Robert Pietsch topped the final practice at the Hockenheimring making him the top seed for qualifying at the third round of the Euro Nitro Series. Last year’s Top Qualifier of the ENS Pilot Race at the German track, an improved car allowed the Mugen driver/designer to improve his time by almost 8/10ths to jump ahead of CP1 pace setter Simon Kurzbuch. Kurzbuch and Rick Vrielijnck failed to improve their time but still complete the overall Top 3 at the end of practice.
‘Still not like I want it to be but much better than earlier’, was how Pietsch described his the handling of MRX-5 for CP2. Improving the corner speed of the car he said that had resulted in it being now difficult to drive. Hoping to cure this for Q1 the Round 1 Top Qualifier and runner-up will try a different spring set-up to make the rear of the car a little softer.
Setting out to use the final practice to scrub in tyres for qualifying Kurzbuch was pleased with how the run went despite being knocked off the top of the timing sheets. The Shepherd driver said having used tyres, which are faster than fresh ones, was the important thing and overall he was happy with where he is at going to Q1. With the opening qualifier set to be in much cooler conditions than the practice runs, the championship’s points leader will switch his Novarossi engine for the run to one he said is set-up for such conditions.
Changing to harder front springs on his Mugen, Vrielijnck said while the change had given him a more consistent car it was ‘a little slower’. To try and get back some of the steering while maintaining the consistency the Dutch National Champion will now also go for a harder rear spring which should make the rear end more stable.
Although he would improve his time Stefano Solaroli would stay fourth one position ahead of Serpent’s Merlin Depta who made the biggest move at the sharp end of the time sheets. Changing bodyshell for the run, the German said using the same style Protoform P909 with the only difference being that the second one is cut to sit 4-5mm more forward on his 977 gave him more steering and better corner speed. Happy with the set-up of his car, he said braking is his main issue. Running alongside Solaroli on the track he said the Italian could brake so much later into the corner particularly at the end of the straight. Adjusting his radio to get more break he said this resulted it the car dragging in the infield and he had to back it off again. Not sure what is causing the problem he said he will have to run it as is for Q1 but added he hoped to find a solution for tomorrow possibly by change the materials used in brake pads.
Behind Depta, Team Shepherd’s Maximilian Vogl completed the Top 6 while further back Round 2 race winner John Ermen continued to struggle with finding at set-up for his Xray. Unable to improve on his opening time the Dutch driver dropped to 17th one place behind WRC’s Andrea Pirani who is also struggling to get to terms with the track.
Dominic Greiner is top seed for qualifying at the third round of the Euro Nitro Series. Having set the pace in the opening timed practice, the Serpent driver was able to improve by 3/10ths of a second, the gap that would separate him and HB’s Teemu Leino who became only the second driver to run 3-consecutive laps in under a minute around the large track. Unable to improve on his time Ronald Volker would drop to third followed by Eric Dankel who also couldn’t better his CP1 time and dropped one position.
Leaving his new 748 Natrix the same as in the first controlled practice, the only difference to Greiner’s car was the engine. Switching to the second of his Picco race engines, the German said the previous engine felt fractionally quicker but having discussed it with Eduardo Picco he will run the ‘No.2 engine’ for qualifying saving the ‘better one’ for the final. In terms of the car he said he is very happy with his set-up and its ready as is for Q1.
Making a shock set-up change for the final practice, Leino said while it might not have been super fast his Novarossi powered R10 was ‘super easy to drive’. Adding that he was still not sure whether the improvement was all down to set-up or his latest set of tyres, the Finn he is happy to go into tonight’s first qualifier running the car as it is now.
Having tried a shock geometry change on his prototype Mugen, Volker said the car didn’t feel as good as earlier and so for Q1 they will revert to the set-up used in CP1. Also finding the rear geardiff to be not as smooth as he would like, his mechanic Freddy Sudhoff will fit a new one for qualifying.
The next best place driver to improve in CP2 after Greiner and Leino, Mark Green would knock a 1/10 off his time but remain 5th. The Serpent driver said small changes to the Greiner set-up he was running did improve his Novarossi powered 748 Natrix but the improvement wasn’t big enough. As a result the British ace will make ‘big changes for qualifying’ and ‘drop (him)self in it’ by going back to his standard UK Set-up, a risk he hopes to not regret.
