sounded Skidmore pulled off a pass reminiscent of the one Martin pulled off on Martin Wollanka some years ago which famously went viral on social media. Skidmore entered into the wall of death wide and went tighter than Martin at the apex which allowed him to cross Martin and carry more speed onto the straight. Skidmore passed Martin with only five or six metres to spare before the finish line which was accompanied by a spontaneous roar from the crowd. Super stuff! As all of that action unfolded, Cragg had already secured the Leg 3 win and the overall 2wd win.
Final 2WD standings:
The 2wd competition was unpredictable and intense. An absolutely fantastic way for the EOS to make its comeback after such a long break. As the prize giving proceeded on Saturday at lunchtime, now all eyes were on the 4wd portion of the meeting. Could Neil Cragg TQ and Win 4wd as well after a two month lay off? Only time would tell.
Modified Truck joined the meeting as 4WD commenced
As with the previous day, 4wd kicked off with two rounds of open practice and two rounds of seeding practice. The track was not altered for 4wd, so everyone was very familiar at this stage with the layout. Many of the top drivers struggled with pace in the first session, but that was remedied as the sessions progressed. In the first seeded practice it was Ben Smith who set the tables alight over two consecutive laps – very fasts indeed. In the second seeding session Smith was still fast, going fourth, but it was the Finnish visitor Joona Haatanen who really screwed down the times to top the round times and the overall table. Haatanen’s car looks like it has way more pace than the times would lead you to believe. Small mistakes and bobbles are a regular occurrence, but his outright speed is super impressive. A driver for the pole position short list for sure.
Round 1 of 4wd qualifying will be etched in my mind for some time. Several of the regular front running drivers were present at the sharp end, but one particular driver put in a round 1 perfect run which spontaneously led to a queue of congratulatory drivers meeting him as he came off the rostrum – that was Lee Martin in Heat 10. You could argue that faults from Michal Orlowski, Johnny Skidmore, Joona Haatanen and Ben Smith all contributed to Martin’s dominance, but you would lose that argument. It was Martin’s shear pace and consistency which saw him take round 1. Martin’s Yokomo teammate Burak Kilic from Germany came home second just over a second adrift. Joona Haatanen recovered from problems with a blistering run to come home third – an epic recovery. Johnny Skidmore was fourth which was a surprise as his car did not look as good as the others ahead of him.
The ambient temperature around the circuit is much cooler on Sunday morning for Round 2 of 4wd qualifying than previous mornings as there was a clear sky last night. An impressive meteor shower was on display as we arrived back late to our hotel the previous evening. The lower temperature has led to less bite from the surface and drivers in the early heats looked a little uncomfortable. The first driver on onto the lead laps this morning was Edward Callan in heat 7 with a 16/319.66. Edward put in a solid but cautious run, and he won’t be unhappy with that time. He was followed home by Ben Simpson and Matt Thomson only a few seconds behind. Callan going 10th in round. The pace heated up in heat 8 and it was Johnny Skidmore who set the pace in that with a 16/314.06. Skidmore is pushing on, but the car is fighting back and several bad landings and tips off apexes cost him. Jamie Hall put in a consistent and fast run to log 16/316.90 in second – the remainder of the heat not making it on 16 laps.
All eyes were on the top heat to see if Lee Martin could repeat his round 1 TQ. Lee got off to a pacey but cautious start with no errors. Joona Haatanen and Micha Widmaier featured earlier on in the heat, relegating Martin to as low as third fastest at one point, however, Martin upped his pace in the mid to later stages of the heat and started to bang in constant 18 second laps. He returned to the front of the heat by the end on a 16/307.92 – some 3.5 seconds clear of Widmaier in second. This is Lee Martin’s second TQ in 4wd and it’s on a fast pace, but as the venue warms the pace will increase. Martin really needs one more TQ to remove all doubt about securing pole position for the A Main.
