The Euro Offroad Series will run it’s first ever outdoor race this weekend (20-22 April) with the German encounter set to decide this season’s champion or champions depending on the outcome. Added to the EOS calendar last season shortly after opening the doors to its new indoor facility, Arena 33 has subsequently added an outdoor astro surface track that has just been completed in time for the Season #7 finale, setting the stage for an extra interesting 2017/18 title showdown. Unlike last season, when both titles had already been decided before the concluding race, the defending buggy champions have challengers to them retaining their titles. After holding 28 championship races indoors, even the weather looks set to shine on the first outdoor EOS encounter, with temperatures in the high 20s forecast for Andernach.
In 2WD, reigning champion Michal Orlowski holds the points lead. The only multiple winner this season, including winning the most recent outing in Austria last month, the Schumacher driver has a challenger in Neil Cragg. The Team Associated driver has had a break through season finally claiming his first race win. The former World Champion has also had the best qualifying record claiming 2 TQ from the 4 rounds. While Cragg must win to take what would be Team Associated’s first EOS title, Orlowski feels the switch to astro turf with will be advantageous to his rival saying, ‘Neil was born racing on astro so he knows what to do with the car’. Cragg and fellow British driver Lee Martin come into the weekend expected to be extra strong as the two drivers with the best knowledge of the track surface given the popularity of the surface at UK tracks.
In 4WD, it also the current champion that leads the points with Bruno Coelho having a 3-point advantage over Orlowski. The Xray driver has two wins as does his challenger but Orlowski needs to make it three wins to secure his first ever 4WD title and potentially become only the third ever EOS double champion. The only other drivers to wrap up both titles in the same season are Orlowski’s new team-mate Joern Neumann and Yokomo’s Lee Martin.
While the attention will be on the title battles, a number of drivers will be hoping the new surface will present the opportunity to wrap up what has been a disappointing season on a high note. While he sits third in the 4WD standings, Lee Martin has had a frustrating time and hasn’t been able to properly battle for race wins. Down in 5th in the 2WD standings, after Wels where he had his worst finish of the season he vowed to test extensively ahead of the season finale. Top Qualifier at Arena 33 last year, Team Associated’s Joona Hataanen came close to his first podium at Round 4. Having not enjoyed the form many expected this season, the talented young Finn will be more determined than ever to take advantage of the new surface and at least finish with a podium result.
While they wont want to harm their team-mates chances in the title battle both Martin Bayer and Neumann will be looking to cap off some strong showings this season with a win. Bayer has enjoyed a TQ proving the Xray team-manager has the speed while Neumann is enjoying his best season in years since joining Schumacher at Round 2. Another to watch will be Martin Wollanka who had promising debut outing with Sworkz at the previous round. A former European Champion when the race took place on astro, Marc Rheinard will be determined to put a terrible season behind him in his home town.