TITC 2018

TITC 2018


TITC 2018 marked an important milestone for Infinity as one year earlier at Asia’s most famous race we had unveiled to the world our entry into electric touring car competition. Returning to Bangkok, Thailand, the team was ready to again battle it out with the best drivers in the world, only this time they were now armed with a valuable 12-months of experience with the IF14. As always the heat and humidity presented additional challenges in terms of ever changing track conditions with the layout at RC Addict having also undergone a makeover since the 2017 edition.

With massive rain halting proceedings during testing in the days leading up to the race, once the 16th running of the TITC got underway on the Thursday it was a dry track all weekend. In controlled practice the team made an encouraging start with Naoto and Akio seeding 2nd and 3rd fastest with Marc, Jilles and Jesse also joining them in the top heat for the first day of qualifying. With 6 rounds of qualifying run over 3-days, Q1 would see Naoto & Akio swap their seeding order with Marc completing the Top 5. The second qualifier again saw Marc complete the Top 5, the only change at the top of the time sheets being Naoto getting the better of Akio to post the 2nd fastest time behind reigning champion Bruno Coelho. Having made early mistakes in the opening two qualifiers, Naoto concluded the day with a clean Q3 run to record another P2 while a diff change on Marc’s car helped to the 3rd quickest time. Akio had a costly last lap error in the chicane that would drop him to P6 but overall it was a good Day 1 of qualifying.

With the Modified drivers having a free Saturday morning, two qualifiers were on the schedule for the afternoon. Akio lead the way for Infinity in Q4 posting the 2nd fastest as both Naoto and Marc had mistakes. With the overall TQ decided in the fourth round, how the rest of the grid would be formed was still wide open. Akio helped his cause in Q5 with a Top 3 just ahead of Marc who was happy to end the day with a P4 as he secured his place in the A-Main having found himself in the B-Main a year early. While Naoto had his worst run so far, a mid race crash giving him a P5, he held second on the grid overnight sharing the same points as Akio but having the quicker time.

With the arrival of Sunday morning drivers had one last qualifier to go before the triple A-Mains. With Modified first to run, a dusty track would result in low grip and it was Akio who made the best of the conditions with the 3rd fastest time. Knocking a rear shock off his car on the last lap of his final attempt, this mistake would cost Naoto second on the grid. With himself, Akio and Alexander Hagberg all ending up on the same points Hagberg’s P2 in the final qualifier demoted Naoto to 3rd on the grid and Akio to 4th. Marc would line up 5th while Jilles made the IF14 the best represent car in the A-Main by qualifying 10th.

In the first of the finals, there would be drama on the first lap. With Top Qualifier Coelho getting out of shape and spinning in front of the pack, unfortunately for Naoto he could not avoid him dropping him down the order.  This left Akio as the lead Infinity chasing new leader Hagberg. Putting him under intense pressure, despite being the fastest car on track Akio couldn’t find a way passed. Trying to get down the inside of the leader it resulted in contact but Akio waited to allow Hagberg resume his lead which is how they finished. At the end they crossed the line just 17/100ths apart. After his earlier incident Naoto recovered to 4th.

After an exciting opening race, A2 would also have its dramas. With Hagberg and Naoto battling for second they would touch with Akio taking advantage to move up to second but it quickly became the lead. Coelho had pulled out a small lead but clipped the curb at the end of the straight flipping this car and handing Akio the lead. Behind Marc made it an Infinity 1-2 putting both himself and Akio in the hunt for the overall win going into A3.

Will everything on the line in A3 you could feel the tension with a loud crowd adding to the atmosphere. With Coelho having no chance of the overall win, he quickly moved aside after the start to allow team-mate Hagberg to the front but with Naoto trying to follow through he and Coelho had contact and once again Akio took advantage. Now it was a battle of winner takes all. Having dropped back slightly, Akio put in a huge charge in the final minute. Right with Hagberg on the last lap, he went for a pass in the sweeper but getting slightly out of shape he made contact causing both cars to spin but as he had done in A1, he waited and allowed Hagberg to resume his lead. To everyone watching it looked like the race was decided with only 3-corners to go but ‘never give up’ Akio wasn’t done. Going ‘full punch’ into the final corner in which the loop is positioned he would take the biggest win of his career in one of the small margins possible - 0.003 of a second.  What a way to mark your first year with the team! Unfortunately having glanced off the outside track piping during A3 this would cost Marc from joining Akio on the podium as his rear tyre came completely off leaving him 4th overall. Naoto ended up 7th and Jilles 9th. With the team showing the prototype of our upcoming IF11 Formula car, we also enjoyed success in that class with Jitse finishing the single 10-minute final on the podium with second place. It was a team effort with Jilles doing a super quick job in the pits on the mandatory tyre change all Formula drivers had to complete.

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After a 3-month break following the opening round in Austria, the Euro Touring Series travelled to another new location with the small town of Daun in Germany hosting Round 2. The second & final indoor carpet event on this season’s calendar, it took place in the tennis hall of the holiday resort Sporthotel & Resort Grafenwald with the design of the large hall allowing for the creation of something different in terms of track layouts. The upside down T shaped configuration presented a high speed ‘challenging’ lap with the direction used a point that came up for much debate. Having won the season opener in Vienna, Marc was looking to continue his strong start, while Akio was looking to make Round 1 his throw out of the season.

In practice it quickly became clear that the biggest thing to overcome for the weekend would be the track. The speed and unique layout combined with the use of very few corner dots meant minimising mistakes would be key to a successful result.  With the 300 plus entry making for a full schedule, drivers had just a single round of practice before going into the 2 seeding rounds. A long lap, the seeding would also see the times based off 2-consecutive laps compared to the traditional 3-lap format racers have become accustomed too. For Marc the seeding would put him 4th fastest with Akio 6th.

