Outgoing champion Dario Balestri signed off the Euro Nitro Series season finale in Germany with a win leading home team-mate Carmine Raiola for an Infinity 1-2. Qualifying 3rd on the grid, the World Champion spent the first half of the race behind his team-mate but spilt fuel on the gearbox would put an end to Raiola’s challenge for his first ENS career win. Qualifying 2nd and 3rd on the grid, Raiola and Balestri initially pursued Top Qualifier Simon Kurzbuch until the newly crowned champion flew off the track on the entry to the straight. Unfortunately while the Shepherd driver survived the impact, his race would come to a premature end as he succumbed to gearbox issues eventually calling it a day at the half hour mark. Behind the two white Infinitys, only 6/10th off Raiola, Merlin Depta would take his Serpent to the final step on the podium ahead of team-mate Dominic Greiner with ARC’s John Ermen completing the Top 5 in Ettlingen.
Claiming his 4th 1:8 ENS career win and his third at the Ettlingen track, Balestri summed up the final as ‘a clean race’. The Italian added, ‘At the start Carmine was really fast. I followed him but at the same time tried to manage the tyres. Our strategy was to stop for fuel earlier than him and then push hard in the second part of the race. Unfortunately he had a gearbox problem. Without this it would have been a better race’. Coming straight into the season finale on the back of racing in Japan at the opening of the impressive new Infinity International RC Speedway, he concluded, ‘I am happy to finish the season with a win. Now its time for some holiday before the World Championships’.
Asked about his final, Raiola said, ‘It was OK. Fuel got in the gearbox so one time it worked, one time it did. I also lost time in my tyre stop but it was a good clean race’. Backing up his first podium of the season which he claimed at the previous round in Austria, the Italian added, ‘we should really good speed here so everything is ready for the World Championships’.
Reacting to his first podium of the season, Depta said, ‘It was a good race. I had a little incident with John (Ermen) when I tried to pass him when he was a lap down and spun out. It could have ended worse but in the end to finish behind two professional drivers is not the worst outcome’. Asked if his strategy went as plan the German replied, ‘yeh it was good. We changed the full set at half time. Klaus (Lechner) was amazing. His pitstops were flawless’.
In the 1:8 40+ A-Main, the title still to be decided at the season finale, there was an exciting finish to the race as John Lenaers got by Top Qualifier Andreas Giesa in the closing laps. For Giesa however 2nd was enough for the Shepherd driver to clinch the title from Andrea Hächler, who finished today’s race in 3rd. Having to do a gear change during the final leaving him 8th in the final, ENS Aigen winner Alain Levy completed the overall championship points podium.
Patrick Nähr has secured his first ENS career win, the Shepherd driver leading a 1-2 finish for his team at the season finale in Ettlingen, Germany. Only returning to competitive racing this season after a break due to work commitments, Nähr would have a great battle with Melvin Diekmann as the German duo each looked to lay claim on their first ever win of the championship. As the race concluded Diekmann, who led for quite sometime, had the faster car but trying to make a pass on the penultimate lap he made contact with his team-mate. Waiting for Nähr’s car to be returned to the track he himself went off the track putting an end to what was building up to be a thrilling finish to the sixth season of the ENS. Qualifying 3rd and 4th respectively, Nähr & Diekmann found themselves at the front after an unfortunate incident between Top Qualifier Jilles Groskamp and Thilo Tödtmann. Having engine issues in the warm-up, Groskamp started the race ok with Tödtmann on his bumper but the engine flamed out 3-minutes into the race and with nowhere to go Tödtmann ran into the rear of it causing a pivot ball to come off. Both would rejoin and Tödtmann challenged for the podium on the final lap but missed out to Leo Arnold while Groskamp got 6th.
Reacting to his win, Nähr joked, ‘Now my nerves are OK again’. He explained, ‘we planned for longer fuel stops but after 15-minutes it flamed out in the middle of the track which was not in our plans’. Only returning to racing at the second round of this year’s championship, he continued, ‘After 20-minutes we changed all four tyres but the second set was not good. The car was difficult to drive. It was not easy. My car was better in qualifying than in the final’. On his battle with team-mate Diekmann he said, ‘My tyres were blank and Melvin had changed twice so he had more speed’. Becoming only the 9th different 1:10th race winner in the ENS’ 24-race history, Nähr said it felt good to take a major international race win again with his last being when he won the European B Championship back in 2011.
