Simon Kurzbuch has taken the opening qualifier at the season finale of the Euro Nitro Series in Italy. Top seed for qualifying, the Shepherd driver took the first of the four rounds by 0.7 of a second from title rival Bruno Coelho, the Xray driver looking a much stronger contender that he had done in practice. Francesco Tironi led the Infinity challenge, posting the 3rd fastest time followed by team-mate Oliver Mack. Making a return to the ENS, former podium finisher Andrea Pirani would take his ARC to the fifth fastest time ahead of newly crowned World Champion Dario Balestri.
‘The car was very good as well as the engine’, was Kurzbuch’s reaction after Q1. The reigning champion and two time Fiorano winner continued, ‘I had a very good feeling from the car in the warm-up. We just had to adjust the engine for the cooler conditions’. Complimenting his new Futaba T7PX transmitter which he is running for the first time this weekend, he added, ‘Naoto was behind me so I could see what he was doing and at the end I was able to drive to bring it home’. Happy to leave his Velox V8 unchanged for Q2, the Swiss driver said, ‘maybe we will switch to another engine to one more set-up for hotter conditions. I have two race engines, one for when its cold and one when its hot’.
‘Very good compared to the other days’, was how Coelho summed up his qualifier. Having struggled yesterday, he continued, ‘we found something very good on the car and it was a good run but I had 3-mistakes when I got on the curbs which were wet and lost time because of the that’. Looking to Q2, he said, ‘the track is very easy, the best lap is the same for everyone so the small detail make the difference. We changed the car a lot yesterday but now it works so we will leave it the same so I can get used to driving it and improve my consistency which is where the time is to be made’.
Seeding No.2 in controlled practice, Tironi said, ‘Like yesterday the feeling of the car was ok and everything worked good. I am happy and with the feeling good I will leave it the same for the next one’. Asked about his driving over the 4-minutes, the Italian replied, ‘I had traffic on the first lap but I don’t lose anything. I had maybe 2 or 3 little mistakes when my line in the corner was not perfect but I think the run was close to my best’.
‘Happy’ was Mack’s reaction to setting the 4th fastest time. Only 13th fastest in the seeding, the former European Champion continued, ‘yesterday I had a good car but I am not so good over 3-laps but over 4-minutes I am ok’. He added, ‘my car was very nervous in the warm-up so we move the wing to the maximum height. It was still nervous but got better during the heat. I’m not sure whether to change something or not but I think I will go the same because 2 count so if I can get one more I’m OK for the final’.
Making a welcome return to the championship, this his first outing with ARC, Pirani said, ‘the car is working better than the days before. We found the steering that we were missing the previous days. I’m happy’. With the Top 5 covered by a second the Italian added, ‘we are all very close so it is important you don’t make a mistake’. On his car set-up he said, ‘I will try to improve the steering again. In racing you always don’t have enough but what we have now is a good base set-up’.
Having a substantial off in the warm-up, Balestri was somewhat coy about his run to the sixth fastest time. Last year’s Top Qualifier at Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter, he said, ‘It was a slow run to get to the finish. The car was ok but I had a little traffic in the end’. Asked about car set-up having struggled to find balance in his newly built car yesterday, he replied, ‘we will change something’. Behind Balestri, Matsukura would post the 7th fastest time after two bad laps with Jesse Davis, Lamberto Collari and Alberto Picco rounding out the Top 10.