Robert Pietsch set the pace in the opening round of qualifying at Race 2 of the the Euro Nitro Series in Austria this morning, the Mugen driver topping the 4-minute qualifier ahead of Shepherd’s Jilles Groskamp. The only drivers to record 14 laps of the Stöhr-Ring track, the pair were separated by just 3/10ths with Capricorn’s Eric Dankel the fastest driver on 13 laps in third. Pietsch would make it the perfect morning by also topping the times in 1:8 from Serpent’s Toni Gruber with the Xray of former European Champion Jernej Vuga completing the Top 3.
Continuning where he left off yesterday when he set the pace in practice, Pietsch was happy to take Q1 but said nerves played a part in some less than perfect laps at the beginnng of the run. Very happy with how his Novarossi powered MTX-5 is working he said for Q2 the plan is just to fit a fresh set of the handout Contact tyres and improve his driving, something he said should be no problem now that the first qualifier is out of the way. On his 1:8 performance in which he was over 5-seconds faster than his closest rival, the World Champion said the track really suits his driving style and with no tyre additive he is also able to steer his MRX-5R from the rear adding he is really enjoying driving the car here this weekend.
Groskamp said he was ‘quite surprised’ by how close he got to Pietsch pointing out that he just needed to find 2/100th per lap to match the German. Admitting that while he doesn’t have the fastest car the Electric Touring Car World Champion said he is able to compensate somewhat for this by his consistency. His first tyre additive free race since returning to Shepherd he said everything in terms of set-up is different and to learn the new car he will make just one single change to the set-up, running new tyres each time, to see what effects the change has. His first 200mm race since last year’s World Championships, he said this weekend is all about building up as much data as possible for the European Championships.
Dankel was ‘not happy’ with his run after he made two mistakes, the first of which was on the opening lap and which cost him a 14 lap run. The ENS Race 1 winner said it was simply bad driving on his behalf as changes to the car since practice have given him the steering he was looking for. Describing his Novarossi powered LAB-C02 as really good he said he will make one small adjustment for Q2 and lower the rear roll centres. Team-mate Francesco Tironi took his car to the 8th fastest time splitting the Shepherds of Patrick Nahr and Patrick Schafer. Running a radio plate that gave the car more flex he said it was the wrong choice and he will revert to the standard one for Q2. Also distracted by a mosquito that landed on his glasses during the run, the Italian said while he may not have the pace to match Pietsch he is sure he can be much more competitive than he has been so far. The World Championship podium finisher is still trying to get to terms with the points system used in the ENS as he normally only needs just one good run to qualify well rather than the three required using this system and he needs to be more mindful of this.
Serpent’s Dominic Greiner was reasonably happy with his run to the fourth fastest time but thinks there is plenty of room for improvement. Changing the gearing on his Picco powered 747 for the first qualifier, the German said it was too short and he lost time on the straight as a result. The 21-year-old Euro B Championship runner-up also drove ‘too safe’ and for Q2 with the right gearing fitted the plan is to ‘push harder’.
Behind Greiner Dirk Wischnewski was the fastest of the Xray drivers setting the fifth fastest time just ahead of his team-mate Alexander Hagberg. Clearly not happy with his performance the former European Champion said his Novarossi powered NT1 was not much better than yesterday. Suffering a ‘lack of overall traction’, he said they will try running a heavier shock oil in Q2 and just take a single step by step approach to trying to improve the car and hopefully end up with something that allows them to be competitive come the final. Hagberg was pretty happy with the performance of his NT1 but was hampered by a clutch that went loose during the run.
For KM Racing’s Adrien Bertin it was not a good start to the day. The former World Champion crashed heavily in the warm-up resulting in a broken connector on his battery lead. Missing the start of the run while they fixed the lead, when the Frenchman did get up and running it was discovered that the crash had also broken the front bumper which was rubbing the ground. The Orion engine guru said he got the feeling the crash on the straight may have also tweaked the HK-1 and so they will fully rebuld the car for Q2 as a precaution.
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.