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2019 - IFMAR 1:8 ONROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

2019 - IFMAR 1:8 ONROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

OCT 25-NOV 3, FONTANA, USA

After two years of enjoying our reign as World Champions, the time had come around to defend that crown. Having lifted the title in France, defending champion Dario was immediately at home with the battle ground for the 22nd running of the IFMAR 1:8 Onroad World Championships describing the track as 'maybe one of the most beautiful I have driven on'. Steel City RC Speedway in Fontana, California, with its very distinctive red coloured infield was a true 1:8 track and immediately drew praise from all competitors but it wasn't without its challenges. Traction and the unusual complaint of having 'too much' was a somewhat welcomed issue for drivers to have to deal with.

With cars stiffened up to suit the super high traction levels, over the two days of free practice on Sunday and Monday the IF18 made its mark topping 9 of the 10 rounds with Dario, Jesse and Teemu all laying down fastest 3-consecutive lap runs. The final free practice was the fastest, Dario recording a time of 43.211 but it wasn't until Tuesday that times started to really count over the four rounds of seeding practice.

Picking up where he left off the day before, Dario set the benchmark but the opening run wasn't perfect. Not happy with his own driving, and with traction higher than the previous day, he traction rolled and chunked a tyre forcing him pull off six and a half minutes into the 8-minute run. Round 2 was a repeat with Dario staying at the top just marginally quicker than Shimo despite a slightly slipping clutch. Having suffered a heavy crash in the previous run, Naoto finally forced a change at the top of the time sheets in the third round with a new outright fastest time. Trying a change on his car that wasn't to his liking Dario still managed 3rd wth Jesse making it three cars in the Top 5. With his car back to how he liked it for the final practice, Dario was back on top and he would go into qualifying as the top seed. Naoto, Tadahiko, Shimo and Francesco also made the top heat.

After a wild night of high winds that rattled the hotel windows, everyone headed to the track on Wednesday morning set for the first day of qualifying but the winds were still gusting and trying their best to take off with the very large tent in which everyone was pitting. With concerns over safety, the decision was made to cancel Wednesday's action. While this allowed some to attend 'Formula 1 Live' on Hollywood Boulevard that evening, it unfortunately meant the qualifiers would be cut not in number but in time. The reduction to 4-minutes took away one of the World Championship's unique challenges but that was how it was going to be for the six rounds and what an interested qualifying it was to be.

24-hours later than scheduled, qualifying got underway with Dario leading from Naoto for 95% of the heat but on the final lap Dario started to run out of fuel on the last run down the main straight allowing Naoto to TQ. A much colder morning that the previous days, Dario had gone too safe and run the engine rich meaning he had to push much harder to be quick resulting in him being caught short on fuel. Despite this, with Jesse putting in the third fastest it was an Infinity 1-2-3. Q2 would again see Dario have issues with engine tuning with it going rich in the middle of the heat. This caused late shifting into second gear leading to a mistake and the second fastest time. Despite 'many mistakes' Naoto would run the fourth fastest time with Jesse 6th quickest. With another P2 in Q2 just ahead of Jesse, Dario would finally hit the top in the final qualifier of the day with Francesco and Jeffrey ending the day with their best runs of 5th and 6th respectively.

With the first day of qualifying producing four different TQ drivers, it meant it was still all to play for on Friday morning for the remaining two rounds. Naoto would be the first to double up capitalising on a small error from Dario. Jesse continued his good showing with a P5. Now the decider had arrived and four drivers had a change at becoming the overall Top Qualifier. Dario was ready for the challenge and following a mistake from Naoto, he was able to deliver a second TQ run to take his fourth consecutive World Championship pole position. With a P3 for the round, Jesse would join Naoto in Super Pole just like in France two years earlier.

As the fifth place qualifier, Jesse would be the first to run Super Pole but making an engine change for the 6-lap shoot out it wasn't as good as expected and his time was bettered by the next to go Dominic Greiner. The last to go Naoto knew what he needed to beat the time of Simon Kurzbuch and in only his second 1:8 Worlds Super Pole he took just 3-laps to book his starting position in the final. With the first of the finals taking up the second half of Friday's timetable, the TQ and Super Pole success from earlier was topped off by Kenji bumping up from his 1/32 Final to progress to racing on Saturday's big title deciding day.

The 8 drivers that would join Dario and Naoto in the 1-hour Main would be decided in the Semi Finals and we had 10 drivers in contention. In the first of the 30-minute Semis there was huge frustration for Lamberto who was looking well on target to make the final for the first time since he won the last of his 9-titles. With 3-minutes to go he cruelly suffered a flame out and his event was done. Also in that race, unfortunately Jilles would retire while Rick V had a number of flame outs that ended his 2019 Worlds. In the second Semi encounter, Jesse drove a very solid race to secure his first Worlds Final appearance and joining him from the same race would be Shimo and Carmine.

So the moment had arrived, 60-minutes stood between the drivers and the crowning of the 2019 World Champion. A clean start up front allowed Dario to lead from Naoto as they pulled clear with Jesse in third. All going to plan. With the first round of fuel stops out of the way it was the second stop in which the race dealt its first blow. Coming in for his stop having taken charge of the race, Dario hit the poorly released car of Dominic Greiner in the pitlane. Damaging the body shell, it also effected the engine tuning as the pipe no longer lined up with the side hole in the body. Dario's misfortune allowed Naoto to take over control of the race. Having suffered the heartbreak of battery failure while leading on his nitro Worlds debut in France, it looked like this was his time going to be his day. Unfortunately to quote former Offroad World Champion Jared Tebo, 'To win you have to have so many things go right, to loose you only have to have one thing go wrong' and once again that was the case for Naoto. With 12-minutes to go and him just clocking off the laps well clear of second place, the rear pulley stripped. So close to making nitro racing history as the holder of both the 1:10 and 1:8 titles at the same time, his race was done. In the end Shimo would be our top finishing with second behind new champion Shoki Takahata as Dario recovered to complete the podium. A cruel end to an otherwise perfect team effort. Our preparations for Japan 2021 are already underway.

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ASIAN NITRO CHAMPIONSHIP Rd.3

2019 - ASIAN NITRO CHAMPIONSHIP Rd.3

INFINITY INTERNATIONAL RC SPEEDWAY - SUZUKA

The third round of this year’s Asian Nitro Championship was held at the new Infinity International RC Speedway this past weekend. The newly built track is located near the famed Suzuka Raceway in Japan; the track looked awesome with banking sweepers and technical infield sections as common in “europe-style” tracks. Facility was also renewed and in the previous well known Hokusei area a new star is born!

Good number of entries for 1/8 class with the guest appearance of current World Champion Dario Balestri accompanied by Italian team mate Carmine Raiola to complete the Infinity Team for the inaugural race; the weather wasn’t good with some showers that forced organizers to reschedule practice and qualifying rounds. In 1/8 Open was Carmine that took the TQ enjoying this new layout quickly winning the first 3 rounds; in Masters class was Kenji that Tq’ed the event with strong performances on Sunday morning and in 1/10 was Aussie Jesse Davis that close in front current World Champion Naoto Matsukura and Andy Moore.

