September 4, 2016

Leino wins ENS Austria to give Infinity first win

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Having been in a class of his own all weekend, Teemu Leino has capped off a perfect performance at the third round of the Euro Nitro Series with victory in Austria.  A repeat of his 2015 result at the Aigen track, this time round the win was more convincing and one which will go down in his team’s history as it mark’s nitro onroad newcomers Team Infinity’s first win as a manufacturer.  Starting from the TQ, Leino came under the attention of Serpent’s Dominic Greiner early on as the pair pulled clear of the 12-car field.  However having just made his first tyre stop, Greiner’s race would come to an abrupt end as the rear right axle bearing assembly parted company with the car as he chased Leino.  That left Leino to drive a calculated race to claim his second consecutive win of the season and put himself into serious contention for the title that is currently held by his absent from Austria team-mate Jilles Groskamp.  Behind Leino, Erik Dankel would keep him honest eventually finishing 10-seconds back to make a much welcomed return to the podium for the former champion, that podium being completed by Thilo Tödtmann.

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Having secured his Ettlingen win driving a Capricorn as he waited on Infinity’s new 1:10 prototype release for the World Championship, Leino said, ‘I am very happy to give Infinity their first win.  I’m very happy for Kenji because he has pushed a lot for this and put everything in place to make winning possible’.  On today’s final, his win making him the ENS’ most successful 1:10 driver, he said, ‘the race went pretty much like planned.  We went for two full tyre stops so I could all the time drive full punch’.  He continued, ‘when I saw Dominic stop for only two (outside tyres) I knew we were good’.  While the first tyre stop was troubled, loosing him 10-seconds, leaving ‘Erik on (his) bumper’ he said ‘I knew also we had one less fuel stop to do then Erik’ so it was ok.  Having changed the set-up on his Novarossi powered prototype for the final practice he said he ended up going back to the set-up he ran in qualifying and ‘it was the right decision’ adding his ‘engine was very stable all the time’ over the 45-minutes.  The only major moment of the race was one he created himself in the closing minutes.  Asked what caused him to roll his car and need marshalling he said, ‘I tried to push more to get a bigger lead and ended up making a stupid mistake’.

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‘On the podium after such a long time. I’m very happy’, was Dankel’s reaction after his first trouble free race of the season.  The German, who shared the same number of wins as Leino coming into the event, said, ‘I made some mistakes over the final so I could have been closer if I drove more clean’.  Describing his Mugen MTX6 as ‘good’, he said the only drama he would have was when his engine smothered during one of his stops making for very slow exit from the pit lane.  Making two 4-tyre stops,  the first slightly slower than planned he said , ‘today Teemu was crazy fast and deserved to win.  Without failures on his side he was going to be hard to beat’.

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A former ENS podium finisher, Tödtmann was ‘super happy’ to take his first podium of the season.  The Capricorn driver would have a ‘super bad start’ from 7th on the grid coming together first with Francesco Tironi and then Patrick Schafer.  Planning to only change the outside tyres and fuel at 5:40, he said after dropping to last after the start they changed to ‘a safe strategy’ to fuel on 5-minutes and go for 2 full tyre stops allowing him to ‘push all the time’.  Tödtmann did admit the tyre wear was much more than expected hinting his original strategy may have left him struggling.   Driving ‘maximum push’ he said the new strategy ‘worked out’ but admitted he also got lucky and that ‘Tironi was unlucky to run out of fuel and I’m sorry for him’, holding third at the time Tironi’s Infinity would run out of fuel with just 3-laps to go.   Also benefiting from Tironi woes, Carmine Raiola, who bumped up from the B-Main, would get fourth with his team-mate getting restarted to complete the Top 6.

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The only driver to show any signs of being able to take the race to Leino, Greiner said up until his exit, ‘everything was ok, but Teemu was still fast’.  The World Champion said while his Novarossi engine was ‘a bit rich’ after the first refuelling, the tyre stop to change just the outside tyres was good and it was just bad luck this time they couldn’t finish the race.  Complimenting his rival, saying ‘Teemu did a perfect job’, he said his own retirement was ‘disappointing as the ENS title is gone for sure’.

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