Having claimed his first ENS career win at the season opener in his native country of the Netherlands, Jilles Groskamp has backed it by claiming his first ever overall TQ at the second round of the Infinity Euro Nitro Series in Germany. Topping seeding yesterday, the 2015 Champion would secure his first ever pole position start with a second TQ run in the fourth & final round of qualifying. Denying Serpent’s Dominic Greiner in Q4, the Infinity driver will line up in front of the Serpent driver with Xray’s Alessio Mazzeo completing the Top 3. Going into the final qualifier in contention for his second consecutive overall TQ, unfortunately for Mazzeo he didn’t make the start after suffering an engine failure in warm-up. Behind the Top 3 former Ettlingen winners Teemu Leino, winner in 2016, and last year’s winner Eric Dankel will line-up 4th and 5th respectively ahead of Shepherd’s Thilo Tödtmann.
Commenting on becoming Top Qualifier, Groskamp said, ‘that was like a showdown. The last qualifier and who took it TQ’d it overall. It was a shame for Mazzeo he couldn’t fight’. The Dutch ace continued, ‘With the pink body I could see exactly were Dominic was. He started to catch me but then had a small mistake. I push maximum. It was a nice race to fight for the TQ. In the end he had one small bobble and I didn’t. I drove super consistent’. Asked his thoughts on tomorrow’s 45-minute Main, the former EP Touring Car World Champion replied, ‘I am happy with the car. We have a good package for the final. The tyre wear is low but the right still wear too much and it is like there is a tweak in the car. I’m expecting everyone to change tyres but not sure it will be four or just the outside’. He also said fuel consumption would be a factor influenced by the tyre wear. ‘Some can make 5-minutes but that is dangerous here because so much of the track is flat out and then you will have maximum RPM on low tyres. I think we will go safe. In Holland we were not the fastest but we went safe’.
Enjoying an ice cream to cool down after the final qualifier, Greiner said, ‘the car drives ok now but speaking to Jilles he has the same problem with the balance of the car changing after 4 or 5-minute (drivers have a lengthy warmup prior to the qualifier’s rolling starts). It was super super close and I had one mistake’. Explaining it he said, ‘I went too much on the inside of the corner. I was standing full left on the drivers stand then could see my car with the umbrella (covering the marshal post). It was my mistake’. Asked his strategy for the final, he replied with a laugh, ‘keep the car on the track’. He continued, ‘the balance changes more and more as the tyres get smaller. It is going to be super close and the question is do you only change the outside or all four tyres. The wear is higher today than yesterday and with more rain coming tonight we need to check tomorrow how it is in the final practice’.
‘We broke the engine before the start. I am very disappointed because in my head I was ready to fight for the TQ’, said Mazzeo afterwards. The Italian continued, ‘for sure we are ready for the final. We prepared 3-engines so we are ok. I think everyone will have the same strategy and change all four tyres. Dominic, Jilles and me are very close on pace and the local guys Erik and Dirk (Wischnewski) are going to be there too. Congrats to Jilles, he was fast since Thursday’. Able to watch the run after his own problems he added, ‘he did an amazing job in the last one’.
Ending qualifying with another Top 3 run that would secure him 4th on the grid, Leino said, ‘this time it was not so fast but it was alright’. Asked how strong he felt he was for the final, the Finn replied, ‘we are OK. Fuel and tyre wear are good but many things can happen at this track’. He added, ‘there is low tyre wear and the fuel mileage is safe but it is hard on engines. A lot of the time you are on full throttle. You can run lean but for sure you don’t finish the 45-minutes’.
Failing to finish Q4, Dankel said, ‘I had a mistake at the end of the straight’. The Mugen driver went on by saying, ‘the speed is there for sure we just need to get the job done. We need good pitstops with no mistakes. I think it is going to be very close at the end’. Asked about strategy, the ENS’ inaugural champion said, ‘(changing) all four (tyres) is for sure safe but we need to check. On big tyres 5-minutes is OK but when small it is more difficult. At the end we will check the weather conditions because this will be a big factor’. Behind Dankel, Team Shepherd’s Thilo Todtmann completes the top half of what will become a 12 car grid once the top two bump up from the B-Main.