Simon Kurzbuch will start on pole position for tomorrow’s third round of the Euro Nitro Series, the Shepherd driver claiming the honour of Top Qualifier for a second time this season when he made it three TQ runs in a row in the third of the five qualifiers. Having set the pace yesterday at the unique Aigen track up in the hills of northern Austria there was no let up in the advantage the World Champion has over his rivals when qualifying started, although in Q4 reigning champion Dario Balestri did close the gap benefiting too from traffic to post his first TQ run. Balestri would also take the final qualifier, Kurzbuch crashing out while on for another TQ round. Robert Pietsch continued to shadow Kurzbuch and Balestri posting the 3rd fastest time in the opening four qualifiers.
Reacting to his overall TQ, Kurzbuch said, ‘Q3 was very good. It was closer than before with Dario but we got the job done and took the TQ which is the important thing’. Looking on target for 3 wins in a row and wrapping up a second ENS title, the Swiss ace added, ‘Dario is closing up which is going to be interesting for the final’. Expecting to make ‘minimum 2 tyre stops’ in the 45-minute A-Main, the track having high wear, he said while the current set-up on his Novarossi powered Velox V8 is good for a final they may tweak it slightly to add ‘more traction to make the rear slide less for better wear’. Using the final two qualifiers to ‘try things for the final’, the inaugural ENS champion said ‘I have one engine that can do 5-minutes and one that can do a little less so I have to decide which to use’.
Securing P2 on the grid with his TQ run in the penultimate qualifier, which he repeated in Q6, Balestri was much happier with his Capricorn saying, ‘I changed something in the rear and it was better but not perfect’ adding ‘it’s now more close to where it should be’. The Italian however says he ‘still (has) a big problem with the bumps’. Having to run a hard spring on his Tesla powered C802 to ‘keep traction’ he said this is making the track bumps worse to deal with. Having had his final last year in Aigen ruined by a back marker, looking to tomorrow’s affair Balestri was straight to the the point about the race, saying, ‘the race will be decided in the tyre change. Who is the fastest at this will win’.
Describing his overall qualifying performance as ‘solid’, Pietsch said, ‘the car is very good, I just need more power as I am losing a little bit on the exit of the corners’. From the outset, the 2011 World Champion said the medium speed track wouldn’t suit his Picco engine, it more suited to high speed track due to its strong stop speed. Asked about his changes for the final, the Mugen designer said, ‘to be honest I don’t think it is possible to catch Simon’. He continued, ‘I think he will make long stops and his team is very fast on the tyre stops so it’s hard to beat him’. Asked if he could take the race to Balestri he replied ‘I might have a chance’.
Securing fourth on the grid, Lars Hoppe said his ARC was ‘very good’ adding ‘it is very easy to drive which is good for the final’. A podium finisher at the ENS’ first visit to Aigen two years ago, the German said he hopes to make the podium again tomorrow saying that would come down to a good strategy. With the ‘high tyre wear’, he said it was ‘difficult to get (the strategy) right at this track but ‘I hope to battle for the podium’.
Securing his first ENS podium last time out with an impressive drive at Ettlingen, Toni Gruber secures 5th on the grid thanks to a competitive P2 in the final qualifier. Lining up for the start in between ARC team-mates Hoppe and John Ermen, who completes the top half of the grid, the 20-year-old said his car was ‘now perfect’. Having ‘problems earlier’ that included a DNS in Q2, the German said they struggled with ‘too much steering’ resulting in him ‘losing the rear’ of his R8.0. Acknowledging the contribution of Daniele Ielasi in helping him come up with the new set-up, allowing him to finish only 3/10ths off Balestri despite being delayed by Kurzbuch’s crash, he said based on his speed he feels ‘maybe a podium is possible’. Describing the track as a little small for 1:8, and admitting it not being his type of track, he concluded ‘with the car as it is now is no problem to drive 45-minutes on this track so I will see what I can do’.
Chassis – Infinity Prototype Engine – Novarossi Mito .12 C Fuel – Runner Time Tires (handout) – HotRace Radio/Servo – Sanwa Body – Protoform SRS
Remarks – Finnish star Teemu Leino has TQ’d Round 3 of the Euro Nitro Series here in Aigen running a prototype of the upcoming Infinity 1/10th car. While all the carbon fiber and aluminium part as well as the shocks are produced by Infinity themselves, the front arms on Teemu’s car come from a Kyosho kit, the rear arms are Xray while the uprights are taken from the Capricorn LAB-C03. Sporting a Xray gearbox, the prototype is also equipped with a Capricorn clutch.
Teemu Leino is the Top Qualifier for the third round of the Euro Nitro Series, the Team Infinity driver dominating the opening three rounds of qualifying at the Austria event to wrap up pole position for tomorrow’s A-Main with two rounds of qualifying still to run. Winner of the Aigen event last year, the Finn has been the class of the 200mm field this weekend with only World Champion Dominic Greiner looking like providing any kind of serious challenge. Having only started his 1:10 campaign at Round 2 of the championship in Germany, where he took a narrow victory over Greiner, today’s TQ earns last year’s championship runner up an important bonus point.