In 4wd round 3, Neil Cragg had previously mentioned that his car was not where he needed it to be setup-wise, so we were very happy to see him run in heat 9 at a very sharp pace – obviously the car is working out better now. Cragg won the heat on a 16/513.67 with Jamie Hall and Josh Holdsworth a couple of seconds behind. That result put Neil 6th in round and another one of those should see him being propelled into the A Main. The top heat started off in a routine fashion with Lee Martin leading Kilic, Widmaier and Orlowski away on a fast pace. Martin was putting in his third possible TQ run by midway through the race which would have been enough to secure Pole Position for sure. Four laps from the end of the heat, Martin was coming up on Tommy Hall who was mid-field and soon to be a lap down. Hall’s car seemed to move across the track lane on the start finish straight in an unusual fashion and tag a hose, pushing him into a high-speed spin. Martin coming down the straight at full speed had no time to react and he impacted with Hall at full speed. This was a huge impact. Hall’s car immediately and critically damaged and taken off track. Martin recovered to the track after Kilic and Widmaier had passed through. He continued for the remaining three laps but his car was visibly down on power. It was later discovered that the impact had caused a cell in his Lipo battery to fail.
Burak Kilic won the heat with a new fastest time on the warmup up track – 16/304.57. Micha Widmaier in second some 2 seconds adrift. Michal Orlowski able to get by a damaged Lee Martin on the last lap to set a 16/309.02. Burak now the only driver who can possibly upset Lee Martin’s Pole Positions claim. The fallout from the drama in round 3 continued for Lee Martin as it was discovered in the Round 4 heat that the Lipo battery was not the only casualty of his crash in round 3. A malfunction has developed in the ESC which forced him to retire from his TQ challenge in round 4. His main rival, Burak Kilic would need a TQ to secure pole position.
In the modified truck section, it is Wesley van Helmond all the way. He has faced little challenge today and will line up first on the grid for the A Mains. Burak Kilic is Wesley’s closest competition, and he will start from second with Jorn Neumann in third. In heat 9, Neil Cragg returned to form and showed real pace till he made a mistake and was isolated from the marshal costing him a lot of time. He battled back with several sub 19 second laps to finish third in heat 9 giving him and 8th in round. That coupled with his 6th from Round 3, would not be enough to secure him a place in the Main – BQ for Neil.
Josh Holdsworth won the heat with a very consistent run – 16/508.99 a second ahead of Skidmore in second. They would achieve fourth and sixth in round respectively. As mentioned, Round 4 was not a good one for Lee Martin. All eyes were on Burak Kilic from the start, and he ran fast and clean for the full five minutes only tagging a hose once which only cost him slightly. His car looks punchy and supple – slightly different from Martin’s same model Yokomo. Burak took the heat win and further extending his advantage putting in a quicker time than round 3. This puts the German on Pole Position for the A Main.
Overall 4WD top 10 after qualifying:
|1||Burak Kilic||0 [(2) (3) 0 0]||16/5’3.59|
|2||Lee Martin||0 [0 0 (4) (33)]||16/5’7.92|
|3||Micha Widmaier||4 [(11) 2 2 (7)]||16/5’6.56|
|4||Michal Orlowski||5 [(24) (28) 3 2]||16/5’5.87|
|5||Joona Haatanen||8 [3 (6) 5 (12)]||16/5’12.65|
|6||Jonathan Skidmore||9 [4 5 (19) (6)]||16/5’13.55|
|7||Jorn Neumann||10 [(21) 7 (64) 3]||16/5’8.03|
|8||Ben Smith||10 [6 4 (15) (27)]||16/5’13.25|
|9||Josh Holsworth||11 [7 (16) (9) 4]||16/5’8.99|
|10||Daniel Kobbevik||12 [(8) (11) 7 5]||16/5’9.23|
There was a lunch break after 4wd qualifying before the finals. British Beef Stew was on the menu – it tasted as good it looked.
