July 7, 2017

Dankel leads Mugen 1-2 in Q1

Eric Dankel led a Mugen 1-2 in the opening round of 1:10 qualifying at ENS Germany, the former champion taking a very close encounter ahead of new team-mate Dirk Wischnewski with less than 1/2 a second separating the Top 4.  Behind the German duo, Bruno Coelho would complete the Top 3 followed by Teemu Leino, the reigning champion having a ‘little mistake’ on his final lap.  After an impressive run in practice when he posted the third fastest time, Eduardo Escandon would be the leading driver to hit issues in Q1 with his car unexplainably undriveable. With Dankel having to lift to avoid the out of shape Spaniard, the Shepherd driver would pull off expecting to find something wrong with his car which he didn’t.

‘Really close’ was Dankel’s reaction to the gap between himself and Wischnewski 0.031 of a second at the end of the 4-minute qualifier.  The ENS’ inaugural champion continued, ‘Edu was struggling and I had to lift once because of that but otherwise it was a good run’.  Happy with how his MTX6R is dealing with the Ettlingen track’s one of kind surface, for Q2 he will leave his car unchanged saying, ‘if the track hasn’t changed its just up to me to drive it’ – a quick rain shower towards the end of the 1:8 qualifier stopping action for a short time.

Fastest in practice, Wischnewski summed up his Q1 as a ‘good start’ adding ‘it was good, we could do the double’.  The former Ettlingen race winner said, ‘maybe my engine was a bit rich but all in all it was a good run and it was super close in the end’. Asked if he would make any changes for Q2, he replied, ‘we’ll look at what the weather is doing and see’.

Coelho described his qualifier as ‘quite strange’ with his Xray ‘kind of loose’ and ‘all round difficult to drive’.  The championship leader said, ‘I didn’t change anything so to be honest I don’t know how is was so hard to drive but we’ll have a good look at it to see if we can find something’.

‘It went pretty good’ was how Leino summed up his first qualifying attempt.  The Infinity driver added, ‘there was four 4 drivers within 4/10th or something so it was really close’.  Setting the fastest lap of the round, last year’s race winner said, ‘I was leading with 3 laps to go but had a little mistake at the end.  The car is ok so I’ll leave it the same and just try to make no mistake’.

Completing the Top 5, more than 2-seconds back on Leino, Alessio Mazzeo declared Q1 as having gone ‘so so’.  Only 6th fastest in practice, the runner-up at the season opener said they still ‘need to find feeling’ in the car adding it is ‘very hard to drive and we must improve it’. The World Championship podium finisher added, ‘this is the only track in the World with this surface and its a strange situation for sure’. Putting his P5 down to him taking a safe approach and not pushing over the 4-minutes he said that will continue to be his tact so as to arrive in the A-Main with just little changes each run so they finish every run in the Top 10.

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July 7, 2017

New in the Pits – Serpent 988

Making its race debut here in Ettlingen, Serpent are showing off their all new 988 platform. The successor to their World Champion winning 977 series, the new car came about from 2 completely different designs, one more traditional and another more revolutionary, with the stopwatch deciding the winner. The traditional car won out and so we have this 988, an evolution of the 977 but for the most part a completely new car. With the transmission, shocks, fuel tank and some small plastic parts remaining over, the main changes can be seen at the rear of the car with an all new back end to cater for the all new geometry and repositioned rear brake, having been moved back to the 2-speed shaft. Another new very noticeable change is to the aerodynamic lower a-arms which are solid and can accept different inserts to change the flex characteristics of the arm, which is just one of a number of various flex tuning possibilities in this new car. Along with a modified main chassis to accept the new parts, the car also comes with the newly released Viper Flow front bumper. Expect to see the 988 released in late August, just before the Worlds in France

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July 7, 2017

Coelho tops 1:8 practice in Ettlingen

Having taken an unexpected 1:8 win at the Euro Nitro Series season opener in France, Bruno Coelho has topped seeding practice at Round 2 of the championship in Germany.  The Xray driver was quickest over 3-laps from reigning champion Simon Kurzbuch with Robert Pietsch completing the Top 3 at Minidrom Ettlingen.  With the track’s unique fine asphalt surface challenging drivers in terms of them finding a set-up that gives consistency even over a short run, best of the Italian’s in practice would be Carmine Raiola who posted the fourth fastest time ahead of fellow countrymen Mirko Salemi and former race winner Dario Balestri.

