Bruno Coelho is Top Qualifier for the opening round of the Euro Nitro Series in Bologna, Italy. The Xray driver claimed his first ENS pole position by topping 2 of the 4 qualifiers and was on for a third TQ run in the final qualifier before a mistake. This left an improved Dominic Greiner to take Q4 and with it secure 2nd on the grid ahead of his Serpent team-mate Alessio Mazzeo. Mazzeo was the only one who could deny Coelho the overall TQ but the Q2 pace setter’s engine ran rich over the opening laps which was enough to leave him with a P2 in the very closely match World class driver line-up. For reigning champion Jilles Groskamp he will start his title defence from 6th on the grid behind Mark Green (P4) and former champion Erik Dankel (P5).
Winner of the season opener at L.Collari RC Raceway last year on his ENS debut, Coelho was very happy to bag the first championship point of the 2016 championship. Having not driven a nitro car for seven months due to his busy schedule and only built his NT1 last weekend before travelling to Fiorano earlier this week for testing, the Portuguese ace said it was nice to start off the season with a TQ. Commenting on his mistake in the final qualifier he said ‘I was pushing hard and just made a small mistake but it ended up costing me 9-seconds’. Looking to the final, which is under serious treat due to expected heavy rain for the next two days, he said ‘Greiner has shown he is now fast and with so many others fast for sure the final will be difficult’. Asked about his Max powered NT1, he replied ‘its not perfect but its difficult to get a perfect car here’.
The driver with the most amount of overall ENS TQs to his credit, Greiner was happy to have ended qualifying with a TQ run saying ‘we have found the set-up now’. The German said his Novarossi powered 748 was also very good in Q3 but two mistakes meant he lost out to Coelho by 4/10ths. With ‘very close racing’ in qualifying he said he was ‘very happy with second’ and looking forward to the final. While the weather is not looking good for a dry race, the World Championship Top Qualifier said either way the biggest thing for the final is going to be tyre wear, describing it as ‘the biggest I have ever seen’.
Mazzeo took the blame for his engine tuning wows on the opening lap of the final qualifier but declared ‘P3 is good’. Trying a different set-up every run he said what they ran in Q4 was good for the final. Expecting ‘a very hard race’, the 25-year-old said, ‘the difference between the driver is, there is no difference’. With all three Serpent factory drivers running a new, soon to be released, transmission, he was ‘very happy with how it has performed’ and that is reflected in the car claiming 3 of the Top 4 places on the grid.
Lining up 4th on the grid, Green said the final qualifier went well but one mistake cost him a Top 3 place on the grid. With his ‘car and engine running faultless’ he said he was ‘happy to be in there fighting with the young guys’. Describing his car as stable between hot and cooler runs he said if its dry tomorrow, the biggest issue is going to be tyre wear, adding ‘there is going to be a lot of work for the mechanics’.
After the disaster of last year in Bologna when he failed to make the A-Main as the defending champion, Dankel was very content with fifth on the grid. The new lead 1:10 driver at Mugen, he said they have a good basic set-up for the car but in the last qualifier while it started out good, too little toe-in resulted in it getting a little loose over the 4-minutes. Predicting tyre wear as being key to the final, Mugen designer Robert Pietsch joined in by saying ‘having the quickest tyre changer was going to be the best solution’ for the final.
Summing up his qualifying, Groskamp said, ‘from this morning it all went a bit backwards’. Coming into the event with his main focus on the 1:8 with his new team Infinity, the Dutch driver said , ‘I knew we would be contenders for the TQ and and my goal was always to first put myself in the final and we have achieved that first stage’. He said ‘after Q1 we tried a few things but went a bit the wrong way and I had to makes stops during the last two qualifiers to tune my engine as we tested different stuff’. Using a Capricorn chassis, as Infinity won’t have a 1:10 chassis for this year’s World Championships, he said while they were not really prepared for 1:10 this weekend the race is still good mileage for the Worlds.