June 10, 2018

Balestri wins ENS Germany as Kurzbuch hits trouble on final stop

Dario Balestri has taken the win at ENS Germany. The Infinity driver came out on top of a close race long battle with Simon Kurzbuch after the Top Qualifier suffered a broken glow plug during his final fuel stop. Kurzbuch had lead the race with Balestri following close behind, the duo doing synchronised fuel stops early on but with a loose clutch on Balestri’s car meant he started to come in early.  For Kurzbuch this meant he now had a stop in hand but first of the leaders to take on new tyres, the Shepherd driver made a second tyre stop for just outside tyres. While Balestri looked to have a slight edge as the race entered the final 5-minutes unfortunately we were denied a showdown of the two World Champions.  In the pit for his last fuel stop, Kurzbuch’s engine for the second race in a row came to stop and needing a new plug the laps ticked away before he rejoined.  This benefited Alessio Mazzeo, who having finished 2nd in the 1:10, finished just shy of two laps down on his fellow Italian.  Toni Gruber would return to the ENS by claiming the final podium place ahead of Robert Pietsch with Kurzbuch ending up 5th.  The result means it is Balestri who leaves Germany as the championship leader on the completion of the first half of ENS Season #5.

‘It was a really nice race. It was really really close’, was how Balestri summed up what is only his second ENS 1:8 career win. The 2015 Champion went on to say, ‘I made a small adjustment to the car before the start and it made it more stable but I had a small issue with the clutch.  It was loose and coming in early so we got a little scared and that is why we changed our fuel strategy’.  Winner of the championship’s first visit to the challenging Minidrom Ettlingen track four years ago, he continued, ‘Simon made a different strategy to me but maybe in the end even without his problem we could also win. It would have been really close.  Anyway for the championship today was really good and we are on the top’.

Smiling from ear to ear, Mazzeo said,’It’s amazing. To do 90-minutes at this level I now understand what Bruno (Coehlo) did 1-year ago’.  His best finish in 1:8, he continued, ‘I think for sure Simon was faster than me but all the way through the final I was fighting for 3rd, 4th and 5th and I had a good fight with Robert (Pietsch).  We had the speed to get this result.  The team worked a lot for this. I’m really happy with this result. Thanks to my dad, to Massimo who helped in the pits and Fabio for fantastic job I am really happy with this result’.

‘I started 3rd, I finished 3rd, I’m happy’, was how Gruber summed up his first ENS outing of 2018.  Fourth in last year’s overall standings, the WRC Racing driver said, ‘At the start I lost important places because the engine was rich. At the first stop we adjusted it and it was perfect.  In the middle of the race I had a really nice fight with Alessio.’  The German continued, ‘I was running 4th and was faster than Robert Pietsch so I started to push hard.  Then I see him go in the grass and I could pass him. Apart from the engine being rich at the start everything went good.  We change all four tyres and it was a good stop’.

Finishing fourth Pietsch said, ‘I’m pissed. I was in exactly the same position at Round 1, I was third, and I couldn’t miss a crash’.  The Mugen designer contiued, ‘It was bad luck. I think it was Merlin (Depta) and I couldn’t miss him which left the body broken and I had no steering anymore so I had no chance’. With the incident happening after his tyre stop he said, ‘the race was good before that’ before concluding, ‘Any time soon hopefully I will have better luck’.

A dejected Kurzbuch said, ‘It looks like I am a qualification driver’.  The second race in which he has TQd but been unable to convert that to victory, the reigning champion added, ‘the start was quite good. It was always close between me & Dario until the last stop’.  Confirming it was a broken plug that has put his title defence on the back foot, he concluded, ‘there are still two more races to go so we will see what happens’.

In the new 1:8 40+ class, the half hour final would produce the championship’s first double winner of 2018 with Arie Manten taking the win.  Starting from the TQ the Dutch Infinity driver controlled the race from start to finish having a very healthy 5-lap advantage over Dane Bo Nielsen.  Briefing leading the race, the Xray of Martin Wenger would complete the podium in Germany.

View the complete event results here.

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