In the first of the four qualifiers, Marc would post the fourth fastest time. Feeling his car lacked steering and corner speed, the run also contained 1 or 2 mistakes, so the aim was to improve both the car and his driving for Q2. Akio would also have a mistake but his was much more costly than Marc's and he ended up well down the order. With the second qualifier kicking off Day 2, it seemed 4 was Marc’s number as he once again found himself fourth quickest. Happy that he had improved his IF14 from Q1, unfortunately his attempts to improve his driving were less successful!  

Widening the rear of the car for his third qualifying attempt, things took a big step forward and Marc was in contention for the TQ however a mistake at the chicane cost him 1-second and he ended up second fastest. For Akio, Q3 was an important turning point. Struggling to get his car to run straight in the previous round, mistakes normally ending in high speed contact with the boards, he changed car for his 3rd run and was back in the mix with the 5th fastest time. Needing a second good run in the final qualifier to put himself in the A-Main, Akio put in a safe drive to claim a 6th and secure 8th on the grid. For Marc the final qualifier netted him another P2 run, the chicane again putting amends to a possible TQ run, and he would line-up 3rd for the A-Main behind Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho and Ronald Volker.

The first of the three A-Main encounters would finish pretty much as it started, with Akio the only driver to make up a position to finish 7th. For Marc he got stuck behind a slow starting Volker which allowed Coelho to pull clear - the race highlighting just how hard overtaking on the track was. In A2, Marc struggled to find his rhythm in the opening laps and came under pressure from behind from Yannic Prumper. Eventually getting into his groove, he closed on Volker who then made a mistake promoting Marc into second. From there he set about trying to close on Coelho but the gap was too big and he ran out of time.

With second in A2 putting Marc in contention for second overall behind Coelho, he went into A3 determined to get ahead of Volker. Putting immense pressure on Ronald, a roll over appeared to end the challenge but Marc wasn’t done and to the excitement of the crowd around the track put in an impressive recovery drive. Against all odds he closed and managed a pass on Volker to win A3, the reaction of the crowd showing their appreciation for what had been a rare sight all weekend. Getting second overall means that Marc comes away from his home event as joint leader of the championship standings. Not a huge fan of indoor racing, this is the best start Marc has had to an ETS season for quite some time and with the ETS moving outdoors for Round 3 he is looking forward to Spain in April. For Akio, the race was also positive as he moved up two spots to finish 6th on a track where overtaking was a far greater challenge than normal.

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While 2017 would be the fifth running of the EWS International presented by Infinity/Volante, it would be the first time for Marc to attend. Organised by Oli Meggitt, who is best known to us as the voice of the Euro Nitro Series, the event continues to establish itself as the UK's leading international electric touring car event with the latest edition attracting an impressive foreign entry. For our EP team the race would mark the end of the first calendar year of competition for the IF14, a project that only came to reality 10-months ago. Joining Marc in Essex would be Andy, the race one of the shorter trips he's had to make this season.

With a Friday evening start time, drivers got three rounds of practice to familiarise themselves with the indoor carpet track. While a little bumpy, the layout would prove nice to drive. A busy Saturday schedule, drivers set to hit the track 7 times over the day, in seeding practice Marc would take his IF14 to the fourth fastest time over 3-consecutive laps. Andy would set the 10th fastest time but the heats would be made up of 9 cars putting him in the second fastest heat group.

Opening qualifying with a P2 run, Marc followed that up with a third and a second before hitting the top with a TQ run in the fourth & final qualifier on Sunday morning. This put him second on the grid for the A-Main in between fellow Germans Ronald Volker and Christopher Krapp. Unfortunately for Andy a tough qualifying left him 12th overall after he lost out in a 4-way points tie for the 10th and final spot on the A-Main grid.

The first of the triple finals saw Marc all over Ronald at the beginning. Creating two opportunities to make a pass for the led, Marc opted to back out rather than risk contact. A small mistake then on lap 8 was enough to give Ronald breathing space as Marc had to defend position from Christopher behind him. Deciding to change his diff set-up for A2, while it made the car easier to drive it was not as fast as in A1 and Marc couldn't challenge Ronald for the win. Unfortunately trying some further changes for A3, it wasn't enough to mount a challenge but finishing second to claim second overall on his final race outing of the season it was a great conclusion to 2017. Describing his first EWS International as an "awesome event', Marc plans on 'coming back for sure' in 2018.

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The ’Charity Race’ in Italy is much more than another international race that attracts some of touring car's biggest names. It is a special event where our sport comes together and does something for those less fortunate. As the title suggests, the race is run to help charity. Having been involved in the creation of this annual event, together with his brother Toni and the host club Team La Gang, Marc made his annual trip to the RC Landia track in Scandiano to be do his part knowing the biggest winner was going to be children in need. The final amount raised for the 2017 running of the event expected to be more than €6,000. Joining Marc on the trip would be Infinity pitman Armin Weihert who swapped his fuel gun for a radio and raced an IF14 ‘for fun’ in Pro Stock. Over the weekend Armin and Marc would make a donation of €300 to the charity fund on behalf of Infinity.

With high traction and a slightly bumpy track making for ‘pretty difficult conditions’, Marc used Friday’s free practice to perfect a set-up on his IF14. With Saturday kicking off with a round of seeding practice, he would line up 3rd for the opening qualifier. Despite a roll after contact with the curbing that cost him 1.7-seconds, Q1 would net a P2 behind Ronald Volker, the pair very evenly matched on pace. Q2 would prove to be a throw out as a big mistake early on followed by a second error left Marc to finish almost a lap down. Having to start the penultimate qualifier 8th as result of his errors in the previous run, traffic was an issue and a small crash with a back marker cost 1-second. Still Marc salvaged a P2. Again a back marker would hamper his final qualifying attempt when after a crash the back marker’s car flew across the track landing in Marc’s path which him unable to avoid contact. Another second for the round, but overall the results left him third on the grid.

