September 29, 2017

Kurzbuch & Coelho go head to head in Italy for ENS title

The fourth season of the Euro Nitro Series concludes this weekend in Italy where all eyes will be on the 1:8 title show down between reigning champion Simon Kurzbuch and Bruno Coelho, the latter also vying for his first ENS title in 1:10.  Since the creation of the ENS in 2014, the world famous nitro circuit of Fiorano once again hosts the season finale and for Kurzbuch the trip this year presents a very different senario to 12-months ago when he went there already crowned the champion and chasing the record of a perfect season, something the Shepherd driver duly achieved when he took his fourth win of the four race calendar.  This time round he faces a new title rival in Coelho, the rc all round star having surprised everyone with a genuine first 1:8 win at the season opener in France.  Backing that up with second place finishes at Round 2 & 3, pushing Kurzbuch for the win at both rounds, it will now all come down to Sunday’s final – 3 from 4 rounds to count.

While the title contenders focus on their battles, there are a number of drivers who come to Fiorano with the aim of capping off their 2017 season on a high note and have no points scenarios to consider. Newly crowned 1:8 World Champion Dario Balestri had a challenging start to his ENS campaign but having finally claimed the sport’s top prize the former champion will be looking to set that right for his home round. The only Italian winner in Fiorano is Lamberto Collari, Kurzbuch winning on the other two visits, although Balestri has enjoyed a victory there in 1:10. With the season opener in Mulhouse his first competitive 1:8 onroad outing, Infinity team-mate Naoto Matsukura has shown he is unquestionably one of the world’s fastest drivers.  Making a lot of new fans with his performance at the World Championships in France, he will be hoping to finally convert his raw speed into a first victory.  In terms of the overall championship, Jilles Groskamp carries the best hopes for Infinity with the former 1:10 Champion in contention for an overall Top 3 in the championship.

That batte for third overall is wide open. Currently sitting third in the points is Mugen’s Robert Pietsch but he is far from guaranteed keeping the position in which he also finished up the 2016 championship. Behind him is Lars Hoppe who is excelling since joining the Shepherd team this season and having made the Worlds final in France the quiet German’s confidence will be high. On the podium in Fiorano last year to secure third overall in the championship, Toni Gruber has a chance of the overall podium again. The WRC driver had a good start to the season with second at the opening round but things haven’t gone as well since. Of course being Fiorano there are sure to be a some very quick Italians in the mix.

In 1:10 Coelho comes into the deciding round with 2 wins and with ENS Germany winner Erik Dankel not making the trip to Fiorano, the Portuguese driver is clear favourite for title honours. An ENS title win would complete the triple crown for Coelho who has already lifted the Euro Touring Series and Euro Offroad Series titles this year. Holding second and third in the points stadings Thilo Todtmann and Marco Kaufmann could clinch the title should things not go Coelho’s way.  With Dankel’s abscence, Dirk Wischnewski is heading the Mugen charge, the big news for Fiorano is the return of World Champion Dominic Greiner. The Serpent driver had been focused on 1:8 this year for the Worlds, qualifying 6th, but has openly declared his excitment about returning to 1:10. The German won the season finale last year just ahead of Dankel with Alessio Mazzeo, winner a year earlier, completing the podium. Mazzeo of course will be aiming for a return to the top step of the podium this weekend.

Another interesting boost for the touring car class is that of Toni Gruber. While he is the reigning European Champion in 1:10, his ENS focus has always been 1:8 but this weekend he will compete in both classes adding to the competitiveness of the Round 4 entry. For reigning champion Teemu Leino a DNF at the season opener left him the back foot. Fourth at Round 2 was an improvement but with testing for the 1:8 Worlds forcing him to miss the third round, his title chances were over. As a result the Finn, who claimed Infinity’s first ever major title last year when he won the 1:10 championship in Fiorano, will only race 1:8 this weekend. In addition to looking to Todtmann for a strong championship finish, Shepherd will have high hopes their quick new for 2017 Spanish recruit Eduardo Escandon can go one better on the competitive 2nd place he took in Ettlingen.


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