Remarks – Qualifying second here at Round 2 of the ENS, the World Champion is running a unique brass front suspension mount aimed at trying to specifically improve the car for the unique characteristics of Minidrom Ettlingen’s very fine asphalt surface. Dominic says the extra weight at the front means ‘less risk of the car flipping’ as well as making the car ‘push more’ which he said ‘is a good thing here’.
Remarks – Another driver making his first ENS appearance of 2018, last year’s Ettlingen winner is running what is the latest generation of Mugen’s current 1:10 200mm offering, Eric telling us their new car is due for release two months before the World Championship’s which take place in October in Florida. Eric says the car is a kit standard car with the only changes being his choice of titanium screws and pivot balls.
Remarks – Making a return to the ENS having missed the season opener due to the small matter of getting married, Toni is running an almost kit standard GTX 1.4. Instead of the plastic kit supplied battery holder he is using the optional brass version and the other optional is alu front wheel axles to replace the standard steel version.
Simon Kurzbuch is the Top Qualifier at the second round of the Infinity Euro Nitro Series in Germany. The reigning champion secured his 10th ENS career TQ when he topped the fourth & final qualifier at Minidrom Ettlingen and will start tomorrow’s race in front of Round 1 victor Dario Balestri. With Balestri taking the opening qualifier yesterday in the fastest time and despite Kurzbuch taking Q2 & 3 it all came down to the final encounter between the pair. While Toni Gruber would take up the early pace in Q4, a mistake from Balestri would allow Kurzbuch to go full attack for the TQ which he duly snatched it from Gruber on the final lap. For Gruber, P2 in the final qualifier means the WRC Racing driver will start the 45-minute Main from 3rd on the grid ahead of Robert Pietsch. Pietsch had an altercation with Jeffery Rietveld as they both went to start their runs resulting Pietsch running off the track. While Rietveld would run 4th for a time he would also fail to finish the qualifier but still the Serpent driver completes the top half of the grid behind the Infinity of Carmine Riola.
‘It is very good to get the additional championship point’, was Kurzbuch’s reaction to becoming the only driver across all ENS classes to achieve a double figure TQ tally. The Shepherd driver continued, ‘the last round it was still open between me and Dario but because of his time yesterday he had a little advantage. Me, Dario and Toni were all the same pace but when Dario was out I could push more. I am really happy and now we start our preparations for tomorrow. My father will also do pit practice’. Asked about the final the Swiss ace replied, ‘the tyre wear is not that high but we haven’t decided yet what to do. Fuel is the critical point, on this track the engine needs lots of fuel but I think most people will have the same strategy’. Asked if following Gruber’s pace in Q4 if he believed he was a threat for the win, he said, ‘Yes I think he is and so will Robert. I had him direct behind me and he was also very fast. All four of us have the same speed, it is going to be interesting tomorrow’.
On the final qualifier, Balestri said, ‘I tried something strange on the car because I knew if it didn’t work it changed nothing in my starting position. With the change the car was too hard to drive and that is why I had my mistake’. The Infinity driver added, ‘the track was different again and my car was not perfect like yesterday. It is really sensitive this track because of how smooth the asphalt is so we need to see how the track is tomorrow and see what we do for the final but we can take the fight to Simon’.
Commenting on his Q4 performance, Gruber said, ‘That was pretty good. It was a really close fight with Simon. I love this close racing but my last 3-laps were not so good and Simon could take the TQ. I’m happy with 2nd but I was looking for first’. Finishing runner up to Kurzbuch at this same race in 2016 having started 7th, the German said, ‘to start 3rd overall I am happy with that for the final and I will just freshen up the car for tomorrow’. On the final he said, ‘we have to look but I think we will do one (tyre) stop but it depends on tomorrow, the car was good in today’s temperature. Hopefully there is no rain’.
