April 18, 2015

Leino is Top Qualifier at ENS season opener

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Just as he did last year when the Euro Nitro Series kicked off in Melzo, Italy, Teemu Leino is the 1:10 Top Qualifier for Round 1 of the 2015 championship at the L.Collari RC Raceway in Bologna.  The HB driver claimed the No.1 starting spot on the grid for tomorrow’s 45-minute final when he took his R10 to its third TQ run of the weekend in the sixth & final round of qualifying. Behind the Finn, Team Xray’s Bruno Coelho secured second overall for his first ENS race start ahead of the Serpent’s of Dominic Greiner and Alessio Mazzeo. For defending champion Eric Dankel his title defence is going to start out in the B-Main, a difficult day meaning he will need to bump up having qualified only 14th overall.

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Pleased to take the TQ, Leino said he hoped using a bodyshell painted in his colours for the first time in 5-years would bring him a change of luck for the final.  Asked about strategy for the final, the 2012 Worlds Top Qualifier said having run new tyres each qualifier he has no concerns over big tyres and having also run small tyres in practice he said his R10 is good on both.  Commenting on run time around the high speed track he predicts no one will try to run longer stops due to the nature of the track.  Confident that he has the package to claim his first ENS win he added but ‘over such long races you never know what can happen’.

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Topping the third round of qualifying, Coelho said while his new NT1 2015 is ‘super good’ a good result is going to be ‘difficult’ as there are ‘a lot of great drivers’.  The Portuguese star expects his own team-mate and reigning World Champion Alexander Hagberg will be in the fight for the win.  The Swede had a tough qualifying but getting his only Top 6 run of the weekend in the final qualifier, he starts 8th with a car & engine that he has finally got working as a package. Asked about his strategy for the final Coelho said he would use the A-Main practice to work out tyre wear and then decide.

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Second fastest behind Leino in the final qualifying, rain forcing the seventh round to be cancelled, Greiner said he was ‘finally happy with both car and engine’.  Topping Q5 despite not liking how his Max powered 748 ran then, he said he had planned to use Q7 to ‘test something’ but that will have to now happen in the A-Main practice.  The winner in Austria last year, he said in long runs his car is normally very good but still running without a tyre change will not be possible and the decision to be made was whether to change all four or just the outside.   Expecting a very close race the German said one danger man could be HB’s Jilles Groskamp who starts 7th due to his ‘super smooth driving style’ which should benefit the 2012 Electric Touring Car World Champion over the long distance.  Also strong will be Greiner’s team-mate Mazzeo, the Italian a proven race winner taking the European Championship in 2013.

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Making a big impression on his ENS debut, British National Championship front runner Joe Kerry will start 5th.  Asked about the final, the 23-year-old Capricorn driver said ‘I’m looking forward to it’.  Describing his car as ‘very consistent and easy to drive’ he feels ‘pretty confident’ for the final and with his tyre wear also ‘quite low’ he ‘might be in good shape’.  Admitting that 5-min refuelling would be difficult he said he would play it safe but had still yet to decide on 4 or 4:30 stops with his OS Speed engine.

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Completing the top half of the grid, 10 direct qualifiers being joined by the top 2 finishers in the B-Main, Dirk Wischnewski is confident for the final saying racing is a different game to qualifying and normally racing goes better for him.  Describing his 6th overall in qualifying as ‘not bad’, the 2014 ENS championship runner-up will use the A-Main practice to determine his race game plan in terms of tyres.

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Set to start 4th on the grid in the B-Main, Dankel said he had no luck today highlighting his final qualifier which was going to plan until the penultimate lap when his Capricorn got launched onto the grass.  The round would still be his best qualifier as he posted the 7th fastest time.  Hoping he can progress to the A-Main, the German said the equipment has the pace to run strong in the A-Main but he just needs to get it there first.

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