Simon Kurzbuch made it two out of two in this season’s Euro Nitro Series with a dominant drive at Round 2 in Germany. Top Qualifier at Minidrom Ettlingen, topping both rounds of qualifying that could be completed in-between the rain on Saturday, the Shepherd driver put in a text book performance in the 45-minute main to win by over a lap. With last year’s winner Dario Balestri, who qualified 2nd expected to at least make the World Champion work for the win, that challenge lasted only 2-minutes as the Capricorn driver shed a front wheel. This left Bruno Coelho to provide chase but the Xray driver would make a mistake leaving Kurzbuch to cruise home for an extensive lead in the championship standing. One-lap down, a great drive from Toni Gruber would see the ARC driver finish second to claim his first ever ENS podium having seen off the challenge of Alberto Picco. Crossing the line 3rd, Picco’s Mugen would fail post race scrutiny, the tank deemed to big, which promoted Capricorn’s Robin D’hondt up a spot to compete the podium.
‘It been a perfect weekend for me. I took the bonus point for TQ and now have 2 from 2 which is great for the championship’, was Kurzbuch’s reaction after the race. The 2014 ENS Champion added, ‘After Balestri’s incident I already had a gap over Bruno and then he made an error.After that I am able to stay in front without any pressure’. His fourth ENS race win, he said every aspect of the race went as planned adding, ‘My pit crew did a very good job and it was again a World Champion style tyre change’.With Round 3 taking place in Aigen, Austria, in September the Swiss ace goes into the 10-week break with a 7-point advantage over Gruber.
‘Second position is unbelievable’ was how Gruber summed up what was an impressive weekend’s performance from the 20-year-old. Starting 7th on the grid, having posted a P4 time in the opening qualifier, the German would make a ‘very good start’ gaining two places.Running fifth he would then benefit from Balestri and Coelho’s mistakes before moving into 2nd by middle of the race.Describing his R8.0 as being ’really good’ as the handout Enneti tyre diameter came down after making a tyre stop on 25-minutes he said ‘the car was fantastic’ towards the end of the race. Admitting that having Picco behind him in the latter part of the race added a ‘little pressure’, the Round 1 5th place finisher was ‘forced to push hard’ to keep him at bay.
While Picco would finish 3rd, just 6/10ths behind Gruber, he was to be later excluded.A driver who has pushed for tighter technical checks he said it was ironic that he would be the first driver to be excluded from an ENS.On the race itself, he said, ‘It was a nice race.As I was starting 10th I was careful at the start and let the 11 & 12 car past me so as to not risk damaging the car’. He continued, ‘As I started to push I was able to gain time’ but then during his tyre stop as they placed the car on its left side the towel blocked the pipe causing an engine cut. After this he said ‘I simply drove as fast as possible’.Getting into a battle with D’hondt he said he ‘took the risk of making fast pit stops’ to try get away from the Belgian but it was to be all in vain due to the tank irregularity.One of the sport’s genuine figures, the Italian put his hand up in taking responsible for the failure saying, ‘we didn’t check it before the race, its our mistake’.
On finding out he had been promote to 3rd, D’hondt said, ‘for only my second race wth the car to finish on the podium is not so bad’.Making his Capricorn debut at Round 1 in Bologna where he finished 10th, the car ran very well and the only issue were two mistakes of his own doing which he said ‘I have to hit myself for these’.His second time to make an ENS podium, he would run a 5-minute strategy but said it was close with his pit crew just fast enough to save the engine from flaming out during one of the stops.With the Tesla engine ‘running like a dream’ he said his LAB C802 ‘felt great also’. D’hondt’s team-mate Balestri would finish 9th, the reigning champion at a loss as to why his front wheel came off.With no issue with the wheel and him able to complete the race with all wheels staying firmly on the car he said, ‘I really don’t know how this happened’.With a good car for the final he said they had a good race strategy running 2-more laps than Kurzbuch between refuelling which would have given him the advantage of one less stop but losing the wheel cancelled that out.
Elsewhere Lamberto Collari who ended up the best Infinity finisher taking his example to fifth.The Italian described it as a ‘difficult race’ adding ‘we didn’t have a good set-up’.Team-mate Jilles Groskamp who qualified third would retire his car from the race after 28-minutes.The Dutch ace said in the warm-up it felt broken and he was fighting with the car from the start. After changing tyres on one side he said ‘it was worse’ and he ‘had to stop’ adding it must have been unmatched tyres that were the problem.Putting in his most competitive 1:8 showing to date, Coelho would complete the Top 6.Running secondon the ‘same pace as Simon’, the Portuguese driverwould make a mistake and flip his RX8 at the end of the straight.Dropping him down the order he said ‘after something like this there is no chance at this level’.
