Inaugural Euro Nitro Series Champion Simon Kurzbuch has regained his crown over the four round onroad nitro championship. The Shepherd driver secured the 2016 1:8 title with a perfect score of three wins, the latest of which came at the Austrian round in Aigen today with another great display of driving from the World Champion. Top Qualifier for the third visit to the high altitude track, Kurzbuch would come under a stronger than expected challenge from the reigning champion Dario Balestri, the Capricorn driver leading a number of time throughout the 45-minute encounter. In the end however as drivers strategies played out it was Kurzbuch that took an expected win 4-seconds up from Balestri, with Robert Pietsch completing the podium as the top five finished in the same order they started.
Having won his first title in 2014 without actually registering a win, Kurzbuch said it was nice to do it second time round with 3 wins from 3 races. Highlighting that today’s win is his fourth in succession, the Swiss ace added ‘now we’ll try to go for all four in Fiorani’ (the final round of the championship). On today’s race, he said ‘we picked a different strategy to everyone else stopping more frequently so that we weren’t in the pits the same time as the others’. Stopping for outside tyres on 9-minutes, all four at half distance and the outside again with 9-minutes to go, he said this strategy was to ‘safe some time’ over those who did two 4-tyre stops. Admitting to being a little surprise by the Balestri challenge saying, ‘I didn’t think it would be that close all the time’ he continued ‘while it was really close the whole race I didn’t get stressed ad knew at the end we would have enough to win’. Thanking his father and Shepherd’s Alex Kempe for ‘a great job’ in the pits he said as a team this year’s ENS has been ‘just amazing’. Thanking Novarossi and Shepherd for their ongoing support, his chassis/engine package unchanged over the three seasons of the ENS, he also attributed today’s win to his Xtreme Aerodynamics R18 ‘Flat’ bodyshell which was ‘perfect for this track’, the smallest visited by the championship.
‘No more than this was possible. His package is more perfect than mine’, was the reaction of Balestri after the race. The Italian continued, ‘My car and engine was good but all I could was make his life more difficult with my strategy. Simon won because he was faster. We have to work hard for the next one’. In terms of that strategy, Balestri would bring his Tesla powered LAB C802 in for two tyre stops changing all four each time.
Summing up his race, Pietsch said, ‘For me it was a good race, 3rd was the maximum I could do’. Last year’s Top Qualifier in Austria, finishing the race as runner-up behind Kurzbuch, the Mugen driver was pleased with his car and with how he drove his own race saying ‘I didn’t make any mistakes or have any issues so I happy from my side’. Copying the strategy of Balestri he said it was ‘the right decision’ and ‘both stops were good’ concluding, ‘I’m happy’.
Just missing out on repeating his 2015 podium finish, Lars Hoppe said ‘fourth was my speed today’. One of four ARC drivers in the final, making them the best represented manufacturer on the grid, the German added, ‘maybe a battle with Robert was possible as we had one less stop but my last set of tyres was slow’. Stopping to fuel his Reds Racing engine on 5:30, admitting one was very tight with it ‘down to the last few drops’, he went with a two stop tyre strategy, with both stops going good except for his last set of tyres not having the same pace as the previous set. Calling it ‘a very good event for ARC with 4-cars in the final’, behind Hoppe team-mate Toni Gruber would get 5th ahead of the Infinity of 9-time World Champion Lamberto Collari.
Having been in a class of his own all weekend, Teemu Leino has capped off a perfect performance at the third round of the Euro Nitro Series with victory in Austria. A repeat of his 2015 result at the Aigen track, this time round the win was more convincing and one which will go down in his team’s history as it mark’s nitro onroad newcomers Team Infinity’s first win as a manufacturer. Starting from the TQ, Leino came under the attention of Serpent’s Dominic Greiner early on as the pair pulled clear of the 12-car field. However having just made his first tyre stop, Greiner’s race would come to an abrupt end as the rear right axle bearing assembly parted company with the car as he chased Leino. That left Leino to drive a calculated race to claim his second consecutive win of the season and put himself into serious contention for the title that is currently held by his absent from Austria team-mate Jilles Groskamp. Behind Leino, Erik Dankel would keep him honest eventually finishing 10-seconds back to make a much welcomed return to the podium for the former champion, that podium being completed by Thilo Tödtmann.
Having secured his Ettlingen win driving a Capricorn as he waited on Infinity’s new 1:10 prototype release for the World Championship, Leino said, ‘I am very happy to give Infinity their first win. I’m very happy for Kenji because he has pushed a lot for this and put everything in place to make winning possible’. On today’s final, his win making him the ENS’ most successful 1:10 driver, he said, ‘the race went pretty much like planned. We went for two full tyre stops so I could all the time drive full punch’. He continued, ‘when I saw Dominic stop for only two (outside tyres) I knew we were good’. While the first tyre stop was troubled, loosing him 10-seconds, leaving ‘Erik on (his) bumper’ he said ‘I knew also we had one less fuel stop to do then Erik’ so it was ok. Having changed the set-up on his Novarossi powered prototype for the final practice he said he ended up going back to the set-up he ran in qualifying and ‘it was the right decision’ adding his ‘engine was very stable all the time’ over the 45-minutes. The only major moment of the race was one he created himself in the closing minutes. Asked what caused him to roll his car and need marshalling he said, ‘I tried to push more to get a bigger lead and ended up making a stupid mistake’.
