|Race Report OEPS Race 1 |
Swisstal, Germany 11, 12 & 13 May
Thursday 10th of May, preparations were made for the first round of the 2012 OEPS (Open European Prototype Series) Race, being held at the wonderful location at the 1a Slotpiste in Swisstal, Germany.
A field of 30 teams were expected, and all of those teams would like to practise as soon as possible, so first the track was thoroughly cleaned to ensure equal and consistent grip levels all through the weekend.
Thursday night, even though not an official OEPS practise session, saw a lot of teams taking the opportunity to fine tune their cars. Teams from Finland had also already arrived as had Frank Biela, the multiple Le Mans winning Audi works driver. Frank had been very eager to test and improve his car over the last weeks, and the performance of his car showed the tremendous progress he made.
Happy faces in No Limits, NDW Works team, Racing for Julia, Urtrack and Plastikqualer, being on the pace from the beginning of the session. Approx 15 teams were able of achieving laptimes of 7,5 on the faster lanes. To put it in perspective, 7,5 was deemed really fast last year and was only achieved by 2-3 teams. A lot of progress made by so many teams! LRD 1 and LRD 2 were not so satisfied, at the moment not being able to keep up with the fast pace set in front, and as they left, Gerd Schumacher (left in the picture) said ‘yes, time to CNC a new chassis tonight’. As we heard later, their new chassis was ready at 05:00 next morning…
A long day was ahead of us, with practise, handout materials, motortesting, technical inspection and qualifying on the programme, a lot of teams turned up early to be as prepared as possible. A great compliment here to all the teams, who were all very careful during practise without all the cars.
Practise saw fast times of No Limits NDW Works, Racing for Julia, Urtrack and Plastikqualer of low 7,3 on lanes 4 and 5, yet even more impressive were the 7,4’s on lane 2 by the Plastikqualer. It was obvious that last years champions were leading the pack. LRD with new chassis, were a lot closer then Thursday night so in the end with Slotfabrik, GMS and more, there were 10 to 12 teams all capable of qualifying in the fastest group.
18:45, meant power off the track and 15 minutes to get all the cars into Parc Ferme by 19:00.
The handing out of motors and tyres was done as usual in groups of 6, each group having 15 minutes to put their racemotor in the car and mount their racetyres. Kudos to all the teams, who all showed up at the correct times and places.
Testing the motor and tyres was again done in groups of 6, each now having 10 minutes. It would be a first test to see how the choice for the new OEPS motor would turn out. But, after all 27 teams tested and tried their handout material, there was only 1 team who requested a second motor.
Great work by Alex Ortmann who tested each motor before the race, in a car, on track, one by one. The motorpool was very very close to perfect.
Also a fantastic job by Peter Oberbillig, who had trued each set of tyres to make sure they were as equal as possible.
Handout, testing and technical inspection went without incidents, the idea to have the technical inspection on the balcony to escape the hot temperatures inside, was a genius was indeed!
Half an hour earlier then planned, all was set and done for the qualifying.
The qualifying order had to written manually, the computer was not playing along.
Finally, all participants could enjoy the view of 27 very well prepared cars, lining up for the Concours d’Elegance. Cars that were first seen on the 1/1 racetrack only a few months ago, were to be admired aswell as other liveries and models that were beautifully executed.
The organisers had a short night as they had to make a new raceschedule as only 27 of 30 teams had turned up. But at 10:00 sharp the racing got underway.
Group D saw a number of newcomers in international racing. New teams from Holland, racing against Charlie’s Angels and the insane Carbon Hornets. Racing was surprisingly clean and from a high level, and it was clear that a number of teams were trying to advance into Group C during the regrouping. Eventually the Gentleman Drivers from Trier with their beautiful Acura took the win in Group D, for Belgians D&G and Hollands Matchbox.
Group C was a true mix of nationalities, teams from Finland, Denmark, Germany, Holland and Belgium. With many of the teams racing hard with times of about 7,8sec, it was an exciting battle to watch.
Group B was being led almost all the way by Dutch team Urtrack with a fast Pescarolo, who were slightly disappointed with their qualifying run. In the race they set it straight with a win in their group. LRD2 (Germany, Lola Coupe), Kaitserrari (Finland, Oreca) and BL-racing (Germany, Aston Martin) all followed within 1 lap. Close and fair racing!
