Robert Pietsch ended Day 1 of the Euro Nitro Series in Austria as the man to beat, the Mugen driver setting the pace in controlled practice in both 1:8 and 1:10 at the Stöhr-Ring track. In 1:8, the reigning World Champion set the pace over 3-consecutive laps from newly crowned European B Champion Daniel Sieber but it is the German’s pace in the highly competitive 1:10 class in which he was fastest from ENS Hockenheim race winner Eric Dankel that is the big news from Kirchberg.
With most of the 1:10 drivers using Race 2 of the ENS ‘Pilot Series’ as preparation time for the upcoming European Championship, Pietsch was pleased to end the day ahead ahead of the drivers he will go head to head with in August as he tries to win back the European title he won in 2011. Making just little changes to his MTX-5 for each of the two 7-minute controlled practices, the Mugen designer had little to report other than that he is pretty happy with how the car is working and he is looking forward to qualifying getting underway tomorrow. With 5 rounds of qualifying scheduled, unlike tradition nitro events where a drivers single fastest round counts, the ENS sees point awarded based on each drivers finishing position at the end of the round with the best 3 to count in determining the finals.
3/10th off Pietsch over 3-laps, Dankel said there was ‘no shame in be second to Robert’. The factory Capricorn driver said overall it was a good day although he made the mistake of running tyres for a second time in CP2 which due to the high wear meant the car felt really bad after just a few laps. Struggling a little with oversteer through the sweeper at the end of the straight he is confident that a droop adjustment to his LAB-C02 should make it more stable there and allow him to match or hopefully better Pietsch’s pace over the full 4-minutes of the qualifiers. Dankel’s team-mate Francesco Tironi would end the day only 10th fastest but the humorous Italian said for his first day at the track he was ‘quite happy’. The World Championship podium finisher, who suffered a diff failure in CP2, said his car was consistent but not yet fast enough and for tomorrow hopes a change of shocks and adjusting the flex of the radio plate will help give him the little bit of extra steering his is looking for.
‘Not so bad’ was how Jilles Groskamp summed up his run to the third fastest time. The Shepherd driver said while he still needs to find a little more steering on his V10 PRO, he feels for the controlled practice runs he went the wrong direction with his set-up with the car feeling much better in the morning’s open practice runs. Planning to go back in the direction of his earlier set-up the Dutch drivers believes this should leave him not too far off Pietsch.
Groskamp’s team-mate Patrick Nahr was much happier with his car in controlled practice, a change to a thinner roll bar making the rear more stable. Fitting a new glowplug to his Novarossi engine, having had problems with the consistency of the engine earlier, the 21-year-old said it was running ‘perfect’. Behind Nahr was Gerhard Kandlehardt. Having made his Shepherd debut at ENS Race 1, the Austrian said the car was working a lot better than in Hockenheim and he was pleased with his pace. Shepherd boss Patrick Schafer would end the day 9th fastest, although not overly happy with his position he said having fully rebuilt the car after problems he had in open practice, but not finding anything wrong or broken, it felt right again and he can now go about making some fine adjustments for qualifying.
Serpent’s Dominic Greiner would set the fourth fastest time with his Picco powered 747. Another driver for whom this is their first time at the Stöhr-Ring, the 21-year-old said for the first day he was pretty happy with how things went adding that tomorrow he can go even better. A main contender at this year’s Euro B Championship in Italy where he missed out on the win by just 3-seconds, the German said he hopes a change from a 2.2mm to a 2.5mm rear roll bar will cure his car of the little understeer he suffered today.
Xray’s Dirk Wischnewski was not too happy with his day, the former European Champion admitting that he is struggling. Suffering from understeer through the high speed corners the 200mm specialist said he is losing a lot of time at the end of the straight and having tried a number of changes which didn’t really improve his NT1 he is ‘not really sure what to do’. Planning to sleep on it he hopes tomorrow with prove a better day. The only other Xray in the Top 10, setting the 8th fastest time, Alexander Hagberg is also scratching his head at the end of Day 1. The Swede said his NT1 feels fine on the track but on the time sheets ‘its just too slow’ and he has no idea why.
