Andy Moore has won the B-Main in Fiorano from Infinity team-mate Teemu Leino to complete the line-up for the last ENS encounter of the season. Starting out the damp day in Italy in the D-Main, the British driver would finish second in both the D and then the C final behind fellow countryman Mark Green to progress to the well stacked B-Main. Initially pole sitter Carmine Raiola led the way but his race would end at the halfway point as he came upon traffic with contact sending up off the track resulting in a flame out. Having looked for a time like he was on for another bump up Green would crash out while vying for the lead. Behind Moore and Leino, Alessio Mazzeo would miss the cut finishing in the third, his cause not helped by the fact the Italian stopped twice over the 20-minute encounter for tyres.
‘I’m the Bump up King for today’ was Moore’s reaction after to securing his first A-Main appearance. The former electric Touring Car World champion said, ‘I had never driven a 8th scale in the wet before so the D-Main was a step into the unknown so I just cruised around. I did the same thing in the C and the last one’. On the B-Main, which he started last, he said, ‘I didn’t get a good start. A few cars had crashed in front of me and I couldn’t avoid them and this caused the front of the body to tuck at the bumper and I raced the entire final with it like that’. Running Kiss wet tyres on his Infinity he concluded, ‘I need to find another set of wets’ but with an improvement showing in weather apps, the ENS organisers have suspended racing for an hour in the hope drivers can fight out for the final ENS win of the season in completely dry conditions.
Daan Jacobs is on a roll this morning at the Euro Nitro Series season finale in Italy, the Dutch Serpent driver bumping twice in damp conditions to book his place in the 1:10 A-Main. Qualifying for the C final, Jacobs would make light work of that 20-minute encounter with many drivers opting not to run on the wet track. With the stakes a lot higher in the B-Main, only Dirk Wischnewski would opt not to start, the ENS race winner saying he didn’t have the right wet tyres to have any chance of being competitive. With the experience of having run a final already, Jacobs quickly moved to the front with pole sitter Toni Gruber unable to hold the lead for the first lap, being also passed by Marco Kaufmann. Kaufmann would drop back but his chances of becoming this year’s ENS Vice-Champion ended when the Xray driver suffered a flame out. While Melvin Diekmann would hold second for a lot of the race, having found is rhythm for the conditions, European Champion Gruber would find a way through to claim second and the final starting spot on the A-Main grid.
Locking his Serpent into second gear, Jacobs said the key to his pace was running on the outside line and not the usual racing line as it was covered in oil from the engines. He said his tyres also helped, using a set of old Aqua tyres he was given by the late Jeff Catchpole, a well known figure on the 1:10 nitro circuit, with Jacobs saying his win was ‘something for him’. Looking to the A-Main, while he has the advantage of running 40-minutes in the damp conditions, he said the biggest problem would be tyres as the set he has been using is not going to go 45-minutes so he needs to arrange another set.
‘The best tyres won’ was Gruber’s reaction after the race. The WRC driver said, ‘We had just 4-minutes (race warm-up time) to decide between 5 or 6 sets of wet tyre and pick which one we thought would be the best choice for the race’. While he struggled at the start, he said in the end he made ‘the right choice’. For the A-Main, he said while he knows now what works, he has to make sure he can get them prepared in time for the race.
Having not raced 1:10 in this season’s Euro Nitro Series, Dominic Greiner has returned at the season finale to endorse with authority just why he is the World Champion of the nitro touring car class. The Serpent driver claimed his 6th ENS career TQ in Fiorano when he made it 3 from 3 in the penultimate round of qualifying. Becoming Top Qualifier he is the only driver who will have started an 1:10 A-Final from pole position every season since the championship was created in 2014. Providing the main challenge to Greiner has been the Xray pairing of Bruno Coelho and Alessio Mazzeo but both drivers have admitted they have struggled to match the German’s pace.
Enjoying being back racing in 1:10 having taking time out to prepare for the recent 1:8 World Championships saying ‘I know this class better’, Greiner said, ‘I’m happy with the result but the car set-up is still not perfect’. With a difference in tyre batches throwing drivers a curveball in the opening round of qualifying the 2-time ENS race winner hasn’t been able to get his 748 Natrix back to the feeling it had when he topped the final seeding practice. He said, ‘the car is fast but I’m not super happy with the feeling yet so we will test some things in tomorrow’s final practice’. With the Novarossi backed driver able to use the final qualifier as a test session, he used the track time to run a different engine which he plans to use in tomorrow’s 45-minute main. On strategy, he said, ‘Without a tyre stop is not possible but I need to check with Thomas (Günsel) how the wear is and then we can decided what we will do’.
Able to take the final qualifier from Xray team-mate David Loppini, Mazzeo having issues, Coelho said 1:10 is a similar situation to his form in 1:8. The Champion elect said, ‘Q3 was a super clean round but I had no chance against Dominic. The car feels OK but it is just slow compared to him’. With little more to say on the matter he concluded, ‘we have to find something for the final but I don’t know what it is’.