Sunday’s schedule was made up of triple A-Mains and it was a positive first encounter for Marc. Starting behind Marco Kaufmann, by lap six he had found his way passed and then could set about closing in on Ronald. While he ran out of time to mount a challenge, setting the fastest lap time of A1 he was really confident for A2. Again with a great car, Marc just couldn’t find a way by Marco who put in a very strong race to defend his second place. So it was all down to A3 to decided the final order of the podium. With his car on point allowing him to execute a pass on Marco, unfortunately Marc undid his good work with an error a few laps later at the end of the straight that would break a front arm. While not the result he was after, Marc still came away with a podium happy that the real winner was the kids of the charity.

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After a limited appearance in 2016, one year later, our Racing Team come “in force” to Florida to attend at one of the biggest race on US soil: The US Nitro Cup. The Fullthrottle Raceway in Kissimmee is the perfect theatre to resume overseas style for on-road racing: flat painted track, wood walls, high traction and family atmosphere. This year more than 200 entries in 4 different categories: GT, Sedan 1/10, Masters 1/8 and the Open Class 1/8. Compare to Europe the racing feeling is immediate with big trailers parked around the track hosting most of US competitors and crowdy pits for the remaining drivers from all over the world. Organisers did, once again, a great job preparing a very challenging track for this race and helping all the drivers to feel like at home.

Our team in 1/8 scale was lead by newly crowned World Champ Dario with the support of Naoto, Jesse, Alberto, Nicola, Lamberto, Trin and Kenji. For the 1/10 the biggest news is the shakedown of our completely new Sedan pre-production prototype in the hands of Teemu, Jilles and Andy.

With a warm and beautiful weather practice went little bit tough for “newcomers” that had to realize quickly “how a mistake could cost” in terms of fixing car after a crash but at the end everybody looked enough confident. Qualifying started early on thursday afternoon with the first round: in 1/8 a surprising Nicola Marrone sets the pace while Andy Moore grab the overnight TQ for 1/10. On Friday 3 more qualification rounds redefined a bit the ranking with Jesse that comes out strong like last year challenged by Dario and Naoto; in the Sedan class was Jilles that overtakes Andy for 3/10 of second to hold the provisional 1st spot on the grid. Nothing decided yet as “rocket round rule” leave everything open for the last qualify on saturday morning: some improvements modified again the positions but Aussie Jesse Davis was “untouchable”… Matsukura 2nd, Balestri 4th, Marrone 6th and Collari 8th gave to the team “half Amain” chance of win. In 1/10 was even better with Groskamp-Moore-Leino in 1-2-3 spot for the Amain.

In the lower mains we have to underline an astonishing start of Kenji that overtakes 2 competitors at the tone placing himself in good position to fight for a bump-up until a little mistake stop him and a strong performance of Trin that, patiently, build a chance to bump up in the 30 minutes Bmain for almost 23 minutes. Only Picco succeed to join the team mates with a careful driving leading the Bmain “flag to flag” adding another Infinity to final Amain count.

Sedan Amain begin with a missed start of the TQ owner Groskamp that was surprised by the countdown completing the disease going on the roof at the 3rd corner. Moore and Leino easy followed early lead of DJ Apolaro counting on  “change-tire free” strategy. Unfortunately for both drivers, an engine cut-off first, and some little issues later, penalised their race with only Andy able to complete the 45 minutes for a final 5th position. Jilles made the “show” recovering from last spot passing competitors one by one with unmatched pace that gave him the deserved lead almost halfway… but was not his day and few minutes later he had to retire for a stripped rear belt. Congrats to the winner Thilo.

In Open class 1/8 Davis and Matsukura pulled away from the field quickly… Balestri struggled a bit to jump in third and when he succeed the gap from the lead was already important. Marrone had a good start showing good pace but had to retire for a techincal problem at early stage… Dario too suffered a broken gear and few laps later had to retire for an accident. Collari after a problem in the first refuelling with the raised pit lane, based his 5mins strategy on smooth driving style to avoid the tire change and step by step he recovered a podium spot with Picco few meters behind… Jesse switch the lead with Naoto for a while due to different tire change timing but once he regained the lead he cruised to a well deserved victory managing the gap on the second. Naoto unfortunately touched the wall entering the main straight and loose the podium spot but his mechanics allowed him to finally complete a 45 mins Amain… At the end was Jesse that cross the line in 1st with Lamberto in 2nd completing the job started last year with Joquin Desoto in 3rd and Alberto in 4th.

Sure was an exciting race in complete different conditions to what we are used… Most important thing was the fun we all had during our time there. Thanks again to organisers staff; see you next year!

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The 2017 edition of Scotty Ernst’s Asian Onroad Championship concluded at the famous Yatabe Arena in Japan with our very own AOC maestro Akio making the shorter than usual journey to represent Infinity. Only missing the Australian stop on this year's five race calendar, Akio had already travelled to rounds in China, Hong Kong and South Korea notching up the win on each occasion. With such success, he was looking to wrap up his AOC campaign with a strong home result. However, when the track is owned by a rival manufacturer, the event was always going to present an extra challenge for Akio who was also without his regular partner in crime. Naoto wasn't competing as he was busy preparing for a trip to Florida to compete in the US World Nitro Cup.

With practice complete and Akio seeding 4th, the first of the six qualifiers wouldn’t go to plan as he suffered a DNF while on target for a Top 3 time. While Q2 would net a P4, things still weren’t as wanted and the first half of qualifying concluded with a disappointing P7. As expected, World Champion Ronald Volker held the home advantage, but Akio would start to find his way in Q4 posting his first Top 3 run behind Volker and team-mate Naoki Akiyama.

With Q5 bringing Day 2 of the event to a close, Akio was able to finish on a positive as he backed up his improved form with another P3 run. With one final attempt on Sunday morning to better his starting position for the Touring Car double A-Mains, him also contesting 1:12 at the season finale, that is exactly what he would do. TQ’ing the final round from Akiyama and Alexander Hagberg, with three of six to count the result would secure him second on the grid by splitting Volker and Akiyama with Hagberg starting 4th.

