Reigning Electric Touring Car World Champion Jilles Groskamp will contest next weekend’s (June 28-30) Euro Nitro Series race in Graz, Austria, the Shepherd driver one of a number of World class factory drivers set to battle it out for the 200mm Touring Car win at the Stöhr-Ring track. Another confirmed entry for the second race of the ENS ‘Pilot Series’, is Capricorn driver & World Championship podium finisher Francesco Tironi who together with reigning Italian National Champion Giorgio de Felici will be looking to complete a clean sweep of the all new series for the Italian company who at Race 1 earlier this month at the Hockenheimring in Germany took a convincing win with Eric Dankel.
A former 200mm World Championship Top Qualifier and a direct qualifier at last November’s World Championships in Thailand, Groskamp’s ENS race debut forms part of his preparations for this year’s European Championship which will take place at the the Stöhr-Ring in August. A major supporter of the Euro Touring Series in its early year’s, the Dutchman winning the overall title twice, he will be hoping to make a similar impression on the ENS.
An expanded factory Xray team will see former European Champion Dirk Wischnewski joined by Xray’s Alexander Hagberg and former World Championship podium finisher Martin Hudy. Unable to attend Race 1 due to prior electric touring car commitments, this will also be Hagberg’s first ENS outing and the World Championship finalist is certain to be in the mix.
Another potential winner in the Touring Car class, which for Race 2 will use a controlled tyre from Contact, will be reigning 1:8 World Champion Robert Pietsch. Only competing in 1:8 at Race 1, where he TQ’d and finished 2nd to Serpent’s Mark Green, the 2010 200mm WC Top Qualifier is in for a busy weekend as he takes on both classes, again the event being an important part of the Mugen designers European Championship preparations.
Mark Green and Eric Dankel took the wins at the first ever Euro Nitro Series held at the Hockenheimring in Germany where the winning margin in both the 1:8 and 1:10 Touring finals was just 3-seconds. Green’s first international win for some time, the British ace was joined on the podium by the Mugen of World Champion Robert Pietsch and his Serpent team-mate Michael Salven. Leading the Touring Car final from start to finish Top Qualifier Dankel was surrounded by French drivers on the podium with Basile Concialdi finishing 2nd to making it a Capricorn 1-2 with fellow countryman Michael Derderian driving an Xray in 3rd.
Starting from second on the grid after Pietsch secured the honour of Top Qualifier on tie break, Green said he was ‘Super Happy’ to take the win. Happy with his Novarossi powered 977 Viper from the minute he put it on the track when he arrived on Thursday, he said they went into the race with a plan and stuck with it, the only mishap being him missing the call for his final pitstop and having to nervously do one extra lap. Taking the approach to not push at the beginning of the race he said this worked out really well with his tyres holding up for the entire race distance. A key part of the ENS is its system of a controlled handout tyre which got a big thumbs up from Green. Using a tyre from Matrix for the 1:8 class, Green also complimented the Italian company on the quality of their tyre describing it as ‘very good’.
As the defending champion of this event, having won last year’s Europen Nitro Challenge which would become the foundation for the ENS, Pietsch described his final as ‘terrible’. Starting off well and able to open up a small but comfortable gap over the pursuing Serpent’s he said from the first fuel stop the race went downhill. Hitting a car that was put down in front of his MRX5 as he exited the pitlane, causing damage to his bodyshell, he then went on to suffer gearbox issues and a flame out. As the race went on the change to second gear got later and later leading to two mistakes which would allow Green to go to the front on lap 73 of 143. Also the reigning European Champion, Pietsch would drop back to third but got the position back when Salven had to make an unplanned tyre stop.
Happy with his pace Salven described his final as ‘messy’. A bad start left him 9th at the end of lap 1 and during his second stop he suffered a flame out as his mechanic struggled to get to his car in the busy pitlane. The German looked on target to give the 977, of which he is designer, a 1-2 finish but chunked the outside rear tyre. Coming into change just the damaged tyre, he said the diameter difference between the new tyre and the used inside tyre made the car ‘feel so bad for a few’ laps. Setting the fastest lap of the race Salven said overall he was very happy with the pace of the car and himself but added he can do better.
