The driver who comes up with & best executes their tyre strategy will be the winner of the Euro Nitro Series in Austria tomorrow, that is the general feeling among the main contenders in the competitive 1:10 class which will see drivers from five different manufacturers fill the top 5 positions on the grid for the 45-minute A-Main. Having wrapped up pole position early with a run of TQ performances in the opening three qualifier, Mugen’s Robert Pietsch would end the day with the fastest 4-minute qualifier of the event making his intentions clear, but starting from second on the grid Shepherd’s Jilles Groskamp believes the race is still wide open.
Having pulled up early in Q4 after using the run to try a different set-up which he described as ‘really bad’, Pietsch tried a completely different set-up for his last run which the 2011 European Champion now plans to use in the final. A Contact tyres team driver, this weekend’s handout tyre being supplied by the British company, the German ace said while he has more experience of the tyres than his rivals he doesn’t think it will be of any advantage to him tomorrow. Planning one stop he said that he will finalise that call in tomorrow’s practice when he will run a longer stint to allow him to calculate his tyre wear. Commenting on tyre strategy he said while wear is high, a result of the track surface undergoing a polishing process back in May, he said he doesn’t think time could be made back and also there is the extra risk of an engine flame out. Asked who he see as the biggest threat for the race he replied Groskamp who he described as a very ‘efficient’ driver which should mean he is going to have very good fuel and tyre consumption.
Electric Touring Car World Champion Groskamp said he is really excited to see how tomorrow’s final plays out and he feels the race is wide open. Having done some long distance testing on Thursday, the Dutch driver is confident that he can do the final on one tyre stop but said its a fine line as to when to make the stop. Able to get 22.5 minutes out of the tyres he said making it to 25-minutes is risky but stopping at 22.5 ultimately means an extra stop for fuel. He also said its going to be important not to get forced into pushing too hard early in the race. Having also worked on fuel mileage in practice, RC racing’s ‘mathematician’ thinks there is the opportunity to do one less fuel stop than his rivals adding that ‘to win one is going to have to take risks’.
Lining up 3rd on the grid Race 1 winner Eric Dankel thinks a win will be difficult. The factory Capricorn driver said he was happier with the performance of his car yesterday with it proving more difficult to drive today and he is not sure why this is. Planning at least one tyre stop he said the decision for him is whether or not to do a complete second set or just change the outside tyres.
Set to start fourth on the grid, Serpent driver Dominic Greiner said he can be pretty happy with ‘Qualifying behind two World Champions and Eric Dankel’. Runner-up at the recent European B Championship, the German said he is really pleased with how his Picco powered 747 is running but with the level of tyre wear and a race distance of 45-minutes he does not know what to expect in the final. Asked about his strategy for the final, the 20-year-old said he still had to decide on what approach he will take for tomorrow.
Xray’s Dirk Wischnewski who starts 5th directly in front of team-mate Alexander Hagberg said the final will be ‘all about tyre strategy’. Having tried a set-up in Q5, which he said was not good resulting in him posting the 6th fastest time, the 2011 European Champion will revert to how he ran his Novarossi powered NT1 in the penultimate qualifier in which he was second fastest behind Groskamp. Happy that with this set-up back on the car his pace will be competitive enough to challenge for the win, he said the big decision now was how many tyre stops to do.
With 10 direct qualifiers for the A-Main, Patrick Schafer, Francesco Tironi, Leo Arnold and Patrick Nahr completing that line-up, there are still two bump up positions up for grabs with KM Racing’s Adrien Bertin a strong contender to fill position 11 or 12 on the grid. After a bad start to the day when a heavy crash in the warm-up for Q1 hampered his progress, the former World Champion did improve as the day progressed. Setting his best time in the final qualifier, he just missed the cut for main event, qualifying 11th, but still testing at the track while most of the other drivers retired to their hotel for the night, we expect to see a further improvement in pace from the French man. The final two places on the A-Main will be awarded to the drivers from any of the lower Mains with the fastest time from one of their two 16-minute legs.
While Pietsch is clearly the class of the 1:8 field, making his return to international competition 2008 European Champion Jernej Vuga declared himself happy with his performance. The Slovenian driver said his aim coming here was to try and get close to Pietsch which he joked in terms of the grid position he has done. Ultimately aiming for a podium finish he said he is happy with the progress he has made with his Reds powered RX8 and he is confident they can progress things even further for tomorrow. Behind Vuga, who TQ’d Q4 & 5 as Pietsch sat them out having secured the overall TQ in Q3, Shepherd’s European B Champion Daniel Sieber will start third.
Remarks – Young Serpent driver Dominic Greiner, who found his pace in round 3 ending up second behind Pietsch, is using a mostly stock car. The only major option he has installed on his 747 are the new shorter shocks which combined with the lower shock towers give the German driver a better feeling. Regarding the setup, Dominic told us this is the first time he is using the solid front axle, which he has chosen to help get more forward traction out of the corners.
Jilles Groskamp set the pace in the penultimate round of qualifying at the Euro Nitro Series in Austria, the Dutch ace followed closely by a much improved Dirk Wischnewski whose Xray was just 1/10th shy of the time set by the Shepherd driver. Capricorn’s Eric Dankel completed the Top 3 while already confirmed Top Qualifier Robert Pietsch pulled up after just a minute & a half after a set-up change left his Mugen ‘really bad’ to drive. With Pietsch opting to sit out the final two 1:8 qualifiers it was former European Champion Jernej Vuga who TQ’d Q4 ahead of newly crowned Euro B Champion Daniel Sieber with Austrian Michael Klausner’s Mugen completing the Top 3.
