May 26, 2019

Leino doubles up in 2019 with ENS Netherlands victory

After taking the win at the season opening race in Bologna last month, Teemu Leino took a firm step towards the 2019 ENS 1/10th scale title by adding victory this weekend in Rucphen.  The Finnish driver crossed the line first despite running a different tyre strategy to his rivals, benefiting from mistakes and issues for his main challengers.  Making two tyre stops – the first to change just right side tyres after 9 minutes of the race and the second to change all four around two-thirds distance – he took the win over Leo Arnold and ENS returnee Patrick Nahr.  The victory also ties Leino for the most wins in the ENS 1/10th scale class, him now sharing the honour with Dominic Greiner with 5 victories in the prestigious series.

“We saw the high tyre wear in the practice and decided to make the extra stop for right side tyres” was how the Infinity driver explained the decision.  Looking over the car after the race, he added “maybe we could have done it on one stop, but it’s OK as we took the win”.  The only one of the top contenders to have anything like a clean 45 minute race, he said the only issue was a stuck bodyshell after an early fuel stop, necessitating a quick extra visit to the pit lane to have it sorted out.  Initially leading the field away, Leino was matched by team mate Jilles Groskamp, until the early tyre change left Groskamp and Arnold to fight for the win.  Groskamp, making only one four tyre change, retired shortly after his visit to the pit lane for fresh Matrix foam, with a broken axle causing the retirement.

Leo Arnold then looked set to inherit the win, but on his single tyre stop he lost around 1 lap to Leino, with his father quick to jump in and say it was his fault as he “lost the wheel nut” during the tyre change.  Reflecting on his run, the French driver said that “on the track the car was very good”, and on the second set of tyres he was really fast – but “not enough to come back [from the pit lane error]”.  The Xray driver, who finished third in Bologna was still pleased that the car and engine package was fast, but knows he will have his work cut out at the next round of the series in Aigen, where he ideally needs a win to keep the overall Championship hopes alive.

Running a pretty quiet race for the first half, the action for Nahr kicked off shortly after the tyre stops.  Only changing right side tyres early in the race, he tried to run for the rest of the 45 minute encounter without a further stop.  The gain in time through not making the change gained him track position, but as the race entered the final stages, he desperately ran out of tyres and allowed a hard-charging Milan Holthuis to close in and look a threat for his podium place.  Pitting then to change just left side tyres, whilst he didn’t have the speed of the leaders it was enough to hold off the young Dutch driver and secure a top three result on his return to the ENS.  “For the first race after three years away it was very good!” was the Shepherd driver’s reaction as he showed he had lost none of his speed from his time away from competition.

Infinity driver Holthuis initially ran with the top three of Leino, Groskamp and Arnold in the race, until getting fuel on the tyres in the first pit stop which saw him go off at the end of the main straight, dropping him back.  From there, he focused on his own race and “enjoyed it”.  Later in the race, when the problems for Groskamp and Leino saw him running as high as second place, trouble hit as “the first gear broke”.  This necessitated a lengthy pit stop to replace the part, dropping him two laps behind Nahr.  But with Nahr struggling with tyre wear, Holthuis ran up to one second per lap quicker than the German and made one full lap back, until Nahr took his late pit stop for two more tyres which prevented Holthius making his maiden ENS podium.

“A bearing in the rear hub broke during the tyre change and the axle then came out” was Groskamp’s description of the difficulty he faced.  Feeling he had a good strategy and speed, proved by matching times with Leino and Arnold during the first half of the race, the Dutchman, who has now returned to live in the Netherlands after a number of years in Thailand, was disappointed that he wasn’t able to translate his speed into points today.  After also enduring a tough race in Bologna, Groskamp knows he is really up against it if he is to retain his ENS title come the end of the season.

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