Top Shepherd in the race, this being their home track, was Maximilian Vogl who finished fourth a lap down on the podium finishers who all finished on the same lap. At one stage it looked like Lars Hoppe might have made it three different manufacturers in the top 3 but his race can to an end just before the half hour mark when his front axle parted company with the car, the German suspecting the c-clip that holds it in place broke. Hoppe said it was a disappointing to have this happen as for sure he could have finished at least fourth but he added he was still happy with his pace over the weekend especially after his engine issues in the opening two qualifiers.
With the win eluding him at the Hockenheimring last year when he was also the Top Qualifier, Dankel was delighted with how his race went saying his C02 and Novarossi engine ran perfectly. The only issue the German had was during his third fuel stop when his body tucked as his pitman lifted the car costing him 3-seconds but he took full responsibility for the lost time saying it was his own fault for not fitting stiffers. With his main rival Dirk Wischnewski’s challenge coming to an end when he ran out of fuel just as the second round of stops got underway, Dankel said he then paced himself with his pit crew telling him lap times of between 20.8 to 21 seconds would secure him the win. Despite the input from his pit crew he said for a time he had concerns about the pace of fellow Capricorn driver Concialdi who was just 3.8 seconds behind him at the end of 127 laps. Dankel said the closeness of the race highlighted the success of the tyre system used this weekend which he said worked ‘very very well’. Dankel also said with no preparing or truing of the tyres required it made for a much more relaxed event.
Starting the race from 9th Concialdi was delighted with his result also contributing the handout Enneti tyre to how even the field was. Starting the race on a 4:30 fuel stop strategy the reigning French National Champion said he decided to play it safe and switch to 4-minute stops rather than risk loosing a podium finish. While he said this cost a little time he doesn’t think it was enough to have allowed him to challenge Dankel for the win.
Lining up one place ahead of Concialdi on the grid, Derderian said having only arrived on Friday, when no running was possible due to the heavy rain, a podium finish was a great result considering his lack of track time. Driving an Gi-mar powered NT1, he said both the car and engine worked well but by the end of the race he was struggling with his tyre wear. Happy that ‘Team France’ made the podium he said it would have been better if he had finished ahead of his French National Championship rival but slow pit stops made this impossible.
Unfortunately for Wischnewski engine tuning issues cost him a chance of back to back wins at Hockenheim. During the Warm-up the factory Xray driver had trouble getting a good tune on his engine and this would result in him running out of fuel before his second stop. Rejoining the race he said he then pushed too hard and ran out of tyres finishing up 10th 14 laps down on Dankel who he admitted was a little faster than him this weekend.
Setting the fastest lap of the race with the new Velox V10 Pro, Patrick Schafer was pleased with his pace even if a good result was not possible. The Shepherd boss, who started third on the grid, was holding position until lap 10 when he made a mistake which resulted in his tyre getting chunked but a flame out would ultimately end his challenge. Eventually fitting a new set of tyres he said the car was ‘super fast’ allowing him to do a 20.277 lap on lap 85. One of the key contributors to the format of the ENS, Schafer said he was really happy with how the event went and in particular the tyre solution with the feedback he got being nothing but positive. Unfortunately for Freddy Sudhoff another glowplug failure would end his race while his Shepherd team mate Patrick Nahr who ran second for a time would succumb to engine problems leaving him to finish 7th as the highest placed Velox.
Despite Mother-nature’s best efforts on Friday the first Euro Nitro Series has been a huge success and already drivers are setting the attentions on the second round of the ‘Pilot Series’ which takes place at the end of the month at the Stohr-Ring in Austria.