Setting his best time in the first of the 2 rounds of controlled practice, Coelho said, ‘Overall its very good but in the last one the engine was a little rich and the clutch was not perfect but we are on the pace’. Having partly put his 1:8 success in France down to the fact Mulhouse was not a typical 1:8 track, asked if he felt his pace today was a better endorsement of the improvements made to the RX8 he replied, ‘its very good to be able to show again that we have made a lot progress with our 1:8 car,  it is working really well again here’.  The Portuguese driver added however that the track surface is presenting a new set of challenges with the car changing quite a bit over the distance of the run despite there being ‘not much tyre wear’.  He said the issue is the mix of banked and flat corners as they each wear the tyre differently giving a ‘super strange’ feeling. While easy to get a fast car for a lap he said it is hard to get it ‘uniform for 5-minutes’ making it ‘difficult to manage the set-up’.  ‘Still tweaking the set-up’, he plans ‘a few changes for Q1’.

Only 0.054 off Coelho, Kurzbuch wasn’t fazed by being second to Coelho with the World Champion pleased that he could improve his Shepherd for CP2.  Winner of this event last year, he said ‘my 3-laps are OK and the rest of the run is quite good’ but like Coelho said, ‘we are still working to get more consistency from the car which due to characteristics of this track is one of the main challenges’.   He added, ‘the base set-up of the car is very good and we are now just making small adjustments to find the best way for the conditions.  One of the things he will try for Q1 is to change the position of the bodyshell.

‘Its getting better and better’ was Pietsch reaction to putting his car in the Top 3.  The Mugen designer said he was having a better day today mainly due to his driving.  Having been focused on Mugen’s entry into the Electric Touring Car market for the last two months he said didn’t get to do any 1:8 practice before the event and as he ‘not so young anymore’ he was having problems with his lines in free practice yesterday.  The former ENS Champion is also running a number of new parts on his car the Japanese manufacturer is testing for the World Championship and as they get a better understanding of the effects they have on the car the more they are able to adjust the set-up to suit.

Heading the large Infinity charge, Raiola summed up his performance in practice as ‘not bad’.  The World Championship finalist continued he ‘need(s) more traction’ but overall his car was better today than yesterday.  Admitting to not being a fan of the track surface, he intended to complete the first qualifier on used tyres.  Team-mate Balestri had the opposite opinion about his performance saying his car was better yesterday.  Winner here in 2015, he feels both the tyres and the track have changed and they now need to find a way back to the set-up they had yesterday when he was second fastest behind Kurzbuch.

Having departed from BMT after a brief stint with the Italian company, Salemi was pleased to take his self modified Mugen to the fifth fastest time.  A multiple ENS Finalist driving for BP Racing, the Italian said he has been happy with how his cars has run since first hitting the track here yesterday and with some small set-up tweaks it is easy to drive.  Set to run the car unchanged for Q1, the first two qualifiers taking place this evening, he will make an engine change to one of his ‘good’ ones.

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July 7, 2017

Wischnewski top seed at ENS Germany

Dirk Wischnewski is the top seed for qualifying at Round 2 of the Euro Nitro Series in Germany after the new Mugen signing set the fastest 3-consecutive laps in controlled practice at Minidrom Ettlingen.  Winner of the race in 2015, the German topped the times from Round 1 winner Bruno Coelho with Eduardo Escandon completing the Top 3.  On the podium at the season opener Erik Dankel was fourth fastest ahead of reigning champion Teemu Leino and Mulhouse second place finisher Alessio Mazzeo.

‘Quite good, for a new car it has started good’, was Wischnewski’s reaction to becoming the top seed.  Fourth fastest in the first of the two rounds of controlled practice, he said a diff change for CP2 improved his MTX6R a lot.  With it ‘now more easy to drive’  he will leave it unchanged for Q1,  the first two of the five scheduled rounds of qualifying taking place later today’.  Asked about the switch to Mugen after his long stint as Shepherd’s top 1:10 team driver, the former European Champion replied, ‘the car felt completely different at the beginning and I had to get used to it but I like the car’.

