ENS ROUND 4

ENS ROUND 4

SEPT 29-OCT 1 FIORANO, ITALY

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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CETC ROUND 4

CETC ROUND 4

SEPTEMBER 22-23 HONG KONG

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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2017 IFMAR 1:8 ONROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

2017 IFMAR 1:8 ONROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

SEPTEMBER 8-16 MONTEUX,FRANCE

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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AOC ROUND 4

AOC ROUND 4

SEPTEMBER 8-10 GRC INTERNATIONAL RC CAR TRACK, KOREA

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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ENS ROUND 3

ENS ROUND 3

AUGUST 18-20 AIGEN, AUSTRIA

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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EFRA EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP 1/10 GP

EFRA EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP 1/10 GP

MCCM MULHOUSE 08-12 AUGUST 2017

After a successful Opening Round of ENS Series, last week the Mini Car Club Mulhouse hosted the EFRA 1/10 GP European Championship; also with a difference of almost three months nothing apparently changed with the weather that, once again, was the main character of the competition… Honestly speaking some “fresh” conditions could be welcome in middle august but “rain & cold” is one of the worst enemies of hour hobby. Full of previous experience, Organisers and Federation combined with the Countries TM takes some good decisions that allowed the competitors to run in dry conditions until Saturday morning when firsts lower mains were declared “wet” also if was only a little humid on the track. Good job!

Due to preparations of upcoming 1/8 Worlds next September our Team was represented only by two drivers: Teemu Leino and Francesco Tironi but both are very skilled and long experienced with 1/10 so expectations for a good race was high.

From monday practice Teemu seems “on pace” with only Bruno fastest of the field as he showed at the ENS in May… Both our drivers seeded in top10 until the Control Practice on Wednesday (around noon) where something went wrong with the track that loose some grip for warm conditions compromising the good feeling of the day before for Infinity drivers. By the way nothing  lost or really important as Teemu and Francesco seeded in the second fastest heat…

Qualifying was good for Teemu that, also with a slower heat, succeed to jump in the front of ranking list having some good runs that puts him in a comfortable 4th overall; Francesco struggled a little bit with understeering and less confidence with the category having run 1/10GP last time almost one year ago… At the end also Francesco gain a direct spot for the semis thanks to his big will to drove over the problems. The Superpole Challenge saw our Finnish driver enough competitive but Toni had couple of tenths in the pocket on the single lap and grabs the final spot for the Main.

On Saturday weather is heavily cloudy but everything works smooth… The B-Semi is the stage for Leino (1) and Tironi (8); at the start Teemu had some hard fight to maintain the leadership but after few minutes he puts the “cruise control” for a deserved win… Francesco suffered some contacts in the back of the field but he showed a good pace; his chance to bump up is still tied to a perfect strategy and consistency driving… At the end he grabs a 4th spot but his speed was unmatched from other semis so he could join Teemu in the Amain.

The scheduled Final was delayed for a technical call of Bruno and  simultaneously some drops of rain starts to fall down on the track; race director call a “wet race” reminding the modification of the rules at the microphone. Ten minutes later with a lot of “question mark” in the mind of the mechanics race start… As forecasted from weather apps the rain didn't appear so the strategy assumed more importance in the pit stop; unfortunately both our drivers loose their chances in the early stage with Teemu that flame out in his fuel stop entry lap and Francesco that had to fight hard with the field loosing lot of precious time… One tire change seemed to be the correct choice and almost all finalist choose this solution. At the flag Teemu with perseverance succeed to recover a final 5th place and Francesco a well deserved 7th place… Congratulations to Toni for his deserved win! See you all again in France for 1/8 WORLDS!

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ETS SEASON FINALE

ETS SEASON FINALE

JULY 28-30 ETTLINGEN, GERMANY

The Euro Touring Series concluded its 10th season at the Ettlingen track in Germany with the race also marking a milestone for our EP team as it would wrap up our first ETS campaign as a manufacturer. The first time for the championship to visit the track, its unique surface would prove very challenging just as it had done when our nitro team raced there earlier in the month. Marc, Jilles, Akio and Naoto would attend for Infinity with high hopes of ending the season on a high and controlled practice got things off to a strong start as all four drivers seeded their IF14s into the top heat.

