While not as wet a start as yesterday morning it is another wet day in Aigen, Austria, for Round 2 of the Euro Nitro Series. With the track having dried to a decent level yesterday evening, unfortunately over night rain again means it’s back to a full wet track. On the schedule are the final two rounds of the four qualifiers, 2 of 4 to count, which will be followed by the finals. Originally the finals should see two mains per driver with the A-Main qualifiers doing a 45-minute final but Race Director Uwe Rheinard has said that this may have to be changed to reflect how the weather is after lunch.
Team Shepherd concluded Day 1 of qualifying at the Euro Nitro Series at Aigen, Austria, with a double as their drivers Oliver Mack and Dirk Wischnewski TQ’d Q2 of their respective classes. Having just missed out in Q1 to Serpent’s Michael Salven, Mack would take the second qualifier of the rain effected event in a more convincing manner finishing 3.4 seconds faster than Xray’s John Ermen. Behind the German it was very close with Ermen, Salven and BMT’s Daniele Ielasi separated by just 3/10ths. In 1:10 Wischnewski topped the time sheets on a much drier track by .177 from Q1 pace setter and chassis team-mate Francesco Tironi with Serpent’s Dominic Greiner completing the Top 3.
Happy with his TQ run, the drier conditions allowing the lead drivers to run an extra lap of the 290 metre long track, Mack said a ‘change of tyres made the biggest difference’. Planning to run a Shepherd Umido tyre he did not like the feeling they gave in the warm-up and so his mechanic changed him to a set of Matrix damp tyres for the start of the qualifier. Having ran some hard laps in the warm-up but felt it was too close to the edge he said for the run he took no risks. Pointing out that Ielasi was fast, the Italian posting the fastest lap of the race, he said that he also had two spins so his own more conservative approach had paid off. With a 1 and 2 from the opening two qualifiers, 2 of the 4 scheduled rounds to count, Mack has already secured a strong starting position for the A-Main and looking to tomorrow’s qualifiers he said what he will do for Q3 & 4 will depend on what he wakes up to in the morning in terms of the weather.
‘For the wet my car is quite perfect’ was Ermen’s summary of his improved second qualifier. A former Dutch National Champion, he said everything felt really good for the run and its now just a matter of seeing what tomorrow brings but he is confident he has cars good for what ever way conditions turn out. Having ran in the dry on Thursday he said his ‘dry’ car felt good and as he has just shown if it remains wet his Reds Racing RX8 is also good.
Despite having a gearbox issue for the first three laps after his pit crew applied a little to much oil to the one way bearing, Salven said his Picco powered 977 Viper was still OK. The German said it was obvious that Mack had found something better for Q2 in terms of tyres but with a 1 & 3 in the books he was really happy. At Round 1 in Melzo a tough qualifying meant he had to depend on his B-Main race time to make the A-Main something that is now not going to be a scenario he will face at Round 2. For the moment Salven said he plans to leave his car and tyre choice the same for Q3.
Having failed to start Q1 due to human error, he forgot to tighten screws in the rear suspension bracket of his 981, Ielasi was very happy with his Q2 performance. The former 1:10 World Champion described the car as ‘super fast’, this being backed up by his 19.049 fastest lap of the race set on the last lap, adding that his Matrix tyres and chassis set-up ‘worked really good’. The only issue for the new BMT signing was traffic which he said cost him ‘a lot of time’. Pleased with his car now both in the wet and dry, him one of the many drivers to avail of Thursday’s dry open practice, he said he is ready for tomorrow no matter what the weather does ‘once I don’t forget to tighten all the screws’.
WRC’s Andrea Pirani was a lot happier with his OS powered car in Q2. Having ran a solid front axle in Q1 he said it wasn’t wet enough and he struggled with a lack of steering. Fitting a one-way for the second run the Italian said his ‘feeling with the car was very good’ and with a clear track around him for the entire 4-minutes he said it was ‘easy’ to put in a very clean qualifier. For tomorrow, based on conditions being similar to today, he will switch to a softer shock spring on the car which compared to Melzo is much closer to the final car which class newcomer WRC will put into production.
