Having opened qualifying at Round 2 of the ENS in Germany with a TQ run last night, Simon Kurzbuch got Day 2 of the event off to the perfect start as he again set the pace in Q2. The second of the five qualifiers in Ettlingen was a repeat of the Q1 result with Dario Balestri again Kurzbuch’s closest challenger and Robert Pietsch completing the Top 3. The surprise of the qualifier would be Oliver Mack, who running in the fourth fastest heat, would set the 4th fastest time just 0.026 off Pietsch. Francesco Tironi would improve on his opening run post his first Top 6 run with fifth ahead of the Belgian Steven Cuypers.
‘A perfect run’ was how Kurzbuch referred to his run. Making a front downstop change to his Novarossi powered Shepherd, the reigning ENS Champion said, ‘the car was very stable and easy to drive, I just had to lift once when a car came out of the grass but despite that it was perfect’. Improving on his time by almost one and a half seconds and also improving his fastest lap, the Swiss ace said, ‘the lower temperatures are better for my car’. Looking to Q3, when another TQ run would make him Top Qualifier for the second time this season, he said, ‘I don’t think I will change anything, I have one hand on the point (for TQ) so lets try bring it home’.
‘Simon was too fast. Simply he is more fast than me at the moment’, was Balestri’s reaction after Q2. The Infinity driver continued, ‘my car & engine are good so I’m still happy but we need to see what we can do’. The only driver to TQ a round of the ENS last season apart from Kurzbuch, the 2015 ENS Champion said, the ‘hotter conditions are better for our car’ and with the sun already warming things up, today’s schedule having started earlier due to yesterday’s rain delays, he will be hoping to try take the fight to his arch rival.
Pietsch said, ‘again I was too nervous at the beginning but when I settled down my mind I was ok again’. The Mugen driver said, the reason for being nervous this morning was because his nerves yesterday had led him to making mistakes in the first lap of Q1 and he was trying to make sure not to repeat that. Describing traction conditions as ‘a little different’ with the track having more traction, he plans to adjust the rear shock position for the next one.
‘Finally’ was Mack’s reaction to his P4, the popular German adding, ‘this is my track’. Having tested for the event 2-weeks before he said ‘now its totally different’ and having worked on his Infinity to remove front grip based on the test that has led him to playing catch up. Winner of the European Championships held at Ettlingen in 2015, Mack said he had the benefit of running earlier in the round and had cooler track conditions but an engine change for Q2 has improved his performance, the engine one he had loaned to a friend who is pitting next to him.
Tironi summed up his run as ‘ok’. The Italian added, ‘from the first free practice my car feels ok and I have worked on improving my driving. It is a long time since I am competitive and I am working to get that feeling back’. He continued, ‘Dario, Simon and Robert are faster and it will be hard to get on their pace, for this time I am happy with where I am at and we will of course try to improve on this’.
Simon Kurzbuch has TQ’d the opening round of 1:8 qualifying at Round 2 of the Euro Nitro Series in Germany. With rain delaying the schedule, the reigning champion took what would turn out to be the day’s only qualifier from arch rival Dario Balestri, both drivers previous ENS race winner at the Minidrom Ettlingen track. Behind them Robert Pietsch maintained the strong form he showed in the morning’s seeding practice as he set the 3rd fastest time to make it an all Champions affair Top 3. Having topped seeding, Bruno Coelho would end up fourth with the ENS France winner taking the blame for less than perfect driving over the 4-minutes.
‘All the changes paid off, and we were there on the point’, was Kurzbuch’s reaction to taking the TQ in the first of the 5 qualifiers, the second round due to run today rescheduled into tomorrow’s timetable. The Shepherd driver continued, ‘I made a very good start and pulled away but then had a little traffic with 2 cars and lost a little time there. I knew it was going to be close at the end so I had to really push’. Setting the fastest lap of Q1 on his last lap, the Swiss driver said the performance has him ‘happy for tomorrow’.
Not happy with his seeding performance, Balestri was much happier looking after Q1. The Infinity driver said he went back to the set-up he arrived to the track with and just adjusting the rollbars for the grip levels ‘all was fine again’. Winner on the ENS’ first visit to the track in 2015, the Italian continued, ‘it was a good run and it was good to fight with Simon but in my opinion we can improve the car for tomorrow, at least I hope’. Also setting his fastest lap of the race on his final lap, being the only driver along with Kurzbuch to get down to 12-seconds, there was a sense from Balestri that is now game on for the rest of the weekend.
