Despite the best efforts of 9-time World Champion Lamberto Collari, driving a privately entered Mugen, factory Mugen driver & designer Robert Pietsch will start the opening round of the Euro Nitro Series in Melzo, Italy from pole position. Having set the fastest 4-minute qualifier in the third of the four qualifiers having also TQ’d Q2, this was enough to give the 2011 World Champion the overall TQ honours on tie break over Collari who backed up his morning’s Q1 topping run with another TQ round in the concluding round of qualifying at the Mini Racing Ayrton Senna track.
His first race for Picco, this being the home track of the World Champion engine manufacturer, Pietsch was very happy to start off the new relationship with overall TQ honours. Trying ‘something different’ for the final qualifier, the German said it worked well but a decision to run the same set of Matrix tyres he ran in Q3 left him lacking top speed due to a smaller diameter meaning he couldn’t run with Lamberto. While posting the third fastest time, he said the set-up change has given him a really good car for the final but he added with the field so closely matched the race is very much ‘wide open’. Describing tyre wear as normal, he said fuel strategy is going to be key to the race. Feeling his engine is able to run long he said any driver who has to stop early is going to be at a big disadvantage due to the closeness of the field, the Top 10 in Q4 separated by just 2.4 seconds.
Having made some small set-up changes to his OS powered MRX5 for the final qualifier, Collari said the car worked better and although he missed out on the overall TQ he was pleased with his run. Describing it as easy to drive he thinks this is how he will run it for the final, using the A-Main practice to decide what if and changes are needed. World renowned for his race strategies, he said he was really looking forward to his first ENS final as the race involves no tyre additive something he said made his strategy planning impossible. Commenting on his rivals he expects a tough race with Pietsch but added Alberto Picco, who knows this track better than most, should be in the equation too.
Securing third on the grid, Picco said he was happy with the result but added he was still looking to find overall grip. Running his self modified MRX-4, for the final qualifier he ran a stiffer front ant-roll bar but this left him with no steering and he could only manage the sixth fastest time, his worst run of the four qualifiers. Asked about the final he said he was most likely going to have to take a gamble on a set-up but he hoped that the A-Main practice would allow them to sort a good car for the final. Commenting on today’s conditions he felt the wind had a part to play with the difficult conditions as it carried a lot of dust on to the track. In terms of fuel consumption and tyre wear the very personable veteran of the sport said both were fine and of no concern for the race.
Despite having problems with traffic in Q4 leaving him to post the 10th fastest time, Daniele Ielasi said for a debut with a new car and engine package, 4th on the grid was OK against the best drivers in the world. Very happy with his BMT set-up, the former 200m World Champion said he has a good car for the final and with his RB engines appearing to have good run time he is hopeful of a good race tomorrow.
After a bad start to qualifying, with a DNF in Q1 and only 18th fastest in Q2, Simon Kurzbuch ended the day strongly to secure 5th on the grid. Making changes for Q4, the Swiss factory Shepherd driver said for the conditions the set-up was better and for the final this should also work well with his main focus now being to come up with a good strategy for the race.
Enjoying his best run of qualifying with a competitive 2nd in Q4, although it did little to improve his starting position of 6th on the grid, Kyle Branson was pleased to finally get a competitive run in. Having struggled on new tyres in Q1 he ran pre-run tyres in Q2 and they turned out to be mismatched. Having to again run fresh tyres in Q3 he ran the tyres again in Q4 allowing him to finish just half a second off Collari’s TQ pace for the round. The 20-year-old Capricorn backed driver said other than adjusting the C801’s ride height he will run the same set-up in the final. Asked about strategy he said he expected to make just one tyre stop however his father Andy, who will do that stop said they have been having issues with getting front tyres on the car and he hopes this doesn’t cause them an issue in the race.
Completing the grid, which sees no less than 6 different manufacturers represented, which could increase depending on the two drivers that bump up from the lower finals, is Shepherd’s Oliver Mack (7th), WRC’s Andrea Pirani, new Shepherd recruit Francesco Tironi and newly signed KM Racing team driver & World finalist Silvio Hachler.
Teemu Leino continued his impressive return to 1:10 onroad nitro racing, the factory HB driver securing the overall TQ honours this evening at the opening round of the all new Euro Nitro Series in Melzo, Italy. Having topped practice and the opening round of qualifying yesterday, the Finn was not to have it all his own way as Capricorn’s Dario Balestri took Q2 & 3 setting the stage for a head to head in the fourth & final round of qualifying. However when it counted most the World Championship Top Qualifier delivered an all important TQ run in Q4, his Q1 fastest time giving him the tie break over Balestri to secure the R10’s second international race pole position.
Having not raced the R10 since November 2012, when it made its Worlds debut, Leino was happy to be so competitive on his return to competitive action adding it was particularly rewarding to beat the drivers from the country that invented nitro racing on their soil. In terms of his set-up the former European electric touring car champion said the car, the same one he ran at the Worlds, was hard to drive and this was far from ideal for tomorrow’s 45-minute final. Suffering from understeer yesterday he said today the problem was a lack of rear traction and although they made set-up changes every run they didn’t manage to cure it. With a practice session for the A-Finalists tomorrow he said they, the car’s designer Takashi Miyashita his mechanic this weekend, needed to figure out something to try in the hope that they can have a less difficult car for the long race. Running Novarossi engines in the car for the first time, he was very complimentary of these saying they ‘feel so good’ adding that the run time is also ‘very good’. Asked who he expected his main rivals to be in the final he joked ‘all the Italians’ but looking down the grid he said apart from Balestri he expects Eric Dankel and Francesco Tironi to be in the mix.
