Bruno Coelho has denied Eric Dankel a home TQ at ENS Germany, the Xray driver putting in a dominant Day 2 qualifying performance at Minidrom Ettlingen. With Dankel in control of Q1 & 2 yesterday, championship leader Coelho found his form in Q3 and backing that up with TQ runs in the 4th & 5th rounds claimed his second consecutive Euro Nitro Series pole position. Dankel would round out qualifying with a P2 and that is where the former champion will start tomorrow. Runner-up at the season opener having to come from the back of the grid, Alessio Mazzeo will line up third ahead of the previous two winners of the German round, Dirk Wischnewski and Teemu Leino.
Capping off qualifying with the fastest time of qualifying, Coelho said, ‘I drove (the last round) like the other qualifiers, easy at the start so as to make no mistakes’. He continued, ‘This let Dankel ahead but after 1-minute I started to catch him and when he made a mistake I could overtake him’. Pleased to bag the championship point offered for the TQ, he said, ‘the finals will be a different story, the tyre wear is not much, its strange and because of this there is many strategies you can use’. He added, ‘Fuel consumption is very important here, it is high and a lot of guys cannot go more than 4:20.’ Asked where he expects his biggest challenge to come from the Portuguese driver replied, ‘I can’t really say. I know who is fast over 4-minutes but longer than that could be a different story. Maybe some guys will be faster after 4 minutes, because I already know the car changes a lot over 4-minutes in qualifying’.
‘Too slow’ was Dankel’s reaction to missing out on repeating the TQ he took last year at his home race, the Mugen driver adding, ‘yesterday was better’. Opting to not change his set-up for the showdown with Coelho, he said his car was ‘a little edgy’ and there was nothing he could do to take the fight to his rival. Conceding ‘if Bruno has a clean run he will be hard to beat’, he said ‘we need to make a good tyre changes and I need to make no mistakes from my side’. Asked about a strategy for the final he replied, ‘to make 5-minutes is too difficult especially on small tyres but 4:30 is no problem for us’. On tyres he said, ‘It won’t be two sets like the first round (at Mulhouse) and I think we will do the outside only’.
Making some changes to his NT1 for Q5 after struggling with his set-up in the previous round, Mazzeo said, ‘the car was for sure better but the engine was too rich.’ Planning to change engine for the A-Main practice as well as use the track time to test one further change, the Italian wanted to congratulate his team-mate on his impressive performance today taking all 3 qualifiers but added, ’45-minutes will also be hard for Bruno so the race is wide open’. Referring to the track’s ‘strange traction’ he said ‘it is very difficult to set the car’ and while it is easy to make the car fast at the start ‘the problem is after 10 or 15-minutes’.
After starting out the event looking very strong on his Mugen debut Wischnewski is struggling with the reason he lost his early form. Topping practice and opening qualifying with a P2 behind team-mate Dankel he said, ‘At the beginning of qualifying the pace was good but Bruno has left us behind now and honestly I don’t know what to do’. Winner of a rain effected race here in 2015, the German changed his set-up for the final qualifier but ‘the behaviour on the track was the same as before’. On the final he said, ‘the cars are going to be edgy to drive on small tyres and I think you have to play safe on the refuel because of the high consumption. It is not going to be an easy race’.
Taking one of his two victories here last year, reigning champion Leino was much happier with his car in the final qualifier as he posted another P3 to secure 5th on the grid. The Infinity driver said, ‘I changed the car for the last one and the engine too and it was much better and I have one more set-up change I now want to try in the final practice’. He continued, ‘the fastest lap is there and its not far from Bruno but its still edgy to drive’. Asked about strategy he replied, ‘last year we changed all four tyres and it worked for us while other just changed the outside. We can make 4:30 but in small tyres and with the (high) temperature maybe we will go safe and stop at 4:10 or something’.
Completing the Top 6, the final qualifier was a stressful one for Eduardo Escandon. Needing to get a good result to get onto the A-Main, the Shepherd driver said, ‘there was too much pressure from my side but the team told me to relax and I could make the main so I’m happy to get P5 but I’m still not driving well’. Qualifying third at the season opener, the Spaniard said, ‘I have the car and engine for a good result but I’m not happy with myself and how I am driving this weekend. My goal for the final is don’t hit the curbs. There will be a lot of mistakes so I just want to keep putting in clean laps’. Behind Escandon, team-mate Thilo Tödtmann will start seventh.