Fresh from taking the Japanese National title a few days before, Akio would set the 3rd fastest 3-consecutive laps in the opening controlled practice. The track for the second round would be faster however for most drivers with Jilles leading the way for the team in P3. Behind him Marc would end up P5 having found he preferred his car without ARS after removing it for the first seeding run. Copying Marc’s set-up for CP2, Akio didn’t like his car without ARS and unable to improve on his opening time dropped to P8. Not a fan of the track after free practice, Naoto started to find his way in the last controlled practice to post the 10th fastest time.

With the first official day of the event concluding with Q1, the colder evening conditions made the track somewhat less challenging. Marc would have a strong first round posting the 2nd fastest time over the 5-minute heat. It would be two cars in the Top 4 as Naoto stopped the clock less than 1/2 a second off Marc. Akio would put it in the Top 10 too but on his birthday weekend this was to be his best run and he ended up in the D-Main. Unfortunately for Jilles he would have a tyre issue & retire from the first round. While Q2 would net a P8 and the penultimate qualifier a P11, it would all come down to the final qualifier for Jilles to secure an A-Main start but a stripped spur gear put an end to that.

Saturday morning's opening qualifier would net Marc a P3 despite him having been able to improve his car and get much closer to the TQ pace, the deficit down from 3-seconds in Q1 to 3/10ths. It wouldn’t be a good start to the day for Naoto as his car got airborne over the curbing on the straight sending it crashing into the marshal post fencing. He would however redeem himself from the error in Q3 with a great drive that would see him TQ the round ahead Bruno Coelho. With this TQ run he would equal his best ETS qualifying, third, which he achieved at the previous round at the Hudy Arena. For Marc the fourth qualifier wouldn’t bring any improvement to his qualification points tally and he would get set to line up 4th on the grid on Sunday.

Finals Day had three A-Mains on the schedule but the forecast warned of rain later in the day. With nice conditions for A1, it started well with both Naoto and Marc quickly catching the No.2 starting Tim Wahl. Naoto would execute an impressive pass on Tim on the entry to the banked sweeper at the end of the straight to go second and 2-laps later Marc also moved up a place with a similar move on the straight to finish 3rd. A2 wouldn’t produce as clean a start as the first one, Marc unintentionally hitting the back of Naoto costing both of them places. Pushing hard to get back the time lost, Naoto would have a moment coming onto the straight but somehow saved it saying after he was ’super lucky’. Getting back passed Ronald Volker for third, unfortunately the gap to second was too big to close down over the remainder of the race. While Marc would make back one of the places he lost on the opening lap he would cross the finish line fifth. Unfortunately just as Jilles got ready to start the third of his B-Mains, the rain arrived with a bang bringing the 10th ETS season to a wet and early finish. With one from the 2 A-Mains counting this gave Naoto second, his best ever ETS finish, and Marc 4th with him finishing the championship 3rd overall. Akio also represented us in the Top 10 of the final standings with 6th overall.

Having only brought together our EP team and the IF14 in February, we have had a great first season of ETS. We have a lot of positives to take from our first attempt at one of touring car's toughest and most prestigious championships. From the 5 races we contested we achieved 4 podium finishes and where on the overall podium at the end of the season. It has been a massive team effort and we are really grateful to all our drivers and staff who made these results possible. We cannot wait to come back for the new season of ETS even stronger.

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2017 JMRCA ALL JAPAN CHAMPIONSHIP

2017 JMRCA ALL JAPAN CHAMPIONSHIP

JULY 21-23 KEITUNE RACING SPEEDWAY, JAPAN

The 2017 JMRCA All Japan Championship took place at the former 1:8 Onroad World Championship circuit of Keitune Racing Speedway in Ichihara, Japan. A race that decides the Japanese National Champion, Akio Sobue and Naoto Matsukura had the honour of representing Infinity on it’s debut in the championship. Racing in the Super Expert class, Naoto would get the weekend off to the perfect start by TQ’ing the opening two rounds of qualifying on Friday afternoon to hold the provisional overnight TQ ahead of Ronald Volker.  

