Simon Kurzbuch has taken the opening round of qualifying at the ENS Season Finale in Italy this evening. The reigning champion just 1/10th faster than title challenger Dario Balestri at the end of the 4-minutes as the pair took advantage of ideal conditions to post 17-lap runs. Behind, just missing out on 17-laps, Carmine Raiola ran the third fastest time ahead of Robert Pietsch, Silvio Hächler and Alberto Picco. For Toni Gruber, the third of the drivers who could potentially be crowned champion come Sunday evening, a disappointing practice didn’t get any better as he was forced to retire half way into the first of the four qualifiers with ‘a problem with the electrics’.
‘It was a good round. The beginning was really fast but then I had to overtake a few people so I was happy to end up first’, was Kurzbuch reaction after his TQ run. Vying for his third consecutive ENS title, the 2015 World Champion added, ‘conditions were really good now so I hope it will be the fastest TQ of the weekend’. Very happy with his car’s performance despite Balestri registering the fastest lap, the Swiss ace, ‘the car worked great so I will just try to do the same again in the next one’.
Looking much happier than in practice, having had to recover from his car being destroyed in yesterday’s practice, Balestri said, ‘It was OK. It (the engine) was a little rich on the bottom at the start of the qualifier but then it went clean and I could push’. The World Champion added, ‘it was just a little bit (rich) but it’s ok. We will see what we can do tomorrow but now we have the car to race with Simon’.
Commenting on his first heat, Carmine said, ‘I drove to keep 3rd place. Tomorrow we will try to push. I didn’t push 100%’. The Italian said he adapted the safe approach after trying to pass a slightly slower car. He said, ‘I had a car in front of me which I try to pass but he closed on me so I just drove to keep 3rd’. Describing his Infinity as ‘good’, the World’s finalists plans to keep it the same for Q2 adding ‘we will be on used tyres for the next one so the car should be even better’.
Pietsch was not happy with the driving standards having a similar issue to Carmine. Asked how was the qualifier, the Mugen designer replied, ‘Pretty bad I would say’ continuing ‘I was stuck behind another car that didn’t let me by even when he made a mistake. I am not happy about this’. He added, ‘everything with the car was ok but when the car in front is 0.1 slower for sure you can’t overtake unless they let you pass and this cost me about 2-seconds over the qualifier’.
In the 1:8 40+ class, the title already decided at the previous round, it was inaugural champion Arie Manten who took the opening qualifier. Going for the perfect season by looking to add a fourth win this weekend from as many races, the Infinity driver took Q1 ahead of Andrea Hächler, father of Silvio, and Rudi Scherer.