Fastest in CP1, Coelho said ‘we tried a different set-up for the second one but it wasn’t until right at the end that it got better’. Finishing just under 2/10ths off Wischnewski but with the fastest lap of controlled practice, the Xray driver said, ‘overall I’m happy with the car’s performance and for the first qualifier we will go for a set-up in the middle (of those be ran in CP1 and CP2).

On his first visit to the Ettlingen track since it underwent a resurfacing in 2014, Escandon reacted to his Top 3 pace by saying, ‘I’m really happy with my car and engine package but the driver need to be a little better’.  Joining Shepherd for the 2017 season, the Spaniard added, ‘Its my first time on the new track and I feel I need more practice because the grip is really strange.  You need to drive really careful on the steering because the car has too much grip at the front and its very easy to lose the rear’.  With a mistake on one of his 3-counting laps, the Round 1 fifth place finisher said, ‘the car is on pace so I will leave it for Q1 and just try to improve my driving’.

‘Overall its ok’ was Dankel’s reaction to his practice.  The former Champion continued, ‘the first one was OK but it felt like I pulled a few others around in the last one and helped give them good laps times’.  With his CP1 time counting, contact with another car on the penultimate lap of CP2 ended his chances of a better time with his first two laps having been up on those of his counting time.  Asked about having a new team-mate, having been Mugen’s sole represented for the last year, Dankel replied, ‘yes its good to have a team-mate to work with and Dirk is also a good friend’.  In terms of set-up he said they run the cars 90% the same with the 10% difference to suit their individual driving styles.

Leino summed up practice with, ‘its so, so, not too bad’.  The Infinity driver, who suffered a DNF at the season opener, said, ‘this track is always the same, all the 1:10 cars drive square and thats something we are still working on to make it more smooth to drive’.  He added, ‘usually 1:10 always push but here not, it’s a pretty unique surface’.

View our event image gallery here.

July 7, 2017

Track Focus – Minidrom Ettlingen

Track Name – Minidrom Ettlingen
Club – Mini Car Club Ettlingen
Country – Germany
Location – Ettlingen (SW of the country)
Direction – Anti-clockwise
Surface – Asphalt
No. of ENS Races hosted – 2 (2015 & 2016)

The Euro Nitro Series is on its third visit to Minidrom Ettlingen with the German track again hosting the second round of what is the fourth year of the successful onroad nitro championship. 265 metres in length, the track came into existence 27 years ago and in that time has undergone a small change with the addition of 25 metres of track with the ENS’ first visit in 2015 marking the first international event to run on the new layout and surface.  That new surface is one of the key points of the track with it having a very fine/smooth finish.  In terms of lap times a 13-second flat a good pace for a 1:8 with 1:10 making their way around in mid 14-seconds.

Coming into the event leading both the 1:10 and 1:8 standings having become the first driver to double win on a race weekend when he mastered the unique Mulhouse track in France, Bruno Coelho said while Ettlingen is a more traditional track it has unique characteristics.  The Xray driver said while an ‘amazingly smooth’ surface for the most part, the section in front of the drivers stand is ‘super bumpy’ making it a challenge to get the right balance in the set-up.  He said another challenge for getting a good set-up is steering.  With the track having a lot of 180 corners he said you need a lot of steering for them but this then makes the very fast banked corner at the end of the straight ‘super difficult’ adding to the complications of getting a balanced set-up.

Winner here last year, Simon Kurzbuch is a fan of the track layout describing it as ‘more a 1:8 style track’ than Mulhouse.  Describing it as a ‘fast layout’ while still providing a ‘technical infield’, the Shepherd driver called the fine asphalt ‘special’.  Adding it is very different to most other tracks, he said it gives a more ‘direct feeling’ between the car and the track.

