July 15, 2019

Riccardo Berton takes EFRA 1/8 Buggy title

The 2019 EFRA 1/8th Nitro Buggy European Championship was held at the Ongaroring in Sacile, Italy this past week. The event was held in very mixed weather conditions, making things pretty challenging for Europe’s best drivers. Ultimately and at the end of five entertaining qualifying rounds it was Team Associated’s Davide Ongaro with the overall TQ on home soil from Kyosho’s Riccardo Berton on the 2 spot. SWorkz’s Elliott Boots came in 3rd, from 4th placed Mugen racer, Robert Batlle. 5th went to HB Racing’s David Ronnefalk, Alex Zanchettin (Tekno RC) came in 6th, Xray’s Marco Baruffolo would end the qualifiers in 7th and Renaud Savoya would round out the top 8 for TLR, with eight different manufacturers on the top spots.

A thrilling finals day at the Ongaroring initially started with what looked like promising weather with not a cloud in the sky and beautiful sunshine, but, the threat of rain was never far away. The schedule had already been preplanned by the organisers to account for problematic weather in the afternoon so not a full schedule of finals, with many taking place on the previous day. However, two great semi finals resulted in wins for Davide Ongaro and Riccardo Berton and the ever exciting Last Chance Qualifier that saw young Berak Kilic bump up to start on 13th place. At the front end of the grid it was Ongaro, from Berton from two twice European champions Elliott Boots and David Ronnefalk.

As the final got underway, Ongaro surged ahead looking as strong and confident as expected, but as the laps approached double digits it seemed Ongaro just couldn’t pull away from the chasing Berton and Ronnefalk and as the young Italian made a mistake the experienced Swede became the main chaser. Then, after mistakes from both Ongaro and Berton, Ronnefalk who had been up until now, decidedly off-colour, took a good lead. This combined with a longer fuel strategy left him at times looking like a strong candidate for the win.

However much more drama was set to unfold, as after a few minutes, heavy rain drops began to fall and the drivers started to experience increasingly adverse conditions as the track continued to get wetter and wetter with pools of water forming in places… during this time the lead changed many times, mostly with Ronnefalk, but also with Ongaro and Berton spending time out front as the different pit strategies worked their way through. Then major drama struck at the 25 minute mark as Davide flamed out. At this point everyone knew, the man who TQ’d the last two years in a row would once again have the European Championship slip from his clutches.

Next a frantic cat and mouse battle between Ronnefalk and Berton ensued with the lead continuing to change as the two teams fuel strategies continued to play out. But even more so the changing conditions affected the different set ups and driving styles, as the dry, dusty low grip track became a sticky, muddy affair where at times the cars were so covered in mud it was hard to tell them apart. But, as the rain stopped and the hot sun once again shone, the track started to return to something more like its original form and as the cars cleaned themselves off, the drivers also really started to demonstrate their talent to the excited crowd.

A truly nail biting final that had everything going for it – went right down to the wire with Riccardo Berton claiming the win by just 0.4 of a second after 45 minutes, from Ronnefalk who had been leading just a few laps earlier, before a stunning overtake by the young Italian. Also, a fantastic 3rd place behind Ricardo and David goes to young Burak Kilic, who worked his way up from P13. The final really took its toll with a number of drivers not making the full trip, not only Ongaro but also Batlle and even 3-time EFRA champion Reno Savoya – who made some convincing moves for the podium – dropped down by the end. Shortly after the final the heavens truly opened with a torrential downpour lasting 2 hours, really justifying the organisers moves to bring races forward and schedule an early finish with a full and fantastic main final in the books.

Final results:
1. Riccardo Berton – Kyosho/O.S./Pro-Line
2. David Ronnefalk – HB Racing/Performa/Performa
3. Burak Kilic – Agama/Bullitt/AKA
4. Renaud Savoya – TLR/RCConcept/JConcepts
5. Juan Carlos Canas – SWorkrs/Reds Racing/6mik
6. Elliott Boots – SWorks/Reds Racing/Pro-Line
7. Bryan Baldo – Kyosho/Bullitt/AKA
8. Marco Ravaglia – Mugen/VS Engines/AKA
9. Robert Batlle – Mugen/Maxima/HotRace
10.João Figueiredo – Kyosho/Ielasi Tuned/Pro-Line
11.Davide Ongaro – Team Associated/LRP/AKA
12.Marco Baruffolo – Xray/FX/HotRace
13.Mattia Polito – Kyosho/Novarossi/AKA

Source: EFRA []

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