Group A promised to be a hard fight after the close laptimes in qualifying. Yet it soon came clear that the german Plastikqualer with their Audi R10 were just too fast for the rest of the field. Their car achieved impressive cornering speeds and left the other teams fighting for ‘best of the rest’. This fight went primarily between No Limits (Germany, Audi R18), NDW Works (Holland/Germany, Audi R18) and Racing for Julia (Germany, Lola Coupe). As the people in all these teams also race together a lot in other events, it turned out to be a fight for every last meter. According to teammanager Gerd Schumacher, the LRD teams suffered from too much grip and eventually had to let the speeding Urtrack go by. The pace of the Audi R18 from Slotfabrik hampered by repeating small technical issues, causing it too tumble down the rankings.
Results after the first daysection.
As it was a truly long and hot summernight, daylight was still very much present and so the teams racing in group D and C were racing more in the dusk then in dark, which led to a very pleasant atmosphere.
Racing during the night was as always very spectacular on the ‘Spa’ circuit, especially since so many teams had very realistic lights on their cars. Positioninglights on the side of the cars, braking lights, blinking lights, and typical R18 lights.
Noteworthy was again the fast and careful marschalling, the smooth lanerotations and overall sportiveness.
Racing for Julia had a technical problem with their rearsuspension, and our sources tell us that this team has encountered these problems before, but now we can be sure that teammanager Peter ‘Commander’ Juchem will surely tighten those screws! ;)
BL Racing, headed by Frank Biela, had a steady climb up through the rankings until they too fell back.
Woodslot had an amazing run during the night, improving on their first session by some 25 laps.
NDW Works slowly lost ground to No Limits and were only 0,8 lap ahead.
Saturdaynight at 00:45 all racing was over and everyone could go to bed. The organisers were happy to have never been more then 10 minutes off schedule.
Sunday would see a sprint to the finish as the driving time was shorter, to provide teams that came from far destinations, enough time to go home.
It went right down to the wire between No Limits and NDW Works, both R18’s were pushed lap after lap, their drivers being coached by their teammates. Plastikqualer were gone with the wind, the 38 lap lead made sure they could ‘cruise’ home.
Urtrack managed to stay ahead of Racing for Julia, and a great result by this dutch team.
GMS Racing had a great run, finishing a well deserved 7th, ahead of the youngster of FCF1 and FCF2.
Fastest Finnish team on 11th spot, with a very nice looking Oreca.
Second in the championship last year, RICH had a hard time keeping up with the hard pace. Nevertheless a good 12th spot.
13th spot was a good improvement on the race that they never participated in (inside joke) for Woodslot
BL Racing made it back up to 14th after a solid performance.
15th spot is a great debut for the Gentleman Drivers from Trier
Slotrace RBK made it to a fine 16th with their gorgeous Drayson Lola
17th and 18th to the Belgian SRCB and D&G, with only half a lap apart. Really exciting between them all race long!
19th for team Matchbox, just getting ahead of the Slotfabrik on 20th spot.
LemUa from Finland gave it their best and succeeded in staying ahead of the Belgians of Sloefspeed.
RB Racing from Holland were debuting in the OEPS, and have picked up a lot for the coming race. Their 20th spot was very satisfying to the team.
Art & Racing, Café Oosterling, Charlie’s Angels made up 3 of the 4 last teams. Last in the rankings was Carbon Hornets, which was a real pitty considering the enourmous preparation they’ve undertaken for this year. Their Rebellion Lola was beyond beautiful and this team will be much higher in the rankings next race. Holy shit! ;))
The first OEPS race of 2012 was a great success, with a great variety of cars, people and conversations all around. The motors proved perfect for the job of propelling Europe’s fastest model cars around the finest wooden tracks, and the tyres completed the fair playing field for all teams.
On a less positive note, some teams found it difficult to find a compromise in the rules and their meanings, especially during Warm-ups. The resulting discussions could have of a higher level, and will lead to changes in the next OEPS races. An example will be that Officials will do all lanechanges for the teams, and that Warm-ups will be cancelled. Hence, no team will ever be allowed to even touch their car when they are not under racing time. A sad and harsh consequence, but apperantly necessary. These officials will have to be paid and as a result the entry fees for the next race will higher.
Last, I would like to thank again Alex Ortmann, Peter Oberbillig, Gerd Schumacher, Boris Baum, Martijn de Kanter, Thomas Schmitz, Peter Juchem and Sebastian Nockemann for all the help during the race. So many hands made light work and everything went very smooth.
All of this would of course never be possible without the beautifull 1a Slotpiste located in Swisstal-Heimerzheim. Jurgen Landsberg and his team did a stellar performance all through the week serving us all with excellent food and drinks besides the tireless help of Jurgen assisting wherever necessary. Absolutely awesome and again a big thanks!
See you next race in Trier!!
Nick de Wachter
(I hope the links will work)
Fola's, Basti's, Jurgen's and Gaby's Picasa albums.