Robert Pietsch and Eric Dankel are the Top Qualifiers for the first ever Euro Nitro Series Race, the German duo set to lead away the 12 car A-Main grids later this evening at the Hockenheimring in Germany. While Dankel put pole position for the 45-minute 1:10 Touring final beyond the reach of his rivals in last night’s penultimate qualifier, the number 1 starting position for the 1:8 A-Main was still to play for in this morning’s fifth & final qualifier between Pietsch and Mark Green. In the end despite failing to finish Q5 it was Mugen driver Pietsch who took the honour on tie break thanks to him having a faster TQ run than that of Green, although in the final qualifier Green did post his fastest run of the weekend when he took 2nd behind Serpent team-mate Salven. Having ran a TQ pace in nearly every qualifier Salven was finally able to keep the run clean to claim TQ for the round doing so with the fastest 4-minute run of the event.
Winning the European Nitro Challenge here last year from pole position Pietsch said his Mugen is working well and he will run the same set-up for the final but the World Champion’s main concern is engines. Suffering a broken plug in the final qualifier he said he will have to run a new engine in the final which is a gamble but having suffered a conrod failure in yesterday’s third qualifier his choice of alternatives is limited.
Delighted to finally hold it together and produce a TQ run, Salven said they got caught out by the points system and if he had understood the tie break correctly he would have let Green take the round. While nitro onroad traditionally use the fastest single round to determine the TQ, which woud have seen Salven on pole position, the ENS uses the points system more commonly used in electric touring cars. Believing that Green just needed to finish ahead of Pietsch to secure the TQ honours they hadn’t taken into account the tie break rule which only takes into account the fastest time of your best scoring rounds which in this case played into the hands of Pietsch. Other than the bragging rights in a 45-minute Main the grid positions mean little and starting from 3rd position Salven said his is looking forward to a good race. Happy with how well his 977 Viper has been performing throughout the weekend the car’s designer said he will run it exactly the same as he did in qualifiying for the the final.
Green is too very happy with how is Novarossi powered 977 is running and is confident for the final. The British ace said it is running super consistent and other than freshening it up and fitting new belts he will stick with the same set-up and just try and ‘keep it on track’. While the 11th and 12th starters have still yet to be decided from the lower double finals, currently Serpent makes up half the grid with Nicolai Bähr securing fifth on the grid directly in front of fellow 977 drivers Toni Gruber and Merlin Depta.
Top Shepherd in the final, this being the home race for the German team whose headquarters is less than 10km away, is Lars Hoppe. The German will start fourth on the grid and having had to drive conservative in qualifying after engine trouble in Q1 & 2 left him with two DNFs, he says he can now drive ‘maximium attack’ in the final adding that he is very comfortable with how is his Velox V8 is handling. Joining Hoppe in the Main event will be Maximilian Vogl who starts 8th and Alexander Thilo who starts ninth. Tobias Hepp who had a troubled final qualifier secures the last direct qualifying position ensuring at least one Xray in the final.
Top Qualifier here last year but suffering a flame out while in a commanding lead of the race, Dankel notched up his fourth TQ run in Q5 but the Capricorn driver said it was a lucky one as Wischnewski was faster until his mistake. Changing the plug in his Novarossi engine which Dankel said he was able to get a better tune but this resulted in his gearbox setting being off. Changing up to late it made it hard to drive but with this rectified for the Main, he believes he has a very competitive car for the final. Asked about tyres wear he said his CO-2 appears is not hard on the handout Ennetti tyre and his thinks running the full distance on 1-set such be no problem.
Starting second on the grid, Wischnewski, despite pushing too hard in Q5 resulting in a mistake that dropped him to 5th on the time sheets, was much happier with his Xray today. Having struggled to get a good balance yesterday, the former European Champion said he had improved the set-up of his NT1 a lot today. Describing the final as a totally ‘different game now’, the German who took the win here last year when the race was known as the European Nitro Challenge appears to be well up for a battle with Dankel this evening.