Balestri said he messed up the final qualifier making a change to his front shocks that didn’t work. The multiple former European Champion also said he had a mismatched set of rear tyres which made the car difficult to drive. Posting the 9th fastest lap for the round, he still managed to post the fastest lap of the round. Feeling he had a better car yesterday, looking ahead to the final he said going back to his set-up of Q3 it should give him a good car for the final. Describing Leino as ‘one of the best in the world’, he said over 45-minutes anything could happen but as its the home track of Tironi he expects the Shepherd driver be a serious contender.
Set to start the final 3rd on the grid, Tironi said ‘for sure’ he has the advantage of track knowledge for the final but added that having switched only recently to Shepherd he does not have so much experience of the Velox V10 over a long distance. Setting the third fastest time, having been P2 in Q1 & 2, he said he lost rear traction after 3-minutes and he is not sure why but planning to go up in his diffs for the final he thinks the car should be fine.
Losing out on third position on tie break with Tironi, Capricorn’s Eric Dankel will start fourth. Posting the second fastest time in Q4, he said for a 45-minute race the starting position would make little difference but based on his car’s performance in the final two qualifiers he is very confident for tomorrow. Describing it as both easy to drive and fast he said with all the drivers so close on pace it was going to be a long race but with good mileage from his Maxima engine he is well positioned for the final.
Running out of fuel in the final qualifier due to his engine being set too rich, Serpent’s Dominic Greiner said having also tried a different set-up on his 747 it was not great. Planning to run his basic set-up for the final, he said while its not so fast it makes the car easy to drive and this is important for a long final. Top Serpent in Q4 was Greiner’s team-mate Mark Green. Switching to his World Championship set-up, the British ace said it was a lot better and while the track got slower he was able to post his fastest qualifying run of the weekend helping him to secure 9th on the grid for the final. Describing the car as now being comfortable to drive he said he still needs to find between 1 to 2/10ths of a second a lap if he wants to be competitive in the final.
Completing the Top 6 on the grid ahead of former European Champion Dirk Wischnewski, Luca Redaelli ended qualifying as the best placed Xray. Failing to finish the final qualifier after a crash while running 4th, the reigning European B Champion said it was ‘not a good day’. Struggling with ‘no steering, no traction’, he plans to try a completely different set-up for tomorrow’s A-Main practice adding he hopes to ‘find something’.
Completing the line up of 10 direct qualifier, two more drivers from the lower finals set to join the back of the A-Main grid based on their fastest race times, HB/Orion driver Adrien Bertin lines up 8th ahead of Green with Xray’s Alexander Thilo securing tenth having put in his best round in Q4 with the 7th fastest time.
1:10 200mm A-Main Grid
1. Teemu Leino – HB/Novarossi – 310 pts
2. Dario Balestri – Capricorn/XRD – 310
3. Francesco Tironi – Shepherd/Novarossi – 306
4. Eric Dankel – Capricorn/Maxima – 306
5. Dominic Greiner – Serpent/Picco – 302
6. Luca Redaelli – Xray/Picco – 301
7. Dirk Wischnewski – Shepherd/Orcan – 301
8. Adrien Bertin – HB/Orion – 299
9. Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 297
10.Alexander Thilo – Xray/Orcan – 295
(2 more drivers to bump up from lower mains)
1:10 200mm Q4 times – Top 10
1. Teemu Leino – HB/Novarossi – 13/4:18.258
2. Eric Dankel – Capricorn/Maxima – 12/4:00.047
3. Francesco Tironi – Shepherd/Novarossi – 12/4:00.664
4. Adrien Bertin – HB/Orion – 12/4:01.270
5. Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 12/4:01.559
6. Dirk Wischnewski – Shepherd/Orcan – 12/4:01.640
7. Alexander Thilo – Xray/Novarossi – 12/4:01.721
8. Rene Pupke – Shepherd/Sonic – 12/4:04.279
9. Dario Balestri – Capricorn/XRD – 12/4:04.443
10.Rico Krober – Xray/Orcan – 12/4:04.686
Chassis – Serpent 747 Engine – Novarossi Fuel – Mecca Fuel Tires (handout) – Matrix Tyres Radio/Servos – Sanwa Remarks – Mark Green is running the basic 747 with some new plastic ball joints as he awaits for the soon to be released follow up, the 748 Natrix. The British driver is also running the older shock package and after trying multiple set-up changes to the car has reverted back to what he ran at the Worlds in Thailand nearly 2 years ago, which is much softer than most drivers here are running. The biggest change to his race package this season has been the new Novarossi Virtus .12S, with the offset carburettor which he says idles really well and has much improved fuel mileage over his previous engine.
Chassis – BP Racing RS4 Engine – Novarossi Fuel – MLC Tires (handout) – Matrix Tyres Radio/Servos – Sanwa Remarks – Former European B Champion Mirko Salemi is running the new RS4 from BP Racing. The Italian made car features CNC machined wishbones all round with the top versions made of aluminium with the lower versions from plastic. Like a lot of cars currently on the market it has the brake on the rear axle and has some nice details such as the adjustable rear upper wishbone. Mirko has been running the car for more than 2 months now but it is the first race with Novarossi engines. In terms of setup he has made very little changes to his standard setup just running a thick wire front ARB in place of the standard blade version.