Track Name – Hockenheimring
Club – RC-Team Hockenheim
Country – Germany
Location – Hockenheimring (95km south of Frankfurt)
Direction – Anti-clockwise
Surface – Asphalt
Previous key events hosted – ENS Pilot Race (2013), European Nitro Challenge (2011 & 12)
Round 3 of the Euro Nitro Series returns to the track out of where the idea for the championship was first mooted back in 2012 during the European Nitro Challenge. Located directly behind the grandstands that overlook the main straight of the famous Hockenheimring motor racing track, which next month hosts the German F1 Grand Prix, the track has been home to the small 20 member RC-Team Hockenheim since 2006 having formerly been used as an outdoor karting track. With the kart track stopping operation, the club which raced on various car parks around the area with a mobile track system approached the Hockenheimring about the possibility to use the ideal site to which the huge venue was very accommodating.
The deal that was struck for the use of the track is a very interesting and fair one for the club who instead of paying an annual fee instead have to buy a €6 entry ticket to the Formula 1 track’s museum, which is located right next to the r/c track, for every driver that takes part in one of the four to five r/c events the club holds annually. Twice a year the track essentially disappears as the area has to be cleared for the Hockenheimring’s two key events, the Grand Prix and DTM, when the area becomes a merchandise village.
Intially racing on the same layout as was used by the karts this would prove a little too open and in 2008 they switched to the current layout. The change meant certain sections of the track had to be painted to cover over the old layout but the club did their research using a black paint that is certified by the FIA, the world governing body for motorsport, for use in 1:1 scale racing track repairs. In size the lap of the track covers 330 metres with it being 5-metres wide all the way round. With a straight 75 metres long, 1:8 cars were recorded at 120kph last year during the opening ENS Pilot Race. In addition to the ENS Round, which morphed out of the club’s European Nitro Challenge, the club’s next biggest race is their annual Large scale Glühweincup.
This weekend (13-15 June) the Euro Nitro Series will take competitors to the home of the German Formula One Grand Prix with Round 3 of the all new onroad nitro championship taking place at the famous Hockenheimring. The only temporary track on the inaugural four race calendar, the venue has played a key role in the creation of the ENS which so far this season has produced 4 different Top Qualifiers and four different race winners. Offering up its annual ‘European Nitro Challenge’ event to be part of the ‘Pilot Series’ run by the ENS organisers last year, it was the success of this that lead to the creation of a full championship for 2014.
The winner of the season opener in Melzo, Eric Dankel goes into his home event as a strong favourite and joint leader of the points standings. 12-months ago, the Capricorn driver dominated 1:10 at the Pilot Race topping qualifying and taking the win from France’s Basile Concialdi. A year earlier he also took the TQ and was on his way to the win until a flame out left him second behind Dirk Wischnewski. Considered a home race for Team Shepherd, their headquarters just a short drive away, Wischnewski, who shares the points lead with Dankel and Round 2 winner Dominic Greiner, would love nothing more than to take his first win with his new team this weekend. Mastering the wet conditions in Austria, giving Serpent’s new 748 Natrix victory on its debut, Greiner didn’t race at Hockenheim last year but that shouldn’t hinder the talented German who will have Mark Green, who took the 1:8 win last year, back along side him after the British ace was absent from Round 2.
Top Qualifier at Round 1, HB’s Teemu Leino will try to put the disappointment of failing to convert that into a win behind him as well as making up for the disaster that was Aigen when he didn’t even make the A-Main. Runner up at his home event, Italy’s Francesco Tironi was Top Qualifier in Austria but the World Championship podium finisher would have a terrible race finishing 9th. Despite this the Shepherd driver holds fourth in the standings only 3 points off the leading trio and as the lead Italian challenger this weekend he will be determined to reverse the result of Melzo and beat the German’s on home soil.