In the first final, Akio drove a strong error free race to finish as he started and repeating the result again in A2 he wrapped up the weekend with 2nd overall. When the worst result of your campaign is a second place, we think Akio can proudly declare his efforts a success. A big thank you to Akio for representing the IF14 so well in the AOC and to Kotonori-San who was on hand to support him each event.

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Everyone in their life have some preferred moments; something linked to proper feelings, bad or good doesn’t matter, that reminded the signs in their soul. JMRCA Championship is the race where our journey officially started a couple of years ago with our platform Infinity and for this reason it will have a special place in our hearts.

Infinity Team was composed by Takaaki Shimo, Naoto Matsukura, Kenji Taira, Trin Tanongsakchaikul and, for this event, Lamberto Collari as JMRCA member decided to travel overseas to support the Japan team.

Organisers spent lot of efforts to prepare the SRT location in the best way possible and we could say that the track was in beautiful shape; even the rain dropped on saturday night can’t stop the efforts of the track crew that really spread all their energies to allow the drivers to enjoy the race 100%. Well done Komuro San!

Track was open the whole week for practice; rules are little bit different from Worlds with 25% nitro fuel, 5 minutes heats, 5 qualifying rounds; 2 drivers directly in Amain. For the first time in Japan was applied an handout tire system provided by Jurugyx with only 4 sets of tires for control practice and all qualifications. 1 more set for Semis and 3 more set for Amain.

Compare to his first time in 2015 things went really better for Lamberto that topped the practice ranking three days in a row showing awesome speed and great consistency; he feels comfortable on the track and the car support him perfectly. Matsukura, Shimo, Takahata, Terauchi, Yokoyama and Fukuda weren’t far but “sounds” a bit strange to have an european driver in the lead…

Saturday the race officially started with one round of free practice, one round of control practice and then four qualifying heats. Last one will be for the Sunday morning. In CP Shimo dropped on the second heat but in the first round he was the fastest almost 1 second in front of Collari. The second heat was again Takaaki that grab the TQ with the first round closed at 21 laps in front of reigning champion Yokoyama that runs out of fuel last lap and Lamberto that, to avoid an accident, go slow two laps to end. After an ashtonishing WC final Naoto Matsukura was one of most attended drivers but technical problems damaged his performance and at the reseeding (every 2 rounds) he dropped to last heat. In the third round was Takahata that set the pace in front of Shimo and Matsukura with Collari that lost confidence for a 6th overall. In the fourth round Takaaki definitely secured his TQ with another perfect run with Shinnosuke and Lamberto respectively third and fourth; the overall ranking show Yokoyama and Collari tie points with Japanese in second place due to fastest runtime.

Sunday morning Shimo San puts his wheels again in front of the whole field but the real challenge is between Shinnosuke and Lamberto to grab last direct spot in the final; Collari was faster than his rival but not enough as Matsukura and Takahata finished in front of him. With only the 4th place was Yokoyama that bumps in the Amain directly.

In the lower mains Trin bump up in the Semifinal as Kenji had to stop in the quarters. In the semiA Lamberto and Matsukura start 1-2… Lamberto takes the lead but from the beginning is clear he’s testing the strategy for final controlling tire consumption and refuelling; Matsukura takes the lead but once again he had an engine problem that take him out of competition. Lamberto cruise for an easy win when 2 lap to end of the 20 minutes he makes one of the few mistakes of the week hitting a kerb and badly crash in the net ripping his body shell and completely destroying rear end. Fortunately the gap gained in advance allowed him to close third bumping in Amain with number 7. Young driver Norito Hirano was the nice surprise of the day passing the semi and grabbing the last spot for the final. 3 cars in the Main is a good result: well done guys!

In the Amain Shimo pull away at the start followed by Yokoyama, and Takahata; Collari start was very good and gained couple of positions… Yokoyama had a problem at early stage with Collari and Terauchi that were very close for some minutes giving lot of excitement to the audience. After 10 minutes Takaaki’s car begin to understeer preventing the Japanese to maintain his pace while Lamberto seemed to improve his performance supported by a 5 minutes fuel strategy. Hirano was very fast but some mistakes heavily conditioned his result… at the fourth pit stop Collari jumps in second place and few minutes later he takes the lead thanks to longer tire strategy but only two laps later he burns the glow plug loosing every chance to fight for a podium spot… Once restarted in the pits he fights to recover the field improving his laptimes many times but he could only manage a 7th overall. Shimo San had to deal with some problems of handling the car but thanks to his experience he can control the race and closed second overall… Hirano San finish 8th. Not the best result possible but was, once again, an amazing race fulfilled of good feelings for our team. See you next year!!!

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Having only entered Electric Touring Car competition in February 2017 with the launch of our IF14, Season #11 of the Euro Touring Series marks the first full campaign Infinity will undertake as a manufacturer in the world's toughest championship. Having made his ETS debut as a team driver at the second round last season and put the car on the podium, Marc Rheinard would go on to finish 3rd in the final Season #10 standings so expectations going into the new season were high. With an all new venue for the opening race, Marc and Akio together with car designer Kotonori Fujiwara would travel to Vienna in Austria. The first of six stops on the 2017/18 calendar, the race would run as part of the country’s biggest modelling show with a record 63,000 people coming through the doors of Messe Wien to enjoy model displays including watching the best RC drivers in the world race head to head. With the track surrounded by large crowds of onlookers, the weekend would turn out to be the perfect start to our ETS title aspirations.
Following a slightly slow start to practice on Friday morning with Akio P6 and Marc P10, both would improve things for controlled practice to end the day 5th and 6th fastest based on their best 3-consecutive laps around the track’s fast layout. With Marc using practice to put two runs on each of his sets of race tyres he was confident for qualifying. The timetable of the show made for a relatively early finish to Day 1 by ETS Indoor race standards and Marc would return to the track to open Day 2 in style.