Second fastest in the final two qualifiers, Shepherd designer Patrick Schafer will start third in the final. Having failed to start Q3 after he lost a belt off his new Velox V10 Pro in the warm-up, he said since fitting a new side belt the cars has been transformed and he suspects the belt he lost in Q3 could have been slipping in the opening two qualifiers. A winner here two years ago, Schafer described his car as now ‘very easy to drive’ and good in terms of tyre wear, although it does need to be rebuilt after he fired it across the finish line and hit the pit wall in an attempt to try snatch the TQ for Q5 from Dankel. Starting directly behind Schafer will be his team drivers Freddy Sudhoff who suffered a glowplug failure in Q5 and 2011 Euro B Champion Patrick Nahr.
Reigning French National Basile Concialdi pulled off a strong final qualifier setting the third fastest time to secure 9th on the grid joining fellow countryman Michael Derderian who will start 8th. Basile said having struggle a little with his car he found a good set-up in Q4 but a roll cost him a good run. Finally with a good car and a clean round he was able to post a competitive time. Planning to change the set-up of his Orion powered CO-2 for the final he said his main aim is to make the car more flexible and he will cut the radio tray to achieve this. Just 1/10th off Basile in Q5 was Jakub Rozycki but unfortunately the result was too late for the Polish driver who ended up qualifying 11th. Driving a Capricorn powered Kyosho, Q5 was the 16-year-old’s first clean run and should he be able to repeat that form in his two B-Main finals he could still make the main event, the two drivers will the fastest race times from any of the lower finals getting bumped up to the back of the A-Main grid.
1:8 A-Main Grid
1. Robert Pietsch – Mugen/Novarossi – 463 pts
2. Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 463
3. Michael Salven – Serpent/Xceed – 460
4. Lars Hoppe – Shepherd/Sonic – 455
5. Nicolai Bähr – Serpent/Sonic – 454
6. Toni Gruber – Serpent/Xceed – 450
7. Merlin Depta – Serpent/Xceed – 449
8. Maximilian Vogl – Shepherd/Sonic – 446
9. Alexander Thilo – Shepherd/Sonic – 446
10.Tobias Hepp – Xray/Novarossi – 445
1:8 Qualifying Round 5
1. Michael Salven – Serpent/Xceed – 14/4:11.935
2. Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 14/4:12.989
3. Lars Hoppe – Shepherd/Sonic – 14/4:14.790
4. Toni Gruber – Serpent/Xceed – 14/4:15.257
5. Maximilian Vogl – Shepherd/Sonic – 14/4:17.166
6. Alexander Thilo – Shepherd/Sonic – 14/4:17.329
7. Merlin Depta – Serpent/Xceed – 13/4:00.732
8. Nicolai Bähr – Serpent/Sonic – 13/4:01.472
9. Timo Schroder – Serpent/Sonic – 13/4:03.135
10.Joey Sorber – Shepherd/Sonic – 13/4:04.505
Eric Dankel will start the first ever Euro Nitro Series from pole position after the Capricorn driver posted his third Touring Car TQ run in a row in the penultimate round of qualifying at the Hockenheimring late on Saturday night. The German shaved 4/10ths off his Q3 time to record the fastest 4-minute run of the day, 1.4 seconds clear of Patrick Schafer. Driving his latest creation, the Velox V10 Pro, Schafer was one of three Shepherd’s to make the Top 4 with team drivers Patrick Nahr and Freddy Sudhoff setting the 3rd & 4th fastest time respectively. Backing up his Q3 performance Tom Kragefski took his Serpent to the fifth fastest time ahead of Team Xray’s Dirk Wischnewski who had a difficult round.
In 1:8 the driver who will start from pole position for the 45-minute 12 car main will be decided in the morning in the fifth & final qualifier after Robert Pietsch denied Mark Green a third TQ run by just .022 of a second with a blistering fast final lap. Pietsch said afterwards he struggled with seeing his Mugen in the fading light and he was delighted that he could keep his chances of the TQ honours alive. Only 3/10ths behind, Michael Salven set the third fastest time the veteran driver again proving he still has the speed by again setting the TQ pace during the run. Making it three Serpents in the Top 4 Toni Gruber posted his best run with fourth, with Shepherd’s Lars Hoppe best of the drivers on 13 laps ahead of Tobias Hepp who completed the Top 6 as the fastest Xray.