After 1/8 GT final the first of the 45-minute mains was up with the 1/10 200mm Touring class. Aussie, Jessie Davis that earned pole position and had every intention of taking full advantage it. It was a picture perfect start at the sound of the tone and Davis held his ground around for the first lap but a long main sometimes hide issues… About a quarter of way through the main, the World Champions were starting to show how they earned that title and the main quickly turned into the Andy Moore and Naoto Matsukura show. The two were stayed on the same lap for most of the race and it was incredible to see. Precision driving and to close to call passes, lead swaps occurred with Andy Moore able to make the last pass in the closing minutes of the main to edge out Matsukura for the win. Good job Andy!!!

In 1/8 Masters Kenji Taira was able to start and hold his front runner position for a portion of the main event, but unfortunately for him, a series of unfortunate events began to drop him back into the field opening the door for second qualifier Komuro Takahito (also driving IF18) to take the lead. Tak Woo meanwhile was steadily making his way up the field. With only 30m-minutes for the racers to make things go their way, drivers would need to combine their best driving with a good race strategy with their pitmen. With time running out, Takahito was able to build a huge gap lead when time had expired to take the win. In the battle with the series point leaders, Tak Woo was able to make up 5 spots to finish in the 5th position with Kenji Taira finishing in the 7th position. Well done Komuro San!!

Carmine Raiola after pole clearly aiming to keep the position for the win. Tadahiko Sahashi follow close the Italian driver in the early stage with Naoto Matsukura, Takaaki Shimo and Jesse Davis in his roots. Behind them it was a totally different story as much of the field was jockeying for position with some good action to watch… Current 1/8 World Champ Dario Balestri close quickly the gap from front runners after a contact that drop him down in the pack; marking point was the tire change strategy with Carmine still in a comfortable lead once at 8 minutes to go his glow plug died… Tadahiko acquired the lead, Chavit second and Dario third. Carmine comes out the pit like a thunderstorm and recover the leaders for a nice battle with Dario that ended only at last lap… By the sound of the end tone, second qualifier Sahashi managed to grab the big win with Chavit Saligupta coming all the way from the sixth qualifying spot to take second with Carmine Raiola rounding out the top 3. Congrats Tadahiko!!

As first race everything went really well… hope to see you there soon!

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2019 - ENS ROUND 4 SEASON FINALE

2019 - ENS ROUND 4 SEASON FINALE

SEPT 06-07 ETTLINGEN, GERMANY

The Season Finale of the 2019 Euro Nitro Series concluded at the German track of Ettlingen with the popular track playing host to the championship for the 5th time in its six year history. With both the 1:10 & 1:8 titles decided at the previous round in Aigen, Austria where Teemu took his IF15 to the 1:10 title, the weekend was an important test event ahead of the upcoming 1:8 World Championships in the USA. As a track, Ettlingen has been a fruitful one for Dario who came into the race sharing the honour of the most wins on the challenging circuit having won here last year en route to the 2018 ENS title. As has become the norm at every race this season, bad weather was going to see the timetable shuffled around to beat the rain that was being forecast for Sunday. In sunny conditions this meant Friday would be a busy day made up of 2-seeding rounds followed by all four qualifiers to allow the finals to be run Saturday - this decision proving the perfect call as everyone woke to rain Sunday morning!

In seeding it was Dario who topped the 1:8 times while Milan lead our challenge in 1:10 with P2 ahead of Jilles who set the fourth fastest 3-consecutive laps. With the 1:10 title already his, Teemu opted to race only 1:8 for the weekend to test for the World Championship leaving Jilles to try and make it a clean sweep for the IF15 as he chased win number four of the season at the fourth round.

Going for a complete set-up change for the start of qualifying, this paid off for Jilles as he took a super close battle for the fastest time by just 0.054 of a second. A good start, Jilles knew there was more to be found in the set-up. While the balance was good he felt he could benefit from making the car more stable so changes were a foot for Q2. Those changes allowed for another TQ run and with a greater margin over his rivals. Opting to try re-run tyres for Q3, Jilles admitted afterwards it wasn't the best decision he had made but with Thilo Todtmann having traffic issues late in the qualifier Jilles was able top the run and secure the overall TQ, his first of the season. With a best run of a P4 in Q3, Milan would secure 5th on the grid for the 45-minute final.

In 1:8 it was also a strong start to qualifying with Carmine kicking things off with a TQ run ahead of Dominic Greiner.  Pushing the limits of his fuel consumption, Carmine flamed out as he crossed the loop to finish his 4-minute run - great timing or maybe some luck but this was to be the start of a strong showing from him in Germany. Dario, who together with Carmine travelled to Germany straight from racing in Japan the weekend before for the opening of the Infinity International RC Speedway, had a more challenging start to quali. Coming into the pitlane for the start of Q1 he made contact with the lowly held car of Toni Gruber and catching the bottom of the car it caused the trim tab to be pulled from the body. While his mechanic Massimo tried to repair it for the run, the body was ripped, leading to Dario having a high speed off during the qualifier as the tab came undone again. He ended up 5th fastest. A better Q2 for Dario netted him a close P2 behind Simon Kurzbuch while Carmine had his turn at being unlucky, a stripped gear forcing him to stop 3-minutes into the qualifier. In Q3 Dario would set the fastest lap on his way to another P2 as Carmine experienced another difficult run and ended up outside the Top 10. Still in contention for the overall TQ going into the final qualifier, Carmine started strong but in the final 2-minutes of the heat found it hard to match the pace of Dario and Kurzbuch. Dario pushed Kurzbuch hard but traffic ended his chances of the top spot. Still P3 for Carmine secured him his best stating position of the season in second with Dario lining up third. Jeffrey joined them on the grid in 6th and the total number of IF18s in the A-Main grew to 5 when Oliver won the B-Main ahead of Rick V allowing them both to bump up to the main event.

On to Saturday, now the finals day, and the team was upbeat about wrapping up the ENS Championship with a strong result. Known for his strategic approach to finals unfortunately Jilles' afternoon was going to take a turn that was outside his control. In the Warm-up, extended as another driver called for a 10-minute delay, Jilles struggled to get a tune on his engine. Taking to the start after numerous visited to the pits to make adjustments it seemed all was ok as he took the start and led away the field from the pole position, but it was short lived. Two and a half minutes in Jilles' engine stopped with no warning causing Todtmann to crash into the back of him with both having to be return to the pits. Fitting a new glowplug, Jilles rejoined but the engine was now too rich so more visits to the pits were required. Once tuned, the car ran the rest of the final faultlessly and he was able to recover from 12th to 6th. Dirt in the fuel or carb is suspected as being the culprit for this disappointing finish to an otherwise strong performance. Also having a tough final Milan finished 9th.