Still looking for more high speed steering, KM Racing’s Adrien Bertin ended the day 12th fastest but still getting back into the groove after a long absence from 1:10 the French ace should be able to improve with track time and some set-up changes to his Orion powered HK-1 Meen edition.
While Pietsch topped 1:8 by a commanding margin from the Shepherd of Sieber, the World Champion did have some issues suffering an engine failure in the first controlled practice. This meant he had to focus on tuning his spare engine in the second practice but despite this he was still able to take his MRX-5 around the track for 3 laps over a second faster than his nearest rival. Completing the Top 3 in the class, which is missing Race 1 winner Mark Green due to work commitments and his Serpent team-mate Michael Salven due to a wedding, the Mugen of Euro B podium finisher Michael Klausner is followed by the Serpent of Toni Gruber and the Xray of returning former European Champion Jernej Vuga.
Race 2 of the Euro Nitro Series ‘Pilot Series’ got underway today in Kirchberg, Austria, with drivers very complimentary of the Stöhr-Ring after open practice. Set to host the 1:10 200mm European Championships in August, the ENS encounter has attracted a high quality touring car entry with many of the factory drivers taking the opportunity to use this weekend as important practice for the Euros having never been to the track before. While no official timing was published for the open practice Mugen’s Robert Pietsch appears to be fastest but so too are ENS Hockenheim race winner Eric Dankel and former European Champion Dirk Wischnewski. With two rounds of controlled practice set to bring Day 1 of the event to close, with each drivers 3-consecutive fastest laps being recorded, we should have a better indication of where everyone is at later today but as Wischnewski put it ‘the competition is very high’.
Pietsch, who only raced 1:8 at Race 1 of the series in Hockenheim, said his focus in open practice was on his 1:10 car. ‘Quite happy’ with how everything went the 2011 European Champion said his main concentration today was on learning the track rather than on working on set-up. One of the drivers to instigate the creation of the ENS, Pietsch said this weekend he is racing 1:10 as preparations for the Euros. Expecting to have a number of chassis updates for his Mugen for the Euros and expecting the conditions in August to be quiet different the German said for this reason he is working more on his driving than on the car set-up which he said is so far working extremely well. More a 1:8 racer than 200mm, this is the former World Championship Top Qualifier’s first time running on a controlled spec tyres which comes pre-trued. Although he is familiar with this weekend’s handout tyre which is being supplied by his main tyre sponsor Contact, he said having set the car up for the bigger diameter it worked fine helped by the fact the low traction means there is no issue with grip roll. Commenting on his 1:8, the World Champion said it was ‘all good’.
Dankel, who dominated Race 1 of the ENS earlier this month, said having struggled a little to match Pietsch’s pace, a lowering of the roll centre positions on his Novarossi powered Capricorn made a big improved and he was able to match his fellow German’s pace. One of many Stöhr-Ring debutants, he described the track as ‘very good’ adding he much preferred it over Hockenheim as it was a lot more challenging. Having run without a team-mate at Race 1 he said having Francesco Tironi here, along with the car’s designer Patrizio Rossi, would be very beneficial as they could try a lot of set-ups on the cars. Having driven 700km from Italy this morning, leaving home at 06:30 and only arriving at the track at lunch time, World Championship podium finisher Tironi managed just two runs in open practice. Really liking the track, the fast Italian said having not raced without tyre additive for over 2-years it takes a bit of getting used to but he is confident that with a little more track time he should find his way ok.
Heading an expanded Xray challenge this weekend, being joined by Alexander Hagberg and Martin Hudy, Wischnewski spent the open practice trying different set-ups and while the set-up he tried in his final run was not very good he thinks he is on a similar pace to both Pietsch and Dankel. Hagberg who spent most of practice choosing which Orcan engine and pipe combo to run, said it had been a pretty good day so far. Getting used to the handout Contact tyre, the Swede was happy with the set-up he has found for his NT1 but added with the tyre wear this strategy for the final was going to be very important with tyre stops almost certain but he said first he needs to work on getting into the final. Hudy, who has previous experience of the track having raced here last year, albeit prior to the recent polishing of the asphalt which has greatly increased tyre wear, declared himself happy with how things are going so far.
