April 20, 2015

Collari gives rivals a ‘master class’ to win ENS opener

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A track where back in 1978 a 6-year-old Lamberto Collari would begin a career that has brought him 9-time World Champion titles, today the legend of the sport gave his rivals a master class in how to execute the perfect final as he took victory in the season opener of the Euro Nitro Series.  Now owner of the L.Collari RC Raceway, Collari claimed his third ENS win by a full lap over Top Qualifier Dario Balestri with Andrea Pirani completing the podium in Bologna. The honour of best non Italian fell to defending champion Simon Kurzbuch who would finish 5th behind Alberto Picco after a difficult race.

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A track where Collari was expected to win he said at the start of the weekend he was ‘actually not so sure’ it was possible.  With the ENS 140 entry creating high grip on the track he said it was like driving a new track but they worked hard and ‘everything came together’ and he was able to take a convincing victory.  Expecting a strong challenge from Balestri the master of race strategies went for two less fuel stops than the reigning European Champion. Pitting for tyres half way through the race the unsponsored Mugen/OS driver said at the end of the first stint his handout Matrix ‘tyres were done’.  Able to run a more conservative second half to the 45-minute main he said he reached the finish with the tyres still OK.  Keen to add the ENS title to his list of achievement he said the result is a good start to that aspiration and he is looking forward to Round 2 in Austria in June.

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Having led the way in qualifying taking three of the six qualifiers and leading for the first 10-minutes of the final Balestri said everything was good but twice he suffered problem with the bodyshell during refuelling that cost him valuable seconds each time.  The Capricorn/Tesla driver slightly frustrated at having not been able to beat Collari in his own backyard said ‘we will see at the next race if we can beat him’.

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Claiming his first ENS podium finish WRC driver and designer Andrea Pirani was very happy with the result.  Making a mistake at the first corner which dropped him from his 3rd place starting position to 5th, he said he lost a lot of time behind Robert Pietsch and it was difficult to overtake the Mugen as he was defending strongly his position.  With this allowing Collari and Balestri to pull away he said once he was passed Pietsch he was able to establish a good rhythm managing to pull some time back on Balestri towards the end of the race.  Stopping for tyres after 20-minutes he said their tyre calculations for the race were good and it was a ‘quick stop’.

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Having looked in contention for at least a top 3 finish unfortunately for Picco an engine cut 13-minutes in to the final would end his challenge for a podium.  Coming out of the pits he said instead of exiting full power he went half throttle but his engine went rich and before he could catch it it cut. After that he said ‘not easy to catch back up’ but as a race he drove with no mistakes over the 45-minutes and he was ‘happy with that’.  His best ENS finish to date, the vastly experienced Italian said his car, engine and tyres were all good and had better pace than finishing 4th.

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‘That wasn’t my best race’ was how a disappointed Kurzbuch summed up the first race of his title defence.  The Team Shepherd driver made a mistake at the beginning that would leave his Velox V8 tweaked.  Taking a little consolation from being the best non Italian finisher, the Swiss driver said the big problem was that he ‘made a lot of errors’.  With his pitcrew ‘making a perfect job’ he said the errors were all from his side.  While he gave his best he said he hoped for better at the next round at the Aigen track.

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While Kurzbuch’s Shepherd team-mate Francesco Tironi would complete the Top 6, his main title rival of 2014 Pietsch would too suffer a bad start to his championship campaign.  Retiring in the final 10-minutes of the race with a broken clutch, the 2011 World Champion said from the start of the race his Picco powered MRX5 ‘felt strange’ with him having no rear traction and he couldn’t understand how it had become so bad until after the race. On inspecting the car for which he was responsible for designing he found two key screws missing from the rear of the chassis of a car.  Screws he ‘normally never open’, he was at a loss to explain how they went missing.

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