Groskamp & HB claim ENS title
Jilles Groskamp and HB are the new Euro Nitro Series Champions after a thrilling final at the concluding round in Fiorano, Italy. With four drivers in contention for the title, Groskamp starting behind his rivals after a tough qualifying, the Dutch racer drove a near perfect strategy only being denied his first win of the season on the penultimate lap by Alessio Mazzeo. Still with his rivals having issues, the fourth 2nd place finish of the four round ENS gave him the title with team-mate Teemu Leino making it a championship 1-2 for HB. The title marks the first major success for the Japanese company’s R10. Having been the dominant force in qualifying unfortunately for Serpent’s Dominic Greiner the chance to complete the perfect weekend would be taken out of his control, a conrod failure while leading the Main & on target for the title ending his race.
Giving his reaction to his title victory a delighted Groskamp said, ‘I’m super happy to win the championship and I’m super happy for HB & Maxima. After struggling in practice and struggling in qualifying, the team did a great job improving the car for the final. We didn’t have a rocket for the final but it was so consistent it allowed us to fight for the win’. Ending the season how he started, qualifying 7th on the grid also in Bologna and work his way up to second, he said ‘we went into the race just for the win as I know if I could win, the title was mine as second behind Dominic, Teemu or Bruno (Coelho) would not have been enough’. Lacking the outright speed of in particular Greiner he said they knew they had to go for the win on strategy and it was always planned to go the full 45-minutes on the one set of tyres as well as running 6-minutes between fuels stops him feeling they probably could have stretched that even more such was the economy of his Maxima engine. With Mazzeo catching him with just 20-seconds to go, he said he wanted to close the door on the Italian but with his own tyres done and the Italian not in title contention he knew second would still get him the ‘goal’ of the championship.
‘An amazing race, the level is very hard’, was Mazzeo’s reaction to his first ENS race win adding ‘congratulations to Jilles on winning the championship’. Starting 3rd on the grid, the former European Champion said he made a big push to get by Coelho at the start and take up rear guard to his team-mate Greiner. With Greiner going out after 3-minutes, he would lead the way but in the final 5-minutes before his tyre stop he said Coelho was very fast and closing him down. With both Coelho and Leino making contact the 24-year-old said he then felt in control of the race after his tyre stop until his pitcrew informed him that Groskamp was not changing tyres, adding this meant the start of a race. With his Gimar powered 748 better on the second set of tyres he would ‘push a lot’ encouraged by the updates from his team that he was closing on the HB driver by 3/10ths a lap. Describing it as ‘a very nice but hard race’ with Groskamp, complimenting his style of racing, he said he waited for the best moment to make a pass, joking ‘just like (Valentino) Rossi’.
Joining Alessio and Groskamp on the podium would be Patrick Nähr, the Shepherd driver delighted to end the season with his first ENS podium finish. The 23-year-old former European B Champion said ‘the race was not so easy’ as after his tyre change his Velox V10 was difficult to drive due to understeer. Other than this small issue he said ‘the rest of the rest went very good’. Changing tyres at 20-minute he said his crew did a very good job changing all four tyres in 18-seconds.
Finishing the race fifth behind Capricorn’s Kyle Branson, Leino was happy to hold the second he had coming into the weekend saying it was a great overall result for HB. On the race itself, the Finn said it was all going as planned at the beginning until ‘Bruno crashed into me at the end of the straight’ while rejoining from a pit stop. He said while the Portuguese driver waited, the contact ruined his challenge for the win. With the contact chunking a tyre, it was also discovered afterwards that the impact also caused the exhaust to move and not sit in the manifold correctly explaining the engine loosing its edge. The Aigen race winner would be ‘taken out’ a second time towards the end of the race by Tom Krägefski, leading Leino to sum up the race as ‘not a perfect final’.
Coelho said ‘I had a great car but a mistake in the chicane when I flipped on curbing and flamed out finished the race for me’. Commenting on his contact with Leino, the Bologna race winner said ‘it was my fault, I tried to leave room by staying wide but that was also the line he choose’. Finishing the race 8th, the Xray driver would still hold on for third in the overall championship.
The driver who set the benchmark from the first practice and who was quickly establishing a lead in the final, Greiner said ‘the car was perfect, the only problem was I played safe and changed the engine’. Running just 3 of the 45-minutes, in which he set the fastest lap of the race, the German said the Max engine he used to claim the overall TQ had a special lightened conrod so they opted for a more standard engine. Fitting the engine for Q4 to test it he said while it has less power it had better run time so they stuck with it to be safe but ‘it wasn’t to be’. His retirement would allow Ettlingen race winner Dirk Wischnewski, who finished today’s race 6th, to pass him for fourth in the final standings.
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