May 27, 2019

Kurzbuch wins “Really Tough” Rucphen battle

Simon Kurzbuch has taken the win at Round 2 of the 2019 Infinity Euro Nitro Series, but it was anything but easy as the three time ENS Champion seemed unlikely to even make the podium in the first half of the race. Qualifying fourth on the grid after admitting that he had struggled on Saturday, Kurzbuch initially circulated in fourth place, fighting with Dominic Greiner, who had bumped up from the B Final, as the race out front initially seemed to be a fight between the top three qualifiers of Dario Balestri, Robert Pietsch and Carmine Raiola. Deciding only to make one four tyre change at the half way point, as the other top runners chose two full changes, the Swiss driver confirmed that he knew he “couldn’t go at the pace of Balestri and Raiola, so we decided to make one less fuel stop [by running longer between stops] and making only one tyre change”.

Moving up through the field as issues took Pietsch then Raiola out of the running, it looked as though the Shepherd driver would repeat his Bologna result and stand second on the podium. But in the closing minutes of the race, Balestri hit trouble, going off on the main straight and then again a few corners later, which dropped him out of a top three placing. “It was a really tough final” was how Kurzbuch described the race. He also pointed out that with his father absent from this event, his brother Pascal had taken over pit duties and, along with pit lane regular Alex Kempe, they “made a great job and gave me great information during the race so I knew what I needed to do”.

Also benefiting from the mistakes and issues which struck the top three in the race, Dominic Greiner came through from 11th on the starting grid to finish second at the end. The Serpent driver was almost speechless when asked to explain his race, openly admitting it hadn’t looked like a “great weekend – we didn’t have the pace to be competitive [early on]”. Even after the B Final, he completely changed the setup on his car, and “never expected it [a podium result]”. Even his pitman Thomas Gunsel noted problems in the final – with “strange fuel consumption” causing a flame out. Luckily this didn’t cost much time, but the winner at the first round of the championship said “this cost the win, but still it’s very good for the championship” – him now sitting one point behind Kurzbuch.

Making it two Swiss drivers on the podium, Silvio Hachler said that after Bologna, he still had a “bad feeling” in the car, and so working over the next month developed a completely new setup approach for his ARC chassis. Noting that he was “a little bit lucky” to move up following the problems of other drivers, he had a pretty lonely race as the attention was focussed on those ahead. He was understandably happy to make a return to the top three at an ENS event and concluded by saying “of course I’ll take that one!”.

Clearly upset at being just minutes away from a potential victory after the retirement of team mate Raiola, Balestri was at a loss to explain what happened. With nothing obvious broken on the car to cause his initial high-speed off as he entered the back straight, he said he must have hit a stone or something as he was on cruise-control and “just running laps”. This accident bent the bumper of his Infinity car, which then in turn caused a second crash a few corners later, which then left the current ENS champion to nurse his car home to a fourth place finish.

Raiola had been in the hunt for the overall win, the lead swapping places with Balestri as the pit stop cycles worked through each time. Possibly looking set for the top step of the podium with Balestri due to make one extra pit stop for fuel, Raiola said he saw the side belt come off his IF18 and “drove immediately to the pit lane”. With father Alfonso then confirming that it was in fact a broken pulley which had caused the belt to fail and therefore no chance of a quick repair, the Italian, who has been with the Infinity program since the start, will have to continue his wait for his first ENS victory.

In the +40 Masters class, Arie Manten failed to start the race after engine issues led to a stripped gear, allowing fellow Dutchman Martin Zevenhoven to get the jump at the start and lead early on. As the race continued, Belgian John Lenears, who had battled with Martin in the initial stages, moved through to the lead and Angelo Fagnani, who had started 9th on the grid, moved up to second as Zevenhoven had to settle for third at the finish.

The 1/8 4S Electric class made its debut in The Netherlands and saw local hero John Ermen secure pole position and wrap up the overall title with wins in leg one and two of the final. Simon Schutte looked to be John’s closest challenger, taking second in every leg, but Kai Asmer came through to take the leg three victory after John sat out the race, giving Asmer second overall in front of Schutte.

View the complete event results here.

View our event image gallery here.


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