July 19, 2019

Reigning Champions TQ first qualifier at ENS Austria

The Euro Nitro Series three reigning Champions got their weekends off to the best possible start in Austria this evening as they each TQ’d the opening round of qualifying at Aigen-Schlägl.  Having topped 1:10 seeding, Teemu Leino would start a dominant evening for the Infinity team as he TQ’d the first of the four scheduled qualifiers from team-mate Jilles Groskamp with Jakub Rozycki third.  Next it was the turn of the 1:8 40+ class to run their opening qualifier with 4th seed Arie Manten taking the TQ with one & a half seconds in hand over top seed Klaus Köwenig.  It was however 1:8 that delivered the closest finish, as Dario Balestri just held off Simon Kurzbuch for the TQ by 0.024 of a second!  Having been in the mix for the TQ before an error, a recovering Carmine Raiola completed the Top 3 followed by Oliver Krähemann, Toni Gruber and Dominic Greiner, the latter lacking the pace he had shown in the final practice.

Reacting to his TQ run, Balestri said, ‘in the last 5-laps I lost all the gap I gained in the middle of the race to Simon.  We both lost time with traffic at different parts of the run but I am happy to get the TQ’.  The Italian, who wouldn’t rate the Aigen track among one of his most successful, said he had a moment during the qualifier when he hit a stone at the end of the straight which saw him get out of shape for the following corners.  Looking to tomorrow, the current schedule made up of 3 rounds of qualifying after a review of the weather showed the arrival of rain Sunday afternoon, Balestri replied, ‘All is OK with the car and the best way is not to lose time in traffic’.

‘It was close but it was second’, was Kurzbuch’s thoughts on Q1.  The Shepherd driver continued, ‘the car was again a bit loose in the rear but I struggled a bit with a lot of traffic during the run.  It is hard to get by cars on this track without getting super close.  I could not do it as quick as needed’.  Looking for his 5th Aigen win, the former Champion concluded, ‘the speed overall was there and it was only the first qualifier’.

Frustrated by his mistake Riola said, ‘the run was not bad expect for the mistake.  I touched the curb and almost ended up in the carpark’.  The Italian continued, ‘I think I was last after that but I still came back to third so with no mistake I can push for TQ.  We will see what we can do tomorrow’.

Despite his 1:10 TQ, Leino said, ‘It was not good’.  The Finn explained, ‘We tuned the engine in the warm-up but in the race it became too lean and at the end I had no power.  At least I survived the 4-minutes.  The car was good like just like in practice’.  Asked if he had any concerns over his engine being damaged he said, we ran it after it is ok for tomorrow but I haven’t decided if I will change the engine anyway for the next qualifier’.

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