Balestri is Top Qualifier at ENS title decider
Dario Balestri is Top Qualifier for the title deciding season finale of the Euro Nitro Series in Fiorano, Italy. The Capricorn driver secured pole position for tomorrow’s 45-minute main when he posted a second TQ run in the fourth & final qualifier at the Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter track ahead of Robert Pietsch and Lamberto Collari. With only reigning 1:8 champion Simon Kurzbuch and Daniele Ielasi in contention for the overall TQ going into Q4, both would fail to repeat their early TQ runs with Ielasi posting a P4 run while Kurzbuch was 5th fastest. The result means that Kurzbuch will start second behind Balestri with the third of the title contenders Pietsch lining up 4th behind Ielasi.
commenting on his second TQ of the Season #2 of the ENS, Balestri said ‘this is the best year for me with the package I have and I want to thank Capricorn and Tesla for this and in particular Patrizio (Rossi) and (Massimo) Fantini who have been a super help this year’. On the final qualifier he said a rear camber change was ‘very good’ but added the times are ‘very close’ with it ‘very competitive between me Lamberto, Robert and Simon’. Gaining the bonus point offered for the overall TQ, last year’s 1:10 race winner said now he only needs to finish 3rd to claim the title but this doesn’t change his strategy and he will ‘start (the race) for the win’. Asked about how he felt his package would deal with the longer race conditions he simple replied ‘no problem’.
Having targeted the TQ bonus point, Kurzbuch said his ‘strategy didn’t go well’. Passing both Mattia Collavo and Andrea Lorenzi on his out lap so as he would have a clean track behind Collari, he said Collari had some mistakes and running close to the Infinity driver, when he tried to pass him he made mistakes of his own which cost him a shot at the TQ. As result of missing out on the TQ, the Shepherd driver said ‘I have to attack in the final as I have to win, but we are ready for that’. Asked about his strategy for the final he said ‘I think the tyre wear is not that high but the problem is the front wear much faster than the rear’. On run time the factory Novarossi driver said he will fit a different venturi adding ‘I think we should be fine as we have improved mileage a bit this year’.
The man with the biggest smile in the paddock, having not been on the radar until the penultimate round of qualifying, Ielasi stated ‘I am super happy and I know I have a competitive car for tomorrow’. Posting a surprise TQ run in Q3 despite running in Heat 11 of 15, the WRC driver said he lost out on challenging for the overall TQ in the opening 5-6 laps of the final qualifier due to having to run new tyres. Only 0.5 off Balestri’s time at the end of the 4-minutes he said things are so close that every fraction is critical. Feeling he has a very consistent car for the final, he said he has a really good feeling for tomorrow pointing out that while he has nothing to lose, the two starting ahead of him are fighting for the title.
Pietsch said his final qualifier was ok but in the last 2-3 laps he lost out on the TQ due to a small mistake, the deficit to Balestri just 0.180 of a second. Debuting the Japanese manufacturer’s new MRX-6, the German said the car is easy to drive and he has no plans to change it for the final adding ‘you are not going to find anything that allows you to pull clear of the others’. Predicting it is ‘going to be a very tight race’, the factory Picco driver feels mileage might be one advantage he has over the three starting ahead of him.
Top Qualifier and winner of this race last year, Collari said his run was ok but not enough to get him a Top 3 starting position. Winner of all three previous ENS races he has contested, the 9-time World Champion is famed for his race strategies and although starting from 5th on the grid he appeared to be confident for the final saying he had tyre wear and fuel consumption ‘under control’.
Joining his WRC team-mate in the final, Andrea Pirani will complete the top half of the grid, two cars bumping up from the B Final for a 12 car grid. A podium finisher at the season opener, Pirani said an engine problem forced him to pull off early but having ran a modified front upper arm in Q4 he had improved the car. Targeting a podium in the final which should in term secure him a Top 3 in the overall championship he said with the car working good he is confident for tomorrow. Behind Pirani, Bruno Coelho secured both his and Xray’s first 1:8 A-Main appearance of the season with the 1:10 title contender securing 7th ahead of Shepherd’s Francesco Tironi, Serpent’s Merlin Depta and BP Racing’s Mirko Salemi.
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