In 1:8, Carmine and Dario set off in formation with their two while coloured IF18s in pursuit of Kurzbuch until the Top Qualifier made a mistake and went on to the grass. On different fuelling strategies Dario was first to stop with Carmine going slightly longer with them resuming there close track position each time Carmine exited from his stops. This was building up to an exciting finish to see how the strategies would work out but during one of his later stops Carmine would get fuel on the gearbox causing trouble with it changing between gears. This was enough to allow Dario go by to take his fourth ENS 1:8 career win but Carmine wasn't far behind. A super 1-2 finish for the IF18, the result was Carmine's best finish of the season despite his issues and is a nice positive to take going into the Worlds in California next month.

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2019 - EFRA 1/10 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

2019 - EFRA 1/10 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

TÜRKHEIM (DE) 13-17/08/2019

In the middle of August the MiniClub of Türkheim in Bavaria region of Germany hosted the Euros for the 1/10 Nitro category. The Efra GP Series final round held in June, where most of top drivers were present, was a nice comparison to see the progress of every driver. The track can be considered quite small, compared to many European tracks but the layout was very challenging and fitted 1/10 scale properly.

Our official team attended full forces with Dario, Teemu, Carmine, Francesco and Jilles with the great addition of Milan Holthuis, Jurmin Etnel from Holland and Nikos Karabelas from Greece all driving our IF15 platform.

Unfortunately as oftenly happened in this 2019 the weather conditions affected the race from the first day of practice welcoming the drivers with a full wet track. The second day was slightly better with warm temperature and some sun to highlight the practice rounds.

On Wednesday the official race started and we complete the program with all free practice rounds and the opening ceremony. Thursday rain comes again and all the drivers patiently waited for a dry track to complete the control practice to allow organizers for a correct reseeding; fortunately we can clear this 2 rounds just in time before another big shower wet the track again. The former World Champion Greiner topped the ranking as expected with our drivers quite confident on the track reaching the 2 fastest heats.

Due to delayed timetable Friday time schedule was a bit hectic with all the 5 rounds in a row. The number of entries allowed to have a good timing and everything went smooth; again the home driver Dominic took the overall TQ with Dario second ready for superpole challenge. Francesco 6th Jilles 7th, Carmine 9th the others not too far with Teemu super fast but unlucky in the last round… with only 2 good rounds he has to start his race from quarters final as Milan. In superpole Dario suffered a sudden failure after only one lap so also for him the race start from Semis.

Saturday morning Jurmin cannot bump up followed from Nikos & Milan that stuck in 1/4 finals. Teemu showed great pace dominating his quarter bumping on Semis. The SemiB was linear with a very smooth driving by Francesco that won the phase controlling first his tire consumption and recovering the lead in the final 4 minutes. The SemiA start with a technical problem for Dario that was forced to call the delay… with consequently last spot on the grid. At the horn Teemu imposed his pace again to the field recovering quickly from 8th to the lead; Jilles managed a good race with his faultless driving closing easy second and the heartache race was conducted by Dario that lap by lap tried hard to reach a bump up spot succeeding to get 3rd place with 20 seconds to go… Carmine unfortunately broke a tire that penalized his speed in the second half of the race when he was steady 3rd.

Final start in time and as expected Greiner pull off and never looked back; a final and a title that he really deserved from first day of race. Our drivers put maximum efforts to close the gap: Teemu and Dario forced the rhythm from the beginning trying to be closest possible to the German driver in case something happened; Jilles choose a 5.30 minute refueling strategy followed by Francesco at 5 minute with consistent pace. Teemu suffered a broken flywheel after 19 laps so he had to retire, Dario controlled the rest of the field  from his 2nd position… Jilles broke a plug after 37 minutes and lost some laps in the pits while Francesco come back strong and fast from fifth to third in the last part of the race. A good 2 steps of the podium for our Italian drivers! Now it’s time to switch at 1/8 mode to prepare World Championship in California! See you soon at the track!

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2019 - ENS ROUND 3

2019 - ENS ROUND 3

JULY 19-20 AIGEN, AUSTRIA

The third round of the Euro Nitro Series took our team up into the Austrian hills to the MAV Aigen-Schlägl track near the Czech and Germany borders. At 600 metres altitude, the track has a postcard setting surrounded by countryside and it brings its environment into the track characteristics with a 5-degree inclined up the 65 metre long main straight. Once in the infield the cars then make the decent back to the loop. As tracks go, Aigen has been a happy hunting ground for our 1:10 drivers. In 1:10, Teemu claimed the IF15's first ENS win there in 2016 and last year en-route to the Championship title Jilles led a 1-2 from Francesco. Having won the opening two rounds of the 1:10 Championship, Teemu came into the weekend looking for three in a row and back to back titles for the team. In 1:8, Dario was aiming to register the first win as the reigning Champion.

In Free Practice the guys were very quick to get the IF15 dialled into the track and after 12-rounds it was an Infinity 1,2,3 with Teemu the benchmark followed by Jilles and our young Dutch talent Milan Holthuis. Our IF18 would also top the times in the hands of Carmine with Dario P4, both drivers admitting that while 3-laps was OK doing a full 4-minutes was 'hard work', many drivers feeling the track is perfect size for 1:10 but a little small for 1:8. Two rounds of Controlled Practice followed and Teemu had no problems maintaining the top spot again ahead of Jilles. Despite feeling the need to slow down to get more consistency on the loose track, Dario would improve to end up second fastest with Carmine 4th and Jeffrey 7th.

Friday's action would finish with the opening round of qualifying and it was a perfect start to the serious business with an Infinity clean sweep. Getting the ball rolling, Teemu put in a TQ run ahead of Jilles in 1:10 which was followed by a TQ run in the 1:8 40+ class from Arie. It was to be the 1:8 that provided the closest battle with Dario coming out on top ahead of Simon Kurzbuch by 0.024 despite hitting a stone at the end of the straight that caused his car to get out of shape. Suffering a mistake when he hit the curb and almost launched his car into the carpark, Carmine set the third fastest time. While drivers had to make sure to keep well topped up with liquid given the hot weather, the forecast was not reading well with rain on its way for Sunday. With Day 2 of qualifying underway on Saturday morning, the call was made that to avoid the rain it was going to be a long day with the finals rescheduled to run directly after the conclusion of qualifying on Saturday evening.

Continuing his domination of 1:10 Teemu would secure the overall TQ making it a clean sweep with TQ runs in all four qualifiers. While he suffered engine tuning issues in Q3, Jilles was going to be starting No.2 with Milan also on the A-Main grid in 5th. With both Dario and Carmine posting Top 3 times in each of their remaining qualifiers, Carmine having his best run in Q2 with a P2, they would grid up 2nd and 3rd for the 45-minute A-Main. Also joining them would be Rick (P8) and Jeffrey (P10).

