Simon Kurzbuch is the Top Qualifier for the German round of the Euro Nitro Series, the Shepherd driver getting the job done early as he posted a third TQ run this morning at Minidrom Ettlingen. While Round 1 winner Bruno Coelho would top seeding from the Swiss driver, once qualifying got underway the reigning champion has taken control of proceedings to claim his second pole of the season and the all important bonus championship point that goes with it. Like the previous two qualifiers, the top of the Q3 time sheets would read the same with Dario Balestri the closest to Kurzbuch followed by Robert Pietsch in third. Having found his way in Q2, Oliver Mack would again set the fourth fastest time ahead of Infinity team-mates Naoto Matsukura, Takaaki Shimo, Lamberto Collari and Teemu Leino.
‘It is good to be first in 3 out 3 (heats) because now we can practice for the final’, said Kurzbuch on taking his 6th career ENS TQ. With two rounds of qualifying still to run, he said, ‘now we try a different engine and some changes on the car to prepare for the final’. Asked about the final, he said, ‘the tyre wear is quite low here but the fuel consumption is high so its important get a good strategy because fuel stops can be just as important as tyre stops in determining the race’.
Setting the fastest lap of the third qualifier and the only one to run 12-seconds, Balestri was particularly pleased with his latest run. The 2015 Ettlingen winner said, ‘I changed something on the car and it was really good but at the end I lost the clutch’. With temperature’s picking up, ‘in the hot conditions our car is really competitive and it is really good now’. Now assured of starting towards the front of the grid for tomorrow’s 45-minute Main, like Kurzbuch, the Italian will now use the remaining two qualifier as track time to ‘try something for the final’.
‘Positions are fixed, the same result again’ joked a pleased looking Pietsch after Q3. The Mugen driver continued, ‘I improved my beginning but the result was still the same. Anyway I’m in the A-Main so now we can try some different set-ups for the final’.
‘My car is so easy to drive, I can’t make a mistake’, was Mack’s reaction to another competitive run from the 4th fastest heat. The German said his only problem was his engine was ‘a little lean the last few laps’. Having had a difficult first qualifier last night, the former European Champion needs another good qualifier saying, ‘only one more to go’, and unlike the Top 3 will leave his car unchanged with the focus on making the Top 6 once more.
The surprise of the season opener in France, Matsukura was quick to put his Q3 improvement down to the driver doing a better job and him also having a better feeling from his engine. Asked about the first two qualifiers he replied, ‘Driver errors, the car was good’. Only his second international 1:8 race, the 1:12 World Champion admitted to having been bitten by the bug in terms of nitro racing adding ‘I really like it, its a lot of fun’. Still needing to secure an A-Main starting position, he said his focus now is on locking down two strong results saying, ‘I need to go for single digits results in the next two’.
Fellow countryman & team-mate Takaaki Shimo is hoping his P6 for Q3 is a turning point. Having started the day with too much steering and no rear grip, switching to a harder front swaybar greatly improved the Japanese veteran’s car making it ‘very easy’ to drive. His first time to the Ettlingen track he said ‘its very difficult’ adding banked corners don’t exist on Japanese tracks. Needing two more string runs he said after his Q3 performance, ‘I hope we are on a good way now’.