Starting his European Summer tour this weekend Thailand based Dutch driver Jilles Groskamp declared himself happy with his early practice runs. Focused more on 1:8 Onroad this year as this is a World Championship year for the class, the Electric Touring Car World Champion said this is his first 1:10 nitro race since last November’s World Championship in Bangkok. Racing for Capricorn then, this year the former 200mm Worlds Top Qualifier has rejoined Shepherd and driving the recently released Velox V10 PRO he said the car is proving really easy to drive. Having raced here back in 2003 at the European Electric Touring Car Championships missing out on the title to Juho Levanen on a tie break, said he is happy with his lap times which are on a similar pace to the main contenders. Team boss Patrick Schafer, who qualified 3rd at Race 1, said he was very happy with his car in the morning but is now struggling. Having initially thought it was a bad set-up, he reverted to the set-up he ran when the car was at its best but the problem still exists and he now thinks something on the car is broken. Former European B Champion Patrick Nahr said while he improved his car over the day the rear end is still loose. The German also said he is struggling to get good consistency from his engine, something he is putting down to his choice of exhaust.
One of the title sponsors of the series along with Xray, Serpent, Novarossi and Shepherd, KM Racing make their official factory debut this weekend with all round r/c veteran Adrien Bertin. The only driver to win both a 1:8 and a 1:10 World Championship title, the French ace, who in recent times has been seen more at 1:8 Offroad events doing engine development for Orion, summed up his early practice runs by saying ‘the other guys are fast!’. Admitting he has lost his 1:10 driving style he said he needs to ‘concentrate on being more smooth’. Running the new Meen version of the HK-1, he said the car is running well and he just needs to get more track time with which the speed should come back.
Another welcome face in the pits this weekend is former 1:8 European Champion Jernej Vuga. The Slovenian driver who is racing in 1:8, said he is here to enjoy himself adding he hasn’t set himself any big expectations. A big part of the international 1:8 scene a few years ago, he said after the 2009 World Championships when tyre additive became a part of the sport he said he lost interest and has since focused his interested on his Toprc.eu business and a racing in a number of trophy races he organises through the business. Liking the ENS’ controlled and additive free tyre concept he said this what attracted him back to have an go at international racing again and so far he is enjoying the experience.
Chassis name – KM HK1 “Meen” Engine – Orion CRF R12 Radio/Servos – Ko Propo/Orion
Remarks – Adrien is racing the new KM touring car, named after last year’s World Champion Meen Vejrak. The main features of the new car are a different gear ratio which gives more steering at high speed, a big positive here at the Kirchberg track, along with the option to use a wire anti-roll bar in the front end. The engine is Orion’s latest release and is characterized by a longer stroke, which means everything but the rod and the bearings is completely new. Here in Stohr-Ring Adrien has opted for using Ride shock springs, which give the car more forward traction but require a smoother driving style, according to the former World Champion.
Track Name – Stöhr-Ring Club – MORAC-Graz Country – Austria Location – 45km south east of Graz Direction – Anti-clockwise Surface – Asphalt
The second race of the Euro Nitro Series ‘Pilot Series’ takes place in Austria this weekend at the Stöhr-Ring, a track which has a deep history of hosting international events. Run by the MORAC-Graz club, which was established in 1977 and has a current membership of 65, the track was built in 1998 and in that time has hosted the 2000 1:10 235mm World Championships as well as European Championships for 1:10 235mm, 1:10 Electric Touring Car, 1:8 Onroad and Large Scale and later this year it hosts the 1:10 200mm Euros which are directly followed by 1:5 Bike World Championships. Able to run the track in both directions this weekend the racing will run in the anti-clockwise direction.
Recently the track surface was freshened up by polishing the asphalt with a specialised machine and millions of tiny steel beads. Only carried out in May of this year, the traction has suffered as a result of the work and now requires to be sugar watered. Another side effect of the polishing is a noticeable increase in tyre wear. Martin Hudy who raced here last year said previously the wear here was very low but from the practice runs so far today they are finding it now to be very high.
