Despite a flight delay causing him to miss yesterday’s practice, Alessio Mazzeo has topped the first round of timed practice at Round 2 of the Euro Nitro Series in Germany. Setting the fastest 3-consecutive laps ahead of Kyle Branson ad Jilles Groskamp, the Serpent driver’s time could prove significant. With heavy rain returning over Minidrom Ettlingen as the first 1:8 seeding round was underway, the latest rain delay may mean the qualifying heats may now be based off the single timed practice. While good news for Mazzeo, such a scenario would leave ENS Italy Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho in the third fastest heat as the Xray driver struggled for traction in TP1 and could only manage the 27th fastest time.
Opening his first full ENS campaign with second at the season opener in Bologna, Mazzeo said topping the times was ‘a big surprise’ for him & his mechanic joking ‘Forza Italia’. Describing his Gi-mar powered 748 as ‘very fast’ and having ‘a lot of grip’ he said while ‘very happy to be the fastest for now’ he hopes the weather will allow for a second practice as he still has a programme of set-up changes he wants to work through.
‘Pretty good’ was how Branson summed up his practice, the Capricorn driver adding there was more time in the car as one of his counting 3-laps had a small mistake. Only 0.079 off Mazzeo, the British driver said a diff oil change between the last open practice and the first timed run had made his LAB C03 ‘a little worse actually’. Describing the overall performance of the car around the unique surface Ettlingen track as ‘pretty well balanced’, he plans a front shock oil and diff oil change for the concluding practice ‘if it is dry’.
Looking over the times, reigning champion Groskamp said ‘it’s very close’. Having ‘built a standard Serpent’ for the event, the Infinity team driver said having used a Capricorn at Round 1 he was using the event to see the difference between the cars adding ‘for the Worlds we are not sure if we will have a prototype (Infinity) ready’. Completing the 748 saying ‘it is a really stable car and nice to drive’, the former Electric Touring Car World Champion said he is having to find his own set-up. With Mazzeo and Greiner having ‘different driving styles’, he said their cars also feature some new parts he doesn’t have. Just 0.158 off the fastest time, the Dutch ace said, ‘normally I am off on 3-laps but now I am already there and with a standard car so its a good start to the weekend’.
Top Qualifier in Germany last year, Dominic Greiner posted the 4th fastest time. Not letting the earlier rain stop his preparations, using the very wet track to test a new rain filter which he said worked very well, the factory Serpent driver said the rain was making preparations a bit tricky as the track was changing every run. Feeling he is ‘not the fastest so far’, the German said ‘we are lacking rear traction’. Confident that ‘we can improve it’ he said they will try to achieve this by moving weight around in the car.
Having focused on 1:8 at the ENS season opener, former 1:10 race winner Teemu Leino is double driving in Germany and would post the 5th fastest time. Choosing a Capricorn chassis, the Infinity driver said the main purpose of doing 1:10 this weekend was to get mileage for the 1:10 World Championships and his main focus of the weekend was still on 1:8. The former HB driver’s first time to run the Capricorn, the Finn said he is trying changes every run to get used to the car but overall his problem is that he ‘can’t push (as) it’s too edgy’. To help alleviate this he will switch to a harder shock spring for his next run.
Completing the Top 6 and fastest of the Xray team would be Marco Kaufmann. The German who is better known for his ETS exploits joked, ‘for a novice nitro driver its not too bad’. The 22-year-old described Minidrom Ettlingen as ‘the best asphalt track I have ever driven’ continuing ‘I like it a lot’. Describing both his NT1 and Orcan engines as ‘working good’, the German said the plan is to ‘just drive’ adding ‘now I hope we can have dry weather’. Senior team-mate Coelho said his NT1 having been ‘drivable’ in free practice had ‘completely zero traction’ in the timed practice following the rain.
Winner of this event last year and the 2016 season opener, Dirk Wischnewski reported similar problems. The Shepherd driver said, ‘we have lost overall traction and I’m not sure why as practice was OK’. Posting the 9th fastest time behind the Mugen of former champion Eric Dankel with former EP Touring Car World Champion Andy Moore behind him, he continued ‘the traction is going to be less again after this new rain so I’m not sure what to do’.