May 19, 2017

2017 ENS opens with first French encounter

A new season of the Euro Nitro Series and it is a new destination for the high profile onroad nitro championship as the first encounter of Season #4 takes drivers to France this weekend (19-21 May).  With all previous seasons of the ENS having started at Italian locations, the addition of the Mulhouse track is certain to mix things up but only time will tell if it is enough to end the domination of reigning 1:8 Champion Simon Kurzbuch.  Also the reigning World Champion, the Shepherd driver completed a perfect 2016 campaign winning all four races having started his run of success the previous year when he won the season finale.  In 1:10, reigning Champion Teemu Leino claimed two victories on the way to wrapping up his first ENS title.  Like Kurzbuch, the Finn comes into the weekend, the ENS’ 13th championship race, looking to get started on becoming the first back to back ENS Champion.

In 1:8, this a World Championship year for the class, Kurzbuch’s biggest challenge will come from the Infinity team mainly in the form of Dario Balestri and Takaaki Shimo.  Both are new signings to Infinity for 2017 but both are very familiar rivals of Kurzbuch.  In 2015 Balestri took the ENS title from the Swiss driver and last year he was the only one to get the better of Kurzbuch albeit only in qualifying when he took the TQ at the season opener & the season finale.  Making his ENS debut in France, Shimo had an epic battle with Kurzbuch for the 2015 World title in Brazil with just 0.214 of a second separating them after the 1-hour final.

Finishing third overall behind Kurzbuch and Balestri, Toni Gruber was the find of the 2016 season and the German will be looking for that first break through win.  Driving for ARC last season, his two podium finishes didn’t go unnoticed and he has been duly snapped up by Italian manufacturer WRC Racing.  Another double podium finisher in 2016, Robert Pietsch can never be discounted as he again leads the Mugen challenge.  With one ENS career win and two TQ’s, the former World Champion will be hoping to find that form again having had some rough races last year. One interesting 1:8 newcomer this year will be 1:10 World Champion Dominic Greiner.  The 1:10 specialist, who has TQ’d nearly half of the ENS races over the last three seasons, will drop his 1:10 programme and now focus solely on 1:8 as class pioneers Serpent look to get back in the mix in what is the Formula 1 category of RC racing.

While a lot of drivers are focusing on a 1:8 program this year, the opening race of the season has still attracted a healthy & ultra competitive 1:10 entry. While it might be void of Greiner, the competition chasing Leino’s title is world class, literally.  Having stood next to Greiner on podium at the Worlds, Alessio Mazzeo and 4th place finisher Bruno Coelho head up a very strong Xray team.  Having been rivals last year when Mazzeo drove for Serpent, they will now work together on trying to secure Xray’s first ENS title to complete the magic set with Coelho the reigning Champion of both the ETS and EOS.  Leo Arnold also represents the Slovakian manufacturer and as Mulhouse is his home track expect the Frenchman to be in the running for the win.

With 2016 Vice-Champion Dirk Wischnewski making the surprise announcement earlier this month he was leaving Shepherd, new recruit Thilo Todtmann will be the German manufacturer’s main 1:10 charge.  Inaugural ENS Champion Eric Dankel, 3rd in the 2016 standings, heads Mugen’s effort while after a brief departure Kyle Branson returns to Capricorn to lead the Italy team which holds the most number of ENS race wins in the class.  Serpent are pinning their 1:10 hopes on British duo Mark Green and Alex Thurston.


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