Dario Balestri completed the perfect weekend at the Euro Nitro Series season finale in Fiorano, Italy, with a dominant victory. Starting from pole position the Capricorn driver headed an Italian 1-2 in the race finishing almost 2-laps clear of Team Shepherd’s Francesco Tironi. Starting from 11th on the grid having bumped up from the B-Final, Serpent’s Mark Green completed the podium at the Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter track. The third win for Capricorn in the inaugural four round championship, for Balestri team-mate and newly crowned champion Eric Dankel it was a disappointing finish to an otherwise successful campaign as the German suffered gearbox issues and ended the 45-minute encounter 10th.
Having topped the time sheets in practice and in all five rounds of qualifying, Balestri put his extensive track knowledge to good use taking complete control of the final. Only relinquishing the race lead when he stopped to change the outside tyres on his new C03, the 2-time European Champion was understandably pleased with his performance describing it as having gone ‘perfect’. Contact with Dominic Greiner 20-minutes into the race as he came back up through the field after pitting for a new tyres, which required him to be marshalled, was the only incident in an otherwise well executed race. Surprised at how much traction he had in the final and at how good his controlled set Hot Race tyres looked at the end of the race compared to his rivals he said the new chassis plate they ran this weekend is a huge step forward for the team. The first Top Qualifier to go on to win the final, he said in the lead up to the World Championships in Thailand next month he was also ‘very very happy’ with his XRD engine which maintained its tune for all 151 laps. His first ENS win, his previous two outings in the championship having not worked out well come the finals, he said he couldn’t have asked for a better package this weekend.
The ‘best I could do’ was how Tironi summed up his race. Forced to change all four tyres on his Novarossi powered Velox V10 he said this was always going to but him at a disadvantage to Balestri as it was too difficult to make back the time. The World Championship podium finisher said overall the car was good adding he can ‘honestly be happy with the result’. Describing his race as ‘consistent’ he was happy with how his car & engine worked and with a good feeling for the car in the final he said this leaves him very positive for the World Championships.
Getting pushed off the track in three of his qualifiers, 3 out of 5 counting towards the grid, Green said starting in the B Final was not a reflection of the pace he had all weekend and he was very happy to show that with a podium finish. The British driver said he ‘kept it clean’ for the race and starting from the tail end of the grid he ran smooth early in the race so as to stretch out his tyre stop. Changing just the outside tyres and able to run 5-minute fuel stops ‘no problem’ he said while his Novarossi powered 748 was not the fastest it was consistent and nice & easy to drive.
Calling for the race start to be delayed suspecting he had radio interference, Dirk Wischnewski would have an up & down race eventually finishing fourth. Following his call, the interference turning out to be debris jamming up the car’s steering, the Shepherd driver would give up his 3rd position and start from the back of the grid. Despite suffering a body tuck every pit stop, his pit crew forgetting to replace the rear body brace when investigating his warm-up issue, the German worked his way towards the front. In a podium position the former European Champion would with 6-minutes to go strip 2nd gear allowing Green to pass him for a Top 3 finish – gearbox problems effecting a lot of drivers in the final. Wischnewski said he was happy with how his Velox V10 handled and with the consumption he got from his Orcan engine. Changing just the outside tyres he said this strategy was good too as he had plenty of tyre left at the end but it just wasn’t meant to be his race.
Mario Spiniello would finish 5th ahead of the Capricorn of fellow Italian David Loppini. The only Xray in the final, he described his race as ‘so so’. Running the race on a single set of tyres he said that strategy would have been perfect had it not been for three engines cuts. While his NT1 started out slow on big tyres as they wore down the car felt perfect. Running 5-minute fuel stops, in the closing stages of the race they would get caught out, him running dry at 4:45 for his 3rd & 2nd last stops and at 4:30 as his crew prepared for his last scheduled stop. The only other driver to do the final without a tyre stop, European B Champion Thilo Todtmann would also lose the benefit as he suffered four flame outs leaving the German to finish a ‘disappointing’ eighth.
The driver most expected to have the potential to take the challenge to Balestri, Serpent’s Greiner had ‘a lot of trouble’. An ENS race winner & Top Qualifier, the German said his Max engine was too rich at the start of the race but worse was to come. In the middle of the race while battling with Tironi, his 748 would stop changing into second. Pitting to have it looked at at the same time Tironi made his tyre stop, his crew found debris in the gearbox and once cleaned he was back in the race. However his troubles weren’t over with him delayed further by a problem with his fuel tubing.
Although he locked up the overall championship win with victory at Round 3 in Hockemheim, Dankel, the only multiple race winner of the season, said today’s result was not how he wanted to end his ENS campaign. The German said his C03 was ‘tweaked or something’ adding he’s going to need a new car for the World Championship. Describing the car as ‘impossible to drive in left corners’, he would go on to join the list of gearbox casualties with a stripped 2nd gear. He said possibly a stone caused the problem because fitting a new one without adjusting the meshing it ran the rest of the race ok.