Dominic Greiner is Top Qualifier for tomorrow’s 200mm A-Main at the Euro Nitro Series in Germany. The factory Serpent driver claimed his first pole position with a TQ run in the sixth & final round of a thrilling qualifying that would go down to the final lap. Topping the time sheets for the first time in Q4, the Aigen race winner would go on to produce a hat trick of TQ runs to secure pole position at the Hockenheimring ahead of HB’s Teemu Leino and new Mugen recruit Ronald Volker, both of whom had a shot being the No.1 car for the 45-minute final.
Joint leader of the championship standings, Greiner was clearly relieved to take the final qualifier describing the run as ‘very difficult’. Delighted to take the bonus championship point from his key rivals, both Eric Dankel & Dirk Wischnewski not having a good run in qualifying, the German said his tyres needed a lot of time to come in and it was only the second half of the race that his Picco powered 748 Natrix reached its optimum. Having to ‘push very hard’ to make up the time, he said in the end the car and the result was ‘perfect’. Asked about his tyre strategy for the final he replied ‘its going to be a long final but maybe I can go without stopping for tyres’. The 21-year-old said the risk of such a strategy is that the last 10-minutes the car would be running very low and with the track quite bumpy it would make it difficult to drive. Describing his car as having a good final set-up with it ‘very easy to drive’ he said one option he will consider is changing just the outside tyres but he said he will make the final call after tomorrow’s A-Main practice session.
Top Qualifier at the season opener in Melzo, Leino said ending up 2nd was OK adding he really enjoyed how close the battle for the TQ was even though he lost out on the last lap when Greiner put in the fastest lap of the round. Testing different shocks in Q5 ending up 4th fastest, the Finn said he didn’t like the feeling they gave his R10 and they reverted back to his original ones for the last round. Happy that he has a good car for the final, the World Championship Top Qualifier said he just hopes he gets a good set of tyres for the final. Very happy with the run time of his Novarossi engine, on the subject of tyre stops he said they would look at this after the A-Main practice.
Making his ENS debut and having not raced a nitro car for over a year & a half, electric touring car ace Volker described his 3rd on the grid as ‘not bad’. Starting out Day 2 of the event with a TQ run, the German who is running a prototype of Mugen’s all new MTX-6 said Q5 was the best his car has been all weekend but unfortunately a cracked manifold caused by an off during the warm-up for Q4 caused his engine to go of towards the end of the run. Despite this, newly crowned 4-time ETS Champion took second for the run launching his car across the finish line making heavy contact with the pit wall. With no time to fully look over the car before the final qualifier Volker reported the car edgy to drive through the long corners with its designer Robert Pietsch believing the impact tweaked something. Looking forward to the long final, being more used to the 5-minute dash of electric racing, Volker will depend very much on his mechanic Freddy Sudhoff and Pietsch for advice on a strategy. A former 200mm European B Champion, Sudhoff said the car together with Volker’s electric driving style is giving ‘super good tyre wear’ with the front to rear tyre wear very even which is good for the final.
Describing the field as ‘so close’ Serpent’s Mark Green was ‘happy’ to secure fourth on the grid. The long time Serpent team driver said ‘for sure (he has) a good car for the final’ adding he believes he has a good chance at battling for the win. The winner of the 1:8 Main here last year at the ENS Pilot Race, the British driver said it is very close to being able to run the final with no tyre change but a lot depends on the weather. Should the hot temperatures of yesterday’s practice day return he said he suspects one stop will be necessary but if its cool again like today it will be a close call. With the field so evenly matched he said he expects a lot of mistakes to be made in the pits as driver’s mechanic try to make up time during fuel and tyres stops.
Top Qualifier & winner here last year, a rather dejected Dankel lines up 5th on the grid. The Capricorn driver, who won Round 1 of the championship, described his car as a ‘nightmare to drive’. ‘On full lock to get around every corner’, he said starting 5th in the final was not his goal. Having found a softer front diff to work well in the cool conditions of last night’s opening qualifier he said today it was ‘horrible’. Asked about the final he said in such a long race anything can happy but continued that he had ‘huge work to do’ if he was to even challenge for a podium. Asked about tyre strategy he said he planned to go the entire race on one set but said this was only possible if you don’t push too hard at the beginning.
Completing the top half of what will become a 12 car grid when the top two from the B-Main bump up, KM Racing’s Silvio Hachler wasn’t too happy with the result saying there was plenty of room for improvement. Only his second ever 200mm race, the 1:8 Worlds Finalist said with this in mind the 6th position was not too bad and overall he feels he is headed in a good direction with the HK-1 ‘Meen Version’ which is still very new to him. Switching engine for the final two qualifiers the 22-year-old said his second Novarossi engine was not as good but he wanted to save his first engine for the final.
Sharing the championship points lead with Greiner and Dankel, Wischnewski lines up a disappointing seventh at his Shepherd team’s home race. The former European Champion said in the last qualifier he pushed too hard resulting in a DNF but the problem is still his quest to find a good set-up. Qualifying in the same spot at the season opener and managing to end that race on the podium, the German said he hopes he can repeat that performance again tomorrow. Behind Wischnewski, Alexander Hagberg is the top Xray lining up 8th with the Top 10 being completed by the Serpent of Toni Gruber, making them the best represented car so far in the final, and the Xray of Euro B Champion Thilo Alexander who was also in the A-Main at Melzo.