‘On the podium after such a long time. I’m very happy’, was Dankel’s reaction after his first trouble free race of the season. The German, who shared the same number of wins as Leino coming into the event, said, ‘I made some mistakes over the final so I could have been closer if I drove more clean’. Describing his Mugen MTX6 as ‘good’, he said the only drama he would have was when his engine smothered during one of his stops making for very slow exit from the pit lane. Making two 4-tyre stops, the first slightly slower than planned he said , ‘today Teemu was crazy fast and deserved to win. Without failures on his side he was going to be hard to beat’.
A former ENS podium finisher, Tödtmann was ‘super happy’ to take his first podium of the season. The Capricorn driver would have a ‘super bad start’ from 7th on the grid coming together first with Francesco Tironi and then Patrick Schafer. Planning to only change the outside tyres and fuel at 5:40, he said after dropping to last after the start they changed to ‘a safe strategy’ to fuel on 5-minutes and go for 2 full tyre stops allowing him to ‘push all the time’. Tödtmann did admit the tyre wear was much more than expected hinting his original strategy may have left him struggling. Driving ‘maximum push’ he said the new strategy ‘worked out’ but admitted he also got lucky and that ‘Tironi was unlucky to run out of fuel and I’m sorry for him’, holding third at the time Tironi’s Infinity would run out of fuel with just 3-laps to go. Also benefiting from Tironi woes, Carmine Raiola, who bumped up from the B-Main, would get fourth with his team-mate getting restarted to complete the Top 6.
The only driver to show any signs of being able to take the race to Leino, Greiner said up until his exit, ‘everything was ok, but Teemu was still fast’. The World Champion said while his Novarossi engine was ‘a bit rich’ after the first refuelling, the tyre stop to change just the outside tyres was good and it was just bad luck this time they couldn’t finish the race. Complimenting his rival, saying ‘Teemu did a perfect job’, he said his own retirement was ‘disappointing as the ENS title is gone for sure’.
Austrian Herfried Pucher has added local interest to the 1:8 A-Main of Euro Nitro Series Round 3 at Aigen, the ARC driver progressing to the 45-minute A-Main with a victory in the 20-minute B-Main. Pucher took the race lead after early leader & pole sitter Nejc Mihelic ran out of fuel just after the 8-minute mark. Once he had a ‘good margin over second he drove safe to save fuel and tyres’ adding it ‘worked out well’. His first time to make the A-Main at the ENS, bring the ARC total to four, he continued ‘I am looking forward to the final and running with the big guys’. Joining him in what is expected to be a race full of tyre stops due to the track’s high wear, and also making his first A-Main is 24-year-old Michael Kammer. Despite starting ahead of both drivers, Timo Schröder missed the cut finishing just just one second back from the German Shepherd/OS driver.
Carmine Raiola and Tom Krägefski will progress to the 1:10 A-Main at Round 3 of the Euro Nitro Series in Austria after claiming a straight forward 1-2 in the B-Main. Starting 1 and 2 on the grid for the 20-minute encounter, they started as they finished with really only Gerhard Kandelhart mounting any serious kind of challenge until the Shepherd driver hit problems at the 2/3 distance. In the end Björn Moser would complete the Top 3 finishing over 6-seconds off a bump up position.
Missing out on directly qualifying for the 45-minute A-Main, Raiola said he didn’t have issues in qualifying but as this is his first visit to Aigen he ‘needed more time to find a set-up for this unique track’. A finalist at last month’s World Championship on the debut of Team Infinity’s prototype nitro touring car, the 25-year-old will be the third Infinity on the grid joining Top Qualifier Teemu Leino and fourth place starter Francesco Tironi making it a good ENS debut for the Singapore manufacturer. Asked about the pending final the Italian plans to ‘try something different again’ with the car set-up but put the potential for a good result down to ‘planning a good tyre strategy’, the track having high wear.
Having also bumped up from the B-Main at the previous round in Ettlingen, Krägefski said, ‘it was not my decision to do it the hard way’. The Xray driver, who joins Leo Arnold and Nicola Marrone on the 12 car A-Main grid, said engine problems where the reason for finding himself in the B-Main. In Q2 he ‘destroyed’ his good engine and with its replacement couldn’t get it tuned round over Q3, 4 and 5. Finally getting the engine set right in free practice this morning, the German said ‘he was hanging onto Riaola but didn’t want to pass’. Not sure of tyre wear he said once Kandelhart went out he was ‘off the throttle to save tyres and make a safe finish’. Setting the fastest lap of the final, he said with his ‘pace much better than yesterday the plan for the final is to push maximum’ adding coming up with a good tyre strategy was going to be important.