Mugen’s Erik Dankel set the early pace in a shortened practice ahead of the title deciding season finale of the Euro Nitro Series in Fiorano, Italy. The former Champion, who is one of the key contenders for the 1:10 title, was fastest over 3-consecutive laps of the Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter track from World Champion Dominic Greiner with reigning ENS Champion Jilles Groskamp completing the Top 3. With the first round of practice being sat out by most of the top drivers due to rain yesterday & overnight rain meaning drivers arrived to a wet track, title favourite Teemu Leino’s single practice would see the Team Infinity driver go only 7th fastest on the mainly dry track.
‘I didn’t expect it, it went really well’, was Dankel’s reaction to being quickest by 7/10th from Greiner. The German, who comes into the weekend 2nd in the points behind fellow countryman Dirk Wischnewski, continued, ‘Its a really positive start that my car worked straight away because if I struggle at the start of an event it can get into my head sometimes’. Feeling his ‘lines are not perfect’ around the track he added ‘I need to get more used to the track’ – originally drivers where scheduled to get six rounds of free practice yesterday but rain prevented any dry running. Expecting ‘its going to be close like every time’ once qualifying gets underway, the first round on schedule for later this evening, he said in terms of his car he will leave it unchanged for the final practice as he expects the track to get better but not knowing how it will be ‘no point to change anything for now’.
One of the few drivers to test in the wet yesterday, Greiner said he had ‘a strange feeling’ from his car in the second practice. The Serpent driver said his 748 was ‘loose on power’ and while expecting the track conditions to get better which should help alleviate this added he will still need to make changes to his car. With Matrix the handout tyre for this race he said the characteristic of the tyre is to give the car more steering and he needs to change his set-up to account for this. Team-mate and winner of this event last year, Alessio Mazzeo would take his 748 to the fifth fastest time behind Eduardo Escandon, the Spanish KM Racing driver having had a good showing here last year when he qualified 6th.
‘Felt really good from the start’ was how a very pleased looking Groskamp summed up his car. The Team Infinity driver, who missed the 3rd round of the ENS due to EP World Championship commitments, said, ‘I’m running the same set-up as Gubbio (World Championships) and the balance and the steering are good’. Having ran at the Bologna track, host of the season opener, in the lead up to the race to break in engines for the weekend the Dutch driver added, ‘maybe we could have run my engine a little leaner but I’m happy’. Admitting ‘Erik is really fast’, he continued ‘the track will of course improve and I know the track and really like how it flows so for a first run we are looking OK’. In terms of car changes he said, ‘I wont be making many changes as we have little track time now after the rain so it will be just little adjustments we might try’.
Almost 1.4-seconds off Dankel’s pace, Leino summed up his practice run as ‘not so good’. The Finn, who has won the last two rounds, said ‘the car feels twitchy’. Feeling it is a combination of the track conditions, some moisture still in the track, and his set-up he said ‘we will change (the set-up) a little bit for the next one’. Also planning to change engine, saying ‘I need to have two ready for the race’, he concluded, ‘It is a little difficult with not so much practice’. For Leino’s key title rival and the season’s only other race winner Wischnewski the first practice would see the Team Shepherd driver somewhat off the pace with only the 13th fastest time just behind Xray’s lead driver Bruno Coelho.
Track Name – Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter Club – Racing Minicar Fiorano Country – Italy Location – Fiorano (20km South-West of Modena) Direction – Anti-clockwise Surface – Asphalt Previous ENS hosted – 2014 & 2015
For the third year running the Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter track in Fiorano, Italy, again hosts the fourth & concluding round of the Euro Nitro Series.One of the Worlds’s most famous and driver favourite onroad nitro tracks, it is located in the heartland of Italian motoring passion with Ferrari’s Fiorano test track just 500 metres away, while the Ferrari factory is just a 5-minute drive away. Built in 1996, the impressive facility covers a total area of 13,000 square metres allowing for the large and spacious pits which are much appreciated by racers.At the helm of the successful Racing Minicar Fiorano club is club president Angelo Gesualdi who originally got the city of Fiorano to support the creation of the 297 metre track by providing the land to the club.
As the track was being built and in keeping with the huge motoring history of the area it was decided to name the track after Ferrari’s last world champion Jody Scheckter and the 1979 World Champion from South Africa was happy to give official endorsement to naming the track after him. A very popular track with racers, newly crowned 1:8 ENS Champion Simon described it as ‘beautiful to drive’ adding ‘it’s not easy to get fast laps’. The Team Shepherd driver, who wrapped up his second ENS title at the previous round in Austria, said, ‘it’s really fast & technical and you need lots of steering mid corner. You also need to get right up on the curbs for the right line for the next corner. I really like it’. Also famed for his unique pit atmosphere the World Champion said, ‘It’s a perfect facility. It has a great restaurant too which always serves great Italian food so it’s always great to come racing here’.
The 2016 Euro Nitro Series comes to a conclusion this weekend (21-23rd Oct) with the famous Fiorano track in Italy as the stage for the 1:10 title decider.With Team Shepherd’s Simon Kurzbuch wrapping up the 1:8 title at Round 3 in Aigen, Austria, last month, the attention for the season finale is on who will be crowned the new 1:10 champion.With Electric World Championship commitments forcing him to miss the third round, reigning champion Jilles Groskamp can not retain his title but it is his Team Infinity team-mate Teemu Leino who goes into the season finale best placed to become champion.In total 5 drivers have a mathematical chance of being crowned champion but it is current points leader Dirk Wischnewski who provides the biggest challenge to Leino.Also a strong contender is inaugural ENS Champion Erik Dankel who sits second in the points and will be hoping to drop his 12th place Round 1 result. With outside title chances for World Champion Dominic Greiner and Bruno Coelho all of the contenders represent different manufacturers highlighting the competitiveness of the ENS championship.