The 1:10 A-Main started off with Teemu showing his intentions and pulling clear of Jilles. Holding a comfortable margin, Teemu was the first to stop for a tyre change with Jilles stopping for new tyres later in the final. With tyre stops complete, the gap was floating around the 2-seconds but on completing his final fuel stop Jilles made the call to go on a charge. Putting his slightly fresher tyres to good use he closed down Teemu for a thrilling finish to the race. With a minute to go Jilles was on the rear bumper of Teemu's car and taking a look a number of times at making a pass he wasn't able to do so without risking both driver's race eventually crossing the finish separated by 2/10ths for one of the ENS's closest finishes. For Teemu the win meant the title was his and for Jilles what a better way to hand over the title he won for us last season that with such an exciting race. Teemu's sixth ENS race victory, it also makes him the Championship's most successful driver.

With the sun starting to set in Aigen, it was the turn of the 1:8 A-Main. Initially the Top 3 held position before Carmine took over second which then became the lead.  Out front for 4-laps, Carmine would catch traffic ahead of him, the two cars coming together and with no where to go he made contact. Damaging the front of his bodyshell he was forced to take a trip to the pits to have it fixed. An unfortunate incident for Carmine who himself said afterwards ‘I don’t know why the ENS is so unlucky for me’. Dario was now leading the Infinity challenge running in second.  Opting to change all four tyres in his first stop and then just the outsides later in the race, the opposite to Kurzbuch, following the second stop Dario set about a charge on the leader reducing the gap lap by lap, his car working better towards the end of the race on smaller tyres, but he was to run out of time crossing the finish line 9/10th off the winner. A great recovery from Carmine meant it was to be two Infinity cars on the podium as he took third, his first podium finish of the Season. Having won the European Championship after a battle with his great rival Kurzbuch, Dario said, 'One time me, one time him. I won the European Championship and now he won this race..... It was a good race and it is always nice to race Simon’.  Having planned to go more on the risky side with his strategy for the final with long fuel stops and just one tyre change, Carmine could feel after 10-minutes of racing that this wasn't going to work for the conditions and he changed ensuring he could battle for the podium. Both Rick and Jeffrey improved on their starting positions finishing 6th and 8th. The 2019 Euro Nitro Series will now conclude on September 6-8th at the Ettlingen track in Germany.

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2019 - 1/8 ON ROAD EFRA EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

2019 - 1/8 ON ROAD EFRA EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

3-6 JULY MONTBONNOT ST. MARTIN (FR)

Last weekend the annual European Championship for the 1/8 on road category was held in the beautiful setting of RACG club of Montbonnot St. Martin very close to Grenoble in France. Most of drivers was present at the track from early Monday morning to take advantage of the two days of free practice before the event.

From the beginning the track layout looked really challenging… the back-chicane in the front of the rostrum can be considered the “key-point” to set good lap times: coming from two “high speed” big sweeper (one right and one left) you have to slow down dramatically to guess the correct racing line… the chicane high kerbs don’t allowed any type of mistake. The right side of the track included two hairpins where mechanical traction is mandatory to have a car moving forward with high risks of spinning once exaggerate on throttle…

In the controlled free practice all our drivers seemed pleased with the handling of the car setting good lap times… On Thursday, the Control Practices for the reseeding went well with Dario topping the ranking; unfortunately a problem with computer delayed the start of first qualification round in middle afternoon forcing the Federation to move the 2nd round to Friday morning for a tighter time schedule with 4 rounds instead of usual 3.

In the first qualification round was an epic battle between Carmine and Simon that droves together all the heat; the Swiss driver took the first position for the blink of an eye… On Friday morning Raiola got his revenge topping the round followed close by Balestri, holding provisional TQ for the fastest overall time. No time to relax and again on the track for third round where Kurzbuch close again first in front of Balestri that recovers superpole position after the bad start on Thursday afternoon. In the fourth round was the Italian current WC that bring home the round… with this result is opened an unusual three way situation for the #1 in the Amain: the one of them that took the win in fifth round will be the Pole sitter… At the tone Carmine was “on fire” with amazing fast and consistent laps; after 90 seconds Simon made a mistake that took him out from the fight… Dario smell the “blood” and showed his killer instinct placing an astonishing pace in the second half of the heat passing Raiola, that have a slower competitor in front loosing a bit of pace, in the last two laps… Dario is overall TQ and Carmine in Superpole challenge 3rd overall. Very good news from the rest of the team that summed an impressive result with Jilles 7th, Francesco 8th, Oliver 11th, Jeffrey 13th (at his Euros debut! Well done!) and Lamberto 14th in direct semis: 50% of the cars in the semifinal was IF18!!!! Carmine tried to sort out all his speed in SuperPole challenge but Simon was quicker and go directly in Final.

Saturday morning Leino (from 1/8) and Vrjilinck (1/4) bumped up to Semi… In Semi B Tironi , with good pace, managed his speed without risks grabbing a spot for Amain arriving 3rd… In Semi A Raiola solved the practice quickly leaving the field behind him and arrive in 2nd place grabbing the Final… considering the SemiB as a lot quicker, the last spot was an hard fight between our drivers and the local driver Picard: was Groskamp that finish 3rd and took a place for Amain in front to the French driver and Rietveld that signed the best overtake of the event in the middle of the back chicane…

Amain start clean with Dario in front… he push very hard from the beginning in “hammer mode” as his strategy included 1/2 tire stop more than rivals… the race was really tight and with firsts fuel stops position started to change a bit. Dario change outside tires at second pit at 8.30; from the field the fastest was Carmine that, after third refueling recovered a podium spot starting from P9! In the middle of the race the leads swapping from Kurzbuch to Balestri and reverse for the different fuel strategies: when the Swiss driver make his full tire change Dario complete his masterpiece squeezing 120% of his IF18… an astonishing series of fast laps allowed him to make his full tire change maintaining the lead and after that he never looked back also if Simon tried all he can to fill the gap… Francesco unfortunately suffer a failure… Carmine after 30 minutes become little rich and slightly loose some pace in the end of the race that allowed Jilles to recover for a beautiful podium 3rd spot that can only give him more confidence for the upcoming Worlds! Last minutes seemed an eternity but the faultless drive of Balestri crowned an awesome job of the whole team… Well deserved Dario… you’re the European Champion!!!

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2019 - EFRA EUROPEAN TC CHAMPIONSHIP

2019 - EFRA EUROPEAN TC CHAMPIONSHIP

JUNE 13-15 TRENCIN, SLOVAKIA

For the 2019 EFRA European Championship we sent Marc, Viktor, Jilles and Yannic to a very hot Hudy Arena in Slovakia where winning our first 1:10 EP Touring European title was always going to be that bit more challenging than usual. Marc got the event off to a decent start taking his IF14 to the second fastest time in free practice but the home advantage was already evident over 3-consecutive laps. In seeding, Marc could somewhat reduce the gap at the top of the times as he ended up 3rd fastest with Viktor 8th fastest.