The final 1:10 qualifier at ENS Germany will determine the Top Qualifier for tomorrow’s 45-minute A-Main, Q5 set to be a dual between Bruno Coelho and Erik Dankel. With Dankel having taken the first two qualifiers yesterday, today has so far belonged to championship leader Coelho with the Xray driver backing up his first TQ in Q3 with another in the penultimate round. With the third qualifier resulting in a DNF for Dankel, the Mugen driver while able to get second still wasn’t happy with his car in Q4 describing it as difficult to drive. Dirk Wischnewski would set the third fastest time in Q3 but the top seed’s chances of the overall TQ are now gone. Giving Xray a 1-2 in Q3, Alessio Mazzeo tried a different set-up but struggled leading to an off and without any chance of a good run opted to pull off. Reigning champion Teemu Leino got a 4th for the round locking last year’s winner into the A-Main while Eduardo Escandon got an important P5 but the Spaniard driver still needs another good round to qualify his Shepherd directly into the final.
With the Top Qualifier having been decided in Q3, Simon Kurzbuch taking his second pole of the season, the 4th & 5th rounds of 1:8 qualifying at ENS Germany would determine how they lined up behind the Shepherd driver and Infinity’s Dario Balestri who was second to Kurzbuch in the first three qualifiers. Kurzbuch was on target for yet another TQ run in the penultimate round but on the final lap coming out of the track’s banked sweeper he would collect a spun car sending him onto the grass and denying him the perfect performance. Infinity’s Oliver Mack was there to capitalise and take the TQ, a result that would secure the German 3rd on the grid for tomorrow’s 45-minute A-Main. After a difficult morning, top seed Bruno Coelho would finally post a Top 3 run with second behind Mack, backing that up with another P2 in the final qualifier behind Kurzbuch. Together with his P4 from last night’s Q1, this would see the ENS Round 1 winner get 4th on the grid demoting Robert Pietsch to 5th. Completing the top half of what will become a 12 car grid once the Top 2 from the B-Main bump up, will be Naoto Matsukura, the 5 time electric World Champion and nitro onroad newcomer, putting his Infinity into the final once again.
Bruno Coelho led an Xray 1-2 in the third round of qualifying at ENS Germany, the championship leader setting the pace from team-mate Alessio Mazzeo. With Erik Dankel having topped both of yesterday’s qualifiers, the first round of Day 2 was to prove a difficult one for Mugen with Dankel suffering a flameout after an off and Dirk Wischnewski hitting traffic leaving him with a P7. Completing the Top 3 with his best run so far would be reigning champion Teemu Leino with Thilo Tödtmann getting a fourth that locks him into the A-Main.
Third in Q1 but struggling to P5 in the second round due to a rich engine, Coelho said, ‘the car was very good yesterday but the engine didn’t co-operate but we leaned it out a little today and everything was very good’. Bringing the battle for the overall TQ alive with his run, the ENS France winner said, ‘In the ENS the most important thing is to get in the final and use the qualifying to test for the final. A lot can happen in 45-minutes so where you start is not so important but for sure we will try to get the TQ’. Top Qualifier at the season opener, he will leave his NT1 unchanged for the penultimate qualifier.
‘We are happy for sure, we are fast and a second for the round is good for the grid’, was Mazzeo’s view of his Q3 performance. The World Championship podium finisher said he had a couple of mistakes, the conditions today somewhat different to yesterday and making it more difficult to push hard. Set to change body position and his downstops for the conditions, the Italian said, ‘we didn’t want to make the same mistake as Mulhouse and start from the rear but we have a Top 4 start position now so we will try to improve on that for sure’.
Leino summed up his third attempt as ‘a good, pretty clean run’. The Finn who won here last year and currently sits 12th in the qualification ranking, added, ‘I need one more run’. In terms of his car, the Infinity driver said, ‘I didn’t change the car from yesterday but I need more smooth steering so I will change for the next one’.