Despite being the sixth car in the Q1 starting order, he would deliver a perfect run to TQ the round as the only driver to manage 24-laps. Fastest from Viljami Kutvonen, Q2 would be a repeat of the opening qualifier as Marc again topped the times from Viljami. With Q3 the opportunity for Marc to claim his first overall ETS TQ since the season opener two year’s previous, he wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass and although a much closer battle he did it being fastest this time ahead of Bruno Coelho. The fourth & final wasn’t going to change Marc’s grid position but it would decide how they lined-up behind him for the A-Main, but such was his growing confidence with his IF14 he went on to complete a clean sweep with another TQ run.  Q4 would prove to be Akio’s best qualifier with him fourth fastest which together with his P7 in Q2 would put him 8th on the grid for Sunday’s finals. Choosing to race an IF14 in Vienna as a privateer, Yannic Prumper would make it three Infinity’s in the final with him lining up 10th.

Taking up his TQ position on Sunday morning for the first A-Main, Marc made a blistering start helped by a slow first lap from the No.2 starting Viljami. With a gap over the field, Marc could control the race from the front to finish 2.5-seconds ahead of Bruno. With just one race separating Marc from claiming the IF14's first ETS victory, A2 would see him deliver another faultless drive.  Again finishing ahead of Bruno he did it adding an ETS win to the car's growing list of achievements. With the win wrapped up even Marc himself admitted it has been a very long time since he last had the chance to sit out A3 and just watch the racing. For Akio the weekend would end with him finishing as he started with 8th, the result not a true reflection of his speed. Yannic would get 9th for his efforts.

Leaving Vienna with the maximum championship points possible, a bonus point reward for the TQ, Marc will strive to further extend that lead on home soil when Round 2 takes place in Daun, Germany. Although that race is not for 3 months, Marc and the rest of the team will still be busy because as the ETS is the toughest championships in the World you can’t afford to rest on your laurels.  There is a little leeway however to take a day or two off to celebrate our first ETS win!

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One of the well knew “classic race” ending the Europe nitro season was held at the Marseille Mini Modeles Club last week of october in the south of France only 1 hour far from WC venue. The track has a very technical layout: starting clockwise from main straight (under the rostroom) we found a banked high speed sweeper that ends in an hairpin. The infield left section is very “tricky” with 2 left corners where needed to adjust the line to arrive in a fast “pif-paf” right-left; again 2 consecutive right corners to arrive on the transponder that close on 270 degrees left… Right section was little bit easier with 1 left and 2 right 90 degrees coners before arriving in a tight chicane entering the main straight… For 1/8 the track is narrow but surface was well prepared by organisers and really enjoyable for driving feeling as witnessed by our drivers Carmine and Francesco that attended the race.

Almost 80 drivers from whole France, Germany and Italy attended the race in different categories: 1/8 EP, 1/8 “classique” (2wd), 1/10 and of course 1/8 GP. Schedule of the event is composed by 3 Rounds of qualifying, 5 min runtime, tire treatment allowed, A-B-C finals and a nice series of “side races” to involve mechanics, drivers and public in a really FRIENDLY atmosphere!!

Even if the track was not easy, from the beginning was clear that the biggest enemy could be the wind… Friday practice starts with gusts of 80 km/h… and sunday it raises to 100 km/h! Amazing…

Saturday morning weather conditions was incredible good with sunny day and a complete absence of the wind; in the control practice Carmine and Francesco refined the setup heading trough the 2 qualifying rounds of the afternoon: In the first was Raiola that set the pace with Tironi second unable to close the final lap. The “rocket round” was the second thanks to fresh conditions of the late afternoon; an early mistake of Carmine allowed Francesco to grab the overnight TQ with the overall fastest time.

Sunday the wind appears again on the track for the last qualifier where Carmine that close in front of all but with one on three to count will be Francesco number 1 for the Amain thanks to fastest time. Lower mains started immediately; Francesco and Carmine helped the other competitors of different categories converting them from drivers to mechanics… Staff of the club during lunch break organised funny entertainment with mechanic change-tires challenge, shock absorbers change race and many other competition with prizes for all… Most interesting idea was a “Dash for Cash” race with 10 drivers in reverse order (from 10 to 1) competing in complete new counter clockwise layout: every lap the last have to leave the race… Really “US style”… Francesco win this competition for 1/8 in a sort of “demolition derby” but was really funny to see from outside…

In the reduced 20 mins Amain the home based driver Kalaris surprised our duo taking the lead while Tironi crashes in the big sweeper; fortunately once marshalled his car was in good conditions and Francesco start to push to recover. Raiola after few laps passed in front and cruised with constant lap times in first position; Tironi recover the field with clean lines and aggressive style reaching second position after some minutes. Carmine seems in trouble due to a damaged bumper and in the last refuel Francesco takes the lead; Carmine try to push to catch him but the margin he had was enough to control the tire wearing (really high) and to finish in first position… Another 1-2 for Infinity with former Amain finalist Christophe Aygoin that complete the podium. Well done guys.
Many thanks to MMM Club of Marseille for this opportunity to join a very nice race format with lot of fun on and off the track! See you in 2018!!

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With little time for the reality of our World Championship win to fully settle in, our nitro team was back on the road travelling to Italy for the final round of the 2017 Euro Nitro Series. Now in its fourth season, the Fiorano based season finale marks the conclusion of the international nitro onroad racing calendar with all drivers in attendance looking to end their year with a strong result.

