May 20, 2017

Coelho takes opening 1:10 qualifying at ENS France

Bruno Coelho took the opening round of qualifying at ENS France, heading an Xray 1-2 ahead of new for 2017 team-mate Alessio Mazzeo. Opening the fourth season of the ENS by topping the morning’s two rounds of seeding practice from former champion Jilles Groskamp, Coelho would be almost 3-second quicker than Mazzeo over the 4-minute qualifier. Preventing an Xray Top 3 , Capricorn driver Kyle Branson would set the third fastest time just ahead of the Xray of Mulhouse track resident Leo Arnold.   With Groskamp completing the Top 6 behind the Serpent of Mark Green to be the quickest of the Infinity drivers, for team-mate & reigning champion Teemu Leino it was not a good first round. Posting the 12th fastest time, the Finn said, ‘I was just making donuts.  When I hit the gas I would just spin so we need to figure something out’.

‘It was a very good round’ was Coelho’s summary of Q1.  The Portuguese driver, who is a huge fan of the track layout, continued, ‘the last practice we tried different stuff and it was not good so we went back to our normal set and for the 4-minutes it was very consistent’.  Top Qualifier at last year’s season opener, held in Bologna, he would also make an engine change for the first of the four qualifiers.  Not happy with the feeling of the engine, he said they opted to change everything engine related with bad fuel tubing suspected to have been the issue.  Setting the fastest lap, a 17.717, he will leave his Max powered NT1 unchanged for Q2.

Mazzeo described his first heat as ‘not so bad’ adding ‘but we must still work on the set-up’.  Pointing out it is his first ENS encounter with Xray, the friendly Italian feels he is a little behind in getting his new car set-up due to weather limiting running – yesterday having been rained off. Looking to ‘learn the car more’, the World Championship podium finisher and former ENS race winner said, ‘the problem is the car is loose in the rear under braking so we will try changing the down stops for the next one and see’.  Asked about the track layout, this the ENS’ first visit, he replied, ‘it is one of the best 1:10 tracks in the World.  I really like it’.

While summing it up as a ‘good first run’, Branson was somewhat disappointed with his pace. The British driver, who returns to Capricorn after briefly departing the Italian manufacturer, said, ‘the car is ok but it needs more steering and more on power traction. I just drove around.  This was the best I could do, its consistent but not quite fast enough’.  Referring to Coelho, ‘as one of the best in the World’ adding ‘Bruno is Bruno’, he hopes to get closer to him in Q2 by changing the rear swaybar and ‘maybe a rear roll centre change’.

On his P4 Arnold said, ‘It was OK but my car was loose on the rear’.  Also losing some time having to open to let Coelho passed, he plans to make a spring set-up change for Q2 to get more traction.  A driver who knows the track better than anyone else having start in the sport here, when asked about traction levels following Friday’s rain he said they were already back to Thursday’s levels with him predicting that the traction would remain ‘stable’ for the rest of the day.

‘I’m quite happy. My car and engine are quite good’, was Green’s reaction to posting a P5 run, adding, ‘I’m trying to improve my driving more than anything’. The veteran British driver continued, ‘as normal I’m struggling with my braking points, I’m inconsistent but everything else is OK’.  Finishing half a second up on Groskamp, behind them new Shepherd recruit Thilo Todtmann would be P7 ahead of former Champion Eric Dankel who was the quickest Mugen.

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