April 23, 2016

Wischnewski wins wet ENS season opener

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Dirk Wischnewski has won the opening round of the Euro Nitro Series, the Shepherd driver mastering wet conditions to take victory in Italy ahead of Alessio Mazzeo and Joe Kerry. Only eighth in qualifying having struggled with understeer around the high speed L.Collari RC Raceway, the German had no such trouble on the wet track taking up the lead 10-minutes into the half hour race where he would stay until the end. With the first few laps of the race looking more like a Z-Main as the drivers, all running on rubber wets, struggled to get to grips with condition. As things somewhat settled down it was Britain’s Kyle Branson who took the early lead but the Capricorn driver would succumb to engine problems. While Kerry and Mazzeo would battle for the lead, a change of fuel strategy after the first refuelling would promote Wischnewski to the front. A late mistake would almost undo all the advantage of the two saved stops allowing Mazzeo a last lap do or die opportunity to challenge for the lead but spinning his Serpent and getting collected by the 2-laps down Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho his race was done. Despite not making the finish he would still get second with Kerry claiming his first ENS podium 19-second in front of Coelho. For reigning champion Jilles Groskamp his race would last little more than 3-minutes leaving him 11th only because Eric Dankel opted not to start the wet race having not had time to prepare a wet version of his new Mugen.

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Taking his first international race win since being crowned European Champion in 2009 when he won the German ENS round last year, Wischnewski was delighted to find himself on the top step of the podium. Having all but conceded any chance of a podium finish this weekend in qualifying saying track conditions didn’t favour his Velox V10, his reaction after the final was ‘finally no push’. Climbing to 2nd over the opening 2-laps, he said it was a good start but then a stupid mistake saw him end up on the grass. With his car ‘very easy’ to drive, with him able to control the car easily if it got into a slide, he said having started on a 5-minute fuel strategy once they got a handle on the mileage on the wet track, which was ‘a lot less’ they changed strategy. Going to 7:30 between refuelling his Orcan engine, this made his race. With a drying track making it more difficult towards the end of the race ‘another stupid mistake’ with 3-minutes to go allowed Alessio to close with him, just managing to hold on for the win which he summed up as ‘a good start to the season’.

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‘What a strange race’ was Mazzeo’s reaction to the race, the Italian looking mentally drained after the encounter. Winner of the 2015 ENS Season Finale when he took the win on the last lap from champion to be Jilles Groskamp, the Serpent driver said, ‘I tried last lap like last year with Jilles’. Knowing his second was secure the 24-year-old said ‘I tried to arrive first but came into the corner very fast and it was over’. Starting 3rd on the grid this was, ‘Only (his) 2nd or 3rd time to race in the rain’, adding ‘for an Italian racing in such conditions is very strange’. With ‘2nd a good start to the championship’ he complimented Wischnewski on doing ‘A good job’ adding ‘he knew how to deal with the conditions better and was able to do two less stops while we continued with our dry fuel strategy’. For Mazzeo’s team-mate Dominic Greiner the race who see him finish 9th, 10 laps down. Starting on rubber tyres but changing to foam wets, the German would end up in the pit wall saying ‘the straight was still too wet’ for the foam tyre.

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Having bumped up to the back of the grid from the B-Main, Kerry was very happy with his podium. While organisers waited for a break in the weather before starting the final, Kerry said he changed his Capricorn ‘a lot’. Adding weight to the car and switching to softer springs he said in the warm-up it ‘felt quite good so (he) saved it for the start’. Admitting to being ‘a bit shocked to hear (he’ was in the lead after 5-mins, he ‘just drove around steady’. In terms of his fuel strategy he said they were unsure what to do and not wanting to push it they opted to run the race as originally planned had it been dry by stoping on 5-mins.

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‘No point to that race’ was Coelho’s reaction to the race, the Portuguese ace’s Xray team boss Martin Hudy clearly not happy with his star drivers performance. Having last raced in the wet ‘more than 10-years ago’, he said leaving aside his own result ‘ the race was no fun for anyone in it and it was only fun for the guys watching because of all the crashes’. He finished by saying congratulations to Dirk, he made a good job’. Winner of the event last year Coelho manages to leave Bologna joint 3rd in the standings thanks to his TQ bonus point. Having bumped up after winning the B-Main Xray team-mate & reigning World Champion Alexander Hagberg would finish 5 with Branson recovering somewhat from his engine problems to complete the Top 6.

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Groskamp’s potential to win was short lived, an early impact when he spun and got collected by another car resulting in a broken body post. This lead to him having to stop a number of times, as the front of the bodyshell on the Capricorn chassis the Infinity driver was using this weekend kept getting tucked under. The Dutchman said ‘even with full wets it was so slippery and maybe like Eric (Dankel) I should have sat out the race. It was a like a war zone and nobody was actually racing. It was like driving on ice’. In the end suspected water in his receiver which caused him radio glitches forcing him to call it a day.

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