4WD A-Main 1
Leg 1 of the 4wd A Main got off to a smooth start. Kilic lead the breakaway group of Martin, Widmaier and Orlowski. Skidmore leading the chasing pack. 6 laps in and there was a noticeable reduction of speed from Lee Martin – perhaps the electrical gremlins were back – and as the field bunched quickly behind him, he tagged the corner marker and rolled over letting Widmaier and Orlowski through. Kilic now with a significant lead. Widmaier with Orlowski in tow chased hard to catch Kilic, but they didn’t have the pace. So the main battle on track now was for second position between Widmaier, Orlowski and Martin – Martin’s car now running at full speed again. Three and a half minutes in, Orlowski was looking for a way around Widmaier. He looked up the inside of Widmaier coming down the steps but was denied. Orlowski then overjumped the small jump after the steps collecting Widmaier at the Apex of the following corner. Widmaier survived the attack and continued to lead the group with Martin now looking for a way around Orlowski. For the following two laps, Orlowski had Widmaier under a lot of pressure – the latter making plenty of little mistake. Coming down the straight, Widmaier slowed excessively to ensure that he didn’t leave a gap going into the first corner. This seems to have caught Orlowski unaware and he again collected Widmaier at the apex – both cars rolling off the circuit. The cars were marshalled quickly and continued together in the same order with only a minute to go. For another two laps, Widmaier drove very defensively. Orlowski was all over him but couldn’t find a way through. Widmaier would then cut in too early on the wall of death, slowing his entry onto the straight which allowed Orlowski the drag race advantage however it was not to be as instead of passing Widmaier, Orlowski impacted the rear of Widmaier’s car which pushed him straight into a barrel roll on the straight. Widmaier’s second place was now safe. Leg 1 result – Kilic, Widmaier, Orlowski.
4WD A-Main 2
4wd A Main Leg 2 got away in similar fashion to Leg 1. Kilic was fast, but was under pressure from Lee Martin from the outset. Lee was losing time over the tabletop as he appeared to be taking to very easy – perhaps in an attempt to not activate the intermittent fault which had ruined his day so far. But he was lightening quick everywhere else. But Lee’s day was not getting any better when next time round he hit the tabletop a little harder than before and his car switched off mid-air – his race was over in the most frustrating way. Kilic now with a good lead, Orlowski 2nd followed by Haatanen and then Widmaier who had profited from Skidmore flying into Kobbevik over the tabletop. At the race midpoint, the main battle on track was between Orlowski and Haatanen for second place. Haatanen was truly rapid, but looked to be running at 102% most of the time. With four minutes down, Orlowski had broken away from Haatanen and was now reeling in Kilic at a staggering rate. There was just too much distance and too little time for Orlowski to fully catch Kilic and as the end of race tone sounded the pair finished with only a second to separate them. The Leg 2 win means that Burak Kilic wins 4wd at the EOS on his second attempt.
4WD A-Main 3
The final 4wd A Main leg was to settle the remaining podium spots. Lee Martin led the field away and many people were hoping that his efforts trying to find his electric issue would be rewarded. At one point it was thought that feedback from a damaged servo might be upsetting the esc. Lee led convincingly ahead of Micha Widmaier for the first two minutes of the race before the same gremlin struck again coming off the tabletop – Lee’s car disabled and Widmaier now in the lead. Widmaier was followed by Haatanen and Orlowski who were battling for second place. Orlowski pulled off a beautiful move on Haatanen off the wall of death to reverse their position for now. On the following lap, Widmaier barrel rolled down the steps and needed marshalling as Orlowski and Haatanen passed through – the battle for second was now the battle for the lead. For the remaining 5 laps, Haatanen pushed Orlowski at times and even tried to make a move on the last lap where there wasn’t really a gap – but wasn’t able to make a real opportunity develop. Leg 3 result – Orlowski, Haatanen, Widmaier.
A fantastic result for Burak Kilic and also great to see three different manufacturers represented on the podium.
Overall 4wd results:
In addition to providing the commentary for the event, Scotty Ernst also raced in the Modified Truck Class. The car was supplied by the UK Xray team and run by Nathan Ralls and Rick Greenwood – thanks to them.
There was a charity raffle held at the end of the meeting with proceeds going to a well-known racer’s mum who is not well at the moment. The racers gave very generously and the raffle which was sponsored by Schumacher raised over £800/€900 – well done everybody and well done to the prize winners.
And finally, we spoke to Scotty Ernst about trying to repair the organisation mess that the Covid-19 pandemic created for the EOS and moving forward with the remaining rounds of the series. Scotty is extremely enthusiastic and ensures me that events will be announced soon. Watch this space.