Remarks – French driver Jean Baptiste Geneau is racing a somewhat unique Capricorn decided the cars regular red colouring wasn’t to his liking and deciding to create is own ‘black edition’. Apart from the colour change Jean Baptiste said the rest of the car is kit standard.
Dominic Greiner has claimed his first overall TQ of the 2018 Infinity Euro Nitro Series, the Serpent driver securing his 7th ENS career TQ by finishing second fastest to Eric Dankel in the final round of qualifying in Austria. Having taken the opening two rounds of qualifying around the Aigen track, Q3 would see him flip his car with Thilo Tödtmann surprising everyone to come out on top after a last lap mistake from Dankel. This meant Tödtmann had the opportunity to deny the World Champion pole for tomorrow’s 45-minute main but it would be Dankel who was fastest, completing the job he looked to do in the previous qualifier with just 6/100th in hand over Greiner. With two from four to count, Greiner had the perfect score to secure pole while Dankel’s TQ run promoted him to 2nd ahead of Tödtmann who rounded out qualifying with a P5 run. While having two P2 runs behind Greiner, championship leader and previous round Top Qualifier Jilles Groskamp will start 4th ahead of Francesco Tironi and Dirk Wischnewski.
A previous top qualifier at the technical Aigen track but claiming his only win here a year earlier, Greiner said, ‘This point could be very important for the championship’. On the final qualifier, the German ace said, ‘Eric started very close behind me and I was very nervous so I made a couple of mistakes but the car is easy to drive which is good for the final tomorrow’. The first time he has been happy with his car today, he continued, ‘It is going to be a super close. Eric, Jilles, Tironi, they’re all fast. It will be a crazy final’. Asked about strategy he replied, ‘the tyre wear we need to check but sure there will be one stop. The run time here is good because it is very technical but we need to check tomorrow the weather conditions’.
‘No mistake this time although I did have a little moment on the last lap’, was how Dankel summed up his TQ run, the German managing to crack a smile to highlight the performance. The Mugen driver continued, ‘now was the best configuration we had all week but the final is a different game’. Asked his plan for the final, he said, ‘I think everyone will struggle on small tyres but I think I have good pace but like in Ettlingen the important thing is I drive with no mistakes but for sure its going to be a close race on this track’. Qualifying 5th in Germany, he would make the podium despite not choosing the best tyre strategy.
A very pleased Tödtmann said, ‘This is the first time I am this high on the grid. Everything is working good, my new engine is good so is the fuel mileage’. His first race with Gimar engines, the Shepherd driver continued, ‘I expect everyone will be on the same tyre strategy although you never know what Jilles makes but I am looking forward to making one less fuel stop than the previous races’. Runner-up here last year, finishing behind Bruno Coelho, he said, ‘I don’t think I can make any pressure on the two guys ahead but it would be ok to finish where I started’.
On his final qualifier, Groskamp said, ‘again it was a close round. I was only 7/10th behind Eric but I lose all that time in the first few laps. Anyway the important thing for me is the second half of the race and the car is good now. It is now stable and not like before when he got loose during the run. For the final we have a good base’. Leading the point standings coming into the weekend, the winner of the season opener said, ‘I’m a little disappointed with 4th (on the grid). Two times I was close to Dominic for the TQ but then there was a surprise TQ and I dropped down’. Asked about planning for the final the Infinity driver replied, ‘It is quite easy to make 5-minute fuelling but maybe some can make more I don’t know but we will look at this in the final practice and we have to see the weather. It is going to be a super close race and I think it is going to come down to the pit crew and how quick they are’.
Summing up his qualifying, former race Top Qualifier Tironi said, ‘5th is ok for the final. I think we could make better but the points system worked against us’. The Italian continued, ‘I feel we have good pace for the race and its a long race so the starting position is not so important. We have the performance to win, we will see tomorrow’.
Thilo Tödtmann has taken a surprise TQ run in the penultimate round of qualifying at the Infinity Euro Nitro Series in Aigen Austria. Improving on his 6th in Q1 with a P4 in the second round, the Shepherd driver TQ’d the third qualifier over a very frustrated Eric Dankel, the Mugen driver throwing away a TQ run with a mistake on the last lap. Benefiting from problems for championship contenders Dominic Greiner, Jilles Groskamp and Alessio Mazzeo, Tödtmann took his first ENS TQ run by 8/10th of a second over Dankel with Francesco Tironi completing the Top 3 just 2/100th off.
