With an engine failure stopping him in his tracks in the opening qualifier at ENS Ettlingen, Simon Kurzbuch bounced back to take the second round ahead of his great arch rival Dario Balestri. Also having a troubled Q1, Balestri would finish 6/10ths of a second off the Shepherd driver’s TQ pace in a heat that would see Q1 TQ man Carmine Raiola have his turn of bad luck. Struggling with a rich engine his race came to an end when he stripped a gear with a minute to go. While Dominic Greiner would set the 3rd fastest time in the top heat, it was to be John Ermen who completed the overall Top 3, the ARC driver’s time in the second fast heat demoting the Serpent driver to fourth with Lars Hoppe rounding out the Top 5.
‘A very good result in contrast to the previous one’, was how a pleased looking Kurzbuch summed his Q2 performance. The Swiss ace, who shares the most number of Ettlingen wins with Balestri as the only two drivers to win here, said, ‘the car was really good like it was in the first one. We will try for two more TQ runs now. That is the goal’. Running on used tyres for the second of the four qualifiers, the already confirmed 2019 Champion said, ‘it doesn’t make much difference because of the long warm-up’ – the drivers getting a 4-minute warm-up prior to the 4-minutes of qualifying. Asked about Q3, he replied, ‘we will leave everything the same for the next one and see what happens’.
Balestri said, ‘It was ok, we got points’. Having topped seeding, the World Champion said, ‘the problem is in the heat before I hit Gruber in the pit lane and now the car is different. I have to check to see what happened and if there is something bent’. Asked what had changed from practice, the two time Ettlingen 1:8 winner replied, ‘I am missing grip’.
Initially thinking he was fourth for the round, on discovering his Top 3 run, Ermen said, ‘I am even happier to post a 3rd position’. One of the great characters of the onroad nitro scene, the Dutchman put his Q2 improvement down to changes made to his car. ‘We did a small set-up change and it made it a lot easier to drive but it was also still fast to drive’. One area he hopes to improve on for the remaining qualifiers is his driving. He explained, ‘I was following behind Rick (Vrielijnck) and I struggled to hold my pace so I lost time in the final segment of the run. We started the heat very close to each other and I was just not hitting my apexes but to overtake you have to be in a really good position and I was not able to get that. I will change nothing on the car for Q3 and just focus on my driving’.
In 1:10, Q2 was a repeat of the opening round. Once again Infinity’s Jilles Groskamp held off the Shepherd of Thilo Tödtmann albeit by a slightly bigger margin this time 8/10ths of a second. Former European B Champion Patrick Nähr completed the Top 3 ahead of fastest man on the track Melvin Diekmann.
Carmine Raiola has TQ’d the opening round of qualifying at the ENS Season Finale in Germany, the Infinity driver cutting things ultra close and running out of fuel crossing the loop. Fourth fastest in practice, the Italian looked to be battling for second position with Dominic Greiner in the first of the four qualifiers as already crowned champion Simon Kurzbuch set the pace out front. However with less than 20-seconds on the clock, Kurzbuch would suffer an engine failure allowing Raiola to secure a TQ run by 1/10th of a second from Greiner. Having topped seeding ahead of Merlin Depta, last year’s race winner Dario Balestri hit problems before the run had even started. Coming down pitlane after completing his warm-up, the Infinity driver hit the bottom of the lowly held Shepherd of Toni Gruber which pulled the trim tab from the body. While his mechanic tried to fix it back into position the body was ripped and it came undone again causing Balestri to have a high speed off on the entry to the main straight while holding P2. In the end he would finish 4th behind Depta, who completed the Top 3 with the fastest lap of Q1.
