Chassis – Xray NT1 2019 Engine – Max XP3 World Edition Fuel – Maxima Tires (handout) – Matrix Radio/Servo – Sanwa/SRT Body – Protoform P47
Remarks – Top seed for qualifying Leo Arnold is running the much improved NT1 from Xray. The 2019 spec features a whole host of changes to the rear of the car, the result being much improved rear traction and with this extra traction Leo says he can now make a more aggressive front end. Running it for the first time at last weekend’s French Nationals, he is using the same setup from that track with only minor changes to the front and rear roll centre.
Jilles Groskamp has topped the 2nd round of qualifying here in sunny Bologna this morning, aided to some extent by problems for his competitors. Teemu Leino first hit trouble when his back pressure tube came off causing him to slow dramatically. This in turn forced a fast approaching Leo Arnold to take avoiding action, resulting in him clipping the pitlane and breaking both right side tires. Another to suffer a broken tire was Alessio Mazzeo who felt the damage occurred when he clipped the inside of the curb coming on the straight. Behind Groskamp was the inseparable Shepherd team lead by Worlds podium finisher Eduardo Escandon in 2nd, Thilo Todtmann in 3rd and Melvin Diekmann in 4th with Jakub Rozycki taking 5th. Having changed to a stiffer, and more importantly new, chassis plate on his IF15, Groskamp said the pace was similar but now much easier to drive, enabling him to carry more corner speed. Planning to make the rear suspension slightly stiffer for Q3, the Dutchman concluded by saying ‘so far I’m very happy, the pressure is now on the other guys’.
Spanish driver Escandon described his run as OK, admitting he was a ‘little nervous’ at the start and that he made a number of small mistakes in the 4 minute run. Happy to have Alex Kempe on hand to help him with his car setup as well as in the pitlane, his first duty however was to talk to race control and get back a lost lap which failed to be counted. For the next round he will make some adjustments to the clutch and go for a repeat performance.
The second of the Shepherd team in Q2, Thilo Todtmann said it was a clean run and that he benefitted from the mistakes of the others. Feeling that the track is changing every run because of the sun, this is causing him problems with finding the right setup. For Q3 he will make some changes to the front of his Velox V10, making the anti-roll bar stiffer in an effort to bring back some more corner speed.
The last of the trio of Shepherd drivers, young German Melvin Diekmann was happy with his 4th place describing it as ‘really good’. Quick to admit that he was helped by the problems that hit the others in the run, he also felt that the car was better this run, having focused on aerodynamics rather than the chassis itself which he says is really good. Changing body position as well as adjusting the rear wing, he found more mid corner steering and was able to make it less edgy in the big corner before the main straight. He will again change body for Q3 to compare and see if it was in fact the body change or the track conditions that was the cause of the improvement.
Simon Kurzbuch has taken the opening round of qualifying at the ENS season opener in Bologna as a number of the leaders struggled with fuel on the last lap of the 4-minute qualifier. Carmine Raiola took the 2nd spot from the 2nd fastest heat, while Dario Balestri took 3rd having lead the heat until coming up dry on the final lap. Lamberto Collari took 4th on his home track while Mirko Salemi ended Q1 in 5th, just ahead of top seed Robert Pietsch who struggled with traffic at the beginning of the run which threw him out of his rhythm. Running out of fuel directly after crossing the line, Kurzbuch admitted that it was ‘really tight’ and he was lucky that the qualifying was over when his car came to a halt. Happy to take the first round TQ he said the first 2 minutes were good but then he came upon two other cars in the run but he wasn’t able to close the gap and so lost a lot of time in the final half of the run. Having flamed out at high speed, the Swiss driver will now check over his Novarossi engine for any potential damage.
Having had a difficult timed practice, Carmine Raiola was able to pull it together when it mattered and take the 2nd spot from the 2nd fastest heat. Able to push at the start of the run, at the end he was not able to push because of a lot of traffic which meant he lost some time. For Q2 the plan is to ‘push, push’ and get another good run in the books.
