Dominic Greiner’s hopes of a first Euro Nitro Series title are ‘still alive’ after the Serpent driver secured the overall TQ in the fourth & final round of qualifying in Fiorano, Italy. Needing the bonus championship point so as to start the final with a chance denying championship leader Jilles Groskamp his second title, Greiner took Q4 by over 1.3-seconds from Alessio Mazzeo. The only driver who could potentially start on pole having TQ’d Q3, Teemu Leino couldn’t match Greiner ending up third quickest ahead of his Infinity team-mate Groskamp. Overall the result means Leino will start second with Mazzeo moving ahead of Groskamp to start third with Erik Dankel completing the Top 5 on the grid. In order for Greiner, the championship’s most winning driver, to secure the title he first must win and then hope that Groskamp is third or lower.
‘It is still alive. The first step is done’, was the reaction of a happy looking Greiner. The 2-time Fiorano winner continued, ‘that was the final set-up we ran and it was very stable and easy. For sure it is closer than other years. We have improved with the new car but they have improved a lot. With Teemu and Alessio it be will be a hard fight for 45-minutes’. Asked about strategy, the German said, ‘there is less wear than previous years but if its 1 side or all four (tyres) we will see’. On fuel and run time he said, ‘the run time is ok for the speed we have’.
Commenting on Q4, Leino said, ‘that didn’t work out’. The Finn explained, ‘We tried a little change in the set-up. We changed the droop but had less grip and steering. Its still close anyway’. Asked his feeling about tomorrow’s final he replied, ‘Many people can win. I think everyone will change tyres one time and while the (fuel) run time here is not bad I think there will be differences. Jilles can run long like always.’ Asked if he could help his team-mate to the title, the former champion replied, ‘I will just do my own race. I am here to win. Jilles just needs to finish second’.
Feeling the heat after his qualifying saying, ‘it is very hot, even though I am not moving on the driver stand I feel like I have just run 5 or 6km’, Mazzeo put in ‘a safe drive’. The former winner of the event added, ‘our car is a little hard to drive in the hot conditions and I saw the others were quicker so I concentrated on making a safe run and save 3rd position on the grid’. Thinking of the final, the Xray driver added, ‘Tomorrow I think will be very close between the Top 4. Strategy will be very important to the outcome of the race, more than the other races. The Groskamp style race of 6-minute stops and no tyre change, I think you need this style tomorrow’.
A disappointed Groskamp reacted with, ‘I tried everything but I can’t stop Dominic this time. I tried many things and the gap was still the same’. The season’s only double winner continued, ‘I hoped I would start more at the front of the grid but with Alessio and Teemu a little faster than me maybe 4th is not so bad and hopefully they can fight with Dominic’. Asked his approach to the final, he said, ‘We will do something a little different for the final and I think we have a good strategy. We don’t have the pace so the strategy is key’.
Chassis – Infinity IF18 Engine – Max World Champion Edition Fuel – Energy Tires (handout) – Matrix Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Savox Body – Xtreme Aerodynamics Diablo
Remarks – In contention for the ENS title here is Fiorano, Dario is running ‘a standard’ version of Infinity’s latest IF18. The biggest feature of the car according to the Italian is the use of 100g of chassis weight to balance out the use of aluminium screws in the upper part of the car. In the power department, the Max Power backed driver, says his World Champion Edition engine features some updates they are testing that should feature in the next season’s production.
Teemu Leino has taken the penultimate round of qualifying at the Infinity Euro Nitro Series finale in Italy. The Infinity driver lead a 1-2 for the team with championship leader Jilles Groskamp also putting in his best performance of qualifying so far. Leino was a full 1-second clear at the top of the times with Alessio Mazzeo completing the Top 3. Having dominated the top of the times sheets in practice and the opening two qualifiers Dominic Greiner would end up fourth but still looks firmly on target for the overall TQ he needs to challenge Groskamp for the title in tomorrow’s 45-minute final.
Former champion Leino put his performance down to an improved car and also better track conditions for the IF15. The Finn said, ‘we made a set-up change which felt a little better and also the track temperature came to the car’. He continued, ‘We still need more so we will trying something else in the last one’. While conceding the TQ is already gone to Greiner as he would need to TQ the next round in a quicker time the German has, the European Champion is upbeat about tomorrow’s final saying, ‘we should be good for tomorrow. It will be similar temperatures to now for the final tomorrow which is not bad for us and we will still try to improve the car more’.