Concluding Day 1 of the Euros would be the first of 5 rounds of qualifying. Marc's efforts would earn him a P4, the drop-off over the 5-minutes hampering him from achieving more, and unfortunately this would end up his best run. Saturday's four qualifiers saw three DNF but luckily a P6 in Q4 meant Marc had two counting scores that booked his place in the A-Main, albeit only 6th. Joining him in the A-Main, it was a similarly difficult qualifying for Viktor and Jilles who ended up 8th and 9th. For Yannic it was a race to forget as he ended up BQ and had to raid the team's spare parts department as tyre gluing issues resulted in three massive high speed crashes that destroyed his car each time.

Following their tough qualifying, Finals Day wasn't to bring any improvement in fortunes. While Viktor climbed from 8th to 3rd in the opening final, that was to be pretty much the highlight of the day as Marc finished as he started. In A2, Viktor was again the lead IF14 moving up the order this time for a 5th place while Marc hit trouble in the closing laps and dropped to 10th. Wrapping up a difficult three days, A3 would be Marc and Jilles' best race as they finished 4th and 5th but overall it was Viktor who was the best finisher in 6th in front of Marc with Jilles ending up 9th. A disappointing Euros for sure, our EP team will regroup & analyse what they could have done better and prepare to come back stronger for the ETS encounter at the beautiful Apeldoorn track in the Netherlands.

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2019 - EFRA GP SERIES ROUND 3

2019 - EFRA GP SERIES ROUND 3

TÜRKHEIM (DE) 31/05-02/06 2019

Last weekend was held the Final round of the European Federation Series at the MiniClub RC in Türkheim in the south of Germany. The track, lay downed on beautiful green nature, perfectly fit 1/10 category and in fact the club will host the next European Championship in middle August; for 1/8 category seemed little bit more “tight” and challenging.

Due to incoming Euros most of drivers attended the 1/10 nitro where Dario and Carmine hold top 2 spots in overall ranking; in 1/8 Teemu still had a chance for the title with Francesco and Oliver in support.

The race was accompanied finally by a great weather and all drivers enjoyed the time there… In both classes was immediately clear that home-drivers Toni and Dominic were more confident on this particular fast layout… In 1/8 Oliver was super fast in the practice taking #1 but after qualifying start he didn’t found the pace for all 4 minutes; Teemu and Franci struggled little bit more due to some inconvenient but at the end all three bumped up in the final. In 1/10 Dario was the only one that can Tq’ed a qualy round and he also won the Superpole challenge while Carmine faced some little problems that solved only in semifinal deserving his spot for Amain.

In good hot conditions the 1/8 main was dominated by Gruber and rest of the pack fight for the whole 45 minutes with our drivers mostly unlucky in some episodes… Teemu succeed to grab home the Overall Series 3rd spot and wasn’t bad looking to next Worlds in Fontana next October. In 1/10 Dario tried to challenge Dominic in the first part of the race where they are close, with Leo as serious contender, also for their different pit strategy… Carmine had to recover from a bad start but he showed all his skill driving well and closing the gap from the lead unfortunately without getting a deserved podium spot. At the end Dario took a look to the Championships where he bringing home the title arriving 2nd just in front of Carmine that finish overall second. Good job guys. See you there in middle August!

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2019 - REEDY RACE OF CHAMPIONS

2019 - ETS ROUND 4

MAY 23-26 CALIFORNIA, USA

The 2019 Reedy Race of Champions marked the beginning of a new chapter for this legendary race. With its spiritual home no longer in existence after the famed Tamiya Raceway was redeveloped into a commercial property since last year's farewell, finding a new home was always going to be a huge ask. A favourite with drivers, Tamiya Raceway's compact size and infamous kink was perfect for the unique heads up racing format and for the Infinity team it had been a happy hunting ground. The IF14 won on its debut in 2017 and Marc backed that up with victory again last year. For the 22nd running of the Reedy Race, California's newest track would become the centre of attention for electric touring car fans around the world. Announced as the host for the 2019 1:8 Onroad World Championship, Steel City RC Speedway is a complete contrast to Tamiya Raceway. Located in the shadows of the full size Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, such is the massive size of the 1:8 inspired track, that the 25% of track removed from the layout for its Reedy Race debut was the size of the entire track of its predecessor.

A track completely new to the oversea competitors, the fact that 'Sunny California' wasn't living up to its title didn't help preparations for the racing. With Thursday scheduled as a practice day before three days of heads up racing for the invitation class, RC racing's newest element, rain, once again followed our sport around the globe. Arriving to a wet track, drivers got one damp run before rain returned and washed out any further running. Thankfully Friday and Saturday's weather was to be keeping more with Cali tradition but Sunday had question marks over how it might turn out. Getting to practice their drifting skills over a 4-minute run on Thursday, two rounds of practice were scheduled into Friday's timetable followed by five instead of the traditional four daily rounds of racing.

With tradition low, conditions were going challenging as drivers lined up for the first round of racing. Rather than the usual 3 heats of 8 cars per round, the 22 entry count meant two 12 grid spot races would be run over 12 rounds with 10 to count. Kicking off the new chapter for the race, all three of our IF14's would line-up in Race 1 with Viktor claiming a second followed by Marc in third and Akio in fourth. Also new for this year was that the two winners from the previous round would grid up in the same race for the following round and start on the same row. Lining up in the winners heat for Round 2, Marc registered his first win, while in the other encounter Viktor came out on top from 5th on the grid meaning they would go head to head in Round 3. Working there way to the front from the fourth row, contact between Marc and Lucas Urban on the last lap as they battle for the lead presented the opportunity for Viktor to become the first double winner of event while Marc got a P3. Round 4 and they would again share the same grid and coming through from P9 on the grid Marc finished second with Viktor third having started on the back row. Faced with another back row start for the final round of racing for the day, Viktor showed great pace setting the fastest lap but following contact with another car he needed to be marshalled. While the marshal was super quick in getting to his car, the way he lifted the car caused a body tuck ending any chance of going for the win. While finishing third, up front from the front row of the grid Ronald Volker took the win which meant he was the Day 1 points leader. For Marc it wasn't a good end to the day either as he struggled for traction and he faced the problem of having to use the same set of tyres to start out Day 2's racing - drivers getting a new set of handout tyres every two rounds.

Saturday's action was to open with some very tricky conditions, with traction levels widely described as terrible. Despite this, Viktor was looking on target to close the gap at the top of the points table until he came across two cars spun in the sweeper which he was unable to avoid leading to a broken car and retirement. A frustrating way to start off the day. In the other race, Marc as expected struggled with his set of tyres but up front Akio bagged his first win of the event. For the overall win it was becoming a clear two way battle between Viktor and Volker. Looking to reduce the points deficit, Viktor gave his all in Round 7 to get by Volker, who started ahead of him but he ran out of laps and finished P2. Time was running out to claw back the damage that was done in first run of the day and there was the increasing doubt of being able to run the final two rounds on Sunday due to rain. Clearly the fastest driver, Viktor delivered an important win in Round 8 ahead of Marc. With the grid for his Round 9 encounter again favouring Volker, Viktor managed to pass his rival but stuck behind others early on it was too late for him to challenge for the important win. Still, it was all to play for given the likely hood Round 10 would conclude this year's race. Lining up in separate races Viktor and Volker matched each other with wins and while Viktor continued his display of outright speed by recording the only 21-lap race time, it looked like 2019 wasn't going to be our year. The final decision on that would be down to mother nature and around a 12-hour wait over which time Viktor was doing the opposite to a rain dance!!