Unfortunately for Dario, his first race as the World Champion wouldn’t be the most enjoyable as he arrived feeling quite under the weather. Naoto was also not feeling 100% for his first visit to the iconic track having gone directly from the Worlds in France to Hong Kong for the final round of the Chinese Electric Touring Car Championship and back to Europe again. Despite this and considering it was his first time to race around Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter, Naoto would lead the way in Free Practice setting the second fastest time (over 5-consecutive laps!) with Alberto fourth, Jesse fifth and Teemu sixth followed by Carmine, Dario, Lamberto and Francesco. 8 cars in the Top 10 after 10 practice runs a positive start to the weekend.

With two rounds of controlled practice to determine the seeding for the qualifying heats, Francesco improved his car set-up allowing him to post the second fastest time behind back to back champion elect Simon Kurzbuch. Behind Francesco, just 3/10ths of a second covering the Top 6, Alberto would set the 3rd fastest time followed by Jesse, Naoto and Dario. With Teemu and Carmine 8th & 9th respectively the fastest qualifying heat would contain 7 Infinity cars. With controlled practice unearthing a difference between batches of the championship’s handout tyre, drivers would be given an extra round of free practice before the opening qualifier to give them time to re-adjust their set-ups for the shore difference.

With Friday wrapping up with the first of the four rounds of qualifying, Francesco would back up his seeding pace with the 3rd fastest time behind Kurzbuch and Bruno Coelho. Running in the second fastest heat, Oliver pulled out a P4 run saying afterwards that his car had been good throughout practice but it hadn't shown because 3-consecutive laps was not his strong point.

Sixth in Q1, Saturday morning would kick off with Dario posting the fourth fastest with Lamberto registering a P5. Next time round Lamberto enjoyed his best qualifying attempt with 3rd fastest. Dario would break into the Top 3 in the final qualifier, the Q4 result securing him 4th on the grid ahead of Lamberto, Francesco, Oliver and Jesse. After difficult runs in Q2 & 3, Naoto made a safe final qualifier with the result securing him the final direct qualifying position on the A-Main grid. With 6 cars directly into the A-Main, that number grew to 8 as Andy mastered the damp conditions bumping his way up from the D-Main to the C and then onto the B-Main which he won ahead of Teemu who completed the 12 car A-Main grid.

After a damp start to the day, the organisers saw a break in the drizzly conditions was coming and delayed the start of the A-Mains in the hope the season could conclude on a dry track. A season that has seen every ENS encounter effected by rain, the wait achieved it’s goal and it was a dry track for both the 1:10 and 1:8 title deciding races. Sadly for Dario, his chances of challenging for a home win came to a strange and abrupt end at the first corner. Making contact with a very slow starting Andrea Pirani the body came off Dario’s car resulting in him having to be returned to the pits. Benefitting from the opening lap’s dramas, Naoto would complete the first lap in 3rd and for the first 15-minutes of the race it looked like he would endorse his unquestionable speed with a podium result but on his 3rd stop for fuel the INS Box would become disconnected from the engine. Rejoining the race before it was noticed, he would complete 3/4 of a lap before his engine stopped. Returned to the pits, the lack of a filter had damaged the engine and it was another premature end for our nitro rookie.

With Naoto out, it was Teemu who joined the podium battle but all the time Jesse, on a single tyre stop strategy compared to the double stops the rest of the grid was on, was pushing his way through to the front. Going ahead of Teemu, he then moved up to second but a misunderstanding when lapping Lamberto resulted in them making contact, the delay dropping him back to third. Able to maintain 3rd position for the remainder of the race, Jesse would finally be rewarded for the hard work both he and his father Ray have put in this season. His first ENS podium it was a very popular result with everyone. Teemu would cross the line in 4th followed by Francesco who recorded the fastest lap of the 45-minute encounter.

An extremely busy, intense, but very rewarding season for our nitro team, Jesse making the podium together with having 8 cars on the grid is a great way to wrap up 2017. A big thank you to all the team for their contribution. Roll on the 2018 ENS.

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Announced in March 2017, the Chinese Electric Touring Car Championship (CETC) organised by Red RC China was created to help raise the profile of the competitive RC racing scene across China. Run over four rounds, Infinity committed our Japanese duo Akio and Naoto to contesting the championship and with the perfect start to the campaign with 1-2 finishes at Rounds 1 & 2 they both travelled to the final round in Hong Kong as contenders to become the inaugural champion. Going up against Nicholas Lee in the three-way shoot out for the title, Akio laid his intentions down early at the Twin RC Speedway track. With rain delaying the start of the event by more than two & a half hours on Saturday morning, when they got around to completing two rounds of controlled practice it was Akio who set the fastest 3-consecutive laps with Naoto ending the seeding second quickest.

As a knock-on effect of the earlier rain delay, qualifying would commence under flood lights. Akio would start off strong leading the way in Q1 but then made a huge mistake half way through the heat. This would cost him 5-seconds and leave him to record a P4. Despite finding his car hard to drive after the first minute, Naoto would fair better setting the 2nd fastest time 0.198 behind Lee. Come Q2, Akio would redeem himself as he TQ’d the round bettering the Q1 topping time by running 22-laps with Naoto the only other driver joining him on that pace. Arriving at the track on Sunday morning to continue the qualifying battle unfortunately so did the rain and it stayed until just before midday. Running short on time this forced the cancellation of the remaining two qualifiers. With 1 of the 2 rounds to count, Akio's faster time would secure him the overall TQ ahead of Lee with Naoto starting third.

Lining up on a dry track for A1, Akio made light work of the first encounter winning it by almost 4-seconds from Naoto who was delayed by a first lap incident. Eventually getting by Lee for second on the narrow track, he couldn’t do anything about Akio who was already too far ahead and in cruise mode. A2 would see both Infinity drivers start on used tyres and as a result Akio could not hold his line at the start allowing Lee, on new tyres, to force a pass down his inside to go to the front. Akio wasn’t giving it up that easy however and chased down his title rival, and capitalising on a mistake from the leader was back on his rear bumper and soon after made his way back into the lead. Staying there until the finish it gave him his second overall win of the season as well as crowning him the overall champion. With Naoto coming through to take second in A2, this would give him P2 overall as A3 was rained off. This result together with his Round 2 victory in Xiamen and P2 at the season opener, would crown him Vice-Champion making it a 1-2 overall championship finish for our IF14. With the IF14’s designer Kotonori on hand at each of the CETC races to support both our drivers it was a great way to cap off a highly successful maiden Chinese campaign.