With 3 from the six rounds of qualifying to count, Day 2 would open with another TQ run from Naoto as he moved a step closer to the wrapping up the overall TQ for Sunday’s finals. Again it was Volker who would be his closest challenger but Naoto posted his fastest run so far in Q3 and took the heat by the biggest margin yet with over 3-seconds in hand over Volker. The third qualifier would also see Akio finally break into the Top 3 times for the first time after a not so good first day.

Q4 would be the perfect round for the team, with Naoto heading an Infinity 1-2 result that would declare him Top Qualifier. With one qualifier left on the day’s schedule, Q6 taking place Sunday morning, Naoto signed off the perfect day by again topping the time sheets in the fifth round. For Akio his improved form over Q3, 4 & 5 had moved him up to third in the overnight standings behind Volker with P2 up for grabs if he could put in a strong final qualifier and that is just what he did. Opening Sunday morning with the fastest TQ run of the weekend ahead of Naoto, he secured second on the grid for the A-Main.

In the open final Naoto made best use of his TQ to take the win while it was a more difficult race for Akio. Running second for more than half the race an incident on lap 10 of 17 would drop him back to finish P5 behind another of the race's international visitors Christopher Krapp. In a much closer A2 encounter, Akio would bounce back to deny Naoto the win meaning everything was to be decided in A3. Naoto would make a great start to the decider but 4-laps in both Akio and Ronald would get by. Once in front, Akio made sure he stayed there to take the win and the Japanese National title.

As a Japanese manufacturer this JMRCA title win is a particularly special one for the entire team behind our EP project and which was made all the sweeter thanks to Naoto making it a 1-2 for the IF14 on the podium. Weekends don’t get much better than this, thank guys.

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ENS ROUND 2

ENS ROUND 2

JULY 7-9 ETTLINGEN, GERMANY

After a six week break the Euro Nitro Series resumed with Round 2 at Minidrom Ettlingen in Germany. The third year for the former European Championship host circuit to feature on the ENS calendar, the team descended on the track on the Wednesday with high hopes of a successful event. Last year, Teemu took the first of his two wins en route to claiming Infinity’s first international title when he became 1:10 champion. The team was also looking to build on its podium in 1:8 at the season opener in France where we were the best represented brand in the A-Main. A unique feature of the Ettlingen track is the ultra fine asphalt which creatures a strange feeling between the car and track that drivers say they experience nowhere else in the world! Adding to the challenge of finding a good set-up was the hot weather.  With temperatures around 35 degrees it made many of the Asian members of our team feel at home but the heat was less welcomed by most of the 120 plus drivers in attendance.

In free practice on Thursday, Dario and Francesco lead the way setting the 2nd and 3rd fastest time respectively while in 1:10 Teemu laid down the 4th fastest time, Kenji the only other team driver running 200mm as the rest of the team focused on 1:8. As the event switched to controlled practice on Friday to determine the seeding for the heats, it would be Carmine who was quickest posting the 4th fastest time ahead of Dario who felt he had a better set-up the previous day. Jesse would also put his car in the top heat as he improved on his free practice form to set the 10th fastest time for 3-consecutive laps. While still working on getting his car to suit the track's unique surface, 1:10 cars traditionally suffering from understeer but in Ettlingen having lots of front end grip, Teemu was content to be seeded 5th for qualifying.

With 2 rounds of qualifying planned for Friday afternoon, 1:10 went first with Teemu registering a P4 in a very close Q1 - the Top 4 covered by half a second. With the first 1:8 qualifier underway a rain shower brought things to a halt. Followed a number of additional showers, when the track eventually dried an extra free practice session was run to get the track back to racing condition with the organisers deciding to restart qualifying with the second round of 1:10 heats. Unfortunately for Teemu, he would hit trouble just as Q2 warm-up concluded with the screw in his two speed shaft pulley coming loose causing him miss the first 3-minutes of the heat as it was fixed. With a 20:00 noise curfew at the track, 1:8 would get just a single round of qualifying on Friday with a strong run from Dario netting him P2 with Francesco, Carmine, Naoto and Jesse all posting Top 10 times.