To almost everyone's surprise, Sunday's weather forecast hadn't materialised and we had a dry track to race on. It was cold & windy but it was dry and there was two more opportunities to try & make it three in a row for the IF14. As winners of the previous day's 10th round, Viktor would line up on the front row alongside Volker who had the pole. With the faster car, Viktor looked to have the move made for the lead with one & half minutes to go but an out of shape Volker hit him in the chicane resulting in both cars breaking. One last chance remained but Viktor had to win it.  Starting on pole, that's exactly what he did and knowing the importance of the tie breaker of the fastest three combined race times his determined drive the evening before was key to our man securing his first victory since joining the team earlier this year. What a race to mark your first win with. Ending his event with two more wins, Marc made it a podium double with third place overall. With Akio taking the IF14's race winning tally 12 at this year's event with his two wins that secured him 4th overall, it was a great team effort that meant we also brought home the Manufacturers title for another year.

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2019 - ENS ROUND 2

2019 - ENS ROUND 2

MAY 24-26 RUCPHEN, THE NETHERLANDS

After debuting on the ENS calendar in 2018, hosting the opening round, the Dutch track of Rucphen was ready to welcome back the championship, this time for Round 2. A great opening stage on our team's journey to the 2018 ENS triple crown, Jilles claimed his first ever ENS win here in 1:10, Arie claimed the first win of the newly introduced 40+ class win, and Dario kicked things off with a second. These results contributing to their overall title victories that would follow. After a successful start to our 1:10 title defence with a victory in Italy at Round 1 in April, we were aiming to maintain our position at the top of the standings. In 1:8, our speed at Round 1 wasn't reflected in the final result and we wanted to put that right.

After a productive free practice, Dario set down his intentions for the rest of the weekend by going fastest in timed practice with Carmine and Jeffrey making it three IF18 in the Top 5.  In 1:10, it was a similar story as our IF15 filled three of the Top 4 spots in seeding with Jilles P2, Teemu P3 and Dutch young gun Milan Holthuis P4. In 40+, Arie topped the times - a good start to official proceedings.

After a round of free practice to get the track ready for qualifying on Saturday morning, RC racing's nemesis arrived - Rain.  Thankfully after a 4-hour delay, the rest of the weekend would remain dry and helped by the extended coffee break it was to be a good Q1 for us. Teemu led an 1-2 from Jilles while in 1:8 Dario put in a TQ run while Carmine opened with a P3 as Arie set the benchmark in 40+. Round 2 of qualifying was an identical story. The third qualifier would see Jilles post a TQ run but with his results from the opening two qualifiers it was Teemu who was going to be the Top Qualifier with Jilles lining up second for Sunday's final. With a P3 in Q4, Milan was going to start his home race from P5. It was the same for Dario as his Q1 & 2 results and a TQ run from Carmine in Q4 allowed him to secure Infinity's first 1:8 TQ. Carmine efforts gave him 3rd on the grid with Jeffrey P5 and Rick V P9. Fastest in 3 of the 4 qualifiers Arie took a convincing 40+ TQ.

Based on the high tyre wear in the A-Main practice, Teemu would opt for a two stop strategy one of which would just be for a right side change only. With the first early tyre stop dropping him off the lead, Teemu would also have to contend with a quick pit visit after suffering a body tuck during a refuelling but with an otherwise clean 45-minute race meant he came out the victor to double up on his Bologna success and strengthen his championship lead. Unfortunately for our defending champion Jilles, his race would end prematurely as he retired shortly after his single tyre stop with a mechanical issue while fighting for the win. Following an early off as a result of getting fuel on his tyres, Milan put in a good recovery drive and just missed out on his first ever ENS podium but his fourth place is an indication he is one to watch.

In 1:8, unfortunately it wasn't to be our drivers' day. Starting off well with Dario and Carmine swapping position for the lead, they would both run into issues. Pitting after seeing his side belt come off with just over 5-minutes to go, it was discovered it had come off as a result of a broken pulley for which there was no quick fix. Leaving Dario to switch to cruise mode, his race would turn with an unexplainable off - one possible cause being a stone on the track. The high speed off left him with a bent front bumper which led to a second off after which he had to nurse the car to a frustrating fourth place when the win was so close. Rick V would end the race 6th while a flame out caused Jeffrey to drop to P9.  In 40+, bad luck struck Arie before the race had even started after engine issues resulted in stripped gears meaning he failed to start. Unfortunately one of the terms of racing is with the highs come lows but the team will as always be striving for highs all round at Round 3 of the ENS in July.

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2019 - ETS ROUND 4

2019 - ETS ROUND 4

MAY 9-12 WEINER NEUDORF, AUSTRIA

Round 4 of the Euro Touring Series threw up a new challenge as the relatively unknown track of ERC Wiener Neudorf near Vienna in Austria made its debut on the calendar. The first international race to be hosted at the track, its technical layout was to challenge all the drivers with nature adding two further elements - wind and rain. Thursday is normally the day to find a base set-up for the rest of the weekend but rain meant a lot of sitting around. Eventually things did improved enough to allow four rounds of free practice to run late into Thursday night. While Friday was looking dry, Saturday's weather was looking questionable for the evening time but no matter what weather app one used Sunday was a certain right off. The decision was made that the race weekend would be condensed down to a Friday/Saturday schedule.

With a gusting wind on Friday, consistency was a big problem as cars got blown offline on the tight and busy track layout with the high curbing punishing drivers further by launching cars into the air. Despite the frustration of the wind, it was a good showing for the IF14 in the two rounds of seeding practice as Marc and Jilles went 2nd & 3rd quickest over 3-consecutive laps, Marc particularly confident with his car from the get go.

Qualifying, and the first of the four rounds saw Marc continue to show strong over the full 5-minutes. Referring to the track conditions as 'the most difficult conditions I’ve ever had on asphalt', he would open with a 'solid start' P2 for Q1. Taking into account the unpredictable winds, Akio went for a 'maximum' safe run and was rewarded with a P4. Finally getting a set-up he was comfortable with after copying what Marc was running, Yannic was 6th fastest. Q2 was to be another god result but a somewhat frustration run for Marc. Super happy with his car, he would lose out on the TQ by 4/10th after three bad laps including the final lap on which he lost most of his time. Improving on Q1, Yannic recorded P4 ahead of Akio.