Adding to the already ultra competitive 200mm field this weekend will be electric touring car aces Ronald Volker and Alexander Hagberg. Having secured his fourth consecutive title in the world famous Yokomo Euro Touring Series last weekend in Luxembourg, Volker joins the ENS thanks a deal put together by Mugen designer Robert Pietsch. Having contested Round 4 of the ETS with one of Volker’s Yokomo chassis, Pietsch is returning the favour by providing Volker with a prototype MTX-6 for Hockenheim. Volker last raced nitro at the 2012 World Championship in Thailand and is very much looking forward to his return with Awesomatix lead driver & former 200mm Euro B Champion Freddy Sudhoff acting as his mechanic. Hagberg, who raced at the second of the Pilot Races last year, makes his series debut after electric touring car commitments ruled him out of the opening two races.
In the championship’s biggest class, 1:8, it is Swiss driver Simon Kurzbuch who comes to Hockenheim as the championship leader with a 3 point advantage over former World Champion Pietsch. The Team Shepherd driver was third at Round 1 and second at Round 2 and will be hoping to continue on that trend this weekend. With last year’s Pilot Race winner Green focusing on 200mm, the favourite for the win has to be Pietsch. In 2012 the German TQ’d and won the European Nitro Championships and last year he was Top Qualifier. Topping qualifying in Melzo but losing out on the win late in the thrilling finale to Lamberto Collari, Pietsch was only 7th last time out and will be hoping his Hockenheim result will ensure that it is his dropped round. Securing a debut win in Aigen, Xray’s John Ermen will be looking to back that up with another strong run this weekend. The Dutch driver is another who didn’t race at the event last year but that shouldn’t hamper him on the large open track where Enneti will provide the controlled tyres for both classes.
Sitting third overall in the standings, Round 2 Top Qualifier Oliver Mack is sure to be in the mix again with the unassuming German having always shown strong at Hockenheim in the European Nitro Challenge. A class that has enjoyed the arrival of a number of new manufacturers, two such teams WRC and BMT will be looking to Italian drivers to bring them their first podium finishes of the championship. WRC’s Andrea Pirani holds 4th in the championship 1 point ahead of BMT’s Daniele Ielasi with the pair involved somewhat in a pride of Italy battle. Veteran racer Michael Salven heads the challenge from 1:8 class stalwarts Serpent. A key supporter of the ENS, the German had a competitive qualifying in Aigen and will be looking to emulate the success his team-mate Green had in Hockenheim last year.
Having taken their first win of the Euro Nitro Series at Round 2 of the all new nitro onroad championship last month in Austria, Team Xray are to bolster their factory team line-up for Round 3 at Hockenheim in Germany in two weeks (13-15 June). Taking his RX8 to victory in the 1:8 A-Main in Aigen, Dutch ace John Ermen will be joined by Alexander Hagberg as the Slovakian manufacturer looks to also take a first 1:10th ENS victory. While Xray are one of the main sponsors of the ENS, other racing commitments have prevented Hagberg from attending since his participation in the second of last year’s ENS Pilot Races in which the Swede finished 4th.
A race winner and title contender in this season’s world famous Yokomo Euro Touring Series, Hagberg will be hoping to transfer that success over to the highly competitive ENS where he will go up against the same drivers who he will battle with later this year at the 1:10 200mm World Championships in Thailand. Already over 110 entries have been received for Hockenheim, which last year made up the first of the two ENS Pilot Races with Serpent’s Mark Green (1:8) and Capricorn’s Eric Dankel (1:10) taking the wins at the famous German 1:1 racing circuit venue. Both Green and Dankel, who was winner of the season opener in Melzo, are among the entry for Round 3.
Team Xray’s John Ermen made the perfect debut in the Euro Nitro Series as he overcame less than perfect conditions in Austria to win the second round of the new nitro onroad championship. Having had to miss the season opener in a sunny Italy last month due to clashing date with his National Championship, the Dutch driver would survive the super wet conditions of the Aigen track to win the 45-minute endurance test to win by two laps from Shepherd’s Simon Kurzbuch. Driving under the Team fahr(T)raum banner local star Michael Klausner completing the podium with his Mugen. The race saw five different leaders but they would all, including Ermen, suffer from the horrible wet conditions. Making the perfect start and pulling clear of the field one of the first drivers to fall fowl of water in his engine was Top Qualifier Oliver Mack. The Shepherd driver would end the race as the last classified finisher in 8th one place behind the Mugen of No.2 qualifier Robert Pietsch.