Saturday morning would start 1/2 an hour earlier than originally scheduled to make up for the rain delays of the previous day and ensure 1:8 still got to run all 5 rounds of qualifying. Continuing with 1:8, the second round would be run in a lot cooler conditions and while Dario again was the closest challenger to with Simon Kurzbuch, getting another P2, he felt his car was better suited to a hotter track. After trouble with his engine in Q1, Oliver would put in a fantastic drive from the 3rd fastest heat to post a P4 time with Francesco also going better to record a P5 run. Dario would improve his car for Q3 setting the only 12-second lap of the round but a clutch issue at the end of the 4-minutes would allow Kurzbuch to take another TQ run and wrap up the overall TQ. After his problems in Q2, Teemu would bounce back with a P3 in the third 1:10 qualifier that he followed up a P4 in the penultimate round to lock himself in the A-Main, 3 of 5 rounds counting. Another Top 3 run in the final qualifier secured him 5th on the grid for Sunday’s 45-minute final.

With Ettlingen a place he calls ‘my track’ having being crowned European Champion there in 2015, Oliver would take an important TQ run on his  penultimate attempt, a result that would secure him third on the grid behind Dario. In all four Infinity drivers qualified directly for the A-Main, Naoto lining up 6th ahead of Francesco. The B-Main would see that increase to a record equalling 5 cars as Alberto took the win to bump up and take P11 on the grid. Unfortunately for Lamberto, who started the 20-minute encounter second behind Alberto, an early incident with another driver resulted in heavy body damage and having to make a lengthy pit stop for repairs his changes of progressing were done.

With the 10-minute A-Main practice a chance to test set-up tweaks ahead of the final, Teemu was happy that changes had given him with an easy to drive car which was perfect for 45 tough & hot minutes of racing. Leading the middle third of the race and looking on target for a repeat ENS Germany victory, unfortunately a body tuck caused by contact from the rear coming onto the straight would trigger a second incident later in the lap that would rule him out from taking the top step on the podium. With his car slowed by the tucked body, a second car would unintentionally rear end him sending the crashing onto the crash and as the marshal returned his car to the track the engine cut. Rejoining and showing in third place at the end of the race, it was later deemed his car had triggered the loop as the marshal returned him to the pits after his flame out and the amended result placed him a frustrating 4th.

On to the 1:8 A-Main and it would turn out to be a dramatic finish to the race. Having led the challenge in qualifying, Dario continued to do the same in the final running at the front with Kurzbuch and Bruno Coelho for the majority of the race but making a late stop to be safe, fuel mileage critical at the fast track, a bad stop from another driver would lead to a crash in the pitlane and as Dario exited the pitlane his car would go straight and onto the grass. The impact in the pitlane with the other car had broken his servo saver. With almost no steering causing his car to take to grass every corner, with just a minute to go he wasn’t giving up and somehow got the car around, albeit at a 1/3 of his race speed, to hold on to compete the podium - 3rd an important result for the championship. Despite his dramatic end to the race, Dario was pleased with his weekend’s performance feeling it shows the gap has been closed to reigning ENS & World Champion Kurzbuch in this 1:8 World Championship year. Behind Dario, Alberto would put in a great drive and overcome an early incident to finish 4th on his first ENS outing with Infinity. Unfortunately Oliver's race would not go to plan and he finished 10th while Naoto, who made it two A-Main appearances from 2 starts, and Francesco both retired from the race. While the finals brought the event to a conclusion it was not the end of the team's work in Germany with them using the rest of the day in to put in more laps in the ongoing quest to reach the top.

With the ENS’ level of competition on par with that of the World Championships, a big thank you to all our team for their hard work and efforts over the weekend.  A lot was learned and we look forward to coming back even stronger for the third round in Aigen, Austria next month.