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Our EP team made the trip to Korea for the first time, attending the fourth round of Scotty Ernst’s Asian Onroad Series. Held at the beautiful new GRC International RC Car Track, the event would be Akio’s third AOC outing this season with Marc joining him for his first race in the series with the IF14.  

Quickly getting their cars dialled in to the track’s brand new asphalt in practice, when qualifying got underway it would be a perfect start. Akio laid down the marker taking Q1 ahead of Marc with another of the international visitors Viktor Wilck completing the Top 3. In the second of the four qualifiers, Akio would post the second fastest time with Marc again just behind him. Marc would come good in Q3 to TQ with Akio third quickest behind Wilck. With the overall TQ up for grabs in the final qualifier, a short sleep between rounds seemed to do the trick for Akio as he went fastest again to secure his third AOC TQ of the season. A bad tyre decision by Marc would leave him 4th quickest but his earlier results meant it would be an IF14 1-2 on the grid for the finals.

With the arrival of Sunday morning came the first of the triple A-Mains. Akio would lead from start to finish. Also setting the fastest lap, he would however be kept in check by Marc with them crossing the finish-line separated by just 0.228 of a second. On to A2 and Akio would have the edge opening up a comfortable gap to secure the win and another overall AOC victory to add to his previous victories in China and Hong Kong. While it was job done for Akio, he would still race A3 and it turned out to be the most exciting of the 3-encounters. With Marc much closer this time round, it still looked like Akio was on for the perfect weekend after he saw off an early challenge from Marc. As he came to finish his second last lap however, with Marc close behind, he would get out of shape. Marc did not need a second invitation to go to the front. This set up a final lap showdown but in the same corner he had lost it a lap early, Akio went for a pass but hit the back of Marc, spinning him. Akio waited for him to retake the lead before a final dash to the line but Marc held it to win by 4/10ths. With Marc claiming second overall it was to be a successful trip to Korea and another AOC 1-2 for the IF14.

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Each time the Infinity team sets off on the journey to a race the goal is always the same - battle for the win. Every two years however one event takes the intensity of that desire and hunger for victory to an even higher level. Why? Because the event in question is the World Championships and winning makes you a life member of a very exclusive club. Making the 1:8 Onroad World title even more special is it is the founding class of RC Racing, it is what the Marathon is to the Olympic Games. For both driver and manufacturer winning the Worlds is an official endorsement that you are No.1 in the World. Like all of the top prizes across the sporting world even making the final is an arduous task with preparation starting months before boarding the flight in this case to Monteux, France.

Since the start of 2017 ever aspect of testing and racing has been undertaken as a step to achieving the ultimate goal and doing so as a team. While only one driver can ultimately claim the title, it would be a team effort to put every small detail in place so we could take on the efforts of the established manufacturers. First run in 1977, we faced into the 21st running of the IFMAR World Championship with the list of winners reading just 12 names. As a track, Circuit Jean Nougier presented a high level of difficulty but all the drivers unanimously agreed it was a track on which the winner would be a deserving World Champion.

An event that runs for over a week, the first indicator of our pre-event preparations was promising as Dario topped the times for the first day of free practice but what was more promising was the general pace of our car with it filling the Top 7 spots. On a slightly different pre-race programme opting instead to contest the Austrian round of the ENS, Jilles would open the second day with the fastest time for the sixth round of free practice from Naoto although Dario’s FP5 time would stand with no one able to better it over the remaining 4 rounds.

On to controlled practice and Jesse marked himself as a strong contender as he set the fastest 3-consecutive laps in CP1 ahead of Naoto as spirits ran high within the team. Reigning World Champion Simon Kurzbuch would top CP2 but it was slower than Jesse’s time however over the day’s final two rounds, points awarded for position per round, it was Naoto who took charge. Hitting the top of the time sheets for the first time in CP3 he would better his own pace in CP4 to become the Top seed for qualifying. With 15 heats, he was joined in the top group by Jesse, seeded 4th, Carmine (6th) and and Dario (9th).

With the arrival of qualifying on Wednesday morning there was a clear change in atmosphere as the stakes started to rise. Simon Kurzbuch claimed the first round ahead of Dario with Naoto 4th. Declaring the start of qualifying as a come back after his troubles the day before, Dario’s run was hampered by confusion over positioning between his pitman and that of Robert Pietsch. With no such issues in the Q2 and 3, Dario would TQ both and leave the track that evening as the overnight provisional TQ holder. Looking to have picked up where he left off on Day 2 of qualifying, Dario would top his heat from Kurzbuch but a surprise earlier run from Yuya Sahashi meant it was a P2 run with Jilles posting a P3 having run in the same heat as Sahashi.

With wind an issue drivers had come accustomed to dealing with, the arrival of rain during Q5 would catch everyone by surprise. Short in time, the rain made up for it in volume with the entire world of who's who in nitro onroad stranded in the various pit areas as the tail end of the weather front passed. With blue sky in pursuit, the track's banking and elevation changes meant the newly laid asphalt would dry relatively quick. With a number of heats remaining to complete Q5, it was decided to resume qualifying by running the sixth and final round before returning to finish out Round 5. With Kurzbuch taking Q6 ahead of Dario, both drivers having the highest of respect for each others abilities, it was all going to come down to the final heat of the day. You could not write a better movie script! Dario would rise to the challenge posting a third TQ to give him the perfect 0 score and the honour of being Top Qualifier.  Stage 1 was complete.

