Reigning back to back champion Simon Kurzbuch is in control of proceedings at the season opener of the Infinity Euro Nitro Series in the Netherlands. Fastest in free practice from World Champion Dario Balestri, the Team Shepherd driver again topped in the first of the two timed practice runs, this time ahead of Infinity’s Naoto Matsukura while Balestri posted the 6th fastest time. Mugen’s Steven Cuypers completed the Top 3 ahead of team-mate Robert Pietsch, while the Capricorn of Robin D’hondt rounded out the Top 5 seeding times.
Just 5/100ths quicker over three laps from Matsukura, Kurzbuch said, ‘that was a difficult run, it was difficult to drive’. The Swiss ace continued, ‘I just spoke with Robert and we think maybe its pollen that has changed the track. It was a bit more wind for that run. Everyone found it more difficult that earlier’. Asked about his car set-up, his advantage in free practice 1/10th of a second, he said, ‘the difficulty now seems to be the track. I think the is car very good and so is my new Novarossi engine but maybe we will make some changes to the car to make it more stable for the final practice but I would say we are ready to go racing’.
‘This track looks easy but it is difficult when you want to find more time’, was Matsukura’s reaction when asked how he was enjoying the track. Unlike his rivals, the Japanese driver said he noticed less of an issue with lower traction for TP1 but report his car had a little understeer. Admitting ‘laps time were a little slower’ he said the ‘track was ok and I was able to run more consistent now’.
‘Fine again’, was how Cuyper’s summed up his run. The Belgian who admitted he has ‘raced here a lot in the past’ said, ‘Yesterday my car and engine was super but then I had a big crash with someone and the engine was broken and we found things broken in the car but finally we are ready in time for qualifying’. Describing today’s track conditions as ‘completely different to yesterday’, he said, ‘finding a good balance between the front & rear is hard but now we are getting there again’.
Pietsch summed up his P3 pace with, ‘It was ok. I feel pretty good’. The Mugen designer continued, ‘timed practice was not as good as before. The wind is carrying pollen onto the track. That’s my thoughts anyway. When there was no wind the cars cleared the pollen away but with the wind it just keeps falling’. Pleased with how his car has been working he said based on the track conditions of TP1 he will just adjust the weight distribution adding he will change ‘nothing more as he feels good and the times are super close’.
Admitting ‘I drive here a lot’, D’hondt said, ‘with a fast engine this is an easy track for everyone’. Happy with his car now he said they had to search for steering in early practice and achieved this by making the car narrower. The former European Champion has also played around a lot with bodyshell going between the B909 and R19 before trying the older R18 which he said ‘is the best for him’. Planning to make the car even narrower for the final practice he will also cut the rear arms to get more flex for the traction.