May 20, 2017

Kurzbuch claims first point of new season with ENS France TQ

Simon Kurzbuch has notched up the first championship point of his title defence by securing the overall TQ at the Euro Nitro Series season opener in France.  The Shepherd driver went into the final qualifier up against unexpected TQ challenger Bruno Coelho with the Xray driver needing to take the round. A super close encounter at the end of the 4-minutes however it was Toni Gruber that would post the TQ run ahead of Naoto Matsukura confirming Kurzbuch’s 5th ENS career TQ.  For Gruber, his TQ run will result in him starting in the position he finished up in last season’s overall standings as he demoted ENS debutant Matsukura to a still impressive 4th on the grid.  Former champion Robert Pietsch would make for a very diverse line up of cars at the front of the grid as his Mugen will occupy 5th on the grid ahead of last year’s vice Champion Dario Balestri.

‘It is a great way to start the first race.  The performance of the whole team has been great’, was how Kurzbuch’s reacted to being Top Qualifier at the season opener for the first time.  Commenting on the final qualifier, the defending two time ENS Champion said, ‘the first 3-minutes was good, it was really close between 3-4 cars but then I made a little mistake and Matsukura was right behind me so I let him passed so he could TQ, I knew I only had to watch Bruno.  In the end Toni won which is great for him’. Looking ahead to tomorrow evening’s 45-minute final, his pitman & father Christian known for being one of the best in the pitlane, Kurzbuch said, ‘The tyre wear is high so I think this gives some room for different strategies’.  He continued, ‘Fuel consumption is very low here so that also allows for a different strategy’ adding, ‘the pitlane is very long here so thats a factor as you will earn more time if you can do less stops and on the exit it is very easy to damage your tyres or body’.  On the number of tyres stops he expects to do, the World Champion simply replied ‘100% more than one’.  In terms of his changes to his car, he said he was ‘not sure yet but probably I will change the rear roll centre to give me a more stable car on small tyres’.

Commenting on his career best 1:8 qualifying, Coelho said, ‘Its a great result as I haven’t raced 1:8 since last ENS’.  He continued, ‘Fighting with the guys who always race nitro is the perfect result for our new car’.  On his final qualifier, he said, ‘I tried to force too much which cause me to lose control a few times but it was super close’.  On his strategy for the final, he joked, ‘I don’t have so much experience so we will have to try copy some of the other’s strategy’.  He continued, ‘The tyre wear is quite high so our strategy is super important but my engine has good power and run time so I think in this area we are OK’.

‘To qualify third overall is a good start with a new team’, was Gruber’s reaction.  The WRC driver said other than change to a new body which was the same type as the one he ran in the earlier qualifiers his car was unchanged but for him the grip was better than in Q3 allowing him to TQ.  Asked about the final, the 21-year-old replied, ‘I guess I will try to have fun with the car’.  On tyre consumption he said one stop would be ‘too difficult’ and ’15-minutes per set’ was the most he feels could be realistically expected. ‘Happy with the car’, he plans no changes to the set-up.

Considering he didn’t even know he was doing the race this time last week, Matsukura said, ‘I happy but would have been more happy if in Top 3’.  As an electric racing specialist, when asked about racing for 45-minutes, the 1:12 & 1:10 World Champion simply replied, ‘I hope to finish’.  Setting the fastest lap of the final qualifier, he said he was pleased with his car set-up for qualifying and they would think it over tonight if they need to change anything.  Asked about set-up he said his 1:12 experience meant he had a 50% say in the set-up they have arrived at.  Asked about strategy he said, ‘My goal is to finish so I will let someone else decide the strategy because I don’t know enough yet but I want to race 1:8 more’.

‘Could be better but we’re pretty close’, was Pietsch’s summary of his qualifying. The Mugen designer & former World Champion was to get lost with his set-up following a battery issue. The German said, ‘I had a problem with a low voltage battery.  I was changing the car because it was not doing what I expected.  Then we realised it was the battery but it mean’t we were starting again from zero.  He said since then the car has been getting better and better adding were it is at now he is ‘confident’ for the final.  Admitting ‘the first guys are super fast’ he said the final presents a number of challenges with the pit lane one of them.  With the exit a place were a lot of time can be made or lost he said the high tyre wear will also effect this as it will get more difficult as the tyres get smaller.

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