Again in the hunt for a TQ run and looking on target to deliver, Marc was to have a mistake coming on to the main straight. Laying down the TQ pace, he touched the curbing entering the straight and rolled - a mistake that was bitting a number of drivers as they tried to push the limits of this challenging track. With any chance of bettering Q1 & 2 he pulled off. Overall it wasn't a good round for our guys with Yannic our quickest driver down in P7. One last attempt remained to improve grid positions on a track which all drivers unanimously agreed was going to be difficult to overtake on. Unfortunately with tyre strategy coming into play in Q4 Marc didn't have the opportunity to improve posting P4 run while Bruno Coelho secured the round and the overall TQ. Despite counting two P2 runs, Marc was going to line up 4th with Akio 7th, Yannic 8th and Viktor 9th, making the Infinity the best represented manufacturer in the A-Main - but all expected tough finals.

A1 was not to be the start we hoped for as early contact put Marc out of contention and he finished 6th followed by Viktor and Yannic. The second encounter was better as this time Marc was able to capitalise on contact between Ronald Volker & Alexander Hagberg that allowed him through to 2nd on the final lap. As drivers prepared for A3, rain put a halt to proceedings. For Marc, with his second place in A2 faster than that of Volker in A1, having the rest of the event rained out would play in his favour but things cleared up and when the track was dry racing resumed. Starting A3 3rd after Coelho wrapped up the win in A2, Marc had a outside chance of finishing 2nd overall if he could win the final encounter. Up to second after the first lap he attempted to close the gap to the leader but having to take risks he opted to maintain position to protect the overall podium placing his position would secure. Really pleased with the performance of his car throughout the event, Marc felt given his bad luck in qualifying the podium was the best he could have done.

After the high of his first Formula win at the previous round in Spain, Jitse faced a challenging follow up in Austria. Ending up as the unenviable BQ after qualifying, he was able to convert that into a win in B1 to progress to the A-Main where he salvage a P9 overall. With just 2 rounds of the ETS remaining, the next round is back on familiar ground at the beautiful Apeldoorn track in the Netherlands where Jitse will be chasing a home win and in Modified the guys will be looking for that first win of the season.

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2019 - PROTOFORM NITRO GP

2019 - PROTOFORM NITRO GP

STEEL CITY RC SPEEDWAY FONTANA CA 12-14/04/2019

One of the most interesting races of the weekend was held in the amazing location born couple of years ago at the shadow of Nascar Speedway in Fontana - California. The hosting club of 2nd Protoform Nitro GP in fact is also the chosen venue for the upcoming 1/8 on road World’s Championship later this year; many drivers from all over the world attended to test the track before the event.

The complex where the track is lay downed looks like a Motorsport “heaven”: not only the Speedway (as in Homestead last year) but in the same area there’s many different tracks where you can run Go-Kart, Drift cars, Top-fuel dragster or simply rent a Supercar to drive couple of laps in a complete free space… Aside some expo areas dedicated to fans  and collectors that likes to show or see some of the best cars in the world…

The RC track is the most important of course !!!! The tarmac surface is really good: lot of grip with reasonable tire wear can assure big excitement for the race. Layout is typical US style with painted areas and very nice Kerbs like F1 style. The infrastructure is huge and brand new; when you’re there you can feel the efforts spent to realize best accommodation possible.

The race had many categories running from 1/5 to 1/8 Worlds warmup class; Infinity presence was very good with Lamberto, Takaaki, Nicola, Paphon and Charlie that traveled overseas to collect infos supported by a nice number of west coast customers leaded by Robert Morris…

As mentioned before collecting data for the worlds was the most important thing for the team… was also nice to see the continue support of the official drivers to customers to solve their setup problems; a really nice atmosphere that everyone enjoyed a lot. In the main TQ Jeff Hamon from Australia fight with Shimo and Collari for the win; after 60 minutes Amain was Lamberto that drove a faultless phase and took the win in front of Jeff and Takaaki for a complete overseas podium. Can’t wait for the World’s event… Stay tuned!

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2019 - ENS ROUND 1

2019 - ENS ROUND 1

APR 26-28 BOLOGNA, ITALY

The sixth season of the Euro Nitro Series was a shorter trip than normal for some of our team drivers as L.Collari RC Raceway in Bologna, Italy, returned to the calendar as the opening round. A previous host of the ENS in 2015 and 2016, this is a track that is steeped in history. Built in 1978, it was Italy's first permanent track and the place that would nurture the career of a certain Lamberto! Where he would learn his craft, Lamberto liked the place so much that, together with Luca Rauli, he took over the running of the track in 2013. As reigning champions of all three ENS classes, the entire Infinity team was super motivated to get the 2019 campaign underway with a successful opening round. Unfortunately, an uncontrollable element that is becoming all to common at nitro racing was in waiting for the weekend - yes, rain was showing as having plans to turn up on Sunday. With this in mind the schedule was adjusted to get qualifying underway on Friday evening.

At the end of Friday's practice, it was Teemu who lead our charge in 1:10 and Dario in 1:8, both drivers having the second fastest 3-consecutive laps of the track's fast layout. Teemu's time came from topping the first of the two seeding rounds, a change of bodyshell for the second run resulting in a slower time. Jilles seeded his IF15 fourth quickest, also with his opening time, as he opted to evaluate further set-up changes in CP2 which proved slightly slower. Fifth fastest in the first practice, Dario would improve to top the final practice round to seed no.2 despite still finding his car a little nervous to drive. Also improving in the final practice Lamberto posted the 5th fastest time ahead of Francesco with Alberto and Nicola also having the pace to make the fastest qualifying heat.

1:10 qualifying kicked off with a solid result for Jilles and Teemu who claimed P2 & 3.  Happy to get the weekend underway with a P2 from the first of the 4 rounds, Jilles' run did contained some mistakes so he knew more was possible. Also, still running the same chassis as he did at the World Championships in Miami, he would be aiming for a better Q2 by changing to a new stiffer chassis plate. While only 2/10th off Jilles, Teemu reported his car having changed significantly from how it ran in practice. Developing understeer, changes would be required to get steering back for Day 2's action. In 1:8, Carmine recovered from issues in controlled practice, that left in the second fastest heat, to claimed a P2 ahead of Dario despite being hampered by traffic. The high speed nature of the track means runtime can be critical and for Dario he came up just short while on for a TQ run, leaving him limping across the loop for a P3. Lamberto made it three IF18 in the Top 4 so overall a solid first official day of action.

With a practice run opening Saturday's schedule, the second 1:10 qualifier saw Jilles go one better and come out on top. Unfortunately for Teemu he would lose his back pressure pipe and retire from the run. Q3 & 4 would be better for Teemu with him posting P3 in both but overall it meant 5th on the grid. While Jilles' time to have problems came in the final two qualifiers, his Q1 & 2 performances netted him second on the grid for the Main which would end up being reduced to 30-minutes.