Commenting on the track layout, Team Xray’s Dirk Wischnewski said it is a ‘really nice track to drive’ but it is quite difficult due to the narrow racing line. 1:8 World Champion Robert Piestch, who is racing both classes this weekend, said he likes the track a lot adding that it is a good size in that it is not too big for 1:10 and not too small for 1:8. The Mugen designer, who has not raced here before, said the Omega corner is a little deceiving as it looks like it should be able to be taken at a constant throttle however in 1:10 he is having to lift and then get back on the throttle to get a good line. The German also said the curbing on the outside of the fast kink before the start of the main straight is a little tricky as if you try to straighline it too much the curb can really unsettle the car and get it out of shape for the entry onto the straight.
Reigning Electric Touring Car World Champion Jilles Groskamp will contest next weekend’s (June 28-30) Euro Nitro Series race in Graz, Austria, the Shepherd driver one of a number of World class factory drivers set to battle it out for the 200mm Touring Car win at the Stöhr-Ring track. Another confirmed entry for the second race of the ENS ‘Pilot Series’, is Capricorn driver & World Championship podium finisher Francesco Tironi who together with reigning Italian National Champion Giorgio de Felici will be looking to complete a clean sweep of the all new series for the Italian company who at Race 1 earlier this month at the Hockenheimring in Germany took a convincing win with Eric Dankel.
A former 200mm World Championship Top Qualifier and a direct qualifier at last November’s World Championships in Thailand, Groskamp’s ENS race debut forms part of his preparations for this year’s European Championship which will take place at the the Stöhr-Ring in August. A major supporter of the Euro Touring Series in its early year’s, the Dutchman winning the overall title twice, he will be hoping to make a similar impression on the ENS.
An expanded factory Xray team will see former European Champion Dirk Wischnewski joined by Xray’s Alexander Hagberg and former World Championship podium finisher Martin Hudy. Unable to attend Race 1 due to prior electric touring car commitments, this will also be Hagberg’s first ENS outing and the World Championship finalist is certain to be in the mix.
Another potential winner in the Touring Car class, which for Race 2 will use a controlled tyre from Contact, will be reigning 1:8 World Champion Robert Pietsch. Only competing in 1:8 at Race 1, where he TQ’d and finished 2nd to Serpent’s Mark Green, the 2010 200mm WC Top Qualifier is in for a busy weekend as he takes on both classes, again the event being an important part of the Mugen designers European Championship preparations.
Mark Green and Eric Dankel took the wins at the first ever Euro Nitro Series held at the Hockenheimring in Germany where the winning margin in both the 1:8 and 1:10 Touring finals was just 3-seconds. Green’s first international win for some time, the British ace was joined on the podium by the Mugen of World Champion Robert Pietsch and his Serpent team-mate Michael Salven. Leading the Touring Car final from start to finish Top Qualifier Dankel was surrounded by French drivers on the podium with Basile Concialdi finishing 2nd to making it a Capricorn 1-2 with fellow countryman Michael Derderian driving an Xray in 3rd.
Starting from second on the grid after Pietsch secured the honour of Top Qualifier on tie break, Green said he was ‘Super Happy’ to take the win. Happy with his Novarossi powered 977 Viper from the minute he put it on the track when he arrived on Thursday, he said they went into the race with a plan and stuck with it, the only mishap being him missing the call for his final pitstop and having to nervously do one extra lap. Taking the approach to not push at the beginning of the race he said this worked out really well with his tyres holding up for the entire race distance. A key part of the ENS is its system of a controlled handout tyre which got a big thumbs up from Green. Using a tyre from Matrix for the 1:8 class, Green also complimented the Italian company on the quality of their tyre describing it as ‘very good’.
As the defending champion of this event, having won last year’s Europen Nitro Challenge which would become the foundation for the ENS, Pietsch described his final as ‘terrible’. Starting off well and able to open up a small but comfortable gap over the pursuing Serpent’s he said from the first fuel stop the race went downhill. Hitting a car that was put down in front of his MRX5 as he exited the pitlane, causing damage to his bodyshell, he then went on to suffer gearbox issues and a flame out. As the race went on the change to second gear got later and later leading to two mistakes which would allow Green to go to the front on lap 73 of 143. Also the reigning European Champion, Pietsch would drop back to third but got the position back when Salven had to make an unplanned tyre stop.