1:10 Qualifying Round 4
1. Jilles Groskamp – Shepherd/Maxima – 13/4:00.578
2. Dirk Wischnewski – Xray/Novarossi – 13/4:00.688
3. Eric Dankel – Capricorn/Novarossi – 13/4:01.186
4. Dominic Greiner – Serpent/Picco – 13/4:02.029
5. Patrick Schafer – Shepherd/Sonic – 13/4:02.269
6. Francesco Tironi – Capricorn/Novarossi – 13/4:03.153
7. Patrick Nahr – Shepherd/Novarossi – 13/4:03.572
8. Adrien Bertin – KM Racing/Orion – 13/4:03.912
9. Leo Arnold – Capricorn/Orion – 13/4:04.666
10.Gerhard Kandelhart – Shepherd/Orcan – 13/4:06.571
Remarks – Top Qualifier here at Kirchberg, Robert is using a standard MTX-5, although he managed to test some new parts that might be released soon. Apart from those tests, Robert told us that he’s sticking with the standard setup he is used to and that the car is pretty well balanced. With new tires he experienced a bit of understeer, but that is the same for every other driver. Very happy with his complete package, he said he’s confident for tomorrow as longer finals are his natural habitat.
Robert Pietsch is the Top Qualifier for Race 2 of the Euro Nitro Series ‘Pilot Series’ taking place in Austria after he completed a hat trick of TQ runs in the third round of qualifying to wrap up early pole position for the tomorrow’s 1:10 and 1:8 A-Main finals. The German’s closest rivals in the opening two qualifiers, Jilles Groskamp and Eric Dankel, both crashed in Q3 and retired allowing him to take the round unchallenged ahead of Serpent’s Dominic Greiner and a much improved Dirk Wischnewski. In 1:8 which is lacking the dept of field seen at Race 1 in Hockenheim, Pietsch was easily the class of the field topping the times by over 6-seconds from the Shepherd of Euro B Champion Daniel Sieber and Xray’s Jernej Vuga.
Top Qualifier in 1:8 at the opening ENS Race at Hockenheim, Pietsch was particularly pleased to take the overall 1:10 TQ honours among the high quality field who he will come against in August as he tries to get back the European Championship title which he held in 2011. ‘Really happy’ with the performance of his car and Novarossi engine over the three qualifiers, changing very little between rounds, he said he is pretty confident for the finals as his cars and his driving tend to be better the longer the race is. Asked if he plans to use the remaining two qualifiers to work on a set-up for the 45-minute Mains he said while he would use the runs to try a few things this was purely as practice and that his intention is to run the cars the same as he did in qualifying.
Greiner was pleased with his run to the second fastest time. Less than 6/10ths off, the Serpent driver said his Picco powered 747 was real easy to drive. Planning to leave the set-up as is for the penultimate qualifier, the Euro B Vice Champion said he might try a different bodyshell to get a back to back comparison between the Protoform P37 he has run so far and Xceed’s Spark shell.
Looking a lot happier than he has so far this weekend, Wischnewski said a complete change of shock set-up gave him a car he is a lot more comfortable with. Having struggled with a lack of overall traction he said the base feeling of his Novarossi powered NT1 is now quite good and with a small bit of fine tuning together with him getting his confidence back he should be a lot more competitive in the final two qualifiers. Suffering an engine failure in Q2, he said his second engine, while set a little too rich, ran well and should run even better in Q4 with a little more fine tuning. Team-mate Alexander Hagberg posted his best round in Q3 setting the fourth fastest time but the Swede said he is just not fast enough. While the car feels good to drive he plans to take a completely different direction with the set-up for the remaining 2 heats.
Best of the Capricorn drivers for the round was French driver Leo Arnold who posted the 5th fastest time. The 17-year-old said compared with the morning, when his Orion powered LAB-C02 was difficult to drive, the car was now very good. Making a pretty radical set-up change after Q1, he said the car is now almost were he would like it to be and for the next run he will just make one change and run less rear toe-in. Team-mate Eric Dankel went from a 100K to 80K rear diff in his Novarossi powered example but said it was ‘not good’ and he will revert back to his Q2 set-up for the next run. Only 10th fastest, Francesco Tironi said he is struggling with a lack of steering. A Matrix tyres team driver, he said the handout Contact tyres and rims are very different to the Matrix he is used to running and as a result the set-up changes he is making have a different effect on the way the car reacts.
Completing the Top 6 and best of the Shepherd drivers was Patrick Nahr. The German said his Velox V10 PRO is not easy to drive with the warmer conditions of Q3 making the rear much looser than the morning qualifiers. Team-mate Groskamp whose was swapping the lead pace with Pietsch said he just pushed too hard resulting in his off half way through the run. The Dutch ace said while it is possible to ride all the curbs bar one this was the one he hit which sent his car airborne and off onto the grass ending his run as the car flamed out. Groskamp said he didn’t have a very good feeling from the way his clutch was set but planning to switch engine for the remaining qualifiers it should be better next time out.
For KM Racing’s Adrien Bertin, Q3 was the French veteran’s fastest run so far as he set the 8th fastest time just behind Shepherd designer Patrick Schafer and ahead off Xray designer Martin Hudy.