Remarks – Claiming the overall TQ here in Aigen, Simon Kurzbuch is running the basic Simon Kurzbuch Edition of the Velox V8 “WC”. Over the standard car this includes aluminium wheel axles, titanium screws, Brilliant RC ball bearing set, brass battery plate, and 0.8 clutch. The Swiss driver said even on the set-up everything is pretty much how he normally runs the car.
Simon Kurzbuch is the Top Qualifier at Round 3 of the Euro Nitro Series in Austria. The Shepherd driver secured his second TQ start of the season when, after a delayed start to Day 2 of qualifying at Aigen, due to overnight rain, he was fastest for a third time in Q5. An important bonus championship point for the reigning champion, starting behind him on the grid for the 45-minute A-Main tomorrow will be points leader Bruno Coelho. The only other driver to TQ one of the five qualifying rounds, the return of rain causing the cancellation of Q6, Robert Pietsch will line up third ahead of a competitive looking Silvio Hächler. Qualifying fifth, Toni Gruber makes it five different manufacturers at the front end of the grid with Lars Hoppe completing the Top 6.
‘One more step closer to getting to the top of the standings. We reached our first goal of the weekend and I hope we can end with a good result’, was Kurzbuch’s reaction after claiming his 7th ENS career TQ honours. Commenting on his run that secured him pole for the final, he said, ‘It was a really good run but at the end it was a little wet which made it difficult. I was afraid that I lost it on the last lap because it was bad again’. Yesterday a bad final lap prevented him from wrapping up the overall TQ in Q4 as Coelho beat him by 0.046 of a second. Chasing a hat trick of wins at the Aigen track, having clinched the title with his win here last year, looking to the final the Swiss ace believes tyre strategy is the biggest opportunity to find an advantage. The factory Novarossi driver said fuel consumption is ‘good’ but with the new surface changing the track from a tyre eater to one where wear is quite low he feels it important to have a good strategy for this change. Asked if he had decided on when and what tyre change he would make he replied, ‘I have to discuss it with my father this evening’.
Summing up his qualifying, finishing 6-tenths of a second off Kurzbuch in what was to be the final qualifier, Coelho said, ‘the car was very good on the track but we made a bad tyre decision’. He continued, ‘we used small tyres but at the end it was difficult to drive because they were too low’. Asked about his chassis, his Q4 TQ coming with a damaged chassis because of a lack of time to change it after a big off in the third round, he said, ‘we checked it and the damage doesn’t effect it so we have kept it’. Chasing his first Aigen win, this only his second visit to the Austrian track, the Xray driver added, ‘I am confident for the final. My car is really good. We still need to discuss tyres. The wear is super low but for sure we need to change. It is not easy to calculate because we don’t have information from before and we don’t have this wear anywhere else.’
‘I’m ok with P3’ was Pietsch’s reaction following the announcement Q6 wouldn’t run due to the rain. Top Qualifier here in 2015, he said, ‘I was unlucky in the last qualifier as I had an unglued rear tyre so I could have got a better position’. Asked about his approach to tomorrow’s final he said, ‘It is hard to say now because we are not sure about the rain. Cooler conditions are better for me but I think it might be warmer again. We will check tomorrow in practice what we will do’. Asked about the low tyre wear, the 2013 World Champion replied, ‘tyre wear is not a problem, it might be possible to do the race with no stop’.
Securing his best ever ENS qualifying position Hächler said, ‘P4, I’m really happy with that’. The ARC driver was less happy with his final qualifying attempt however saying,’I had no grip once the rain drops started. It really affected my car more compared to the others’. Overall pleased with his car this weekend in the hot & dry conditions, the two time ENS podium finisher said, ‘I hope the sun is back tomorrow and the track is warmer. If its like that I change nothing for the final’. Asked about strategy he replied, ‘I have really good fuel consumption and I think I can save 1 or maybe 2 stops on some other drivers. The tyres I have to discuss but it would probably be hard to drive 45-minutes without changing’.
Fresh from winning the 1:10 European Championship last week, Gruber said, ‘P5 is not bad but it is not what I wanted to get’. The WRC driver continued, ‘we still have the problem with the steering but we will test a lot of things in the practice tomorrow to try find the problem. If we can fix it then the car will be complete’. The German will go into the final as he would any other saying, ‘I will start the final like all finals, I drive safe at first. We think a lot about not changing tyres but maybe one change will be better, we will see tomorrow’.
With the big focus on the 1:8 title fight, with the 1:10 field having less depth than normal due to last week’s Euros in France, it is Bruno Coelho who will start on pole. With drivers getting in all six rounds of qualifying, Coelho wrapped up the TQ in Q5 and capped off the day with a fifth TQ run in Q6. The only driver to top the winner of the season opener when he took Q4, Leo Arnold made it an Xray 1-2 on the grid. Shepherd’s Thilo Tödtmann secured 3rd ahead of team-mate Melvin Diekmann with ENS Germany podium finisher Marco Kaufmann completing the Top 5 ahead of Austrian Gerhard Kandelhart.
Chassis – Serpent 988 Viper Engine – OS Speed R2103 Fuel – Runner Time Tires (handout) – MR33 Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Savox Body – Blitz TS0040
Remarks – Leading the Serpent challenge at the end of the first day of qualifying, Merlin Depta is using new harder plastic parts the company has produced for the upcoming World Championships next month in France. Apart from that the German said the rest of his 988 Viper is ‘pretty standard’ with the exception of some of his own handy work. It turns out Merlin has his own CNC machines and his work is featured on the car in the aluminium throttle link and his carbon radio box. The radio box which features a 30gram tungsten weight gives the the car a better centre line balance, the weight offsetting the off centre weight and position of the engine. In terms of unique set-up being used on the car to get it more suited to the Aigen track, both himself and Dominic Greiner are running a ‘quite soft’ rear end set-up to help reduce the rear of the car twitching. He described the feeling as being similar to that experienced by drivers in Ettlingen.
