There is an air of high anticipation ahead of the third round of the Euro Offroad Series as the 1:10 electric offroad championship travels for the first time to the Hudy Arena in Slovakia this weekend (7-9 March). Widely reputed as the greatest r/c venue in the world by anyone who has had the opportunity to visit the 25,000 square metre facility which is also home to the Xray factory, over 260 drivers will get the opportunity to be part of what is only the second major international event to be hosted at the Hudy Arena, the first being last season’s Euro Touring Series finale.
Round 2 of the series in Berlin saw wins for both Yokomo’s Naoto Matsukura in 2WD and defending champion Jorn Neumann in 4WD. Only Matsukura’s second appearance in the championship the Japanese ace will be looking to keep his 100% winning record intact this week as will Neumann who in 3 seasons of EOS has never been out qualified or beaten in 4WD. This weekend the Team Durango driver chases his 10th consecutive TQ and win.
While a completely new indoor track layout has been prepared just for the EOS visit, the Hudy Arena is where Team Xray has carried out the majority of the development work on the XB4 platform. With Martin Bayer knocking on the door of a first EOS win for both the European Champion and Xray in Berlin, this weekend should see the strongest challenge yet from the team. While Bayer, who sits second in the current championship standings behind Neumann, says a win at the home track would be special he also feels it might take away from that first win as rivals will see it as having been down to home advantage. Neumann, is not concerned about it being Bayer’s home race saying there is more pressure on the Czech driver than there is on him to maintain his unbeaten record but the German is confident he can take his winning tally to double digits.
Making his debut for Yokomo at Round 2, 2WD Buggy Vice-World Champion Lee Martin will be aiming to build on his promising first outing, the British ace qualifying 2nd in 4WD and 5th in 2WD. In Slovakia, Martin will have the added benefit of the presence of the team’s new head of offroad development Shin Adachi who is making the trip from Japan. In terms of high profile drivers Yokomo will again have an impressive line up with Martin & Matsukura once again being joined by 1:8 Offroad World Champion Robert Batlle and ETS Champion Ronald Volker, who qualified 4th in Berlin in 4WD, and touring car ace Yannic Prümper.
Having come so close to repeating his season opening 2WD Buggy victory, a last lap mistake in A3 costing him the overall win, Team C and Pro-Line driver Hupo Honigl can again be expected to be a major contender this weekend. Finding a new level of motivation since his switch to Team C for the 2014 season, the Austrian has prepared well for Round 3 having already made a trip to the Hudy Arena for pre-race testing.
Kyosho’s challenge for a first EOS will again come from 1:8 Offroad European Champion David Ronnefalk. Showing good pace at Rounds 1 & 2, the 17-year-old Swede was frustrated with his results to date and is determined to make up for that this weekend. Making his first EOS appearance since taking a 2WD podium at the season finale two years ago, Marc Rheinard will travel to Trencin. Struggling for form in the ETS, the 3-time Touring Car world Champion will be hoping the switch to offroad will prove less frustrating than recent touring car outings. Another Touring Car ace who will be in action at the Hudy Arena is Team Associated’s Juho Levanen. Despite feeling under weather on his EOS debut in Berlin, the Finn managed a Top 5 run in the third round of 2WD qualifying and so should be one to watch this weekend.