October 21, 2016

Mazzeo tops practice in Fiorano

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Alessio Mazzeo has set the pace at the end of a reduced practice at the Euro Nitro Series in Fiorano.  The Serpent driver went quickest in the final practice ahead of earlier pace setter Erik Dankel as the traction came up at the Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter track after a wet start to the season finale.  The only driver to run 3-consecutive laps in 49-seconds, the Italian would end up little over 1/10th of a second faster than Dankel with Bruno Coelho completing the Top 3.  After struggling in his first practice, CP2 the first dry run, leading title contender Teemu Leino would manage the fourth fastest time in the 3rd & final practice albeit 7/10ths off Mazzeo’s pace.

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‘Now good’ was Mazzeo’s reaction to topping the third round.  Winner of this race last year after passing champion to be Jilles Groskamp on the penultimate lap, the World Championship podium finisher said, ‘to be fast the (racing) line is very little.  In the first practice my car was not so good but we made a lot of changes and for that one I’m very happy’.  The former European Champion continued, ‘It is not perfect, I don’t think anyone has a perfect car yet, but it is a good package to be going into the first qualifier with’. Asked about changing the car for the improving track conditions he replied, ‘I think I will make just a little change’.

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Dankel summed up his final practice with, ‘I was more used to the track that time and once I don’t push too hard it was OK’.  The Mugen driver said while the track was better he expected traction to have been higher for the second dry run.  Runner-up behind Leino at the previous round in Austria, his best result this season, the ENS’ inaugural champion said for the opening qualifier he ‘need(s) to talk to Robert (Pietsch) but maybe I will change the car because I need more steering mid corner but the goal for Q1 is to get a clean run in’.

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‘Very good pace now’ was Coelho summary of his final practice.  The Portuguese ace added, ‘I didn’t drive nitro since the World Championship so I think to be this close already is very good’.  Describing the track as having ‘improved a lot’ between the two rounds, in terms of his Max powered NT1 he said, ‘we are still missing some stability, normally we have too much, but we are there on pace and will make some small changes to improve the car for Q1’.  Team-mate and designer of the NT1, Martin Hudy would complete the Top 6 with his example.

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A much happier looking Leino said, ‘I changed bodyshell, shocks, camber, everything and now the car is more easy to drive’. Switching from a Protoform SRS bodyshell to a SRC Spark, the Team Infinity driver said ‘the car already feels OK now but I forgot to change one thing’.  Running 5-degrees of toe-out in the front, he said for Q1 he ‘will go to what I normally run’.  He added, ‘there is no need to win practice, its more important to find the right car set-up’.

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‘The second one was super’ was how Patrick Schafer summed up his final practice.  The Team Shepherd boss and designer continued, ‘the first practice I struggled a lot so I changed the car a lot and seems I found the right spot’.  A former ENS podium finisher he added, ‘Maybe I will change the front toe in otherwise I will leave it the same.  I am really satisfied too with my engine so the important thing for the first one (qualifier) is to put in a safe clean run’. Unfortunately for his lead team driver and points leader Dirk Wischnewski his practice pace wasn’t to improve.  Winner of the season opener, he said ‘we are struggling a bit.  I have too much steering and this is making the car edgy to drive.  He continued, ‘I expected a lot more understeer from the track but we will change the car now for the higher traction’.  Asked if he knows what changes he needs to make he replied, ‘we are guessing.  It’s a gamble and I think the others who are fast just got their gamble right’.

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Ending up 9th fastest behind team-mate Alex Thurston, Dominic Greiner would struggle in the final practice after an engine change.  The World Champion said, ‘I needed to use the run to have a second engine ready but it wasn’t right’.  Changing his 748 set-up, he said ‘the car is much better’ but added ‘without power it difficult to fully tell’.  For Q1 the German plans to leave the car unchanged but is unsure whether to put in his first engine or to risk running a different one.

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Third fastest in the previous practice, reigning champion Jilles Groskamp could only manage the 13th fastest time on the faster track.  The Team Infinity driver said, ‘I didn’t change anything. There was more traction and my car got loose, it even flew off the track one time’.  The former Electric Touring Car World Champion continued, ‘I don’t know why I had too much steering but I think I will change bodyshell.  With just 2 practices on a changing track its hard to get it figure it out but I think I will just change from an SRS to an SRC body which I think should improve the car enough to allow me have a clean run’.

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