Despite the hopes of the organisers to finally have a whole weekend of sunny weather and a trouble-free schedule, the weather gods in The Netherlands have had other ideas. Completing a round of free practice this morning, as the cars took to the track for the first qualifying heat, rain started to fall. As the rain increased, race announcer Oli Meggitt took the decision to not start the run, this turned out to be the right call as more rain continued to fall. Race Director Uwe Rheinard has now formally called an early lunch break and, with the weather forecast showing much better conditions this afternoon, the organisers will wait for the rain to stop before trying to work on a new time schedule. The hope will still be to run four rounds of qualifying today, and the finals on Sunday.
Remarks – Star of practice in the 1/10th scale class, setting the fourth best seeding time, Holthuis explained he is running a standard IF15. After trying a number of setups through the practice rounds, he decided with his father, also his mechanic, to cut the top deck around the steering post. Aiming to give the car more flex at the front, he is the only one of the Infinity team to have tried this so far, but he feels it suits his driving style and will continue with this modified part on the car for qualifying.
Chassis – Velox V10 Black Edition Engine – Gimar Eagle.12 Fuel – Energy Tires (handout) – Matrix Radio/Servo – Futaba/Futaba Body – Protoform P47
Remarks – Working with the rest of the large Shepherd team here in Rucphen, Diekmann said that it has been difficult to find a setup with the weather meaning the track felt different every run. Reverting to a standard setup, he has since found more speed by going lighter on the front shock oil to allow his Velox V10 to handle the kerbs better. He has also switched to 2 million oil in the front differential to get the turn-in he needs on this high speed circuit.
Infinity’s Dario Balestri set the best three lap time in controlled practice for the 1/8th scale class at Round 2 of the Euro Nitro Series Championship in Rucphen, The Netherlands. It was very close, however, as less than one tenth of a second covered the top seven drivers over their three lap times. “The car was good, the engine was really good – it was just really difficult to find the right balance” was how the current ENS Champion described the practice sessions. He will try some more small changes tomorrow “until the car is easy to drive”, aiming to find more rear traction in his IF18.
One hundredth of a second behind his long-time adversary, Simon Kurzbuch took his Shepherd to second place. Simon said that, “since yesterday lunchtime we’ve been on the right way with the setup”, highlighting that the wind picked up this afternoon and that made it “trickier to drive”. Hoping that tomorrow’s conditions lead to less wind at the Rucphen circuit, the multi-time ENS Champion is looking forward to find out how fast everyone is over a four minute run in qualifying.
The third best time went to Robin D’Hondt, the Belgian saying his “car is perfect, I don’t even know how to improve it!” Winning the race here last year, the Capricorn driver will try another exhaust in the free practice tomorrow morning before deciding what direction to take for qualifying.
Carmine Raiola was fourth quickest, the Italian saying that he would be making no changes to his Infinity as it was “fast in the conditions yesterday” and the earlier free practice rounds today. He expects tomorrow morning’s opening qualifying round to be similar, rather than the higher traction experienced this evening in controlled practice. Like Kurzbuch, he also said that the wind was a major factor and will see how Q1 goes for him before deciding “whether I need to push more, or make solid points each time”.
Rounding out the top five was Dutch driver Jeffrey Rietveld. Describing free practice as “a struggle”, he changed a lot on his Infinity car and “finally found something good” in time for the controlled practice. Not changing anything else for the two runs, he said the car was “good on both new and really small tyres” – already with a mind to Sunday’s final. Hoping the weather stays good, he was clearly feeling very positive about tomorrow as he explained “two good runs should be possible and get us directly into the main final.”
Defending Champion Arie Manten put in the best three lap time in the +40 Masters class, ahead of Addie Van de Ven and John Lenears, whilst in the newly introduced 4S Electric 1/8th class, Simon Schutte set the pace in practice.
Leo Arnold will carry the number one on his car throughout tomorrow’s four scheduled rounds of qualifying here in the Netherlands. The French driver’s time just held off a late charge from Jilles Groskamp, who ended up four hundredths of a second slower over the three lap times with his Infinity team mates Teemu Leino and Milan Holthuis putting in the third and fourth best times, and Thilo Todtmann rounding out the top five.
