Simon Kurzbuch is the top seed for qualifying at the season finale of the Euro Nitro Series in Fiorano, Italy. The defending champion was fastest after the two rounds of controlled practice from Francesco Tironi. Tironi headed a group of 5 Infinity cars that would fill out the Top 6 seeding times with Alberto Picco third ahead of Jesse Davis, Naoto Matsukura and Dario Balestri. Kurzbuch’s only title threat, Bruno Coelho’s would end practice down in P7, the Xray driver struggling so far in Italy to match the form he showed against the Shepherd over the 3 previous championship encounters this season.
Winner here last year despite qualifying P4, Kurzbuch was pleased that he has finally pieced together a good package the rest of the weekend. Summing up CP1 pace as ‘2 good laps and 1 ok lap’ which put him P3 behind Matsukura and Balestri, he added his second attempt ‘was not only 3-good laps but a good (entire) run’. The Swiss driver put his improvement down to having ‘found an engine for this track’. The factory Novarossi driver tried three different engines over the day and having tried various venturi combinations yesterday he now had an engine for qualifying that suited the track layout and also gave him a good feeling at the controls.
Making a marked improvement on his free practice pace, Tironi said his car ‘works really well’ adding ‘the set-up is close to the Worlds, just with some camber changes’. With his CP1 time outside the Top 10, a front roll bar change and further camber change for the second run made ‘a big difference to the corner speed’ allowing the Italian to improve his pace by 8/10ths. He concluded, ‘the feeling of the car is good so I think we are good for the qualifying’.
On the Fiorano podium last year, Picco said having tried ‘a few different set-ups’ they were ‘finally going in one direction’ to achieve the best solution for the track. Describing it as ‘not easy’, the veteran racer said, ‘after the 1:5 race the track is a little strange. It feels like understeer but it is easy to control out of the corner because of the traction’. Fresh from making the final at the Worlds in France, he concluded, ‘we miss a little bit to the others but we can not really complain’.
Having solved his engine issues by replacing both the fuel tubing and fuel tank, Davis was happy with his Infinity/OS package describing the car as having a ‘good and consistent 4-minute set-up’. Looking to qualifying the Aussie said, ‘we just needed to finalise the front and rear cambers and then we should be ok for (qualifying) tomorrow’. Team-mate Matsukura who was fastest in CP1 said his ‘car was ok’ but his engine was too rich and that was why he couldn’t maintain the top spot when the track was faster for CP2. Asked about changes for qualifying, 1:8 Onroad’s new star on the block said, they will ‘just open it up (the engine tuning) for tomorrow so we can go faster’.
‘We still need to find the optimal balance’ was Balestri’s summary of controlled practice. The World Champion said the rear tyre this weekend for qualifying is softer and they need to find the right adjustment for the shore adding, we will work on it for tomorrow’. Originally Q1 for 1:8 was to bring today’s action to a close but with drivers discovering the shore difference between the practice batch and the race batch of tyres the organisers added an extra round of free practice for drivers to adjust their set-ups with Q1 moved to tomorrow morning alongside that of the opening 1:10 qualifier. Over a 1/10th of a second off Balestri, Coelho believes part of his problem is the tyres. The Xray driver said, ‘the car is not perfect but it now feels like no traction. Maybe the issue is with the tyres. We need to find out something’.