Teemu Leino took victory in an exciting 1:10 A-Main at Round 2 of the Euro Nitro Series in Germany, the Infinity driver winning by 1-second from Dominic Greiner in a battle that would see the podium all finish on the same lap after 45-minutes of racing. Starting second on the grid, the Finn would take the initial lead after 3-laps but chased by Greiner would end up on the grass when the Serpent driver ran into the back of his Capricorn. With Greiner waiting for Leino to rejoin the track, the pair would drop down the order handing Top Qualifier Erik Dankel back the lead before being passed by Bruno Coelho. Unfortunately for former champion Dankel a flame out would scupper his chances of a podium result at his home track. Holding his lead for 45-laps, Coelho would lose the lead when he made a stop for tyres but his race hopes would later fade when he suffered a flame out on his in lap with 2-laps lost getting it fired back up. All the time Leino and Greiner were working their way back to the front but ultimately able to stretch his fuel a few seconds more between stops to save one trip to the pits it was Leino who would come out on top with an impressive drive by Patrick Nahr seeing him join them on the podium. For last year’s race winner and winner of this season’s opening race Dirk Wischnewski today’s race would net a fourth from ninth on the grid.
His second ever ENS win, Leino said, ‘I really happy with the timing of this win in a World’s year.I want to thank all my sponsors for this opportunity’.With Team Infinity yet to produce a 1:10 car, last year’s championship runner-up, then running for HB, said with team boss Kenji Taira giving him the choice to choose whatever car he wanted for his first 1:10 ENS outing this year this was key to today’s result.Going into the final on the back of a strong 3rd qualifier, Leino ‘was confident with the car before the final’ and said other than his rear diff being a little too hard for the start of the race once it warmed up ‘the car was really really good’.Surviving getting ‘3 times together with Dominic’, he added another key to the win was ‘good fuel mileage’ which resulted in Greiner and the rest of the field had to do one more stop than he did.In terms of tyre stops he said he ‘did the same as everyone else (and) changed just the outside tyres at 15-minutes’.
‘A very difficult and close race’ was how Greiner summed up his battle with Leino.The German continued ‘small mistakes cost me the win’ continuing ‘I hit Teemu at 4-minutes and put him on the grass so I had to wait’.Suffering a body tuck with 6-minutes to go he said that was the final blow to his chances of the win. Stopping for tyres on his third refuelling, changing only the outside, he said his 748 ‘felt strange’ to drive after that but concluded ‘the strategy was perfect and it was the mistakes from me and the body tuck that messed things up but I’m still happy with 2nd’.
Securing his second ever ENS podium finish, Nahr was happy with the result but also pleased with how he himself drove the race. Starting 5th on the grid the Team Shepherd driver said everything went to plan in terms of fuel stops and his tyre change. With the result is a good confidence boost ahead of the World Championships in Italy, the former European B Champion is also looking forward to trying to continue this weekend’s form into the third round of ENS in Austria declaring ‘Aigen is my favourite track’.
Declaring ‘4th place is ok for the championship’, Wischnewski was on the back foot from the start.Flipping his Shepherd in the warm-up and damaging tyres he would then have to start the race with one unbroken-in tyre.Getting hit from behind at the first corner he said this left him ‘half a lap behind’ and it was always going to be difficult after that.With his ‘pace not so good’, only two drivers on the 12-car grid running a slower lap time, he afterward would discover that this was due to a problem with the gluing of his inside front tyre.
Behind the championship leader Jilles Groskamp would finish 5th. Using a Serpent for the German round having run a Capricorn in Italy, the Team Infinity driver said at the start he could follow the leaders but then spun on his out lap after his first fuel stop.After that he made the call to do the race on the one set of tyres but when both Greiner and Nahr came out from their tyre stops on the same lap he know he was in trouble. Starting to struggle with the car on the low tyres, he said the car also started to feel strange, it later discovered a pin had come out of the front arm.
Having claimed his first TQ of the ENS in Ettlingen, Dankel would finish 6th saying he ‘didn’t have the same pace as qualifying, in the final’.Putting his drop off in pace down to not having the right set-up for today’s track conditions, the Mugen driver felt a podium would still have possible until he suffered a flame out.Behind Dankel, Round 1 Top Qualifier Coelho would finish 7th.The Portuguese ace said his Xray was ‘very good’ when he was leading and putting his pace down to the engine running rich due to cooler conditions he said he was ‘a bit unlucky’ to be caught just short.
Remarks – Best of the ARC drivers, German Toni Gruber is running an out of the box car equipped only with some recently released option parts. In the rear he has the new narrower rear suspension blocks, while up front he is using carbon steering arms as well as aluminium downstop registers.
Remarks – Top qualifier here in Ettlingen, 2014 Champion Eric Dankel is using a number of new parts on his Orcan powered Mugen MTX-6. Eric is running prototype rear bulkheads with the camber link on the bulkhead itself instead of having it on the shock tower and a prototype chassis, which is wider in the rear with a smaller rear cutout for different flex. He is also using pre-production, harder compound suspension arms.