May 25, 2019

‘Great Team Job’ Gives Balestri Infinity’s First 1/8th ENS TQ

Dario Balestri has secured Infinity’s first ever pole position in the 1/8th class at the ENS.  The Japanese manufacturer, a supporter of the ENS since the end of the 2015 season has achieved success in almost all categories of racing, but remarkably, a 1/8th ENS TQ had still eluded them.  Reacting immediately after the last run, the current ENS and World Champion instantly remarked that it was a “great team job”, indicating firstly towards team mate Carmine Raiola, who topped the final qualifying round allowing Balestri to secure pole.  Also noting the rest of the team, including the mechanics of the two drivers, he said a small mistake in the last round prevented him taking Q4 as there was “nothing between the top three” – the two Infinity pilots and Mugen’s Robert Pietsch.

Pietsch, who will line up second on the grid, had taken the fastest time in Q3, forcing the last round showdown.  Swapping times at the top of the timing screen with the two Italians, Pietsch ultimately came up half a second short of Raiola but ahead of Balestri by just over one tenth of a second.  The Mugen designer remarked that it was “super close”, and that “you have to have a little bit of luck every now and then”.  When asked about the fight for pole in the final round, he said that he had Balestri behind him on track, which made him feel a little bit of pressure and led to a few small slides which cost him the overall TQ.  Talking about his car, he will change nothing for the long 45 minute final.

Raiola was overjoyed to take the fourth qualifier, although the reaction became a little subdued when he realised that Pietsch’s second place in the last round pushed the Italian to third on the grid.  The disappointment was short-lived, however, as he joked with Infinity team mate Balestri that he hoped to have “45 minutes together and a nice race”.  He feels well prepared for the final, having tested used (smaller) tyres in the final round, where he set the second best four-minute run of the day.

A “tough day” was Simon Kurzbuch’s initial reaction to his qualifying result.  Also pointing out that little mistakes were the difference between the top four drivers, he said that his car was “not too bad”, but that he had to “drive it at maximum” today.  Looking towards the Infinity pit area, the Shepherd driver said that he would use tomorrow’s A Final practice session to see “how the pace changes” – although he was unsure what setup changes he would make overnight in preparation for the race.  Notably, Simon is at the ENS without his father this weekend, however with his brother taking over pit duties, Kurzbuch believes he is “as good as my father, and with Alex [Kempe] we should still have the strongest pit crew tomorrow”.

Rounding out the top five on the grid, Jeffrey Rietveld matched the excitement of his Italian Infinity team mates, saying he was “very happy to be back in the A Main”.  Admitting that he “doesn’t get as much chance to practice” as some as his competitors, he believed he had now got the “right setup finally” on his IF18 and feels his pace over the longer runs will be good.  Also reporting that he has “great fuel economy”, he also feels that this will be important in the 45 minute race.  The remainder of the A Final direct qualifiers are last year’s winner Robin D’Hondt, local star John Ermen, then Silvio Hachler, Rick Vrielijnck and Tony Gruber.  Bologna winner Dominic Greiner had a birthday weekend to forget so far and will line up on pole in the B Final and hope to bump up for the 12 car race.

In the +40 Masters class, Arie Manten continued his domination this weekend, securing the pole position ahead of John Lenaers, who took the final qualifier as Manten had already wrapped things up, with Martin Zevenhoven lining up third in front of Andrea Hachler and Adie Van de Ven.

The newly introduced 1/8th 4S Electric class saw the first pole position go to John Ermen, who will roll off first ahead of Simon Schutte, Martjn Smits, Kai Asmer and Jeroen Smits in the triple-leg final tomorrow.

View the complete event results here.

View our event image gallery here.


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