Dario Balestri has TQ’d the first qualifier at the fourth & final round of the Euro Nitro Series in Italy. Racing in what all drivers described as difficult conditions, last year’s champion was in a close battle with Simon Kurzbuch for the fastest time until the newly crowned champion went off on the penultimate lap. Just 3/10ths off the Capricorn driver, Toni Gruber would post the 2nd fastest time continuing his impressive practice pace. Racing under flood lights Lamberto Collari would complete the Top 3 with practice top seed Andrea Pirani posting the 6th fastest time.
‘Very difficult’ was how Balestri summed up the opening qualifier adding ‘racing in the night is totally strange’. The Capricorn driver continued, ‘you also have the humidity so it very hard to drive in this situation’. Despite not enjoying the conditions, commenting ‘we (drivers) all made mistakes (because of the track conditions)’, the former European Champion would post the fastest lap but with another qualifier to run today he will ‘try to make the car easier to drive (for Q2)’ admitting ‘but I don’t how how’.
Gruber, who is battling with Balestri to become ENS’ Vice-Champion, was very happy with his result. Describing the experience of racing at night as ‘special’, the German said he had no issue with seeing and he was happy with the performance of his ARC saying ‘all was ok I had no problems’ and he plans to leave it the same for Day 1’s closing qualifier. Asked if he went for a safe round given the conditions, after pausing to think about his response, he said, ‘it was safe but I was pushing too’.
‘Personally it was not bad’ was how Collari described Q1. The Team Infinity driver reported that in the middle of the qualifier the car dropped off pace for around 40-seconds before feeling good again to the end. ‘Not sure of the cause’, the 3-time ENS race winner plans to check over the car to see if he can find a problem but given the short amount of time to Q2 he will change engine to eliminate that as a possible cause of the drop off which he feels is in the car. Commenting on track conditions, the Italian said, ‘I know this track very well but I am used to racing in the day not the night and its completely loose now’ adding ‘you can’t get the best of these cars in such conditions’.
With Kurzbuch ending up 14th for the round, Mattia Rinaldi would be the fastest Team Shepherd driver with the fourth fastest time. Not racing 1:8 since before the 1:10 World Championships in Gubbio he said given this he was very happy with his performance. Running in a much lower heat, the Italian, for whom Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter is his local track, he would have issues with traffic early on but once passed said the rest of the qualifier was good. Describing his car and Novarossi engine as good , having never raced under the track’s flood lights before he said his biggest issue was he struggled with his eyesight. Kurzbuch said he ‘had four or five small mistakes but then a big one’. The World Champion would end up on the grass as he tried to pass another car but it was the contact with the back of the curbing of the next corner which has the Swiss driver concerned as he has little time to change the chassis should the impact have bent or tweaked it but on quick inspection he said it ‘seems ok’.
‘I’m happy with the result but not the conditions, of course they were the same for everyone’, was Francesco Tironi’s reaction to setting the 5th fastest time. The Team Infinity driver said ‘it was difficult conditions but I got lucky I could overtake and didn’t lose too much time so for me it was a good run’. In terms of his car, the Italian said he feels he is lacking mid corner speed and so he will try to improve it for Q2.
Pirani put his performance very simply, ‘the car is good, the problem is my eyes’. The WRC driver continued, ‘my medium lap times are not regular. For sure all drivers found it difficult but for me its worse than other with my eyesight’. Looking to Q2, the former podium finisher said, ‘I will try to adjust my driving for Q2 and just aim for a safe Top 10 and then tomorrow I will try to better it in the sun’.