1:10 200mm A-Main Grid
1. Dominic Greiner (DE) – Serpent/Picco – 465 pts
2. Teemu Leino (FI) – HB/Novarossi – 463
3. Ronald Volker (DE) – Mugen/LRP – 461
4. Mark Green (GB) – Serpent/Novarossi – 456
5. Eric Dankel (DE) – Capricorn/Maxima – 452
6. Silvio Hachler (CH) – KM Racing/Novarossi – 451
7. Dirk Wischnewski (DE) – Shepherd/Orcan – 449
8. Alexander Hagberg (SE) – Xray/Orcan – 447
9. Toni Gruber (DE) – Serpent/Novarossi – 445
10.Thilo Alexander (DE) – Xray/Orcan – 441
(2 more drivers to bump up from B-Mains)
Chassis – Shepherd Velox V8 EC Engine – Sonic Fuel – Maxima Tires (handout) – Enneti Radio/Servo – KO Propo/Graupner Body – Blitz TS 030
Remarks – Running the full line of Shepherd products, Lars Hoppe is in attendance here at the ENS Round3 in Hockenheim running a pretty standard version of the V8 “EC” edition powered by Sonic engines. Some parts that differ from the kit are a complete set of titanium screws, an aluminium ackermann plate and lightweight pivot balls on the front end.
Simon Kurzbuch is knocking on the door of his first overall TQ of the Euro Nitro Series as he posted two more fastest runs in Q3 & 4 at the Hockenheimring. The championship points leader can now only be denied pole position for tomorrow’s 45-minute Main by Mugen’s Robert Pietsch should the former World Champion top the remaining two qualifiers. With three of the six rounds to count, if Pietsch does take Q5 & 6 it will be thanks to his faster Q2 pace that he will be Top Qualifier for the second time in the championship having taken the honour at the season opener in Melzo.
After his communications misunderstanding that cost him a shot at taking Q2, Kurzbuch resumed where he left off last night when he topped the opening qualifier. In Q3, the Round 1 & race podium finisher headed a Shepherd 1-2 from team-mate Lars Hoppe with Motonica’s Robin d’Hondt third. Leaving his Novarossi Velox V8 the same for all of today’s runs, in Q4 he would top the times from Pietsch and BMT’s Daniele Ielasi. Describing both runs as having ‘worked out perfect’, the former World Championship finalist plans to continue as is for Q5 before using Q6 to test possible set-up tweaks for tomorrow’s final.
Only 5th fastest in Q3 after an early driver error, Pietsch said after some further set-up changes to his Picco powered MRX-5 for Q4 he was much happier with how it is now working. Commenting on the final two qualifiers, the German said he would actually prefer to start second than on pole position saying it is easier to follow than set the pace. Referring to Melzo where he started ahead of Lamberto Collari but the Italian took the win, he added that following also gives you the opportunity to see what options you have as out front your focus is just on setting the pace.
Struggling with traffic in Q3 leaving him only 7th fastest, Ielasi said passing on the track is quite difficult. In Q4, the Italian also had trouble with getting stuck behind the Mugen of Rick Vrielijnck late in the run leading him to hit a corner dot and flip the front of his RB powered 984 up into the air costing him over a second. Despite his traffic woes Ielasi said his car and engines are all good and he is confident for tomorrow final with one more strong qualifier ensuring he starts towards the front of what will be a 12 car grid.
Vrielijnck would post the fourth fastest time of Q4. Chunking a tyre off a cone in Q3 which would leave him only 11th fastest, the Mugen/Picco team driver said his target for Q4 was just to ‘do a safe run’ and he was happy to come away with fourth. Finding track conditions a ‘little loose’, the Dutch driver will change shock oil for he penultimate qualifier.
19-year-old Shepherd driver Timo Schroder would enjoy two strong outings setting the 4th and 5th fastest times. Running his Velox V8 the same as in Q1, he said the changes he made were to the tune of his XRD Engine which he said was running much better today. Running the same set of tyres for today’s three qualifiers, he said in Q4 they reached their limit leaving the rear end of his car very loose. For Q5 the German will run a fresh set of Enneti tyres leaving his car set-up as is.
Schroder’s team-mate Lars Hoppe would have similar issues with his tyres having also run them three times. Second fastest in Q2 he said other than a bit of a delay with traffic everything was working really well on his car. With his tyres getting too small in Q4 he could only manage 7th but with new tyres for Q5 he said he is confident he can run again at the front.
Narrowing the front end of his heavily modified Motonica as far as he can, d’Hondt said the car was really good allowing the Belgian to post the 3rd fastest time of Q3. Hoping to build on that in Q4 unfortunately his Picco engine was set too lean and he struggled around ending up 12th fastest. Leaving the car as is for his next run, he will said he will just set the engine as well as making a small adjustment to his clutch.
Remarks – After missing the first two rounds, Alexander is making his first appearance in this year’s ENS here in Hockenheim, running the latest version of the Xray NT1 which sports some optionals, such as the aluminium brake lever and front anti-roll bar holder. To obtain a shorter wheelbase, the Swedish star decided to cut the rear arms and push them forward. He is also running without the front anti-roll bar and his chassis is set to the maximum flex.