1:8 Qualifying Round 4
1. Robert Pietsch – Mugen/Novarossi – 14/4:13.812
2. Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 14/4:13.834
3. Michael Salven – Serpent/Xceed – 14/4:14.158
4. Toni Gruber – Serpent/Xceed – 14/4:15.813
5. Lars Hoppe – Shepherd/Sonic – 13/4:00.776
6. Tobias Hepp – Xray/Novarossi – 13/4:03.669
7. Merlin Depta – Serpent/Xceed – 13/4:05.125
8. Alexander Thilo – Shepherd/Sonic – 13/4:06.821
9. Sascha Wettengl – Serpent/OS – 13/4:07.402
10.Tobias Kerler – Serpent/Picco – 13/4:08.811
1:10 Qualifying Round 4
1. Eric Dankel – Capricorn/Novarossi – 12/4:03.216
2. Patrick Schafer – Shepherd/Sonic – 12/4:04.658
3. Patrick Nahr – Shepherd/Sonic – 12/4:05.621
4. Freddy Sudhoff – Shepherd/LRP – 12/4:05.680
5. Tom Kragefski – Serpent/OS – 12/4:08.927
6. Dirk Wischnewski – Xray/Novarossi – 12/4:09.632
7. Sebastian Burge – Shepherd/Sonic – 12/4:11.875
8. Philip Hagnauer – Capricorn/OS – 12/4:12.504
9. Michael Derderian – Xray/G-Mar – 12/4:13.014
10.Bernd Rausch – KM/Orion – 12/4:13.244
The third round of qualifying for the Euro Nitro Series ‘Pilot Race’ saw Mark Green and Eric Dankel record a second TQ run at the Hockenheimring in Germany. Opening the event, earlier in the day, with a TQ run Green took Q3 from Shepherd’s Lars Hoppe in a round that saw Q2 pace setter Robert Pietsch suffer an engine failure and Michael Salven make yet another costly mistake while on a TQ pace. After a bad start to qualifying, Capricorn’s Dankel backed up his Q2 topping performance with another TQ run again ahead of Dirk Wischnewski who is struggling to find a set-up for the still low traction caused by the rain that effected the event all of yesterday and for the first part of today.
Having cooked his Novarossi engine in Q2 but still getting 3rd for the round, Green was delighted with his second TQ run as they didn’t have much time to get the tuning on his new second engine totally correct before the start of the 4-minute qualifier. With the tune of the second engine different to his previous unit this meant his gearbox was also not set correctly which the Brit said made the car difficult to drive as it was starting to change up early in the infield just as he was looking to hit the apex of the corners causing it to want to run on. Despite this issue, Green said his chassis set-up still allowed him to run a strong pace and with better gearbox & engine tuning for the penultimate round of qualifying, which will bring today’s action to a close, he is confident he can challenge for the pole position for tomorrow’s 45-minue final.
Hoppe said he just went for a ‘safe round’ following engine issues in the opening two qualifiers. Suffering an engine failure in Q1 and a flame out in Q2, the German was surprised how competitive his ‘safe round’ turned out to be. Finishing less than a second off Green, he said that due to his engine troubles he hasn’t touched the set-up on his Velox V8 which he added is working really well. Asked what his plan was for Q4 he replied that he was going for ‘another safe round’.
Knocking on the door of a Top 3 time in the opening two qualifiers, setting the fourth fastest time on both occasions, Nicolai Bähr posted his first 14 lap run to claim 3rd in front of fellow Serpent driver Merlin Depta. Having had an ‘accident’ in Q2 Depta said a clean run combined with an exhaust change, which improved his bottom end power in the infield, gave him a ‘super fast’ car allowing him to also break into the 14 laps. For Q4 the German will run a different body position, running the same shell type but with the holes allowing it be be mounted 5mm more forward which he hopes will give him more steering.