Dario Balestri was not happy despite taking the 3rd fastest time, the World Champion running out of fuel on the last lap and spluttering across the finish line. Before that it was a ‘good run’, the Infinity driver on for the TQ before the fuel problems. He will now check his fuel tank to ensure he has the maximum allowed capacity and may change carburettor venturi on his Max engine to a slightly smaller diameter in order to get some more fuel mileage.
Multiple World Champion and track owner Lamberto Collari came through the heat with no problems to take 4th at the end, declaring the run as ‘not too bad’. Admitting to ‘little problems with setup’ which he explained as the car being too loose, he will work on the setup for tomorrow. Unlike his fellow front runners, he did not have any problem with run time with his Max Power engine, perhaps the benefit of 10s of thousands of laps on this track giving him the experience to better control his fuel mileage. Capricorn driver Mirko Salemi would take 5th for the round from the 2nd heat with Robert Pietsch, Jeffrey Rietveld, Silvio Hachler, Rick Vrielinjck and Francesco Tironi, who had a coming together with Dominic Greiner, completed the top 10. In the 40+ class, it was Andrea Hachler who took first blood ahead of reigning champion Arie Manten in 2nd with Angelo Fagnani in 3rd.
Continuing on where he left off in timed practice Leo Arnold took the opening qualifier in Bologna ahead of the closely matched Infinity pairing of Jilles Groskamp and Teemu Leino. Alessio Mazzeo was 4th, despite running out of fuel, with Thilo Todtmann putting in a clean 4-minutes to take 5th. Describing his run as ‘pretty clean’ Arnold said he had only one slide and continued to compliment his new Xray saying the ‘car was perfect’, Xray seeming to make a big leap in performance with their 2019 car. Commenting that he needs ‘just one or two more good runs’ the French man’s plan for tomorrow’s remaining 3 qualifiers is to ‘leave the car as is’.
‘I’m ok with 2nd’ was how Groskamp summed up his first qualifier, continuing by saying ‘I came out of the pitlane ahead of both Mazzeo and Leo so it wasn’t so nice to have that pressure from the very start’. Admitting to having some mistakes during the run the Infinity driver said ‘It was clear during the run that Leo was faster’ and with Mazzeo flaming out late in the run he declared himself ‘lucky to get 2nd’. Looking to tomorrow, Jilles plans a change to a new stiffer chassis plate as the one on his car is from last year’s Worlds in Miami and a fresher chassis might improve things.
Taking 3rd spot, only 2 tenths back on his team mate, Teemu Leino complained that his car ‘just wasn’t there’, the problem being too much understeer. Not understanding why it had changed so drastically the Finn believes it could have been the tires or even the changing track but either way he will make changes to the setup of his IF15 to try dial back in more steering.
Mazzeo was on pace to take a top 2 finish before running out of fuel on the last lap. Asked about the unusual flameout the Xray driver admitted that the fuel gun was not completely empty, declaring it ‘a little mistake’. Despite the problem the Italian was very happy with his car, declaring that ‘everything’s good’. The trio of Shepherds remained closely match through qualifying with Thilo Todtmann emerging out on top of the intra team battle with Eduardo Escandon in 6th and Melvin Diekmann in 7th.
Despite being one of only 3 drivers in the top 20 not to improve their time in the final timed practice session Robert Pietsch will go into qualifying as top seed. While the advantage he held after the opening practice was substantial, that gap was all but eroded away by the chasing pack with Dario Balestri putting in a much improved run to end up in 2nd just 1 tenth back. The World Champion despite being fast said his car was much too nervous and while it was not bad it was still not perfect. Dominic Greiner ended up in 3rd putting his improvement down to his driving and some tweaks to the OS engine in his Serpent and going into qualifying needs to make the car a bit more stable to have a good 4 minute pace. Despite also improving Simon Kurzbuch dropped 2 places to complete practice in 4th, just ahead of Lamberto Collari in 5th. In the 40+ class it was veteran Italian racer Stefano Solaroli who headed practice by a substantial 9 tenths over 3 laps followed by German Shepherd driver Andreas Giesa in 2nd with Austrian Rudi Scherer 3rd, while reigning champion Arie Manten and Alain Levy complete the top 5.