Kurzbuch retains title with Fiorano win
Simon Kurzbuch has retained his Euro Nitro Series title, the Shepherd driver becoming champion for a third time with his third win at the World famous Fiorano track in Italy. Coming into the final round of the season going up against Bruno Coelho for the title, the Swiss ace drew the first strike when he claimed the overall TQ moving him a step closer to the top prize. In the final despite a sterling effort from Coelho, who kept him honest throughout the 45-minutes decider, Kurzbuch continued his form claiming win number three of the season by half a lap to take the 2017 title. A surprise challenger to Kurzbuch, winning the season opener having not been a 1:8 contender previously, Coelho would have to settle for second in the standings on this occasion but finishing all four race in no lower than second place the Portuguese driver has already set out his stall for next season’s ENS. Making his first A-Main of the season, Jesse Davis would complete the podium at Round 4 with a hugely popular third place, which where it not for a crash with Lamberto Collari while closing down Kurzbuch, could have seen the Aussie end the season on an even higher note. One can only expect Davis will be another driver taking the challenge to Kurzbuch in Season #5 of the ENS. Unfortunately for newly crowned World Champion Dario Balestri his chances of a good result ended at the first corner after the start. With second place qualifier Andrea Pirani making a very slow start Balestri would run into the back of him, the impact lifting the body off his car and it needing to be returned by marshal to the pits for repairs. Rejoining the race to finish 10th of the 12 starters, Balestri joked afterwards, ‘your luck can change completely in a week’.
‘To TQ and win makes me very happy’, was Kurzbuch’s reaction after the race. With a 9th ENS race win from the championship’s 16 race history, he said, ‘It was a very good final. The tactic for the race was to win the championship and I knew fifth place was enough for this so we played safe with the fuel and tyre stops’. He continued, ‘Alex and my father did a perfect job as always in the pits but when you are leading you want to try to take home the championship with a win’. Making 2 stops for fresh tyres all round each time, he said today’s win, the race the official last major international race of the nitro season, has made him ‘confident for next year’, adding, ‘this is revenge for the Worlds’.
While missing out on the 1:8 title Coelho still described his efforts as ‘impressive’. Having claimed the 1:10 ENS title an hour earlier, he continued, ‘I think the result in 1:8 is even more impressive than 1:10. Last season in 1:8 we could not arrive in all the finals and now this year we finished all races in 1st and 2nd place’. He added, ‘Everything worked perfect. It was our mistakes, not problems with the car that prevented us from winning other races’. On today’s final, the Portuguese driver, ‘I pushed Simon hard but Collari would not open and when I try to pass him I flip and lost 5 or 6 seconds. This cost me the chance to beat Simon’. Running the same 2 stop tyre strategy as Kurzbuch, he would later have an off of his own doing at the end of the straight saying, ‘I just was pushing hard and got it wrong but even without this I could not have caught him, the time was gone after my crash with Collari’.
‘Finally a good race, it was not perfect but my first A-Main this year and I got a podium so I’m more than happy’, was how Davis summed up the race. Making Super Pole at the World Championship two weeks ago but having problems in his Semi Final denying him from making the Main, the unquestionably talented Infinity driver today took advantage of a single tyre stop strategy. This put him right in the mix with him running behind and in close proximity to Kurzbuch but with around 7-minute to go he crashed into Collari, the 9-time World Champion coming across on him as he went to lap the Italian. Asked about the incident Davis said, ‘Our strategy was going really good but then I had a crash with Lamberto. After that the car was tweaked but it doesn’t matter because I’m really happy with third. It’s a perfect end to the season’.
Coming from the B-main, which he finished second behind team-mate Andy Moore, Teemu Leino would finish 4th from 12th on the grid. Describing the result as ‘pretty good’, the outgoing 1:10 ENS Champion said, ‘It been a very long time since I have had no problems in a final. Today I had not one problem’. He continued, ‘before the final I discuss with Jesse that I think I will do just 1 tyre stop but after 18-minutes I need to change tyres so I ended up doing two stops. Maybe this was wrong and it cost me a podium but maybe it was right because I would have had no tyres but after qualifying in the B to finish 4th in a nice way to finish the season’. With team-mate Naoto Matsukura the final direct qualifier lining up 10th for the start, the Japanese driver would made a blistering start helped by the first corner incident to run in the Top 3. Unfortunately however the electric World Champion was again dealt cruel luck as during the 3rd fuel stop the INS box came off and released without it his car came to a halt 3/4 of a lap later forcing him to eventually retire with engine damage caused by the missing INS box.
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