Summing up his race, Diekmann said, ‘The beginning was very good and then we had some luck with Thilo and Jilles’ problem. Our plan was to change only the right side tyres but during the stop they saw that the left side was too small to get to the end so then in the middle of the race we had to stop again to change all four’. He continued, ‘during this stop the body tucked on the right side and I had to pit for my father to pull out the body so we lost more time. I had fresh tyres so I pushed as hard as I could but I lost time battling with Leo (Arnold). When I did get passed I was able to catch Patrick but then I touched him so it was on me to wait then I was out of time.’. Equalling his best ENS result, he concluded, ‘Overall it was a very good race, but tough, and it was a great result for the Shepherd team’.
After a weekend that started out with him seeding in the second fastest qualifying heat, Arnold was pleased with finish on the podium. The Xray driver said, ‘the event started bad so 3rd is a good result. I did three races this season and finished all of them on the podium and today’s result secures me 2nd in the overall championship. I’m happy for this’. Starting 7th on the grid, on today’s race the ENS Bologna Top Qualifier said, ‘the engine went rich after 5-minutes I had to race 40-minutes like this which was hard in the straight. I also had to make 2-more (fuel) stops than planned because of this’.
A disappointed Groskamp explained, ‘I think we had dirt in the fuel or dirt in the carb and then we couldn’t tune the engine in the warm-up. 3-minutes into the race it suddenly flamed out. We changed the plug but it was very rich and I had to pit a few times to lean it out and once we found the right tuning it went perfect for the next 40-minutes’. Losing his overall championship podium with today’s result, the former champion concluded, ‘We should have been right there today and I also feel sorry for Thilo, he was very fast this weekend’.
Setting the fastest lap of the 45-minute final, Tödtmann said, ‘Jilles had a flame out and stopped when I hit him the pivot ball came off. I rejoined 3-laps behind and caught back 2-laps. I changed only the right side tyres and Leo changed all 4 so he had more tyres. I tried to attack on the last lap but we crashed and it wasn’t fair so I waited. It was a very hard 45-minutes’.
Euro Nitro Series Champion Simon Kurzbuch will see out his successful 2019 campaign by starting the final race of the season at Ettlingen in Germany from pole position. The Shepherd driver secured his 15th ENS career TQ by taking the fourth & final qualifier as his only remaining challenger Carmine Raiola posted the third fastest time, over 2-seconds down on the Swiss ace. Raiola’s team-mate Dario Balestri would push Kurzbuch hard in Q4 heading his rival a number of times before traffic ended the Italian’s chances. Ending up tied on points, Raiola’s Q1 TQ run gives him second over his Infinity team-mate who will start third. Winner of the season opener in Italy, Dominic Greiner will start the scheduled 45-minute final from P4 with Serpent’s new 989 ahead of the ARC of former ENS race winner John Ermen with Jeffrey Rietveld completing the top half of the grid.
Reacting to his TQ, Kurzbuch said, ‘all day the car was really good and the second engine delivered what we expected’. Leading the opening qualifier before suffering an engine failure in the final 20 seconds, the ENS’ most successful driver said, ‘we came into the weekend with a good starting point and from the first practice the car was perfect’. Looking to tomorrow’s final, the schedule brought forward due to rain being forecast for Sunday, he said, ‘set-up wise I will change nothing. We have data for the tyre wear and also it helps that we know that we are already champions. The pressure is off so I can enjoy the race but I still want to win’. The former World Champion added, ‘It’s 2-months to the Worlds so we will take tomorrow as important practice to try and improve everything more’.
Claiming his best qualifying position of the season with P2, having qualified 3rd at all previous rounds, Raiola wasn’t overall pleased with his performance. The Aigen podium finisher said, ‘the first 2-minutes is OK but then I start to lose out to the first two (Balestri & Kurzbuch)’. Asked his plan for the final, the Italian said, ‘I will have to take a risk to stay with the other two. Maybe I will try to make 5-minutes (fuelling) and one tyre change’.