Commenting on his DNF, Dankel said, ‘My car was a little tweaked but in the end my driving was not clean enough’. He added I think maybe it was a tyre but it was difficult in left corners and because of this I made a mistake which caused the flame out. Team-mate Wischnewski said his car and also engine this time were really good but he hit a back marker and that was any chance of a good run gone but the top seed in Germany he is confident for Q4.
‘I benefited from the mistakes of the other guys and got important points’ was Tödtmann view of his P4. The Shepherd driver added, ‘I just brought it home and made sure I didn’t throw it away’. Asked about his car, the German replied, ‘It is not so good as the traction goes up but I’m in the final now I have two more runs to try make it easy to drive’.
Setting the fifth fastest time ahead of Xray team-mate Leo Arnold, Marco Kaufmann said, ‘It was better than before, now I have a chance for the Main’. The German suffered engine problems yesterday and with a new unit fitted for today he said it was much better’. Happy with his car he said, ‘It is not super fast but it is easy to drive’.
Simon Kurzbuch is the Top Qualifier for the German round of the Euro Nitro Series, the Shepherd driver getting the job done early as he posted a third TQ run this morning at Minidrom Ettlingen. While Round 1 winner Bruno Coelho would top seeding from the Swiss driver, once qualifying got underway the reigning champion has taken control of proceedings to claim his second pole of the season and the all important bonus championship point that goes with it. Like the previous two qualifiers, the top of the Q3 time sheets would read the same with Dario Balestri the closest to Kurzbuch followed by Robert Pietsch in third. Having found his way in Q2, Oliver Mack would again set the fourth fastest time ahead of Infinity team-mates Naoto Matsukura, Takaaki Shimo, Lamberto Collari and Teemu Leino.
‘It is good to be first in 3 out 3 (heats) because now we can practice for the final’, said Kurzbuch on taking his 6th career ENS TQ. With two rounds of qualifying still to run, he said, ‘now we try a different engine and some changes on the car to prepare for the final’. Asked about the final, he said, ‘the tyre wear is quite low here but the fuel consumption is high so its important get a good strategy because fuel stops can be just as important as tyre stops in determining the race’.
Setting the fastest lap of the third qualifier and the only one to run 12-seconds, Balestri was particularly pleased with his latest run. The 2015 Ettlingen winner said, ‘I changed something on the car and it was really good but at the end I lost the clutch’. With temperature’s picking up, ‘in the hot conditions our car is really competitive and it is really good now’. Now assured of starting towards the front of the grid for tomorrow’s 45-minute Main, like Kurzbuch, the Italian will now use the remaining two qualifier as track time to ‘try something for the final’.
‘Positions are fixed, the same result again’ joked a pleased looking Pietsch after Q3. The Mugen driver continued, ‘I improved my beginning but the result was still the same. Anyway I’m in the A-Main so now we can try some different set-ups for the final’.
‘My car is so easy to drive, I can’t make a mistake’, was Mack’s reaction to another competitive run from the 4th fastest heat. The German said his only problem was his engine was ‘a little lean the last few laps’. Having had a difficult first qualifier last night, the former European Champion needs another good qualifier saying, ‘only one more to go’, and unlike the Top 3 will leave his car unchanged with the focus on making the Top 6 once more.
The surprise of the season opener in France, Matsukura was quick to put his Q3 improvement down to the driver doing a better job and him also having a better feeling from his engine. Asked about the first two qualifiers he replied, ‘Driver errors, the car was good’. Only his second international 1:8 race, the 1:12 World Champion admitted to having been bitten by the bug in terms of nitro racing adding ‘I really like it, its a lot of fun’. Still needing to secure an A-Main starting position, he said his focus now is on locking down two strong results saying, ‘I need to go for single digits results in the next two’.
Fellow countryman & team-mate Takaaki Shimo is hoping his P6 for Q3 is a turning point. Having started the day with too much steering and no rear grip, switching to a harder front swaybar greatly improved the Japanese veteran’s car making it ‘very easy’ to drive. His first time to the Ettlingen track he said ‘its very difficult’ adding banked corners don’t exist on Japanese tracks. Needing two more string runs he said after his Q3 performance, ‘I hope we are on a good way now’.