Securing 3rd on the grid with the third qualifier his fastest run of the day, Mazzeo said, ‘that one was quite OK. The car was fast but it was very hard to drive consistent for 4-minutes. It was on the limit of a mistake all the time’. He added, ‘Dominic is very fast at this track as always and we have to find a set-up that gives me confidence to push in the final tomorrow’. Asked his thoughts on tyre wear, the former European Champion replied, ‘It is strange, I think the wear depends on the sets of tyres you will get because there are differences in the tyres we are using this weekend’. A driver who would like to see a move away from a single tyre supplier saying the different tyre manufacturers should be able to race one another to prove their products he said, ‘I think everyone will have do one stop in the final’.
Claiming his best ENS starting position, fourth, Loppini said the tyre situation has him ‘going crazy’. Having improved his car for the second qualifier after everyone struggled with difficult cars for Q1, he said described the third run as ‘shit’. He said, ‘I had no grip in the rear for first 2-minutes and then for the last 2-minutes I had no grip in the front. The tyres are are a lottery’. Maintaining his record of having made the A-Main every year at Fiorano, he said while happy with the result of qualifying his concern is whether he will be lucky with his tyres for the final and he hopes for the final practice he can find two sets of tyres that are equal and work with his set-up.
Behind Loppini, Shepherd’s Thilo Tödtmann will line up 5th helped by a P4 run in the final qualifier. Coming into the weekend holding second in the championship standings, the German is looking good to finish as Vice Champion with 3rd placed Marco Kaufmann qualifying for the B but still able to bump up and 4th place Leo Arnold opting to race 1:8 here in Italy. Tödtmann’s team-mate Eduardo Escandon completes the top half of the grid, the Spaniard ending off a disappointing qualifying with an encouraging Top 3 run in the final qualifier. Behind the ENS Germany podium finisher young Italian Manuel Strano lines up 7th.
Simon Kurzbuch is Top Qualifier for the season finale of the Euro Nitro Series in Fiorano. Going into the fourth & final qualifier with only Andrea Pirani having a chance of denying him his fourth overall TQ of the season, the reigning champion topped the round in style having over a second in hand over title rival Bruno Coelho. While twice a winner of the Italian ENS round, today’s result is the first time the Shepherd driver will start from pole. Behind, Pirani will start second having enjoyed his best ever ENS qualifying with Coelho lining up for his shot at the title from 3rd on the grid. Playing a watching brief in the ENS title fight, World Champion Dario Balestri completed qualifying with his best run of the weekend with the P3 securing him 4th on the grid ahead of Lamberto Collari and Francesco Tironi.
‘It’s a great feeling. I’m super happy as this is my best ENS qualifying result in Italy. We had a lot of fun today’, said a very pleased looking Kurzbuch, this the Shepherd driver’s 8th time to be Top Qualifier at an ENS race. He continued, ‘We have really good pace and we showed that in the last qualifier. I didn’t feel anything but we still had the fastest lap. Everything is good for the final I would say and the TQ puts us one step closer to the goal’.
Going one better than his previous best ENS qualifying, third in Bologna in 2015, Pirani said, ‘Everything has worked good. I’m happy because I arrived at my aim of making the A final. 2nd is super good for me’. The ARC driver added, ‘I had to use a new set of tyres in the last one and I could still manage fourth. The car was working really good on the bigger tyre so I am confident for the final tomorrow’. Asked about strategy for the race, the Italian said, ‘tyre wear is ok and I think it will be just one change for all drivers’. Not planning to take any risks with refuelling, again most drivers reporting normal consumption he concluded, ‘I want to make a safe final without mistake and don’t want to risk any flameouts’.
Coelho, who must win tomorrow to have a chance at the title, said, ‘Now it was a clean round but we were not fast enough compared to Simon’. The Portuguese driver continued, ‘For me the car feels perfect but when I drive against Simon I can see he is faster so we need to work on that in our preparations for the final’.
‘They are more fast than me but all is OK and we will see what we can do tomorrow’, was Balestri’s summary after Q4. Claiming the 2015 ENS title in Fiorano when he took second in the final behind Kurzbuch, the Infinity driver said, ‘I have a lot of grip, maybe too much to be super quick but for the final I think it will be OK’. Team-mate Collari said, ‘we tried a different set-up for the final qualifier but it was not better’. Asked about the 45-minute Main he replied, ‘For the final I will try something else on the set-up and a different body in the practice to see if we can make the car for the final. On strategy he said with tyre and fuel consumption ‘normal’ the important thing was going to be to have a ‘clean race’.
Completing the top half of the A-Main grid, two cars bumping up from the B-Main to make it a 12 car grid, Tironi said, ‘Everyone is really close. The level is really high and if you are not perfect in your driving you lose out.’ The Infinity driver added, ‘I have a good feeling with the car but maybe I will change the engine for tomorrow as this one has driven a lot of runs’. On a strategy for the final he said, ‘normally Fiorano is ok for tyre wear and it is easy to do race with just one change but I need to check (the wear) before we decide our plan’.
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.