October 23, 2016

4 out of 4, Kurzbuch completes perfect ENS campaign

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Simon Kurzbuch completed the perfect championship campaign as he made it four wins from the four races that make up the Euro Nitro Series.  Having already sewn up the title at Round 3 in Austria, the World Champion capped off his 2nd ENS title with a fourth win at 2016 season finale at the Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter track in Fiorano, Italy.  Starting what would be reduced to a 30-minute final due to rain from fourth on the grid the Team Shepherd driver would go to the front just before the half way mark to go on and take victory ahead of Top Qualifier Dario Balestri, front tyre management hampering last year’s Champion’s quest for the win.  Behind the two title protagonists, emerging star of the 2016 championship Toni Gruber would cap off a great campaign by claiming a second podium finish of the season.

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‘It couldn’t have been better.  It’s great to finish the season with this win. I am very thankful to my sponsors for giving me a good package this year’, was how Kurzbuch summed up his season.  He added, ‘four out of four is almost impossible to repeat.  The ENS is very important for me and my sponsors so for sure the aim now is to try and become the first driver to win back to back titles’.  On today’s race, the Swiss driver said, ‘Starting fourth made it a little more difficult than from the front and I lost one position but by the first (fuel) stop I was up to third’.  He continued, ‘I had to drive a little smooth to make the left tyre last the 30-minutes because we were only changing the outside tyres but we had a really good tyre stop and this helped giving us the win’.

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‘Like I told you after qualifying we didn’t have the tyre strategy and again the problem was front tyres’, was Balestri’s reaction to losing out to Kurzbuch on the season finale win for a second year running.  The Capricorn driver said the shortening of the race also hurt his chances as while others could just change the outside tyres he still had to change all four adding, ‘changing only one side I would not have had front tyres to get to the finish’.  Asked about a cure for the problem that has twice cost the race’s Top Qualifier from converting pole position into victory, the 2015 Champion said, ‘maybe for this track I need a different set-up but for sure we have to try better to fight with Simon next year’.

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Gruber summed up his race with, ‘I think 3rd position is good because we planned our strategy for 45-minutes and then the race was reduced to 30’.  The 20-year old, for whom 2016 was his first season with ARC, continued, ‘we switched strategy to change only the right side and at the end I had little tyre left but all the way through everything was perfect with the car’.   Reflecting on a season that has put the German driver on a number of manufacturers’ radars, he said, ‘I am absolutely happy with how the season went.  This was my first year with another car (brand) and it was my best season.  I’m very satisfied with 3rd overall in the championship’.

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Outside of the podium in Fiorano, it was Francesco Tironi who was to come out on top of an intense all-Team Infinity battle for fourth place that also involved Lamberto Collari, Jesse Davis and Jilles Groskamp.  Starting from 6th on the grid, Tironi would have a rough start to the race with an early crash and then an off at the chicane that would leave him one lap down and last of the 12 car field.  Describing himself ‘happy with my car and engine’, the popular Italian said through the car’s consistency and being able to do 5-minutes between fuel stops he could recover to fourth.  With the ‘level (of competition) really high’ he felt ‘without the problem at the start a podium was possible today’.  Completing his first season driving for Team Infinity with his best result, he said, ‘for sure 2017 will be better’.  Just 3/10ths behind Tironi, Collari would finish 5th equalling his best finish of the season, with Australian Davis completing the Top 6.

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