After just missing out on the Q1 TQ, Dario delivered on his second attempt with a great push over the final laps to edge ahead of Simon Kurzbuch. Carmine produced another strong run from his heat to back up his opening P2 with a P3. The reigning 1:8 Champion, Dario and Kurzbuch would switch position in Q3 before Dario concluded qualifying with his second TQ run of the day, but the tie breaker would favour Kurzbuch to take the overall TQ. With Dario lining up second, Carmine secured 3rd. In total, the IF18 would fill 6 of the ENS' unique 12 car A-Main grid with Rick V bumping up from the B main to join Lamberto  (P6), Francesco (P7) and Alberto (P9).  In the 1:8 40+ A-Main Arie would start his title defence from 3rd on the grid.

As predicted the rain arrived on Sunday but it did so a little ahead of schedule - halfway through the 1:10 B-Main. After a long morning of hanging around for a dry track before the re-run of the 1:10 B-main and then the 1:8 B-Main, it was finally showtime. Following the rain the track would be extra abrasive and it was the decision to alter his planned pit strategy to suit this that would net Teemu the win, the 4th of his ENS career. Originally planning to change only his outside tyres, he switched to changing all four and this paid dividends in the final 5-minutes of the race. Having run most of the race in 3rd place, he overtook both Alessio Mazzeo and Top Qualifier Leo Arnold for the lead to win by 8/10th of a second from Mazzeo. For Jilles his race was on the back foot from the start as he was forced to retune his engine during the first refuelling and then had issues during his tyre stop leaving him to finish a disappointing 5th.

Unfortunately starting number 2 on the grid wasn't a good omen for our guys in Bologna as Dario would also have a difficult race after leading for a time. Suffering a flame out, he eventually crossed the loop 5th just behind Lamberto who also had a flame out. Despite setting the fastest lap of the race, Carmine was only rewarded with 6th. Coming from 9th on the grid and losing time in some early race carnage, it was to be Alberto who would finish as the top Infinity completing the podium behind Dominic Greiner and Simon Kurzbuch. Starting off the season with a win and a podium at the ENS' ultra competitive level of competition is a positive start but the pace shown by our drivers indicates there is more on offer, so, roll on Rond 2 in the Netherlands at the end of May.

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2019 - ETS ROUND 3

2019 - ETS ROUND 3

APR 04-07 MADRID, SPAIN

After a long winter of indoor racing in Europe, the third round of the ETS marked the start of the outdoor season and the destination was 'Sunny Spain' - Madrid to be more specific. An opportunity to air the shorts and supplement the body's Vitamin D levels while enjoying fluff free laps back on asphalt again - well maybe not. Unfortunately the weekend's weather couldn't have been any more polar to what was expected with winter coats and multiple layers of t-shirts underneath required for survival. Thursday, while cold, would at least be dry but Friday was to turn out to be a complete wash out with rain meaning no running at all. Instead it was a day for detailed car rebuilds, plenty of coffee breaks and numerous checks of various mobile phones to see if Saturday would present any opportunity to drive a dry track. Thankfully racers woke up to a dry but bitterly cold morning allowing for a round of practice in qualifying order, which had been arranged off Thursday’s free practice times. It wasn’t to last however and just a few heats into the first round of qualifying the first of a number of rain stops over the day happened.

With qualifying reduced to two rounds so, weather permitting, all drivers would still get to race triple finals, it was just one to count. Despite suffering a spin in the low grip and windy conditions, it was a good start for Marc on the large Asoger RC track as he posted the second fastest time in Q1. On only his second ETS outing with the team, Viktor put down the fifth quickest time just ahead of Akio with Yannic’s P8 making it four IF14s in the Top 10. Unfortunately Jilles’ return to ETS action didn’t get off to a good start as he had a problem just before his first heat which ruled him out of Q1 before his car even touched the track. With conditions improving considerably for Q2, the much faster track meant this would be a decisive round. Setting the fastest lap, Marc again was the second fastest time as Freddy Sudhoff took the round and the overall TQ.  With Ronald Volker fastest in Q1, this meant Marc would be lining up third on the A-Main grid. Fourth fastest on his second attempt, that was where Viktor would line up. Also improving their placing in Q2, Akio and Yannic were going to carry the No.6 and No.8 in the finals. Unfortunately Jilles’ luck was similar to that being had by the organisers with the weather and a Q2 DNF meant he was going to start out Sunday in the D-Main.

In Formula, having set the bench mark over Thursday’s seven rounds of free practice, Jitse was the top seed for qualifying after the rain resulted in controlled practice being cancelled. While Q1 netted a P4, in the second qualifier Jitse put together a TQ run but a late shower in the day meant that the time was not quicker than Q1 and he was going to start from second.

While Sunday’s skies were much clearer with the ‘Sunny’ making a welcomed appearance in Spain, it was still very cold as highlighted by the continued requirement for multiple layers of clothing. Making a great start, Marc quickly passed Volker around the outside for second and was chasing down Sudhoff. Suddenly half way into the race as he came to the loop Marc’s car did an unexplainable 360 costing Marc time before a second spin at the end of the straight dropped him to fourth and eventually last. Afterwards it was diagnosed as a tyre problem - a frustrating outcome given his pace. In the end Akio was our leading finisher in fourth followed by Viktor and Yannic. Knowing the speed was there to challenge for the win having set the fastest lap of A1 and with new tyres on Marc went into A2 in confident mood. It wasn’t to be his day however. Having to check-up to avoid contact with Volker, unfortunately Viktor, who was following behind, didn’t have time to react and made contact with Marc who came off worst. Only slightly delayed, Viktor would finish third with Akio in tow. P6 for Marc meant any chance of an overall podium was gone but now Viktor was in the hunt and P3 again in A3, this time behind Marc, would secure him his first podium with the IF14 and first ETS podium finish in quite some time. For Marc, the weekend which had showed promise in qualifying, ended with a 4th place. It would be a 6th for Akio and 8th for Yannic who had a DNF in A3.

While a Modified Touring Car podium at an ETS is a result to be celebrated, in Madrid the weekend belonged to Jitse and our IF11. A member of the team since before we even had our own Formula chassis and steering the development of our first Formula offering, it was only fitting that he claimed its maiden ETS victory. Starting behind the master of the Formula class Jan Ratheisky, in A1 Jitse took the lead at the first corner from where he pulled clear for a winning margin over 6-seconds. In the second A-Main, Jitse again attacked from the start and on lap-3 made a pass for the lead in a drag down the front straight but this time he had to work a lot harder to keep out front and it was only on the last lap when Ratheisky made a mistake that Jitse could resume normal breathing and cross the finish line and make a ‘dream come true’. All his hard work had finally to come to fruition and it was a very popular win.

A challenging weekend as mother nature introduced a new element to racing - trying to stay warm everyone to be able to drive - everyone is hoping next month’s first time ETS visit to  Wiener Neudorf, Austria, will be drier and less chilly affair.

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