Explaining his first lap off, Pietsch said, ‘Jeffrey was starting in front of me. He went full throttle so I left a gap but then he slowed again so I went to pass him but he went full throttle again. Again I tried to leave a gap and we both went again but then he almost stopped in front of me. Then he was stopped in the middle of the corner and I had no were to go and ended up on the grass. I think the starting system is not good’. He added, ‘it was a pity this happened because the car is super super good, the best it as all day and it cost me 3rd place (on the grid)’. Looking to the final, the former World Champion said, ‘I have the car so all is possible. I think the tyres will be a standard 1-stop but not sure if it will be all four or one side’. Asked about fuelling he replied, ‘we need to see the weather. If it is cold it might be possible to go longer but if it is hot like today it too risky’.
In the 1:8 40+ class Round 1 winner Arie Manten has extended his lead in the standings by taking the TQ. The Infinity driver came good in the second half of qualifying to TQ both Q3 & 4 which will see him start at the front ahead of the Xray of Hartmut Rose. Having taken the opening qualifier, Olaf Engelmann will start 3rd third for the half hour final followed by Q2 winner Bo Nielsen.
Having claimed his first ENS career win at the season opener in his native country of the Netherlands, Jilles Groskamp has backed it by claiming his first ever overall TQ at the second round of the Infinity Euro Nitro Series in Germany. Topping seeding yesterday, the 2015 Champion would secure his first ever pole position start with a second TQ run in the fourth & final round of qualifying. Denying Serpent’s Dominic Greiner in Q4, the Infinity driver will line up in front of the Serpent driver with Xray’s Alessio Mazzeo completing the Top 3. Going into the final qualifier in contention for his second consecutive overall TQ, unfortunately for Mazzeo he didn’t make the start after suffering an engine failure in warm-up. Behind the Top 3 former Ettlingen winners Teemu Leino, winner in 2016, and last year’s winner Eric Dankel will line-up 4th and 5th respectively ahead of Shepherd’s Thilo Tödtmann.
Commenting on becoming Top Qualifier, Groskamp said, ‘that was like a showdown. The last qualifier and who took it TQ’d it overall. It was a shame for Mazzeo he couldn’t fight’. The Dutch ace continued, ‘With the pink body I could see exactly were Dominic was. He started to catch me but then had a small mistake. I push maximum. It was a nice race to fight for the TQ. In the end he had one small bobble and I didn’t. I drove super consistent’. Asked his thoughts on tomorrow’s 45-minute Main, the former EP Touring Car World Champion replied, ‘I am happy with the car. We have a good package for the final. The tyre wear is low but the right still wear too much and it is like there is a tweak in the car. I’m expecting everyone to change tyres but not sure it will be four or just the outside’. He also said fuel consumption would be a factor influenced by the tyre wear. ‘Some can make 5-minutes but that is dangerous here because so much of the track is flat out and then you will have maximum RPM on low tyres. I think we will go safe. In Holland we were not the fastest but we went safe’.
Enjoying an ice cream to cool down after the final qualifier, Greiner said, ‘the car drives ok now but speaking to Jilles he has the same problem with the balance of the car changing after 4 or 5-minute (drivers have a lengthy warmup prior to the qualifier’s rolling starts). It was super super close and I had one mistake’. Explaining it he said, ‘I went too much on the inside of the corner. I was standing full left on the drivers stand then could see my car with the umbrella (covering the marshal post). It was my mistake’. Asked his strategy for the final, he replied with a laugh, ‘keep the car on the track’. He continued, ‘the balance changes more and more as the tyres get smaller. It is going to be super close and the question is do you only change the outside or all four tyres. The wear is higher today than yesterday and with more rain coming tonight we need to check tomorrow how it is in the final practice’.
‘We broke the engine before the start. I am very disappointed because in my head I was ready to fight for the TQ’, said Mazzeo afterwards. The Italian continued, ‘for sure we are ready for the final. We prepared 3-engines so we are ok. I think everyone will have the same strategy and change all four tyres. Dominic, Jilles and me are very close on pace and the local guys Erik and Dirk (Wischnewski) are going to be there too. Congrats to Jilles, he was fast since Thursday’. Able to watch the run after his own problems he added, ‘he did an amazing job in the last one’.