Posting the third fastest time in Q1, ENS Round 1 Top Qualifier Robert Pietsch had a ‘bad round’ in Q2. The Mugen driver said his car was ‘not good’ but trying to get by another car really messed up his run. Losing almost 4-seconds in the incident, he would end up only 11th fastest.
Having only been 5th fastest in Q1, Wischnewski said he could not believe how big a difference a change from rubber to foam tyres could make. The German said his Orcan powered Velox V10 had way more traction. Starting off the run a little slowly as he adjusted to the extra traction he was able to up his pace for another clean but faster run. Asked about his plans for Q3, the new for 2014 Shepherd signing said ‘we will wait to see what comes’.
Setting the second fastest time, Tironi had issues before the second qualifier even started. With his topping Q1 by a commanding margin, race officials checked his tyres ahead of Q2 declaring themselves unhappy with what was on his Velox V10. Forced to change to a brandnew set of tyres, he said the bone dry tyres took time to come in but as they absorbed the mositure they just got better and better, him once again setting the fastest lap. For tomorrow he said if the track is the same they are ready but if its dry he is not so sure as they only had half a day of dry testing on the track. Asked what conditions he preferred he replied ‘once I’m fastest I don’t mind what the conditions are’.
Making up a set of damp tyres from team-mate Salven’s 1:8 tyre stocks, Greiner said they didn’t work out too good. The German said he didn’t have so much traction so third was an ‘ok’ result. Not planning to run the home made set of tyres again, he said he must check what options he has available to him adding that if there is more rain then the rubber tyres he ran in Q1 will be perfect.
Struggling in Q1 and clearly not a fan of racing in the wet, Dario Balestri had a much more competitive Q2 posting the fourth fastest time. Running a set of tyres he said are at least 5-years old, he said ‘to be competitive you need the right materials’ adding that ‘in Italy when it rains we go home’. Third fastest in Q1, Round 1 race winner Eric Dankel would DNF Q2 after suffering a throttle servo failure just before the 3-minute mark.
1:8 Qualifying Round 2 times
1. Oliver Mack – Shepherd/Sonic – 13/4:10.868
2. John Ermen – Xray/Reds Racing – 13/4:14.295
3. Michael Salven – Serpent/Picco – 13/4:14.465
4. Daniele Ielasi – BMT/RB – 13/4:14.628
5. Andrea Pirani – WRC/OS Speed – 13/4:15.888
6. Lars Hoppe – Shepherd/Sonic – 13/4:17.368
7. Michael Klausner – Mugen/Novarossi – 13/4:18.705
8. Manuel Gremlica – KM Racing/Woldt- 13/4:19.171
9. Mirko Salemi – BP Racing/Novarossi – 13/4:19.212
10.Arie Manten – Shepherd/Picco – 12/4:19.779
1:10 Qualifying Round 2 times
1. Dirk Wischnewski – Shepherd/Orcan – 12/4:06.415
2. Francesco Tironi – Shepherd/Novarossi – 12/4:06.592
3. Dominic Greiner – Serpent/Picco – 12/4:08.757
4. Dario Balestri – Capricorn/XRD – 12/4:16.100
5. Stephan Fischer – Xray/Picco – 11:4:15.526
6. Patrick Schafer – Shepherd/Sonic – 11/4:18.103
7. Martin Lissau – Shepherd/Reds Racing – 10:4:06.688
8. Bjorn Moser – Shepherd/Orcan – 10/4:11.784
9. Steve Baumgarten – Mugen/Novarossi – 10/4:16.182
10.Christoph Rohrmoser – Shepherd/Novarossi – 10/4:18.788
Michael Salven claimed the TQ for the opening 1:8 qualifier at the Euro Nitro Series in Aigen, Austria. The Serpent driver narrowly outpaced the Shepherd of Oliver Mack on the damp track by 0.248 with Mugen’s Robert Pietsch completing an all German Top 3. Mirko Salemi was the fastest non-German, the Italian taking his BP Racing chassis to the fourth fastest time ahead of Austria’s Michael Klausner and Dutch Xray driver John Ermen.
