Lamberto Collari has won the opening round of the all new Euro Nitro Series. The Italian legend won from fellow former World Champion Robert Pietsch by just 1.5 seconds after 45-minutes of super close racing, a late and hard pass by the 9-time World Champion on the Top Qualifier deciding the intense race. The podium for the Italian event, held at the spectacular Melzo track, was completed by two time World Championship finalist Simon Kurzbuch, it being a good event for Swiss drivers with another Worlds finalist Silvio Hachler finishing fourth having started 10th on the world class grid.
‘Start to finish a super close race’, that was how Collari summed up the encounter that saw the Top 2 run the entire race no more than 5-6 seconds apart on a track that reaped huge praise from the drivers over the weekend. Driving a privately entered Mugen MRX5, for which Pietsch was responsible for its design, he said he had to push hard the entire race and he really enjoyed this. Posting the fastest lap of the race, the master of strategy said his plan was always to pit for tyres one stop after the German did so he would have bigger tyres. He said this worked perfectly as at the end of the race it allowed him to close right in on the lead. Commenting on the pass which resulted in Pietsch’s Mugen ending up on its roof and needing to be marshalled, Collari said there was a gap and he went for it and the contact was just racing. Complimenting the organisers of the Euro Nitro Series on the format of the weekend and its tyre control measures, he said he plans to contest the rest of the inaugural season adding that for now he will continue with the Mugen/OS package after such a successful debut with the combination this weekend.
‘For sure he needs to buy me one beer after that’ was Pietsch’s response to Collari’s pass. Describing the move as ‘a bit over the limit’, the father to be said ‘anyway it happened’ and overall he enjoyed the race long ‘super close’ battle. Making his race debut this weekend for new engine sponsor Picco, he said he was very happy with how they ran all weekend although for the final he said his clutch was set a bit early. Noticing this in the 3-minute warm-up before the start of the final he said he opted not to try adjust this and overall it didn’t cause him too much issues. Fuelling every 5-minute, the 16% nitro fuel ruling giving engines much better economy, he said all his stops including his tyre change were perfect.
Kurzbuch was very happy with his podium finish saying he got a very good start from his fifth position on the grid. The factory Team Shepherd driver said knowing he couldn’t match the pace of Collari and Pietsch he drove his own ‘safe’ race. Running Novarossi engines he ran a strategy of stopping every 4:30 with a tyre change half way in to the race. Describing his two mechanic’s work as ‘perfect’, he said 3rd was a great start to the championship.
Making his debut for KM Racing this weekend, Hachler was ‘very happy’ with his first outing with the K8 snatching fourth position from Shepherd’s Oliver Mack 2-corners from the finish. Running a 5-minute fuel strategy with his Novarossi engine, he said other than his mechanic’s finger slipping off the tank lid during the last stop the rest of his stops went really well.
Mack described his race as ‘perfect except for the last two corners’. A trouble free race in terms of his car and Sonic engines, the German Shepherd driver was pleased to finish fifth and at the end he was only one lap down on the best drivers in the world after 45-minutes of hard action. Completing the Top 6 was new BMT signing Daniele Ielasi who lost almost a lap at the start after an unintentional coming together with Alberto Picco. With a damaged pipe Picco would run out of fuel as the damage caused his engine to run rich and he would end up 8th overall. Running in fourth position, Capricorn’s Kyle Branson would retire from the race 18 minutes in after a big off at the end of the straight. Having just stopped for fuel and planning to change tyres on his next stop his car bottomed out on the low tyres at the end of the straight sending it flying off the track and resulting in a broken servo arm.
Eric Dankel has won the opening round of the all new Euro Nitro Series which kicked off at Melzo in Italy at the weekend, the Capricorn coming out top of the ultra competitive field to win which saw the Top 4 all finishing on the same lap at the end of the 45-minute encounter. An emotional win for Dankel, starting from 4th on the grid the German 200mm ace would recover from a bad start to win from local hero Francesco Tironi by 12-seconds with Dirk Wischnewski just holding off Top Qualifier Teemu Leino to complete the podium at the Mini Racing Ayrton Senna track.