Commenting on his Q4 performance in which he set the fastest lap, Balestri said, ‘I just need to be faster in the traffic’. He continued, ‘the speed is there to race with Simon tomorrow as always but we will try to make his life not so easy’. Asked his thoughts on the final, he replied, ‘first of all we have to see if it is dry or not but we will refresh the car, the car is fine, and then we need work on our tyre strategy’.
While Jilles Groskamp wrapped up the overall 1:10 TQ in the penultimate round, Thilo Tödtmann sent out a strong message in the final qualifier that he plans to take the fight to the Infinity driver in tomorrow’s 45-minute final. Continuing to be the outright fastest driver around the Ettlingen track setting yet another fastest lap in Q4, the Shepherd driver posted a TQ run ahead of team-mate Melvin Diekmann to secure second overall on the grid. While retiring with a diff problem right after the start of the final qualifier, Patrick Nähr will start third followed by Diekmann with the Top 5 competed by Milan Holthuis. Top Qualifier at the season opener, after a difficult start to the weekend which put him in the second fastest heat grouping Leo Arnold will start 7th.
In the 40+ 1:8 class, it will be Andreas Giesa who starts on the pole, the German taking the opening three qualifiers. Topping Q4 from reigning champion Arie Manten, John Lenaers will start second ahead of Michael Pätz, Rudi Scherer, Manten and ENS Aigen winner Alain Levy.
Jilles Groskamp is to start the Season Finale of the Euro Nitro Series in Germany tomorrow from pole position. The former champion claimed his first overall TQ of the 2019 championship when he made it three out of three in the penultimate round of qualifying at Ettlingen after Thilo Tödtmann’s challenge for pole ended in traffic. On a TQ run, just as the heat reached 3/4 distance Tödtmann passed the slower car of Quentin Leroux only to be hit by the French driver at the following corner, the contact leading to the Shepherd driver’s car coming to a stop. This allowed the Infinity of Groskamp to go to the top where he would stay to finish half a second up on Shepherd team-mates Patrick Nähr and Melvin Diekmann.
Reacting to what is only his second ever ENS TQ, Groskamp said, ‘I was a bit lucky Thilo crashed but you first have to finish to finish 1st’. The Dutchman continued, ‘My car was easy to drive but Thilo was faster but he didn’t keep it on the track and I did. We still have to make the car faster so I will try something in the final qualifier’. The former Electric Touring Car World Champion said his tyre choice for Q3 was ‘probably not the best decision’ explaining, ‘I thought re-run tyres would be faster than new so I went out on used and they weren’t. We still have to find our way on a few points but qualifying is done and we can work on the finals’. He concluded, ‘It is always nice to get a TQ’.
Explaining his unfortunate exit from Q3, Tödtmann said, ‘Quentin opened for me and then the next corner he hit me. I don’t think he did it on purpose’. The German added, ‘the TQ is not important but the championship point it carries is. Myself and Melvin are battling for third in the championship (tied on points) so it would have been a help. One positive of the run was that I copied what Melvin did for Q2 and changed to a stiffer rear roll bar which helped a lot. The track is getting more grip every time’.
Enjoying an improvement in his finishing position with each round, Nähr said, ‘It’s going a lot better than yesterday and the day before. We changed the rear roll bar to harder one for Q3 and the car was more stable. For the last one I will change a harder rear diff which I hope will give me more steering in the long corner at the end of the straight’.
The driver to lead the rear roll bar change when he was first to try it in Q2, Diekmann said it allowed him to challenge Groskamp for the second round TQ but leading the heat he said the nerves got the better of him and he put his car on the grass, eventually finishing with a P4. Confident he could challenge for the TQ in Q3, unfortunately his engine ran very rich and he will now switch it out for his final qualifying attempt. Currently holding fourth on the grid, the German joked, ‘I’ve saved the best for last’.
In the third of the 1:8 qualifiers it was a repeat of Q2 with Simon Kurzbuch again fastest from Dario Balestri, this time the Shepherd driver having 1-second advantage over the Infinity ace who managed the fastest lap. Dominic Greiner made it three different manufacturers in the Top 3, his Serpent 6/10th off Balestri followed by Lars Hoppe and John Ermen. Q1 winner Carmine Raiola had another disappointing run finishing outside the Top 10 but with 2 of four to count he will be hoping to end the day as he started it and deny Champion Kurzbuch the final TQ of the season.