A new feature of this year’s 1:8 Worlds after its successfully introduction at the 1:10 Worlds a year earlier, one of the drivers qualifying 2nd through 5th would get the chance to join Dario as a direct qualifier for the final through Super Pole. Naoto and Jesse would fly the flag for Infinity going up against Kurzbuch and Bruno Coelho. As the 5th place qualifier, Jesse would go first and threw everything at it unfortunately crashing out on his last lap, reminding everyone of the difficulty of the track. With Coelho up next it was then Naoto’s opportunity to set the fastest lap over the 6 attempts given to each driver. He would do it with a time of 15.715 with just Kurzbuch to go. An anxious wait for the entire team and in particular Naoto & his pitman Miura-San, Kurzbuch's best lap would stop the clock at 15.728 sending Naoto jumping with joy in the pitlane as he earned the description ‘1:8 Onroad World Championship Finalist’ for his CV on his championship debut.

With 8 places left to be filled for the 1-hour decider, the two 30-minute Semis would determine those drivers with six places in those duals still open. Finding himself in the 1/8 Final, Lamberto was looking poised to progress until suffering a plug failure while leading. Racing can be cruel and unfortunately Lamberto’s quest for a 10th title was ended by elements outside his control. The 1/4 Finals would prove more rewarding for our drivers with Shimo-San progressing from the B encounter and Alberto & Carmine going forward from the 1/4 A for a total of 6 Infinity’s on the Semi grids. Starting 9th on the grid, Shimo would win his Semi to claim P4 for the main event. In the other encounter Jilles would finish second behind Kurzbuch netting him the No.6 for the final while Alberto bumped up for a second time to make it five Infinitys on the grid for our first shot at the sport’s ultimate prize. Having pushed Kurzbuch hard in the Semi, Jesse wouldn’t be rewarded for his efforts, problems on two of his pit stops denying him his first World’s final start.

After months of preparations and a week of intense track action, the time had finally arrived and with every vantage point filled around the track by a passionate crowd it was game on. With a 10-minute time-out delaying the original start, at 16:26 the French flag was raised. Unfortunately for Dario he was slow away and as the lap progressed things only got worse as he ended up on the grass and needed to be marshalled. Starting second, Naoto led and while 1-hour racing was something he never experienced before he quickly found his rhythm and started to extend a lead over Kurzbuch. Putting a lap on all of the entire field at the half way distance, an error on exiting the pitlane saw that impressive lead evaporate as his car went across the grass, hit the barriers, and needed to be marshalled. Completing two laps his car didn’t feel right so he had to pit again further reducing his lead. All the time Dario was working his way back to the front laying down the fastest lap of the race. With 50-minutes complete and just 10-minutes remaining Naoto would exit the pits as the leader but at the next corner went straight on relinquishing his lead for the first time with Dario going to the front. Unfortunately for Naoto his off was the first signs of worse to come, his receiver battery loosing power and ending a superb performance that has earned him many new fans. After his bad start, something he said afterwards was completely his own fault, Dario wasn’t going to give up being at the front of the pack for a second time and after years of trying finally achieved his dream crossing the finish line 5-seconds clear of Kurzbuch for a truly memorable moment in the short history of Infinity. Nobody could deny that one of the nitro racing’s fastest and most talented drivers had finally been rewarded after years of trying and coming so close.

The reality of being a World Champion manufacturer is going to take a while to fully sink in. As Dario said in his media interviews afterwards, the win was achieved through team effort. We are very proud of all the Infinity Family and thank them for their dedication that led to this moment that will be hard to surpass.

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Round 3 of the Euro Nitro Series was held high up in the Austrian mountains at the technical MAV Aigen-Schlägl track. A circuit that was previously very hard on tyres, a brand new asphalt surface greeted racers on the championship's fourth visit and brought welcomed low tyre wear. With our nitro team getting fully into preparation mode for the upcoming 1:8 World Championship, just Jilles would make the trip, Aigen a track he enjoys. Choosing the event as part of his build up to France, together with pitman Armin, they would test and put race mileage on a number of new potential WC parts.

Beautiful conditions greeted the drivers both in open practice on Thursday and again on Friday but with that dreaded 'R' word forecast for Saturday the timetable was brought forward. This meant four rounds of qualifying on Friday making for a busy day as controlled practice was also on the new schedule. Very happy with his car and pace in free practice, running in the Top 5, he would be less happy with it for the two rounds of seeding practice. Using the runs not only to set a 3-consecutive lap seeding time but also to scrub in the handout tyres for qualifying unfortunately Jilles unexplainably lost some of him promising pace come CP1. Struggling to explain the drop off, unfortunately things wouldn’t improve for CP2 as he had to stop with a broken drive shaft.

Putting himself in the top qualifying heat, the opening round would net a P7 despite a chunked tyre. Improving on that with a P6 on his second attempt, he would conclude the pace drop off was down to a slight difference in tyre batches. While Q3 & Q4 didn’t go as planned, after a rain delayed start to Saturday morning a safe drive in Q5 booked his place in the A-Main allowing him to target Q6 as a chance to better his grid position. Unfortunately the rain returned and he never got the opportunity but he’d secured 10th on the grid and the focus was now on using Sunday’s 45-minute final to get in valuable competitive race mileage ahead of the Worlds.

While a passing shower would stop the 1:10 A-Main, it able to restart after a short delay to dry the track, conditions for 1:8 were perfect. Initially struggling with his car on big tyres, Jilles would choose to only change the outside tyres stopping at 15-minutes in. Finding the car difficult with larger tyres on one side, once they started to reduce in size the car got better and better and he was able to make his way up to fourth by the finish. ‘Maximum happy with 4th’, the result puts him in contention for an overall Top 3 finish in the championship with one round to go. Jilles was also very happy with the information collected over the four days, particularly with what they learned in terms of race strategy, and he will pass this on to his absent team-mates.

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