Clearly pleased with his win, the start couldn’t have been worse as his Capricorn ended up in a crash losing him almost 5-seconds. Driving back onto the track he said his biggest concern was rejoining the asphalt would damage his tyres but he said luckily that would not be the case. Rejoining in 12th he said he had no choice but to push hard to recover the lost time but with his car very easy to drive he said he was able to run very consistent laps moving to the front on lap 75, thanks to a faster tyre stop than fellow country Wischnewski who had led for the previous 12-laps. Praising the speed of his pit crew he said the tyre stop was great. Having suffered at the second of last year’s ENS Pilot Races in Austria when he tried to run one extra stop on his tyres, he said the plan for the race today was to stop on 20-minutes for a fresh set of the Matrix tyres. However with the Maxima powered car still working really good at the 20-minute mark he made the call to go 5-more minutes. Following the fast stop, his crew taking 2-seconds out of Wischnewski, he said the car was better on the second set of tyres and he was very comfortable for the remainder of the race. A ‘perfect start’ to the new championship, Dankel said even though he has never been to the track before he is already looking forward to Round 2 at Aigen in Austria next month.
Holding the lead as the first round of stops started and being the first driver to stop, Tironi would get collected by Dario Balestri who got airborne on his entry to the raised pitlane. The contact would cost the World Championship podium finisher over 10-seconds dropping him back to 7th. Apart from this the popular character said the rest was ‘maybe a perfect race’ and considering the lost time and how close the field was throughout the weekend he is happy with second. Also racing in 1:8 this weekend, that final being a struggle for him, he said for Round 2 he would just focus on one class.
Qualifying 7th for his debut race with Team Shepherd, Wischnewski said his start was perfect as he completed the first lap in 3rd position. Moving to the front at the first round of fuel stops, said he was pleased with how the race was going up until his ‘solid tyre stop’. Admitting it wasn’t as fast as Dankel’s, the former European Champion said after the change his car was really difficult to drive. For the first two laps after the stop he said it was ‘terrible’ leading him to go off the track. With the car getting worse, afterwards it was found that his Orcan powered Velox V10 had a broken rear diff. Holding second until contact with team-mate Tironi he said it was just a racing incident and even with the resulting off he said he just wouldn’t have had the pace to keep the ‘much faster’ No. 3 car behind him. Saying they have some work to do for the next race he said overall he was pleased to secure a podium on his debut with his new team.
Making his return to 1:10 nitro onroad this weekend having not raced since the 2012 World Championship, Leino was very disappointed to finish fourth having got to within .015 of Wischnewski at the finish line. Showing very impressive pace in qualifying to secure the overall TQ honours, the Finn led for the first 9-laps before an off, but a flame out on his first pit stop would lose him contact with the leaders. The Worlds Top Qualifier would also have a troubled tyre stop that was some 16 seconds slower than that of Dankel. Leino said the speed was there but unfortunately everything just didn’t come together but he is determined to rectify things at Round 2. New HB team-mate Adrien Bertin who started the final 8th would be the first retirement of the race, a broken fuel tank lid causing him engine problems and he went out at six & a half minutes.
Before the race had even start there was drama as Capricorn’s Dario Balestri suffered engine problems in the warm-up. Calling a 10-minute delay his team managed to change out the engine. Unfortunately having changed the gearing on both the car and the clutch bell, having discovered after qualifying it was too short a ratio, the spare engine was fitted with the old gearing. Forced to start from the back of the grid for delaying the original start, despite the wrong gearing the rapid Italian was still able to work his way back up to second only to lose it with his collision with Tironi in the pitlane. After that he said it was impossible to recover and he would finish 5th over a lap behind Dankel.