Happy with his pace Salven described his final as ‘messy’. A bad start left him 9th at the end of lap 1 and during his second stop he suffered a flame out as his mechanic struggled to get to his car in the busy pitlane. The German looked on target to give the 977, of which he is designer, a 1-2 finish but chunked the outside rear tyre. Coming into change just the damaged tyre, he said the diameter difference between the new tyre and the used inside tyre made the car ‘feel so bad for a few’ laps. Setting the fastest lap of the race Salven said overall he was very happy with the pace of the car and himself but added he can do better.
Top Shepherd in the race, this being their home track, was Maximilian Vogl who finished fourth a lap down on the podium finishers who all finished on the same lap. At one stage it looked like Lars Hoppe might have made it three different manufacturers in the top 3 but his race can to an end just before the half hour mark when his front axle parted company with the car, the German suspecting the c-clip that holds it in place broke. Hoppe said it was a disappointing to have this happen as for sure he could have finished at least fourth but he added he was still happy with his pace over the weekend especially after his engine issues in the opening two qualifiers.
With the win eluding him at the Hockenheimring last year when he was also the Top Qualifier, Dankel was delighted with how his race went saying his C02 and Novarossi engine ran perfectly. The only issue the German had was during his third fuel stop when his body tucked as his pitman lifted the car costing him 3-seconds but he took full responsibility for the lost time saying it was his own fault for not fitting stiffers. With his main rival Dirk Wischnewski’s challenge coming to an end when he ran out of fuel just as the second round of stops got underway, Dankel said he then paced himself with his pit crew telling him lap times of between 20.8 to 21 seconds would secure him the win. Despite the input from his pit crew he said for a time he had concerns about the pace of fellow Capricorn driver Concialdi who was just 3.8 seconds behind him at the end of 127 laps. Dankel said the closeness of the race highlighted the success of the tyre system used this weekend which he said worked ‘very very well’. Dankel also said with no preparing or truing of the tyres required it made for a much more relaxed event.
Starting the race from 9th Concialdi was delighted with his result also contributing the handout Enneti tyre to how even the field was. Starting the race on a 4:30 fuel stop strategy the reigning French National Champion said he decided to play it safe and switch to 4-minute stops rather than risk loosing a podium finish. While he said this cost a little time he doesn’t think it was enough to have allowed him to challenge Dankel for the win.
Lining up one place ahead of Concialdi on the grid, Derderian said having only arrived on Friday, when no running was possible due to the heavy rain, a podium finish was a great result considering his lack of track time. Driving an Gi-mar powered NT1, he said both the car and engine worked well but by the end of the race he was struggling with his tyre wear. Happy that ‘Team France’ made the podium he said it would have been better if he had finished ahead of his French National Championship rival but slow pit stops made this impossible.
Unfortunately for Wischnewski engine tuning issues cost him a chance of back to back wins at Hockenheim. During the Warm-up the factory Xray driver had trouble getting a good tune on his engine and this would result in him running out of fuel before his second stop. Rejoining the race he said he then pushed too hard and ran out of tyres finishing up 10th 14 laps down on Dankel who he admitted was a little faster than him this weekend.
Setting the fastest lap of the race with the new Velox V10 Pro, Patrick Schafer was pleased with his pace even if a good result was not possible. The Shepherd boss, who started third on the grid, was holding position until lap 10 when he made a mistake which resulted in his tyre getting chunked but a flame out would ultimately end his challenge. Eventually fitting a new set of tyres he said the car was ‘super fast’ allowing him to do a 20.277 lap on lap 85. One of the key contributors to the format of the ENS, Schafer said he was really happy with how the event went and in particular the tyre solution with the feedback he got being nothing but positive. Unfortunately for Freddy Sudhoff another glowplug failure would end his race while his Shepherd team mate Patrick Nahr who ran second for a time would succumb to engine problems leaving him to finish 7th as the highest placed Velox.
Despite Mother-nature’s best efforts on Friday the first Euro Nitro Series has been a huge success and already drivers are setting the attentions on the second round of the ‘Pilot Series’ which takes place at the end of the month at the Stohr-Ring in Austria.