Groskamp said, ‘I saw Dominic was not that fast in the warm-up and thought I had a chance but Teemu was faster than me. I’m still happy to finish second behind him but I think it is the TQ for Dominic’. The former electric touring car World Champion continued, ‘I was happy with the car now and the engine was very good. I had more steering, maybe it was now a bit loose in the rear but it made fast lap times. I might try to make it more stable for the next one because I was on the limit and had a few moments at the chicane’. Looking to the final he said, ‘I think it is good Teemu starts second because he can push Dominic. I need to get a second in the last qualifier to get third on the grid ahead of Alessio’.
Commenting on his Q3 performance, Mazzeo said, ‘the track conditions were very different and my car was hard to drive’. The Xray driver continued, ‘I had a little mistake and with the car critical I then just tried to make a clean run. For the next one we will make a camber change to improve the car for the conditions’.
Finishing 1.6-seconds off the TQ pace, Greiner said, ‘I tried another (type) pipe. To drive, the feeling was OK, maybe it had a little less torque, but my time was so much slower’. Running Serpent’s new 750 chassis, he said, ‘I will go back to my previous pipe set-up and try again’. Behind Greiner, the Top 6 for the round was completed by Francesco Tironi and Jakub Rozycki.
Simon Kurzbuch has taken another TQ run at the ENS Season Finale in Italy but only after title challenger Dario Balestri hit traffic over the final two laps. Posting the fastest lap of the second qualifier, Balestri was leading the times but lost around 7/10th in the closing 2-laps to cross the line 0.247 off Kurzbuch. Again the pair would be the only drivers to record 17 laps of the Fiorano track, the TQ pace just slightly slower than that recorded by Kurzbuch last night which all but assures him the overall TQ if it came to a tie breaker. Behind the two title contenders, Robert Pietsch, who set the pace at the beginning of the run, completed the Top 3 ahead of the Andrea Pirani, Lamberto Collari and Alberto Picco.
Summing up the 2nd of the 4 qualifiers, Kurzbuch said, ‘It was all good. I’d a free track for the first minute and a half. The engine was a little bit on the limit. It was maybe too lean but it worked and we are now really close to the TQ point’. With Balestri having the tall order now of taking the remaining two qualifiers and doing one of them in a quicker time than that which Kurzbuch recorded in Q1’s cooler evening conditions, the Shepherd driver is already switching his attentions to the final. He said, ‘Daniele (Ielasi) will prepare now my engine for the final which we will try in the 3rd or 4th one (heat) to check the fuel consumption in race conditions’.
Frustrated to lose out again to Kurzbuch, Balestri said, ‘I had traffic in the last two lap and lose the TQ because of this’. The Infinity added, ‘Everything on the car was OK’.
A driver who had to deal with traffic frustration in the 11 car top heat in Q1, Pietsch summed up his run by saying, ‘It was OK. I was lucky now with traffic’. The Mugen driver continued, ‘At the beginning I was leading but I couldn’t keep up the pace. I was lacking a little power but don’t know the cause of this but I think it is the fuel. I think they have a special additive they use only in qualifying and it give them more power over the run while my engine drops off a little’.
Pirani was pleased with his second qualifier after suffering a flame out at the start of Q1. The ARC driver said, ‘today yes was better. Yesterday we had a flame out before the start but today is good’. The former ENS podium finisher continued, ‘I need a little more speed and to get that we need to find a little more steering. I will make some changes after the next qualifier because I need to make one more safe run but we need to change something to be more competitive for the final.’
Chassis – Xray NT1 2018 Engine –Gimar Race by Novarossi Fuel – Energy Tires (handout) – Matrix Radio/Servo – Sanwa Body – SRC Spark
Remarks – Alessio and Xray are using the season finale of the ENS to assess some new parts for the upcoming World Championship in Miami and while allowing Red RC to photograph the car, the Italian wasn’t being specific about the parts he was trying other than saying they were in the rear of the car. Otherwise he said the rest of the car is standard as is the set-up with only the front end being a bit stiffer to suit the characteristics of the Fiorano track.