The Top 6 was completed by Xray’s European B Champion Luca Redaelli with Dominic Greiner the top Serpent in 7th. Starting from fifth, the German was running in a Top 3 position until his Picco powered 747 got airborne on the pit entry, causing the front end to get caught between two panels of the raised pitlane, the damage taking over a minute to fix. With the ‘car, engine, driver all good’ he was very disappointed to lose out to such an incident.
1:10 Top Qualifier Teemu Leino and Serpent’s Michael Salven complete the 12 car 1:8 A-Main grid for the opening round of the Euro Nitro Series, both drivers securing their position thanks to race times set in the B-Main. Having ended qualifying in the unenviable BQ position, Leino’s time was set in the morning’s opening leg. Confident that due to the rise in track temperature that Leg 2 would be slower the HB driver sat out the encounter. The Finn’s gamble paid off and his time stood. With BP Racing’s Mirko Salemi leading for 2/3rds of the race the Italian would hit problems allowing Salven to take the win over top female racer Sabrina Lechner, his time enough to claim him the final spot on the grid. With Leino’s HB R8 and Salven’s Serpent 977 joining the grid it brings the total number of manufacturers represented in the main event to an impressive eight.
With originally only 2 drivers set to bump up to the A-Main and join the 10-direct qualifiers, a problem with the timing loop during last night’s opening round of lower mains means that the battle for the overall victory at the opening round of the Euro Nitro Series will now be a 14 car affair. Having been forced to switch to the back-up loop for the final race of the day, the B-Main, following a replacement of the wire in the main loop timing was reverted back to using the original but this then caused a problem with the ENS’s unique bump up format. With the two loops approximately 3-seconds apart for a 1:10 car, the back up loop later being later in the lap, this meant a discrepency in the race times, the two drivers with the fastest single race times from any of the lower finals supposed to complete the A-Main grid. After discussions with drivers most affected, mainly Denmark’s Martin Lissau, race officials made the decision to promote 4 cars.
The four drivers to bump up are ART’s Basile Concialdi, Team Shepherd’s Lissau & Patrick Schafer and Xray driver Rico Krober. Racing in the B-Main, Capricorn driver Concialdi would post the fastest race time winning Leg 2 this morning having been only fourth in last night’s opening Leg. That Leg was won by Martin Lissau, but that time was recorded with the back-up loop, but after calculations the former 1:5 World Champion was given 12th on the grid. Racing in the C-Main Schafer would actually post the second fastest recorded time in Leg 1. Retiring in Leg 2 this morning with a broken rear wishbone after 5-cars ploughed into the rear of his Velox V10 just after the start, the Shepherd boss will carry the number 13 in the final. Second in both B-Main encounters Germany’s Krober completes the line-up, the Melzo track easily able to handle 14 cars.
Chassis – KM Racing K8 Engine – Novarossi Keep-On 21-9XLS Fuel – Mecca Fuel Tires (handout) – Matrix Tyres Radio/Servos – Sanwa/KO Propo Remarks – Worlds Finalist Silvio Hachler is having his first race with new sponsor KM, running the new K8 chassis. Having only had limited testing time with the car back in Switzerland he is still learning the car and figuring what to do but like most has had to stiffen up the car with harder shock oil and switching from a blade a wire front anti-roll bar. With the car quite heavy in standard form, Silvio is running a full set of titanium screws which saves him 30 grams over the kit steel screws.
The deciding day of the opening round of the all new Euro Nitro Series has arrived with the sun shining down on the Mini Racing Ayrton Senna track in Melzo, Italy, this morning. Starting off with the running of the lower finals, each driver running double leg 14-minute Mains, the event will come to a conclusion with 45-minute A-Mains for 1:10 followed by 1:8. Set to be 12 cars grids for the A-Main, drivers from all the lower mains have the opportunity to make the feature race with the two bump up positions going to the drivers with the fastest single race time irrespective of which Main they run in. For the 10-direct A-Main qualifiers they will get a 10-minute practice just before lunch to familiarise themselves with today’s track conditions.