Simon Kurzbuch has ended the first official day of the 2018 Infinity Euro Nitro Series season at the top of the time sheets, the Shepherd driver fastest in the seeding practice from World Champion Dario Balestri. Having topped the first of the two timed practices at the Southern Dutch De Baanbrekers track, the reigning ENS Champion found almost 3/10ths on his second run while Balestri found marginally more time to jump from P6 after TP1 to second 0.134 off over the fastest 3-consecutive laps. Behind the ENS’ only 1:8 Champions, Robin D’hondt continued his strong showing moving up to complete the Top 3 ahead of Naoto Matsukura who failed to better his time in TP2.
‘The track didn’t change so we need to adapt the car for tomorrow’ was Kurzbuch’s reaction despite again topping the times in TP2. Chasing his 10th ENS career win this weekend, Kurzbuch didn’t change his car for the final run feeling the track had changed a lot from the final free practice to the first timed run. Wanting to wait to see if the track would change back, it didn’t, and so the Swiss driver now will make small adjustments. He said, ‘we are quite close to what we want. The engine is there so I don’t think it will be a problem to get the set-up right for the first qualification’.
Summing up his day, Balestri said, ‘It’s going ok but the track is really difficult’. He continued, ‘you change something small and it completely changes the car. For example 1/4 turn spring change is like you made a drastic change. It is one of the most difficult tracks to work on set-up’. On his gap to Kurzbuch, the Italian said, ‘I have my best engines for qualifying which I think will give me the 1/10th I’m missing so I’m happy I can challenge Simon for the TQ’. Describing his IF18 as ‘really consistent’ he said, ‘we still need to find the right balance for the bumps on the track but this is normal that we are always trying to improve the car’.
‘The car felt really stuck to the track’, was the reaction of a very pleased looking D’hondt at the end of the day. The former European Champion added however, ‘when I push really hard it starts to bounce in the rear so maybe now it is too narrow so I will go out a little again’. Describing his car as ‘easy to drive so I am able to do consistent lap times’, the Belgian concluded, ‘I have two good engines with good power for qualifying’.
Suffering a loose side pulley in the final practice which took 3-minutes to fix, Matsukura said as a result he could break in his tyres for the run but said at the end the feeling of his car was good’. This was something the reigning 1:12 World Champion put down to moving the shocks into a more upright position. Asked if he planned more changes for Q1 in the morning the Infinity driver replied, ‘I am thinking what more we can change for tomorrow but I think the qualifying is going to be maximum close and a clean run will be very important’.
Team-mate Lamberto Collari would end the day a frustrated 5th fastest. The legend of the sport said, ‘I have had some trouble with the tyres coming unglued and because of this can not get consistency in my run because I have to stop to change tyres. It is hard to gauge exactly where we are at’. He concluded, ‘this morning was super fast but now we are 3/10th slower’.