Capricorn driver Leo Arnold, who impressed on his ETS debut with Team Magic last weekend making the Modified A-Main in Luxembourg, improved two positions in CP2 to complete the Top 6. The French driver changed from a spool to a diff as well as lowering the front upper suspension which he said gave him better mid corner steering. Having also run an old Orion engine previously he fitted a fresh one for the final practice which he said was also a lot better. Still joking to make his LAB CO2 a little easier to drive he will change to harder shock oil.
Remarks – Winner of a very wet final in Aigen, the Dutch Xray team driver is running the 2014 spec RX8 chassis with a few option parts. The aluminium brake lever is meant to be obviously stronger but it also features more holes for the link, that allow for a fine adjustment of the force applied to the brake pads. On the front end, he is using aluminium downstops and upper arm holders that stay more rigid in the hot conditions and make the car more precise. John and his mechanic also worked to improve the body mounting, building some carbon stiffeners for the rear fins and some supports on the radio tray and bumper so that all the downforce from the body is actually transferred to the chassis.
Euro Nitro Series championship leader Simon Kuzbuch set the pace in the opening 1:8 timed practice at the Hockenheimring in Germany which hosts Round 3 of the new championship. The Team Shepherd driver set the fastest 3-consecutive laps to top the timing sheets from the Mugen’s of Rick Vrielijnck, Robert Pietsch and Italy’s Stefano Solaroli. For Round 2 winner John Ermen it was a tough practice with the Team Xray driver posting on the 15th fastest time.
‘Going very good’ was how Kurzbuch summed up his early performance. The Swiss driver said throughout free practice he focused a lot on shock set-up building two sets of shocks, one hard and one soft, from which he was able to determine the suitable oil to run. His first time to the large Hockenheimring track he now ‘like(s) it a lot’ admitting at first he found it a little difficult learning the hard way that you don’t touch the yellow curbing. Very happy with his Novarossi powered Velox V8, the former World Championship finalist said he will leave the car the same for the final practice using the track time instead to scrub in a set of the controlled Enneti tyres for qualifying.
Another driving making his first visit to the track and really liking it, Vrielijnck was very happy with his run which marks his return to Mugen. Having only driven his brand new Picco powered MRX-5 for the first time yesterday, the Dutch driver said the car is very responsive to set-up changes with it also providing a lot of traction out of the corners. Happy with the car for the first 3-minutes of the opening timed practice the former Worlds Finalist said a pick up in the wind then made it difficult to stay on the racing line. To try and counteract this for his next outing he will switch to a harder front spring which will hopefully make it more consistent again.
A previous winner here, winning the 2012 European Nitro Challenge, Pietsch said he is struggling with his set-up. While the car he was responsible for designing feels good to drive, the former former World Champion said he cant carry enough corner speed. Having switched to a set-up he got from Japan, which yesterday worked good, he will now ditch that and go back to his own base set-up for the final practice adding he ‘wants to be faster’.
Behind Solaroli, star of last weekend ETS Pro-Stock encounter in Luxembourg, Lars Hoppe would set the fifth fastest time but the Team Shepherd driver said his car was ‘not perfect’ adding he ‘has a bit work to do’. Trying a different bodyshell as well as a lot of set-up changes, he said the overall feeling was not very good. Planning to switch back to a Blitz TS030 bodyshell for the final practice, the German will also change all the Velox V8 plastic suspension parts to the harder option. Behind Hoppe, Serpent’s Patrick Gassauer completed the Top 6.
Asked what was the problem that caused him to be outside the Top 10 times, Ermen joked ‘if I only knew that it would be great’. The Dutchman is struggling with the overall balance of his RX8 saying sometimes he has too much steering and then other times he has too much traction. With the car ‘every time different’ he said this is also making it very hard to find his rhythm for the track. In the CP1, he said the wind added to the challenge with him one lap able to hit his corners ‘OK’ and then the next time round be blown 1 metre wide. For the final practice he will switch his shocks from front to rear which will leave the car softer in the front compared to having been softer in the rear.
Having secured his first Euro Nitro Series win in wet conditions at Round 2 in Austria last month, Serpent’s Dominic Greiner has picked up where he left off by topping the first controlled practice for Round 3 at a very hot & dry Hockenheimring in Germany. Over three consecutive laps, the German, who jointly leads the standings, was the only driver to run a 59-second time with series debutant Ronald Volker and his prototype Mugen the closest challenger almost 3/10th adrift. Capricorn’s Eric Dankel, winner of the season opener, completed the Top 3 followed by HB’s Teemu Leino.
