September 29, 2017

Salemi leads the way in practice at ENS finale

Mirko Salemi was a somewhat surprise name at the top of the time sheets at the end of free practice.  The Mugen driver set the fastest 5-consecutive laps over first time track visitor Naoto Matsukura with reigning champion Simon Kurzbuch completing the Top 3.  With the main focus in Fiorano, Italy, on the title battle between Kurzbuch and Bruno Coelho, the latter would only post the 16th fastest time.  The Xray driver said, ‘yesterday was very good but today is not going as well.  We changed a lot on the car to try go faster but we need to back to our previous set-up. I think once we do it will be ok’.  Making his first appearance since being crowned World Champion in France, a very under the weather Dario Balestri would end up only 8th quickest.

‘Good until now’, was how Salemi summed up his Free Practice form.  Admitting the Fiorano track was one where he does most of his testing, the Italian posted his fastest time in yesterday’s penultimate run feeling track conditions where better then.  A finalist on all three previous ENS Italy encounters, he said, ‘the track is different to yesterday, there is less traction today and now the tyre wear is higher’.  In terms of his ‘original kit’ spec MRX6, he said the aim going into controlled practice was to try and get a little more steering through a caster change.

Another driver not in the best of health but not quite as ill as Balestri, Matsukura summed up practice as having gone ‘not too bad’.  Asked his first opinion of the track layout, the Japanese ace replied, ‘It’s fun but it is not so difficult’.  Only 1/10 off Salemi, describing the time as ‘very close’, the Infinity driver said his car has ‘good balance’ adding ‘the steering and traction have been good from the start’.  With little adjustment needed to his car set-up, the World Championship Super Pole winner spent much of yesterday’s seven rounds of practice trying different OS engines and he is happy he has a good one picked out for qualifying.  For 1:8 today’s action will conclude with the first of their four rounds of qualifying.

Commenting on practice Kurzbuch said, ‘We arrived yesterday morning and the car was good so we worked on engines to improve what we have and we have ended up with something better than before’.  Winner on 2 of the 3 ENS visits to the famed Italian track, the Shepherd driver is predicting things are ‘going to be close’ adding ‘every time someone different is fastest’.  Asked about the track following its cleaning after the recent 1:5 race meeting, the Swiss driver said while wear is a quite high, after starting out a bit different yesterday, today conditions are ‘already back to normal’.

Fifth fastest in between team-mates Alberto Picco and Teemu Leino, Jesse Davis is struggling with finding a consistent tune on his engine.  The Australian said, ‘after six or seven laps the engine is going slightly lean and we don’t know why. We even took out rear camber in case it was putting load on the engine but it is still the same so we will change the fuel tubing and the fuel tank for the next one’.  In terms of his car, he said, ‘the car is fine. It’s the same car from the Worlds with the same set-up still on it’.

Looking like he would rather be in bed rather than at a race track, Balestri said he has been feeling sick since returning home after France. Running a new car this weekend, his Worlds winning car and the trophy proudly on display together at his house, he said, ‘you can build the cars the same way but they are always different (to drive) so we are still working on the set-up to get the right balance’.  Behind Balestri, Lamberto Collari and Francesco Tironi completed the Top 10 for Free Practice.

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