While the title will be at the forefront of the minds of the contenders, in what is one of the championships most stacked 1:10 entries, there are a number of drivers who are out to make their mark and become the third different winner of the season.Last year Alessio Mazzeo snatched the win from Groskamp on the penultimate lap and the Serpent driver will be out to look for another home win.With Leino giving Team Infinity its first win as a manufacturer, his team-mates will be looking to add another.Groskamp, having narrowly missed out on the win last year, will want to make up for that and finally add an ENS win to his CV.Having signed for Team Infinity since making the final at the World Championships in August, Kyle Branson will be keen to deliver a good result on his first outing.An interesting addition to the new manufacturer’s line-up is 4-time Electric World Champion Marc Rheinard.In what is currently a one off deal for the factory Tamiya electric touring car driver, the German will make his first nitro outing since the 2012 World Championship in Bangkok but having finished runner-up at the 2010 World Championships in the US he is expected to be right in the mix as one of three Electric Touring Car World Champions racing this weekend.
In 1:8, while the title is already his, Simon Kurzbuch is no less motivated going into the season finale as he looks to become the first driver to complete a clean sweep of the championship.With a 100% winning record this season, he is going for 4 wins from 4 races.The World Champion was the winner in Fiorano last year ahead of the season champion Dario Balestri and expect the Capricorn driver to again be the main challenger to the Swiss driver.Making his debut for Team Infinity at this race last year, Lamberto Collari will be aiming to mark his first year with the team with a first win for their 1:8 car.In terms of deciding who will be Vice-Champion, that battle is far from decided with second in the points currently shared between Balestri and one of the stars of the 2016 season Toni Gruber.Former World Champions Collari and Robert Pietsch are also contenders for the runners-up spot.
With Matrix the offcial tyre supplier for the finale of the fourth season of the ENS, Round 4 officially gets underway on the Friday morning with the new 1:10 champion to be decided in the 45-minute Main on Sunday afternoon with all the action being streamed live on Redrc.net.
Inaugural Euro Nitro Series Champion Simon Kurzbuch has regained his crown over the four round onroad nitro championship. The Shepherd driver secured the 2016 1:8 title with a perfect score of three wins, the latest of which came at the Austrian round in Aigen today with another great display of driving from the World Champion. Top Qualifier for the third visit to the high altitude track, Kurzbuch would come under a stronger than expected challenge from the reigning champion Dario Balestri, the Capricorn driver leading a number of time throughout the 45-minute encounter. In the end however as drivers strategies played out it was Kurzbuch that took an expected win 4-seconds up from Balestri, with Robert Pietsch completing the podium as the top five finished in the same order they started.
Having won his first title in 2014 without actually registering a win, Kurzbuch said it was nice to do it second time round with 3 wins from 3 races. Highlighting that today’s win is his fourth in succession, the Swiss ace added ‘now we’ll try to go for all four in Fiorani’ (the final round of the championship). On today’s race, he said ‘we picked a different strategy to everyone else stopping more frequently so that we weren’t in the pits the same time as the others’. Stopping for outside tyres on 9-minutes, all four at half distance and the outside again with 9-minutes to go, he said this strategy was to ‘safe some time’ over those who did two 4-tyre stops. Admitting to being a little surprise by the Balestri challenge saying, ‘I didn’t think it would be that close all the time’ he continued ‘while it was really close the whole race I didn’t get stressed ad knew at the end we would have enough to win’. Thanking his father and Shepherd’s Alex Kempe for ‘a great job’ in the pits he said as a team this year’s ENS has been ‘just amazing’. Thanking Novarossi and Shepherd for their ongoing support, his chassis/engine package unchanged over the three seasons of the ENS, he also attributed today’s win to his Xtreme Aerodynamics R18 ‘Flat’ bodyshell which was ‘perfect for this track’, the smallest visited by the championship.
‘No more than this was possible. His package is more perfect than mine’, was the reaction of Balestri after the race. The Italian continued, ‘My car and engine was good but all I could was make his life more difficult with my strategy. Simon won because he was faster. We have to work hard for the next one’. In terms of that strategy, Balestri would bring his Tesla powered LAB C802 in for two tyre stops changing all four each time.
Summing up his race, Pietsch said, ‘For me it was a good race, 3rd was the maximum I could do’. Last year’s Top Qualifier in Austria, finishing the race as runner-up behind Kurzbuch, the Mugen driver was pleased with his car and with how he drove his own race saying ‘I didn’t make any mistakes or have any issues so I happy from my side’. Copying the strategy of Balestri he said it was ‘the right decision’ and ‘both stops were good’ concluding, ‘I’m happy’.
Just missing out on repeating his 2015 podium finish, Lars Hoppe said ‘fourth was my speed today’. One of four ARC drivers in the final, making them the best represented manufacturer on the grid, the German added, ‘maybe a battle with Robert was possible as we had one less stop but my last set of tyres was slow’. Stopping to fuel his Reds Racing engine on 5:30, admitting one was very tight with it ‘down to the last few drops’, he went with a two stop tyre strategy, with both stops going good except for his last set of tyres not having the same pace as the previous set. Calling it ‘a very good event for ARC with 4-cars in the final’, behind Hoppe team-mate Toni Gruber would get 5th ahead of the Infinity of 9-time World Champion Lamberto Collari.