Salven summed up his run with ‘old mans weather I guess’. The Serpent designer said it was hard to gauge how much to push in the conditions but seeing Mack closing in on him he pushed a little harder. With his 977 feeling ‘good’ he was able to pull away a little towards the end setting the fastest lap of the race on his penultimate lap. Asked what tyres he ran, the multiple onroad nitro World & European Champion said they were that old he had no idea what they were but he knew as a damp foam they would be good for the conditions. Believing they are more than 10-years-old they are mounted on what looks like a multi coloured rim as with Serpent’s rim offset having changed over the years they are mounted on the old green rim which in turn has been mounted on the new white wheel offset as used today on the Serpent.
Mack joked also about the performance of veteran racer Salven, saying that his own run ‘was OK only the old man was faster’. Describing his Sonic powered Velox V8 as ‘easy to drive’, he said he didn’t want to risk pushing too hard as to end up on the grass would ruin any chance of a good run. Running a Contact damp foam tyre, for Q2 he will try a Shepherd Umido damp tyre which he said drivers who attended last year’s European B Championship here found to be a good damp tyre option. He also plans to push a little harder.
Top Qualifier at Round 1 of the championship last month, Pietsch declared Q1 a ‘solid run’. Adjusting his clutch after practice for the wet conditions, the former World Champion said there was more grip than he expected and this caused it to come in too early. This in turn caused the car to push in the corners and for Q2 he will adjust it back. Running Contact’s damp foam tyre he will continue with them for the day’s final qualifier.
Having shown good pace in Melzo but missing out on the A-Main, Salemi was content with his first qualifier describing it as ‘OK’. Running the same Umido tyre choice as used by Mack, he was happy with their performance and is set to continue with them for his next outing. Feeling his gearbox was a little off, this is the only adjustment he will make to his new BP Racing chassis for Q2.
Running two heats earlier than the top drivers, and therefore having to contend with wetter track conditions Team fahr(T)raum driver Klausner was happy with his run. Running a set of Contact Damp tyres which he added extra cuts to, he said for the conditions they were good but for Q2 he will run an untouched set of the same tyre as the abrassive asphalt will be hard on them. He will also remove the front swaybar from his Mugen MRX5 along with changing to one of his better Novarossi engines.
Running his ‘wet’ RX8, Ermen said he just managed to arrange a set of Matrix wet foam tyres in time for the opening qualifier which he added went ‘OK’. The Dutch National Championship frontrunner said the track dried pretty quick and the this was very noticeable from the start to the finish. Looking to Q2, he said he will prepare both his ‘Dry’ and ‘Wet’ Reds Racing powered cars for the run and make a last minute call on which to run.
Remarks – Fast American female racer Loran Whiting has again made the trip over to Europe to contest the second round of the Euro Nitro Series. Enjoying the sunshine of Melzo in Italy, unfortunately this weekend she has seen the opposite spectrum of the weather with the wet conditions here in Austria. With no experience of racing in the wet, Loran has so far opted not to run in such conditions but she did have a productive day of testing with her Xray NT1 in the dry on Thursday at Aigen. Part of a racing onroad nitro racing family – her dad, younger sister and younger brother all racers, she is running a pretty standard version of Xray’s successful nitro touring car which is equipped with a full ceramic version of Novarossi’s Virtus engine. To obtain a better behaviour on the fast flowing European style track, which provides less traction than what she is used to in the US, her father decided to limit the flex in the chassis using braces on the front of the radio tray making the suspension to work more instead.