“The car was good – but it’s very close,” was how Arnold summed up his Practice result. Explaining that his car was the same he used to TQ in Bologna, the Xray driver said that “consistency is most important for qualifying”, with the “top five or six drivers” very close on pace. Aiming to make his car as easy to drive as possible, he concluded by stating that “we are on a good way” to getting the car how he wants it.
Groskamp, who won this event last year, said that it was “really close” and that he was “right there with the benchmark,” referring to rival Arnold, who he believes will be the driver to beat in qualifying. Happy with his car, particularly noting the good power from the engine, he feels he can go faster but isn’t sure how to unlock that extra speed. Believing he is not driving as aggressively as the other drivers around him on the leaderboard, the Dutch driver said that he will not change his driving style as he thinks that will come to benefit him in the finals.
Setting the best time in the opening timed practice, but dropping back to third after TP2 as seven of the top ten drivers set their best times in the slightly cooler conditions, Leino was characteristically reserved when describing his run, smiling and reporting that “the car is OK”. Commenting that tomorrow and Sunday are more important, he will make use of the short free practice round on Saturday morning to try to cure a little understeer he feels his IF15 had today.
Dutch driver Holthuis was the final driver to set a three lap time in under 44 seconds, reacting with a big smile and “very happy” when asked how he felt after practice. Admitting to having struggled through the earlier free practice in getting the engine feeling right, he reverted to the setup they ran yesterday and with the engine issues resolved for Controlled Practice, was clearly very pleased to be on the pace. His aim for Qualifying will be “to stay in the same place”, but knows that “this will be difficult as it’s a very close field”.
Shepherd Racing’s Todtmann described the run as “OK” for himself, saying that his focus was on recovering from a bad 2018 season. Just missing out on a podium place in Bologna, the German said that every time they took to the track it felt different as the conditions changed – something he will need to stay on top of throughout qualifying in order to secure a good starting position for the finals.
Track Name– De Baanbrekers Club – M.A.C. de Baanbrekers Country– Netherlands Location – Rucphen Direction – Anti-Clockwise No. of ENS Races hosted – 1 (2018)
The second round of the 2019 Infinity Euro Nitro Series sees the Championship return to the Netherlands, the venue that hosted the opening event of the 2018 series – MAC de Baanbrekers. A favourite amongst many drivers for its ‘old school’ feel, the track in Rucphen has maintained the same layout since its construction in 1987, although with a new surface applied in 2003. The only notable change to the venue since the ENS’s visit last year is that the track has undergone a full re-painting, with bright red and white kerbs replacing the darker colours seen last year and getting the thumbs up from the visiting drivers.
In terms of the track layout, 2018 1:10 winner and overall ENS champion, Jilles Groskamp, said the key is keeping the corner speed high, especially in 1:10 scale. Noting that he had switched to a harder setup than he usually runs to suit the long corners here in Rucphen, he also pointed out that the engine power was important on this “not difficult track layout”. Already with a mind to the longer finals, the Dutch driver, who has now returned to his home country after nearly a decade living in Thailand, said that the long left-hand corners cause higher tyre wear on one side, expecting the 45 minute-long A Final to feature most drivers taking at least two sets of right side tyres.
The winner of the first ever race of the ENS +40 Masters class, Arie Manten, said that he hasn’t driven here much, but won the round of the Dutch Championship which took place here a month ago. Matching his Infinity team-mate Groskamp’s description of this being an “easy track layout for everyone”, he said the small differences are vital to finding that last one tenth of a second. He also explained that the long corner leading onto the back straight was vital to a fast laptime, as lifting through the turn in 1:8 scale means you lose a lot of top speed on the straight.
Robin D’Hondt, who took his first, and to date, only, ENS victory here last year said that despite the track being “not so far from home”, he doesn’t race here that often. Putting his victory last year down to “a perfect car and engine for the whole race”, his focus was on engine tuning as the main thing. The track does lend itself to very close racing, with the Belgian driver saying that “laptimes are very close – so many have a chance to win”.