Suffering a conrod failure on his final lap while on target for a TQ run, Pietsch said it was unfortunate but added that narrowing the track width of his MRX-5 to suit the offset of the handout Matrix tyre had improved the car a lot. Setting the fastest lap so far of qualifying he now is a lot more confident with the feeling of the car and with a new engine fitted for Q4 he is confident he can force the overall TQ honours to be decided in the morning’s fifth & final qualifier.
Setting the TQ pace for the first three laps Salven caught a corner dot in the infield causing his 977 Viper to get ‘airbourne’. The roll dislodged the centering pin of the rear body post giving the impression the car’s rear end was broke. With the car returned to the pits it was realised what was wrong and promptly fixed to allow Michael to get out just before the time was up so he could run a lap to ensure no other damage had been done to the car.
Running a new set of the Enneti controlled tyres in use at the ENS weekend, Contact being the tyres for Race 2 in Austria, Dankel said he had a much better feeling with the car than in Q2 when he said by the end of the run his Lab C02 started to get very loose on the second run of the tyres. The German said this was partly due to him running too low a ride height but he said for the remaining qualifiers he will go with a new set of tyres each time. In terms of changes, he will focus on clutch and engine for Q4, making a set-up adjustment to the clutch and fitting a fresh engine as he is not happy with how the current engine is idling.
Wischnewski, who last year qualified second behind Dankel but took the win when the Capricorn driver hit trouble, said he is struggling to find a good set-up, with his car very edgy to drive. He said conditions are still difficult but for Q4 he hopes a softer diff will improve things. Behind Wischnewski, Freddy Sudhoff was again the fastest of the Team Shepherd drivers. Debuting the new Velox V10 Pro, which features 70% new parts, ‘Fast Freddy’ tried a different shock piston which he said caused the car to ‘push too much’. Sudhoff said he is also struggling with a lack of bottom end power from his LRP engine but he thinks they should be able to sort this for the rest of qualifying.
Posting Serpent’s best performance of qualifying so far Tom Kragefski took his OS Speed powered 747 to 4th for the round. The 23-year-old said his car is difficult to drive and so he is very happy with the result. For Q4 the German will adjust his rear camber and add .5 degree of toe which he hopes will give him a car he is more comfortable with. Behind Kragefski was Pedro Rombouts who said while his Xray feels OK on the track, when he sees his lap time he is not happy with how far off the leaders pace he is. Completing the Top 6 was Michael Derderian, the French driver finding it difficult to find a good balance between having not enough steering and a loose rear end, the latter his issue in Q3.
1:8 Qualifying Round 3
1. Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 14/4:14.006
2. Lars Hoppe – Shepherd/Sonic – 14/4:14.984
3. Nicolai Bähr – Serpent/Sonic – 14/4:15.217
4. Merlin Depta – Serpent/Xceed – 14/4:17.546
5. Robert Pietsch – Mugen/Novarossi – 13/3.53.845
6. Maximilian Vogl – Shepherd/Sonic – 13/4:00.361
7. Toni Gruber – Serpent/Xceed – 13/4:00.757
8. Tobias Hepp – Xray/Novarossi – 13/4:01.479
9. Daniel Sieber – Shepherd/Sonic – 13/4:02.064
10.Oliver Lembeck – Mugen/Novarossi – 13/4:06.291
Chassis Name – Capricorn LAB C02 Engine – Novarossi Radio/Servos – Sanwa Remarks – Eric Dankel is using the Capricorn LAB C02 1/10th car here at the Euro Nitro Series ‘Pilot Series’ Rd1 in Germany. He drives a mainly stock chassis but relies on a front spool and the optional massively cut out radio plate for added front flex, an option that many drivers from a variety of manufacturers are trying here in Hockenheim. The solid front axle and radio plate options are mainly used to adapt the setup to the somewhat unique and fast layout of the Hockenheim circuit and to get the best out of the Enneti handout tyres.