Andrea Pirani has topped practice at the season finale of the Euro Nitro Series in Italy. Rain yesterday meant drivers would have only three practice rounds to find a set-up for qualifying, the first practice effectively a track drying run. The WRC driver was quickest in the third & final practice ahead of Italian compatriot Dario Balestri, the pair separated by 0.15 over their best 3-consecutive lap times. Behind them despite not improving on his pace from the second of the practice runs, ARC’s Toni Gruber would complete the Top 3 ahead of newly crowned champion Simon Kurzbuch.
‘This time it was very good’ was Pirani’s reaction to being fastest. A podium finisher at the season opener, a body change for the final practice would allow him to improve his time by half a second. Running Xtreme Aerodynamic’s R18 body he used one that was mounted 1mm more forward in his GTX which he said gave him better steering. Admitting ‘it is a little easier for (him) than other tracks as (he) practiced a lot here’ and given the reduced track time because of the weather, he declared ‘we are all very close’. Happy he has a good car for qualifying, 1:8 running 2 of their 3 qualifiers tonight due to a threat of further rain on Sunday, he said his aim was to get ‘2 clean rounds in and hope it is not wet in the morning’. With 2 of the 3 counting towards the final grid two decent runs could prove very important.
Balestri, who is in contention to become Vice-Champion, summed up practice with ‘it was ok’. The Capricorn driver described track conditions as ‘a bit different to normal’ with ‘less grip’. Changing his rear shock oil to get more stability from the car he said it was ‘ok’ in the final practice adding ‘I hope its good for the first qualifier’.
‘All in all really good’ was how Gruber described how practice had gone. The ARC driver, who has been one of the stars of this year’s ENS, was to suffer from losing a screw from his layshaft pulley in the final practice. Asked about his R8.0 set-up the German replied, ‘there was not much time to find a perfect set-up but I think its all good for the first qualifier’.
Chasing a clean sweep of wins to cap off his championship winning campaign, Kurzbuch said his practice had gone ‘not so bad given we had 2 times 4-minutes of practice’. The Team Shepherd driver added, ‘I didn’t work too much on the car but instead tried different bodies and re-learned the track’. Running both the R18 normal and Flat versions from Xtreme Aerodynamic his preference was with the flat as it ‘give more traction in the front which is good for a fast lap time around this track’. Planning to check over the car for Q1, he said ‘I might make some little changes but I think I’m ready for qualifying’.
Winner when the ENS made its first visit to the Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter track 3-years ago, Lamberto Collari would post the 5th fastest time. The 9-time World Champion, for whom the race marks his first year with Team Infinity, declared himself content saying, ‘the feeling is OK’. The Italian said, ‘we tested very few times here and with the bad weather reducing track time we can only try fine adjustments. We don’t have the knowledge to do more’. For qualifying the legend of the sport expects the track to be ‘worse every round’ due to the evening humidity, conditions much colder than previous visits to the track which where also in the month of October.