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The sixth season of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series got underway today in Muelheim-Kaerlich, Germany, with defending champion Ronald Volker laying out his intentions early as he set the pace in the first round of timed practice. Having had two free practice runs in the morning, in the first of the two timed practice runs from which the fastest three laps will determine the reseed for this evening’s opening round of qualifying, Volker put his new Yokomo BD7 top of the time sheets ahead of the new Xray T4 of Norwegian Adrien Bernsten.

Fresh from winning last weekend’s IIC race in Las Vegas, the winner of the opening race of the ETS for the past two season’s said his new LRP powered Yokomo feels very good and is reacting well to the increasing amount of traction the brand new carpet is building up with each round of running the record entry gets on the track. Benefiting from the knowledge built up at the IIC last week Volker said he has had to make little changes to his set-up and having run a new set of the series’ controlled Ride tyres in his first time practice he plans to continue on the same rubber for the final practice so as to check where they are in terms of wear with the 32 shore tyre. A layout designed by Spanish racer Toni Mateo, the man responsible for hosting the Gran Canaria round of the ETS, the track and in particular the chicane in front of the drivers is proving a big hit with racers. Coming across more confident than normal, Volker says he really likes the chicane as with a bit of extra risk there is the chance to make a lot of time through it.

Having just rejoined Team Xray after a year with Yokomo, 19-year-old Bernsten was very happy with his start to the event. Only receiving his T4 kit on Monday which he duly built so he could test on his local track in Norway on Wednesday before departing for the ETS on Thursday, the former European Junior Champion said the car feels really good and he plans to leave it as is for his next run. Switching from the standard arms to graphite arms he said this made the car more consistent and easy to drive. Team-mate Alexander Hagberg, a winner in the series last season and Team Xray’s main title hope for the 2012/13 title, could only manage the 17th fastest time in the first timed practice. The Swede said his ORCA powered T4 was too nervous and for the final practice he will copy the set-up of Bernsten.

Another driver attending the ETS straight from the IIC, Team Associated’s Juho Levanen set the third fastest time. The Finn said he is trying a ‘pretty radical’ set-up on his TC6.1 following on from the direction he took in Vegas where he qualified 3rd and it feels good. Just making some small changes to suit the larger ETS track which covers an area 30 metres in length by 20 metres in depth, he said having run new tyres when he set his time he will re-run them again for his next run with the same set-up.

Having not seen competitive action since the World Championships in the Netherlands where he lost his title to Tamiya team-mate Jilles Groskamp, Marc Rheinard set the fifth fastest time. Driving his Speed Passion powered TRF417, the German declared himself reasonably happy with the car on which he said his is still trying out some small changes. Planning on running the same set-up in the last practice he said he will use the track time to try a different additive.

Making it 5 different manufacturers at the top of the time sheets, Freddy Sudhoff took his Awesomatix to the fifth fastest time. Now with two versions of the car available, the L and the EX, Sudhoff is testing a number of parts from both cars and summed up the end result as ‘so far so good’. A team that has enjoyed huge growth in the ETS with drivers running the Russian designed car occupying a full row of tables in the huge pit area here in Germany, the team’s lead modified driver is running his A700 in transverse configuration making it the loudest car on the track due to the extra gear required for the more conventional touring car motor position on the shaft driven car. Happy with his 3-lap pace the German said his focus is more on how he can run 5-minutes adding that he needs to improve his steering as the car is a little edgy.

Completing the Top 6 was last season’s finale winner Yannick Prumper. Running two BD7 chassis’ in the first timed practice he said the first car was easy to drive but slow while the second was fast but edgy and he needs a car that is in between. Planning to run his second car again he said he will fit to it the diff from from his first car which he hopes will give him what he is looking for.

The other of last seasons race winners, Kyosho’s Christopher Krapp set the 10th fastest time. The German crashed and broke his Orion powered TF6 less than 2 minutes into the run and so thinks he could have produced a better time but said based on his morning practice runs he feels he has a good car for a 5-minute run. Others to crash in the same group were former World Champion Andy Moore and Tamiya’s Elliot Harper. Harper managed only 7 laps after his 417 suffered a huge impact when he collected Moore’s out of shape HB on the main straight. Moore managed to continue for a few more laps but the car didn’t not sound good and he pulled up, only able to set the 36th fastest time of the 102 Modified competitors.

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