‘Not bad considering I had a flame out on the last lap’, was Raiola’s reaction to making it an impressive Q1 for his team as Jilles Groskamp took the opening 1:10 qualifier. The ENS Aigen podium finisher explained, ‘I was on new tyres and this is why the fuel was so close but on used tyres for Q2 we should be OK’. In terms of his car’s performance he said it was good for the first three minutes but then in the last minute started to loose traction. Asked if he would change anything for Q2, he replied, ‘I will start on old tyres so I don’t want to change anything so I have a good back to back test of the difference in tyre sizes’. Asked about his own personal performance he said, ‘I had two mistakes. Small mistakes but still mistakes so I hope to have none next time’.
The 1:10 winner in Ettlingen last year, Greiner summed up the first of the day’s qualifiers, all four rounds on today’s schedule due to rain being forecast for Sunday, by saying, ‘It was close in the end but overall I’m happy with a 2nd’. The Serpent driver continued, ‘(the engine) went rich in the middle and then lean again and I had to be careful with the throttle. I ‘m not sure why the tuning changed. Maybe its the tank’. On his car’s performance, the winner of the season opener in Bologna, said, ‘It was a little difficult to drive. It was loose so we need to try and make it more stable’.
Pleased with his P3 run to back up his practice form, Depta said his Serpent is ‘super hard to drive’ adding ‘I think that’s because the traction is not there. The others are not so much faster so its the same for everybody’. With limited racing mileage this season due to the growth of his Merlin McFly brand and machining business, he expects the traction to improve over the remaining qualifiers and believes he has a good car for this. The German was a little critical of the start, Balestri’s dramas not helping, saying, ‘there was a big rush out the pitlane at the start and a lot cars exited the pits together but no one went to put gaps between each of us. It was a little messy’. Asked about tyres for Q2, Depta said he will be on fresh tyres for each qualifying admitting, ‘I’m slower on used’.
Jilles Groskamp claimed a super close opening qualifier at the Season Finale of the Euro Nitro Series in Ettlingen Germany. Racing for the newly crowned champions Infinity, the 2019 1:10 Champion Teemu Leino opting to focus on 1:8 this weekend, Groskamp swapped the lead at the top of the timing screens each lap with Shepherd’s Thilo Tödtmann, with the former champion just doing enough on the final lap to take it by 0.054 of a second. With rain on the horizon for Sunday forcing an early start to qualifying, all four rounds to be run today, behind Groskamp & Tödtmann it was practice Top Seed Melvin Diekmann who completed the Top 3, 1.3-seconds further back, just ahead of Shepherd team-mate Patrick Nähr. Second fastest in practice, Infinity’s young Dutch talent Milan Holthuis posted the 5th fastest qualifying time.
‘It was close. I knew from practice Thilo was going to be fast’, was Groskamp’s reaction to Q1. The Dutch ace continued, ‘we changed the whole set-up for the first round (of qualifying) and it was a big step forward. We had struggled in practice’. Fourth fastest in seeding, he said, ‘the set-up is still not perfect but it is the best set-up we have ran so far. I’m happy to take the first round but we have to change something to make it faster for the next one’. Asked what he wanted to improve he replied, ‘it is still a bit tricky to drive especially at the end of the straight. The balance is ok but we could do with finding a bit more stability’.
Summing up the first of the four scheduled qualifiers, Tödtmann said, ‘It was OK. Everything went as planned except for two small mistakes on the penultimate lap which cost me the TQ’. Somewhat a home track for the Shepherd team whose base is not too far away, the German continued, ‘It’s impossible to test here outside of a big race weekend because the traction is so low but you could say I like this track’. Asked about Q2, he said, ‘I will go with everything the same. Everyone is so close as always on this track that tomorrow (Finals day) will be about tyre wear and fuel consumption which I’m sure Jilles is working on already’.
Diekmann said, ‘I was a bit nervous for the first 3-laps but then I got into a flow. I lacked steering at the start but it got better as the run went on but in the last minute I had too much steering which made the car very tricky to drive’. Asked how he hope the rectify this issue for Q2, the German responded, ‘we will try a harder roll bar in the rear and hope this improves things’.