Simon Kurzbuch is Top Qualifier for tomorrow’s penultimate round of the Infinity Euro Nitro Series in Aigen. The reigning champion claimed his 3rd consecutive pole position at the Austrian track with a dominant qualifying performance topping all four rounds of qualifying. His third TQ of the season which is so far void of a victory, the Shepherd driver will lead away the 45-minute final ahead of Toni Gruber and championship leader Dario Balestri. Gruber secured his best qualifying of the season by backing up his his Q1 performance with another P2 time in the final qualifier allowing him to overhaul Balestri on the grid. Q4 would see Balestri unable to battle to maintain his position due to a rich engine. A former Top Qualifier of the race, Robert Pietsch will start 4th with Serpent’s Merlin Depta making it five different manufacturers at the front of the grid.
‘It was a very good day. All the testing paid off and we are where we want to be’, was Kurzbuch’s reaction to his 11th ENS career TQ. The 2015 World Champion added, ‘we needed this TQ if we wanted to have a chance at retaining the title and we need to do better in the final that at the last two races but we have had good finals recently and I hope we can get the result we are after’. Looking in control of proceedings, asked about tomorrow’s final he said, ‘It is quite important we have a good tyre strategy. It’s not really a high wear track but we still need to double check that we don’t run out of tyres at the end of the final. Especially because if the long sweeper where it will be important to manage the tyres’.
Summing up his day, managing to qualify one place higher than he did in Ettlingen, Gruber said, ‘In the end I am happy. The car did a good job and the gap to Simon is close just he was more consistent than me’. With the fastest lap of both Q1 & 4, when he was second fastest behind Kurzbuch, the WRC driver continued, ‘I hope the track is the same tomorrow as today because the balance of the car was really good. The first race (Ettlingen) we qualified 3rd and now we start 2nd so I’m positive going into the final tomorrow’.
‘A trouble day’ was how Balestri described qualifying. Suffering a glowplug failure in Q2, the Infinity driver continued, ‘Q3 I was on a good run but the engine was too lean and I had to back off to get some points and in the last one the engine was too rich. Anyway 3rd is still a good position’. Chasing his second ENS win for Infinity, having given them their first 1:8 ENS win at the previous round, he concluded, ‘we have good pace and the car is stable and easy to drive so I will try to follow him’ – him being Kurzbuch.
Pietsch said, ‘the car now is OK. The last one the engine was a little lean and I lost a little power which cost me’. Asked how he improved that he replied, ‘we ran a completely different set-up’. On the final the Mugen designer feels he might be able to get an edge on his rivals saying, ‘maybe on the fuel strategy I can do something different to the others’, adding ‘tyre are not a big issue’.
In the 40+ class, Arie Manten continued his reign over the championship claiming his third overall TQ of the season putting him in pole position to become the inaugural champion tomorrow. Andrea Hächler, father of ARC team driver Silvio, will start second with the Xray of Igor Liptak completing the Top 3 on the grid.