Never a driver who says too much, Leino’s reaction to taking his 3rd ever ENS TQ was typically understated with him saying, ‘It was good. It’s easy to drive the car out there’. With pole position wrapped up, when asked about his plan for the final two qualifiers he replied, ‘we will use it to try some other stuff on the car’. Asked if he was looking for a set-up for the 45-minute final, he said, ‘the set-up is already good for the final so we are just testing to get more used to how the car reacts to changes’. Asked about the long run, last year’s 200mm final in Aigen one of the best races of the season, the former World Championship Top Qualifier said, ‘tyre wear but more so fuel consumption were important’ highlighting that due to the track’s ‘really high altitude the run time is much higher’.
Top Qualifier for the race last year and winner the year before, Greiner said, ‘the car was ok but Teemu is still faster’. Describing his Serpent as ‘very easy to drive’ he added it ‘again missed steering’, something he feels is down to tyres. The German, who has been joined today by his influential pitman Thomas Günsel, said, ‘the tyres are completely different to yesterday. The rear tyre is harder and for that compound my rear diff is too hard’. Asked if he would change the diff he replied, ‘maybe I will make the rear softer or maybe I will go harder in the front (diff), I’m not sure yet’. The driver with the most ENS TQs to his credit with 4 but only a single win, looking to the A-Main he said, ‘I don’t think Teemu can run this pace in the final and I have my WC (pit) crew here and with one tyre change for sure, maybe more, we can race for the win’.
Q3 would bring a marked improvement from championship leader Dirk Wischnewski, the Shepherd driver posting his first P3 time. Winner of the season opener, which he backed up with a P4 in Ettlingen, the former European Champion said his Orcan powered V10 ‘seemed much better’ after changing the bump steer and front toe in for the round. The German would however struggle with the car at the end of the 4-minutes as a screw in the front right steering link came loose. Looking to Q4, he said in terms of set-up they plan to ‘keep it like it is and get used to how it drives’. He will also use the next qualifier to gauge fuel consumption as the timing is similar to that of tomorrow’s final.
After a not so great start to qualifying, Q3 would also be the best round so far for Francesco Tironi. Making a rear anti-rollbar change he said he had ‘more traction’. He continued saying his Infinity ‘was better in some parts but worse in others but overall the compromise was better’. With the car ‘faster in the beginning and then loose a little’, he said they will try find more consistency for the next one. Asked about his set-up compared to that of team-mate Leino, he replied, ‘our set-ups are completely different because our style of driving is very different’. Behind Tironi, Xray driver Nicola Marrone would get fifth ahead of Capricorn’s Thilo Tödtmann.
Having been Top 3 in the opening two qualifiers, 2014 Champion Erik Dankel would end up P8 after a mistake. The Mugen driver said he would lose further time after the error ‘then fighting with (former team-mate) Thilo’. With his target set on registering his first podium finish since joining Mugen, the German driver said, ‘Teemu is a hard contender for the win. The car and Teemu are driving perfect for the track’, Aigen one of the more unique tracks on the calendar. While slightly off the pace of Leino and Greiner he said, ‘pit crew is going to be key to the result of the final’.
Remarks – German driver Merlin Depta is representing Serpent in the 1/8th class here in Aigen, running the new released “Evo2” version of the Viper977 that features a narrower rear end with longer arms for an improved traction. His car is equipped with aluminium wheel axles, a lighter pulley set and an aluminium clutch bell.
Simon Kurzbuch has opened qualifying for the 3rd round of the Euro Nitro Series with a TQ run. The Shepherd driver, who topped the time sheets in yesterday’s practice, was over a second & a half faster than Mugen’s Robert Pietsch with Capricorn’s Dario Balestri a similar margin off in third. Behind 1:8 powerhouse trio, ARC’s Lars Hoppe would post the 4th fastest time ahead of Team Infinity driver Carmine Raiola while running Serpent’s new 977 Evo 2, Merlin Depta completed the Top 6.
‘A super good run’ was Kurzbuch reaction to Q1. The World Champion added, ‘I knew from practice Dario and Robert were fast too but my run was really consistent’. With both Balestri and Pietsch posting faster lap times, the Swiss ace said, ‘I didn’t have the best lap time but there was only 2/10ths between my worse and best lap which is really good’. Describing his car and engine as ‘perfect’, he said the only change they had to make was to the tuning of his Novarossi engine for the morning temperatures.
Pietsch said his Q1 ‘was good’ but added with a slight laugh of belief ‘Simon is very strong’. Last year’s Aigen Top Qualifier said while his MRX-6 ‘feels good now’, his Picco engine was ‘a little too lean and (he) lost time at the end to the engine’. Pleased with his car set-up the only change he will make for Q2 is to fit a different engine.
Balestri would also report engine tuning problems, his Tesla too rich on the bottom end. While the engine ‘was ok in the end’, the reigning champion said forward traction is still his biggest problem and they will continue to ‘try something with the car’ to find it.
‘Pretty good. I’m happy with fourth’ was Hoppe’s reaction to the opening qualifier, the German adding, ‘the last 3-laps were not perfect and I lost a position to Dario’. Describing his ARC as ‘a bit difficult’, he said, ‘at the start it had understeer, then was perfect and at the end had oversteer’. Running the standard R8.0 2016, while team-mate John Ermen, who got a P7 for the round runs a car fitted with 2017 prototype parts, he plans ‘a small change to the anti-rollbars’ for Q2 to try and get better consistency over the 4-minutes.