Declaring himself very happy with his Picco powered preproduction 748 Natrix, Greiner said he used the first controlled practice run to scrub in tyres for qualifying. With Enneti the controlled tyre provider for the Hockenheim event, he said as the run went on the tyres just got better and better adding with wear is very low and this is good as he should be able to run half of the 6 scheduled qualifiers on the same set of tyres. In terms of his car, the 21-year-old, said the car has a little understeer but this suits the wide open track. Having tried in free practice yesterday to dial in more steering he said this resulted in slower lap times. Describing the track as changing every hour due to the hot humid conditions he said it is hard to decide what if any changes to make between runs but declared how his car was in the run he is happy to go with that for the first qualifying which takes place this evening.
Having had limited previous nitro running with his last outing being the World Championship one & a half years ago, Volker was very happy with his performance so far. Having been in the Top 3 throughout free practice, the electric touring car ace said although he has no previous experience of driving a Mugen the new MTX-6 Prototype has felt good from the start. With a top crew for the weekend, the car’s designer Robert Pietsch providing set-up advice, engine tuner Eduardo Picco looking after his LRP engine, and former European B Champion now Awesomatix lead electric touring car driver Freddy Sudhoff as his mechanic the German said he has little room for excuses this weekend. Enjoying the experience a lot, he said in early free practice he tried to adjust his driving to what he thought would be better for nitro but struggling a little with this on reverting back to normal electric driving style he was immediately more comfortable. In terms of set-up Volker said because the car is new they have been making minor changes every run and for the final timed practice they will try a different suspension geometry.
Winner of the ENS Pilot Race here last year, Dankel said his Maxima powered LAB CO2 was ok but he was still searching for mid corner speed. ‘A lot better compared to yesterday’ when as the tyre get smaller the car got loose in the rear, edgy and inconsistent, he said a switch away from a spool to a front diff for today was the biggest single factor in improving the car. Feeling he is now heading in the right direction with the set-up he said just some small changes should give him the car he is looking for.
Top Qualifier at the season opener in Melzo, Italy, Leino described his R10 as ‘pretty decent’ adding he has had ‘no major issues.’ The Finn, who had a terrible time at Round 2, said his biggest issue has been the difference between sets of tyres. Making changes every run, he said so far the set-up he had for the final free practice was the best, and should adjustments for the last timed practice not work out he will revert to that for Q1. The World Championship Top Qualifier said the hot conditions make for very low traction that set-up changes would cure.
Running the second of Serpent’s 748 Natrix chassis this weekend, having missed Round 2, Mark Green set the fifth fastest time. Having taken a win with the car at the last round of the British Nationals he summed up his performance so far as ‘reasonable’. Feeling he is ‘lacking a bit of everything’, the winner of 1:8 here last year, started out the event doing his own thing but for timed practice copied the set-up of Greiner. Describing it as feeling like driving someone else’s car, he said he will stick with it so as to try and get used to it along with making small tweaks so as to get it more comfortable for his driving style.
Completing the Top 6 was Team Shepherd’s Dirk Wischnewski. The team’s leading contender this weekend with Francesco Tironi having to pull out due to illness, he said his is struggling a little today. Happy with how his Orcan powered Velox V10 ran yesterday he said today it feels ‘lazy’. Putting the change down to possiblly the track conditions having changed, the track having more traction today, he will try a spool and heavier springs for the final practice, the order of the qualifier heats being determined by their best 3-consecutive laps from 1 of the two time practice runs.
Behind the former European Champion Shepherd team boss & Round 2 podium finisher Patrick Schafer was 7th fastest followed by France’s Leo Arnold. Making his first ENS appearance Team Xray’s Alexander Hagberg was 9th fastest with top Dutch driver Perdo Rombouts completing the Top 10.
Remarks – The recently crowned ETS champion Ronald Volker is attending the third round of ENS here in Hockenheim using a car he borrowed from fellow countryman and good friend Robert Pietsch. The big news, though, comes from the fact that the car he is running is a 99% stage prototype of the new 200mm car from Mugen Seiki which will be called MTX-6. We spoke to Ronald and Robert, who talked us through the main new features. First of all there are a bunch of reinforced parts, such as the chassis, the differential mounts, the rear arms and their mounting brackets, the rear differential plastic parts and the front turnbuckles. The second gear has also being reinforced, the spur and the pinion now being both 1mm wider, which together with the new carbon fibre stiffeners should help solve the problems that some customers had on the MTX-5 with their second gear. Staying on the rear end, the braking system is moved on the gear shaft, and its improved linkage provides more power. The front end also features new differential mounts that allow faster access and a new servo saver with interchangeable ackermann plates, while on both front and rear the car also sports lower shock towers.