Remarks – ARC driver Silvio Hächler is enjoying a welcomed resurgence in form here in Aigen. While not helped at the previous round in Ettlingen by the fact a college exam meant he could only arrive on the Saturday, the Swiss driver has put his strong showing this weekend down to having had some valuable testing time with friend & reigning World Champion Simon Kurzbuch. In terms of his car, he said it features nothing special with the biggest difference in his package being his engines. The 2017 season OS Speed team signing is running the newly released R2103 and has been praising its performance throughout qualifying.
Remarks – Leading the Shepherd charge at the newly resurfaced Aigen track in Austria, Thilo Tödtmann is running the German company’s Velox V10 “WC” with the standard array of optional parts. Two key items on the car however are the use of a steel clutch instead of the optional aluminium version he would normally use. The reason for switching to the steel is because of the high temperatures experienced both in Thursday’s practice and yesterday’s qualifying. Thilo also feels it is better for the track’s inclines offering more overall consistency. The other main item on the car is the new Brilliant RC rear body mount, which made of carbon fibre is not only a lighter option than previous anti tuck set-ups, but offers better protection of the body during refuelling.
With the first official day of the Euro Nitro Series third round in Austria starting out looking like a Simon Kurzbuch affair, the second part of the day’s qualifying changed things up as Robert Pietsch and Bruno Coelho posted TQ runs to set the stage for a TQ shoot out tomorrow should the weather permit. Having taken Q1 and Q2, top seed Kurzbuch would make a rare driver error in the third round and Coelho would hit trouble also suffering a big crash while working his way through traffic. This left a much improved Pietsch to TQ ahead of Kurzbuch, Silvio Hächler and Dominic Greiner, Coelho ending up 10th. Suffering a bent chassis in the impact, Coelho would surprise nobody more than himself when due to a lack of time to fit a new one he would take his damaged car to a TQ run in the fastest time of the day. Finishing just 4/100ths of a second ahead of Kurzbuch, to deny him claiming an early TQ championship point, the result sets up a three way battle tomorrow to decide the Top Qualifier. With rain forecast for overnight and the morning, both the organisers and drivers are confident that the remaining two qualifiers can be run.
Smiling at the fact he was able to TQ the round, Coelho said, ‘in the previous qualifier I had a hard crash and bent the chassis but we had no time to change but actually the car worked better. The round was perfect’. Running behind Kurzbuch throughout the qualifier, the Portuguese ace said, ‘I knew it was super close between us so I pushed even more at the end and got it’. Asked what he planned to do about his damaged chassis, he laughed and said, ‘we will discuss whether to stay on it or change it’. A surprise challenger to Kurzbuch this year, 1:10 having been his stronger class previously, Coelho said, ‘I think we have a good chance of the TQ here. Ok Simon is super strong but I have the fastest time now. I hope that the weather will allow that we can get to fight it out on the track tomorrow’.
Ending the day with a P3 run, Pietsch said, ‘I was getting close to Dominic (Greiner) but he was not much slower so it was difficult to pass but even without this I had not chance of another TQ’. On his TQ in the previous round, he said, ‘my car was much better because it was cooler. I was running close to Simon and then he had a mistake in front of me so I knew I had a chance of the TQ’. Summing it up as a ‘decent day’, the 2015 Top Qualifier of the event said, ‘of course I will try for the overall TQ tomorrow but it will be very difficult’ concluding, ‘it is very close so everything is possible’.
‘Shit’ was how Kurzbuch reaction to Q3 & 4. The Shepherd driver continued, ‘I had a very good last run but in the end I finished behind Bruno. It was not a good last lap and that’s cost me the TQ. I was surprised at the end but it makes things interesting’. On his Q3 error he said it was simply a ‘driver error’. Asked about tomorrow the Swiss driver who is chasing a hat trick of Aigen wins, said, ‘now we have to look at the weather but I expect we will drive and I will prepare for that. I just have one more (TQ run) to take and its done’.
Sitting fourth in the overnight qualification ranking, Hächler described his day as having been ‘not too bad’. The ARC driver added, ‘everything is super good with the car but it seems other guys have good cars too’. Fourth fastest in Q4, he said he had two mistakes over the 4-minutes but even without this adding it is ‘not possible to catch the first 3 guys’. Making a rear wing adjustment and toe-in change for Q3, he said these helped the stability of his car. Enjoying one of his most competitive ENS outings for some time he said, ‘lets hope we can get some dry rounds tomorrow. I am really looking forward to the final for sure’.
Finishing the day with a P5 run to hold that position overnight, Toni Gruber said while ‘the lap times and overall result are not bad’ things are ‘not good’. The WRC driver is having problems with the cars steering which he said on throttle out of corners is trying to continue the rotation of the car. Third overall in last year’s ENS standings, the German said they are still looking for a solution to give him more confidence in the car and in particular how it steers. Behind Gruber the Serpent’s of Merlin Depta and Dominic Greiner hold 6th ad 7th respectively ahead of Infinity’s Jilles Groskamp.
In 1:10, Coelho like Kurzbuch in 1:8 would throw away an early overall TQ with a mistake. Having taken the opening three qualifiers from team-mate Leo Arnold, he would flip his car on the curbing at the end of the main straight. This allowed Arnold to TQ the round while behind Coelho with Shepherd driver Melvin Diekmann completed the Top 3 as team-mate Thilo Tödtmann hit problems ending his run of P3 results.