‘My first TQ run. I drove a couple of times 2nd place before but this is the first time I am first’, said a very pleased Tödtmann. The German, who finished 2nd in last year’s Aigen final, continued, ‘My boss gave me a few tips on my lines which worked out but I also benefited from Dominic and others having problems’. On his car he said, ‘it is getting better as the track gets hotter but now that I am safe in the final I will try a front diff change to see if it is good for the warmer conditions’.
‘I got lucky Dominic hit someone or had a problem but I didn’t see it though. On the last lap I made a mistake and lost 9/10ths’, was Dankel’s summary of Q3. The former Champion continued, ‘for sure we improved the car this run but in right turns I had understeer and on the left I had oversteer. It was even the run before so maybe it is tyre related but I hope it will be ok for the last one’. Sitting 4th going into the fourth & final qualifier, he said, ‘to improve will be hard because the only way I can is with a 1st place’.
Tironi appeared content with his P3 for the round saying, ‘we changed the rear diff to a harder one and it made it more consistent for qualifying’. The Infinity driver added, ‘it was really close and I’m confident for the last one’. Team-mate Groskamp said, ‘my engine was too rich so I wasn’t on the pace and I pulled in but with so many people having problems maybe even with a rich engine I could still have got a TQ. He added, ‘It a pity because Thilo has now moved ahead of me in the grid so I need a good last one to get back second place’.
‘Difficult’ was how Dirk Wischnewski summed up his qualifying so far, Q3 his best run with a P4 for his efforts. The Mugen driver said, ‘that was my best run so far but I am struggling a lot with the handling of the car’. A multiple ENS race winner he continued, ‘at the start it is very good but towards the end it gets edgy and has oversteer. I don’t know what to do’. 2nd fastest in free practice before the arrival of the rain, the German said, ‘In practice the car was very good when the traction was high. It looks like it improved a little now so I hope for better traction for the last qualifier’.
Having taken the opening two qualifiers a mistake at the end of the straight would deny Greiner from making an early addition to his record TQ tally. Flipping his Serpent, it would get collected by the Xray of Leo Arnold and afterwards the World Champion was clearly struggling to keep the car on track – a chunked rear tyre discovered afterwards. Still Greiner said he is ‘still not happy with the car’ adding ‘the balance is not good and we need to make it easier for the final’.
Simon Kurzbuch has taken the opening round of qualifying at Round 3 of the Infinity Euro Nitro Series in Aigen, Austria. A 3-time winner of the event, the Shepherd driver took the first of the 4 qualifiers by 7/10ths of a second from yesterday’s practice pace setter Toni Gruber. Behind, championship leader Dario Balestri posted the 3rd quickest time a further 4/10ths off with Robert Pietsch next up ahead of Lars Hoppe and Carmine Raiola.
Coming into the weekend needing a perfect event if he is to keep his hopes of retaining his title alive, Kurzbuch summed up his TQ for the first qualifier as ‘very good’. With the start of qualifying delayed because rain yesterday and also reduced from 5 to 4 rounds because of the time lost, the Swiss driver was quick to not take things for granted on a track he has enjoyed much success saying, ‘we still have three more rounds’. Commenting on the 4-minute qualifier, he said, ‘the first 1 or 2-minutes I drove very well but then I controlled the heat and so for the next one I will try to keep my pace for the whole run but I think for the first qualifying my approach was right because now I have one (TQ) already in the pocket and I can push a little more the next one’. He also feels he will be forced to push harder by his rivals saying, ‘I think the others will improve the next round’.
‘The car has more to come from it. I was just a little nervous and the first few laps were not great’, was Gruber’s thoughts on his first qualifying attempt. The WRC driver continued, ‘the car is good and fast enough to TQ and this was an easy second’. Setting the fastest lap of Q1, more than a 1/10th fastest than the second best set by Kurzbuch, the German said while conditions were different to yesterday after the rain, his car was still working well today with the only adjustment they made being the positioning of the rear wing.
Winner at the previous round in Ettlingen, Balestri summed up his Q1 performance as ‘OK. The World Champion said, ‘we tried something in the car because today the track is completely different to before and there is not much grip after the rain so we need to change more. The Infinity driver continued, ‘yesterday the car was really good but now we need to fine tune for the lower traction and find again a good balance’.
Piestch said, ‘I feel I have the pace in the car just it is to difficult to drive a clean run’. The Mugen driver continued, ‘I have to find something for the rear traction’. Explaining the problem he said before the rain the balance between the front and rear grip was normal but now it is ‘worse than Ettlingen’ with the car having all the grip in the front and none in the rear. With Ettlingen famed for its unique surface that requires untraditional set-ups on cars, Pietsch feels one factor that might now be at play is the shore of the championship’s handout tyre with the front slightly too soft.