Ending qualifying with another Top 3 run that would secure him 4th on the grid, Leino said, ‘this time it was not so fast but it was alright’. Asked how strong he felt he was for the final, the Finn replied, ‘we are OK. Fuel and tyre wear are good but many things can happen at this track’. He added, ‘there is low tyre wear and the fuel mileage is safe but it is hard on engines. A lot of the time you are on full throttle. You can run lean but for sure you don’t finish the 45-minutes’.
Failing to finish Q4, Dankel said, ‘I had a mistake at the end of the straight’. The Mugen driver went on by saying, ‘the speed is there for sure we just need to get the job done. We need good pitstops with no mistakes. I think it is going to be very close at the end’. Asked about strategy, the ENS’ inaugural champion said, ‘(changing) all four (tyres) is for sure safe but we need to check. On big tyres 5-minutes is OK but when small it is more difficult. At the end we will check the weather conditions because this will be a big factor’. Behind Dankel, Team Shepherd’s Thilo Todtmann completes the top half of what will become a 12 car grid once the top two bump up from the B-Main.
Alessio Mazzeo has become the third different driver to post a TQ run in as many rounds of qualifying the Infinity Euro Nitro Series Round 2 in Germany. With Dominic Greiner taking Q1, Jilles Groskamp Q2, it was the turn of Mazzeo in the penultimate qualifier to go top of the very closely matched field with the Top 4 covered by just half a second. With a flame out delaying Groskamp in the pitlane before the start causing him to arrive at the loop with the time already running, Mazzeo would top the times from Greiner and a much improved Teemu Leino who had Erik Dankel just 0.034 behind him. The result means it is all to play for in the final qualifier with Greiner, currently with the fastest TQ time, Mazzeo and Groskamp all tied on points.
‘I’m really happy because also in the second round we had a chance at the TQ’, was Mazzeo’s reaction. The Xray driver, who was Top Qualifier at the season opener in Rucphen last month, added, ‘It was very hard for sure. To arrive at the end with the first four drivers on the same second is crazy’. The Italian said his TQ was not straight forward saying, ‘After 3-minutes its gets difficult. I think the wheel is too soft for these temperatures. I think it is the same for all the drivers but I am really happy with my engine and car. We can fight for the win tomorrow and obviously for the TQ in the last one’.
‘We tried something crazy but also did something crazy that we didn’t plan’, said a slight foolish feeling Greiner, the Serpent driver having forgot to connect the front roll bar for the run. The World Champion continued, ‘I have the question now do I continue with the crazy set-up, with the roll bar connected or do I try something else. The car is fast but not good. I’m not happy with it’.
Breaking into the Top 3 for the first time this weekend, former Ettlingen race winner Leino said, ‘I have been getting better every time but for this one I put fresh bearings in the car and changed the droop and it was much better’. Looking to better his 10th and 6th from Q1 & 2, the Finnish Infinity driver will now make a rear wing adjustment moving it further back saying ‘it was way too forward’ on the car.
‘So close, it is a little frustrating to finish last of our group (Top 4)’, was how Dankel described his Q3 effort. The Mugen driver added, the first 3 or 4 laps my driving was not clean. The TQ was possible but in the end it was my mistakes that cost me a chance’. Having struggled with his car in the previous qualifier, the German said the car was now good adding that after fitting a new rear diff the car ‘at least turns right and left corner the same now so for sure it was better’. Behind Dankel, Francesco Tironi would post the 5th fastest time with Thilo Todtmann completing the Top 6 ahead of Shepherd team-mate Eduardo Escandon.
Explaining his issues in Q3, Groskamp said, ‘I came in late for fuel before the start but had a flame out and that allowed the first car to go by and complete his first lap which meant the clock was already running so I was already 6.9-seconds down. I need to come in a little earlier before the start next time’. With no chance of a time, the championship leader pulled in after 5-laps.