Andrea Pirani continued his impressive return to the Euro Nitro Series to TQ the third round of qualifying and deny Simon Kurzbuch from claiming an early fourth overall TQ of the season. Opening the day with a 5th in Q1, the ARC driver improved for a P3 on his second attempt before delivering a surprise TQ, the Italian running in the second fastest heat. With Kurzbuch taking the top heat ahead of title rival Bruno Coelho it looked like the reigning champion was a step closer to retaining the title but Pirani’s time was almost 3/10ths quicker. This means the Swiss ace will have to wait util the final qualifier to see if he can claim the bonus championship point on offer to the Top Qualifier with Pirani the only driver who can deny him this. Completing the Top 3 would be former Fiorano winner Lamberto Collari who runs in the same heat as Pirani. For Coelho the round would leave him with a P4 ahead of Dario Balestri and Oliver Mack.
‘Now we have enough steering’, said Pirani, the former ENS podium finisher very happy with his run. He continued, ‘Unfortunately I don’t think I have a chance at the overall TQ but anyway I am happy with this result’. Needing to TQ the final round in a faster time than that set by Kurzbuch in the cool morning conditions of Q1, he said, ‘I think it will be quite impossible to TQ because it will be too hot to beat Simon’s time and also I will have to use brand new tyres because I used my last practice set in the last qualifier’. ‘Very happy with (his) car and engine’, he said, ‘I leave all the same for the last qualifier’.
Summing up his Q3 run, Kurzbuch said, ‘It was a good one but on my first lap I lost the rear because I braked a bit too late and I think that cost me the TQ’. He continued, ‘I could catch back up to Bruno and Dario and for me the most important thing is to finish ahead of Bruno. I won the heat but Pirani had a better run but that is OK’. Asked if he felt Pirani posed a threat to him taking the overall TQ, he replied, ‘It will be hard for him to faster given the conditions so I feel pretty confident. Obviously my goal will be to try TQ the round’.
Another driver making steady progress over qualifying, Collari said , ‘It is getting little better step by step’. The 9-time World Champion said his P3 was possible due to finding a little more steering from his Infinity, but added he ‘still need(s) more’. For the fourth & final qualifier he plans to change body shell and well as make some further set-up changes to get the amount of steering he’s after.
It was good at the beginning and I was leading but then it starting sliding in the rear. I had no mistake but I slow down a lot’, was Coelho’s reaction after the penultimate qualifier. Winner of the 2017 season opener in France, he continued, ‘In the beginning the car is very good but then it gets slower and we need to find a solution to make the car more stable over all the run’.
Getting a P4 in the previous qualifier, Balestri summed up his P5 run in Q3 by saying, ‘the car is easy to drive but not so fast’. Saying he is already working on his set-up for the final, the Italian continued, ‘this set-up is not so bad for the final because I think the most important thing in the final will be to make no mistake’, the track layout leaving most drivers evenly matched on pace meaning after mistakes the lost time is hard to recover.