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July 6, 2017

Coelho’s rivals welcome return to familiar ground

With the 2017 Euro Nitro Series having opened in May with Mulhouse in France a new addition to the calendar, it is back to more familiar ground for teams this weekend (7-9 July) as Round 2 travels to Ettlingen in Germany. The third time the championship will visit the circuit, drivers will be hoping to recover ground from the dominant performance of Xray’s Bruno Coelho, who on the technical Mulhouse layout, became the frst driver in the four year history of the ENS to do the double on a weekend. As a result of this impressive achievement, the newly crowned ETS and EOS Champion finds himself leading the way in both the 1:10 and 1:8 standings of the nitro onroad championship but Ettlingen hasn’t been the best of hunting grounds for the Portuguese ace on the previous two visits. With results of 9th in 2015 and a slightly better 6th last year in 1:10, Coelho’s new increased tie in with nitro onroad stalwarts Fabio Domanin and Massimo Fantini mean a lot better can be expected this time round. With Alessio Mazzeo making it an Xray 1-2 in the 1:10 A-Main in France, this line-up should also contribute to Xray being a contender for the win this time out, with the duo appearing to work well together on their debut as team-mates at the season opener.

In terms of challengers to Coelho, in 1:10, reigning Champion Teemu Leino will be out to get his title defence on track after suffering a DNF at Round 1. The Infinity driver struggled to find form at Mulhouse qualifying 6th but last year took the first of two wins at Ettlingen en route to becoming the ENS Champion. Ettlingen’s other winner is Dirk Wischnewski, his 2015 victory in wet conditions ending a long drought of wins for the former European Champion. Having missed the season opener, this will be Wischnewski’s first ENS appearance with Mugen, the German having bolstered the Japanese manufacturers’ titles efforts as he joins former champion Erik Dankel who opened his 2017 campaign with a podium finish in France.

From Shepherd the challenge will come from their two new recruits Eduardo Escandon and Thilo Todtmann. Replacing Wischnewski at the German manufacturer, Escandon had a competitive showing on his first outing, qualifying and finishing 5th. Of the other leading manufacturers it is Briton Alex Thurston, who made his first ENS A-Main in France, who heads the challenge of Serpent, with their top 1:10 finisher at Round 1 Mark Green opting to switch to 1:8 for Germany.

In 1:8, Coelho admitting the track layout in France suited his driving, on paper the favourite for the win this weekend has to be World Champion Simon Kurzbuch. As its a World Championship year for the sport’s premiere class, the Shepherd driver faces highly motivated opposition. In France the Swiss ace uncharacteristically came undone in his fuel strategy and like his country’s famed watch making industry he will be looking to ensure precision timing for the final. The reigning champion took the TQ and win in Ettlingen last year. The previous year it was champion elect Dario Balestri who took victory at the German round and, after a unexpectedly off performance on his ENS debut as an Infinity driver with the difficult weekend ending in a DNF, the Italian will be out to prove a point especially as compatriot and team-mate Lamberto Collari also travels to Germany having skipped the first round.

In contrast to Balestri, Infinity’s newest signing would lead their challenge in France. 1:12 World Champion Naoto Matsukura surprised everyone, even himself, as he qualified fourth on his first major 1:8 outing. Unfortunately fuel tubing issues robbed us of the the chance to see how he would fare over 45-minutes but he’ll be one to watch this weekend. Fellow countryman and team-mate Takaaki Shimo finished 4th on his ENS debut but the vastly experienced 1:8 driver clearly wanted better. Expected to be a key challenger for the 1:10 win in France, Jilles Groskamp would instead put in a stealth drive in 1:8 to finish second despite qualifying in the B-Main. This weekend the Dutch veteran is focused only on 1:8 and last year he qualified third in Ettlingen.

The other impressive performance in Mulhouse was that of Toni Gruber, the German completing the podium on his debut as a WRC driver. Last year Gruber took his best result of the season at Ettlingen when he finished second on his way to third overall in the standings and, after a strong start to 2017, he will be hoping to go one better and register that first ENS win. Elsewhere inaugural ENS Champion Robert Pietsch carries the hopes of Mugen. The former World Champion took 5th in France, 2nd to 6th all finishing on the same lap, but has enjoyed success in Ettlingen finishing runner-up to Balestri there in 2015.