Pietsch was pleased with his P3 admitting to be ‘nervous at the beginning’ but happy ending the qualifier on the pace again. Once settled in to the run the Mugen driver said, ‘I could make time on Bruno and Dario but my last lap was a little slow and Dario passed me again’. Pleased with the performance of his car which features some prototype parts he is testing for the World Championship later this year he plans to leave the car set-up unchanged for Q2.
‘Mistakes on my side’, was how Coelho replied when asked about how his first 1:8 qualifying attempt had gone. The championship leader continued, ‘I had a number of slides because I over used the power. The car and engine where all good it was just my mistakes that were the problem’.
Opening his event with the fifth fastest time ahead of Mirko Salemi, Lars Hoppe was pleased with his run. New to the Shepherd team for the 2017 season, the German said his car was good but his Reds engine was ‘a little too lean especially at the end’. Describing it as a very clean run, he said for tomorrow he would change nothing on the car except tweak his gearbox to change a little earlier and get a better tune on his engine.
It was a good first day at ENS Germany for Eric Dankel as the Mugen driver made it two out of two in the second round of qualifying at Minidrom Ettlingen. Having led a Mugen 1-2 in the opening qualifier, the German picked up where he left off when Q2 was finally run after a number showers delayed the day’s schedule. With Dankel having a much greater advantage in the second qualifier it was Alessio Mazzeo, 1.2-seconds back, who would be closest to the German. With a lack of rear grip forcing him to pull off in the first round, Eduardo Escandon would resume his Top 3 seeding form and take 3rd for the round ahead of Dirk Wischnewski with Bruno Coelho and Thilo Tödtmann completing the Top 6. Having got a P4 in Q1, reigning champion Teemu Leino would hit trouble just as the cars completed the warm-up for Q2 – the screw in the pulley on the two speed shaft coming loose with him missing the first 3-minutes of the qualifier as they fixed it.
Commenting on his Q2 run Dankel said, ‘It was pretty good but I thought my car wasn’t as good in the conditions’. With two rain stoppages between the first and second qualifiers causing Q2 to run much later than originally scheduled, Dankel said the hotter asphalt suited his MTX6R better with the car pushing a little on the cooler track. Despite this he said the overall feeling was still pretty good. Looking to tomorrow, 3 more qualifiers on the timetable and the weather showing no signs of further rain interruptions, the 2014 Champion said, ‘for sure I don’t change anything for Q3, I need one more run so we will see what we can do’.
‘A big improvement’ was Mazzeo’s reaction to his improved pace. Driving to a safe P5 in Q1 due to struggling with the feeling of his NT1, he said changes to the downstops and shock oil had made the car more stable. Using the 4-minute warm-up to test the changes, he said he pushed too hard and as he got to the end of the actual qualifier he struggled as the tyres developed a lot of camber causing him a few moments. A lot happier with how the day ended, the Italian will try a different camber for Q3 but is confident they now have a competitive car for the event.
Escandon was delighted to be back on form and when asked what had been the problem in Q1 replied ‘it was my fault’. The Shepherd driver said, ‘I changed my servo linkage but didn’t check it and afterwards found it was giving me too much steering on one side but thanks to Alex Kempe I have a very good car again’. With ‘small mistakes’ over the qualifier he concluded, ‘The car is there, I just need to sleep more and that should help me to drive better tomorrow’.
‘Again the engine tuning’, was how Wischnewski summed up posting the fourth fastest time. The German added, ‘the weather changed a lot (affecting the engine) and also the car was not as perfect as the first one’. He continued, ‘It took a long time to come in but at the end I had the same pace as Eric but I lost too much time at the start’. Like Dankel he feels ‘in the hot conditions our car is better’ and will leave it unchanged for Q3 based on tomorrow forecast.
Coelho would also report his engine tuning as the reason for a slower second run. The Xray driver said, ‘my engine was too rich and I was waiting for second gear then when I was not expecting it to change it did causing me to crash in the sweeper’. Having had issues with his NT1 in Q1, he said a set-up change and a change of body position left ‘the car working very well but the engine didn’t want to cooperate’.