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5 things we learned from ETS RD1 Season #16 in Apeldoorn

The season opener in Apeldoorn is over, and we had a great event in the Netherlands. Today we like to inform you about the 5 things we have learned from ETS RD1 Season #16 2023/24 at AMCA Apeldoorn. Read about tires, the club, our drivers of the weekend, Orlowski on a mission, and Axon working on a touring car!

1.) AMCA Apeldoorn – simply one of the best tracks and clubs all around the world

The AMCA Apeldoorn has become a permanent fixture in the Euro Touring Series racing calendar. Once again, the club did a great job and all the drivers, mechanics, helpers and spectators were very impressed with the professional work that the AMCA crew does year after year. From the cafeteria to the pits, from the toilets to the tribune, everything was in perfect shape and the team around Gaston van Kleef, Peter Jongeling and Martijn van der Heijden was always there to help everybody.

When talking about the racetrack itself, there is no way to describe it in words. The AMCA track is just AMAZING and a pure joy to drive on. Everyone who has never been to Apeldoorn should give it a try, be it an ETS, a TOS, a Tamiya Cup or just a nice and relaxed day of practice.

2.) Orlowski is on a winning streak

Schumacher factory driver Michal Orlowski is enjoying the ETS as he never did before. After winning the final race of the last season on carpet at the Sporthotel Grafenwald in Daun, he was on fire again at our season opener in Apeldoorn. It was his first big touring car race win on asphalt and he was mega happy after the race.
He worked so hard with his team around Andy Murray and Mattia Collina, and earned a well-deserved win in the Netherlands. For sure, he was also benefittign a little bit from Rheinards DNF in the last A-Main, but finishing races is also a key to success and Orlowski used this key in the right moment.

Sadly, Michal Orlowski will miss ETS RD2 in Austria due to a very important buggy race (his main class), but he will be back in Andernach to score important points for the championship. Until then, good luck at all your Offroad races Michal…!

It is just incredible to win here in Apeldoorn. After the race win at the season finale on carpet in Daun we had not been 100% sure if we can be as competitive on asphalt too. The last time here in Apeldoorn I was only in the B-Main, so today is a very special day for me and the team. I like to thank my team around Andy and Mattia for all their help, as well as all my sponsors for their trust in me.

Michal Orlowski (PL) Schumacher | Hobbywing

3.) Dankel and Kölbel – the drivers of the weekend

At every ETS, there are drivers scoring amazing results. We like to talk about two of them which (from the perspective of our reporter) had been the drivers of the weekend at ETS RD1 in the Netherlands:

Eric Dankel

The Mugen Seiki factory driver achieved his first ETS podium in the modified class after a brilliant weekend. He was able to put his Mugen Seiki MTC-2R on fourth place on the grid and with two third, and one second place in the finals he moved up to P3 in the end. Eric won some ETS races in the Pro Stock class many years ago, before he switched to modified racing. When looking back onto the last races, Eric was in the A-Main at every of his last eight races, crowning this great result with a well-deserved podium in Apeldoorn. Congratulations to Eric Dankel!

I had an amazing weekend here in Apeldoorn and my package worked flawless right from the start. I also had a little luck during the races but my pace was also very good and I am more that happy to step onto the podium in the modified class for the first time. Thanks to all my sponsors for their support and also to the whole Mugen team for the great time in the pits.

Eric Dankel (DE) Mugen Seiki | Hobbywing

Renè Kölbel

The Austrian racer is our second “driver of the weekend”. Mostly known for his Formula racing, Kölbel (Xray) is now also starting in the 1up Racing 40+ Masters class. With the setup help of his good friend Patrick Gollner (Xray), he was able to seal the TQ spot in qualifying which was already kind of a big surprise. In the finals he had to show strong nerves and he also had to survive some tough moments but in the end he took the overall win in this highly competitive class at his first race. Amazing job Rene Kölbel.

Wow, I didn`t expect to win this race when we came here. My goal was to put the car into the main. But thanks to my friend Patrick (Gollner), my car was so good and I could quickly get up to speed. It was super to race with all the 40+ Masters guys and I am already looking forward to the next race.

Renè Kölbel (AT) Xray | LRP

4.) Axon working on a complete Touring Car

The Axon team was in attendance with their lead driver Akio Sobue, and company owner and race mechanic Hidetoshi Mitsusada. Akio was on a good top 5 pace for most of the weekend, and he finished sixth overall after some eventful triple A-Mains. But what is the story now?
We noticed that Axon is working on their first complete touring car which they will try to release to the market until the end of the year. In the last years, the Axon car was a conversion kit which customers could use to convert a Yokomo BD10 into an Axon car. But now, the team around Mitsusada, Sobue, and Ishioka is creating something new and they were running the first version in Apeldoorn.
We were not allowed to take some pictures, but our reporter saw the car on the table and it already looked very close to production. Axon is always making high quality products and we can expect their touring car to be a good one for sure.

5.) New Matrix tire compound was ultra fast, and also very challenging

No doubt, the topic of the weekend had been the Matrix touring car tires. A week before the race it became clear that the Matrix tire could not get produced in the same way anymore. The reason for this was a raw material shortage which came almost out of nowhere. A quick solution was needed, and Cristian Boni from Matrix made a different tire for the ETS race in Apeldoorn. Without his hard work, we would have had a very big problem: A lack of racing tires.
So with the start of ETS Season #16, the drivers had a new compound on the table and everybody was excited to find out about it`s performance. And the tires performed. They had been so fast, that the modified drivers did one lap more (!) than last year with the “old” Matrix tires. The track recore went down from 14.0 to 13.6 which was just insane!

However, the tires also created some challenges as they were more critical to drive in cooler temperatures, and especially in the first few laps when they had been new. The drivers of the slower Stock classes also had the feeling that it was not easy to get the tires to work perfectly. As the stock cars did not generate the same amount of load to the tires (compared to modified), they had a lot of setup work to do to get their cars (and tires) into the perfect window. As we had cooler weather conditions on Thursday and Friday it was not easy, but improved quickly on Saturday and Sunday when the sun was out.

But as most of the ETS racers are really good at setting up their race cars, we could also see that the “handling problems” of day 1 disappeared during the event as everybody invested a lot of work to adapt their car and driving style to the demands of the tires. Drivers started to use the tire warmers for a longer time, they used more additive, or cleaned the tires more often. Like in real motorsports, the teams tried everything and in the end the overall results had been the same as we would have expected them to be with the “old” Matrix racing tires.
In the next days, we will quickly inform all racers if the tires will stay the same for our next race in Aigen to make sure that everybody can go for practice with the actual tires for this next ETS race.