‘In 25-years of racing this is the first time I have actually finished a wet race’ said a very happy Ermen. Starting the race from 5th on the grid, his Reds Racing powered RX8 took to the the front of the 13 car field when the engine of Robert Pietsch, who took over the race lead from Mack, started to smother in the water. Looking in control of things, the former Dutch National Champion would come to a more sudden stop on the track due to a glow plug failure. Using the unplanned stop to also fit a new dry airbox to his engine, local KM Racing driver Manuel Gremlic the newest leader, Ermen said this set him up well for the remainder of the race. While he lacked a little in top speed on the straight he said everywhere else the engine was good and he just focused on keeping it going. This approach would pay off as with around 8-minutes to go Gremlica’s engine would stop, handing Kurzbuch the lead but losing his front body clips he too would be delayed handing the lead back to Ermen for Xray’s first ENS race victory. Now a serious contender for the inaugural ENS Championship title, Ermen said he is really looking forward to travelling to Hockenheim for round 3 where he joked ‘hopefully it will be a little drier’.
Running the same new wet Kiss tyre as Ermen on his Novarossi powered Velox, Swiss ace Kurzbuch was pleased with second despite losing out on a potential win late on. Giving up a round of his National Championship this weekend, which took place in dry conditions, the World Championship finalist said everyone had some bad luck in the race which is what happens with racing in the rain. Starting from 8th on the grid he said when he lost his front body clips on the straight it was lifting making the car very hard to control and this lead to his off that cost him the lead. On the podium at the season opener today’s result sees him take over the lead of the points standings.
Supported by the fahr(T)raum car museum of Mr. Piech, which last weekend hosted Round 4 of the Euro Touring Series, Klausner was very happy to finish his home race on the podium. Like the rest of the field the 29-year-old’s OS engine suffered a cut due to water but he said his biggest problem during the race was his tyre choice, his MRX5 suffering badly from understeer.
Having only taken to the track today, not wanting to run his own prototype HB R8 in the wet, Adrien Bertin was very happy to come away with fourth overall using the personal car of its designer Takashi Miyashita. Making the main as one of the bump up starters, the head of Orion engine development started the race 14th. Saying he was ‘the only one not to have flamed out’ in the race, he said he had the wrong tyres, using old design Kiss rubber tyres, and he was too slow to ever challenge at the front. Commintted to the entire four rounds of the ENS, he said from that perspective the points for fourth position were good.
Pietsch said he tried everything but in the end there was too much water for his Picco engine. While running in the lead the 2011 World Champion said his MRX5 felt really good but even stopping to retune his engine in the pits it was impossible to keep it going in the extreme wet conditions. Mack said the start was perfect with his Velox V8 working really well as was his Sonic engine until everything just got too wet.
1:8 A-Main Result
1.(5) John Ermen (NL) – Xray/Reds Racing – 121/45:07.694
2.(8) Simon Kurzbuch (CH) – Shepherd/Novarossi – 119/45:06.418
3.(7) Michael Klausner (AT) – Mugen/OS Speed – 118/45:06.961
4.(14)Adrien Bertin (FR) – HB/Orion – 110/45:10.365
5.(12)Manuel Gremlica (AT) – KM Racing/Wordt – 110/45:16.609
6.(6) Lars Hoppe (DE) – Shepherd/Sonic – 109/45:21.061
7.(3) Robert Pietsch (DE) – Mugen/Picco – 104/45:31.971
8.(1) Oliver Mack (DE) – Shepherd/Sonic – 97/45:03.927
9.(2) Michael Salven (DE) – Serpent/Picco – 57/26:04.515
10.(9)Andrea Pirani (IT) – WRC/OS Speed – 42/19:54.105
11.(11)Olaf Engelmann (DE) – Xray/OS -29/35:03.042
12.(10)Mirko Salemi (IT) – BP Racing/Novarossi – 13/5:50.144
13.(4) Daniele Ielasi (IT) – BMT/RB – 13/7:58.183
14.(13)Michal Abrahamek (CZ) – Xray/OS – DNS