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EUROPEAN TC CHAMPIONSHIP

EUROPEAN TC CHAMPIONSHIP

JUNE 28 - JULY 1 ALMUSSAFES, SPAIN

The 2017 1:10 Electric Track European Championship marked the 18th running of the EFRA event but for Infinity it was the start of a new chapter as it would be our Euros debut as an electric touring car manufacturer. Carrying the weight of this honour would be Marc as travelled solo to Almussafes in Spain to represent the team. A large track which previously hosted the 1:8 Onroad European Championships back in 2008, conditions for the three day would prove challenging due to low traction with even the South East of Spain unable to avoid the rain that seems to be following our EP team!

Arriving in sunny conditions and impressed by the look of the track unfortunately after the first of the three free practice runs on Thursday morning it was clear drivers where going to have to deal with loose conditions, wind not helping matters. Ending up third fastest despite having no one to share set-up data with, as the event switched to two rounds of seeding practice Marc struggled with the consistency of the tyres. In the first run he could only manage the 7th fastest time but changing tyres, he would knock over a second off his pace over 3-consecutive laps to end up 4th fastest. With the first of 6 rounds of qualifying bringing a close to Day 1, it was to be a frustrating Q1 as he registered a P4 after suffering a 360 spin in the ‘really difficult conditions’.

Hopeful of a better Day 2, reduced wind certainly helped and Marc opened with a P3 in Q2 which he then followed up with a P2. Making a tactical decision to use just 3 sets of tyres in qualifying in order to save 2 to go with the extra set available for the finals, Marc would qualify his IF14 third overall behind Top Qualifier Ronald Volker and Bruno Coelho.

With drivers already challenged by the conditions, the last thing they wanted to see was rain but that’s what arrived on Sunday morning. With around an hour & half of drying time between the rain stopping and the start of A1, Marc’s tyre gamble would pay even greater dividends as he could get the jump on both Ronald and Bruno ahead of him as they struggled for traction. Setting the fastest lap of the race, Marc would win by over 2.6-seconds from Bruno, this result to prove important to the overall result. With everyone on new tyres for A2 and 3, the Top 4 would finish exactly as they started both encounters with that A1 win securing Marc the overall runners up spot on the tiebreaker behind Ronald. Summing up the event as a ‘very difficult Euros’, we thank Marc for representing Infinity so well and for giving the IF14 a podium result on its European Championship debut. Muchas Gracias Marc.

 

EFRA GP SERIES 2017

EFRA GP SERIES 2017

ROUND 2 MRTM LOSTALLO (CH) 23/25 JUNE 2017

In the weekend the new GP Series presented by European Federation was hosted for his second, and final round, in the beautiful venue of MRTM Lostallo already theatre of the 1/8 World Championship in 2009. Located in Canton Ticino, not so far from Italian borders, the race attract 55 drivers from 10 countries all over Europe.

For Infinity Team Lamberto Collari decided to attend the race to refine his preparation to the next World’s with the opportunity to challenge the current WC Simon Kurzbuch at his home track. Also Nicola Marrone chooses our platform to attend the race with former 1/8 Spanish Champion Victor Gonzalez and Gianluca Dalcielo from Italy to complete the “pack” of our car.

In control practice the car worked great in Lamberto’s hands that was the only driver enough close to Simon… Nicola suffered some radio troubles that force him to change his transmitter several times until found a solution of his problems. For Victor and Gianluca the tracktime was really important to get used to the very unique layout of this track and both seemed satisfied of car setting.

In qualifying Kurzbuch showed his confidence TQing all the rounds followed by Collari second in four rounds of five. Marrone and Gonzalez secured a semifinal position and Dalcielo grab a midfield position for quarters final. In the Superpole Challenge Lamberto wins the direct Amain access for 0.03 second in front of current European Champion Robin D’Hont.

The weather that was hot & sunny for the whole week become an issue on Saturday night with a thunderstorm that heavily wet the track. Sunday morning the timetable was postponed of one and half hour to let the track dry. In the B quarter Gianluca collect the result of his efforts of the week; he drove really well for 20 minutes but without the tire change he suffers a lack of performance in the last minutes loosing the chance to challenge the 3rd spot and finished 4th. In the B semifinal Nicola cruised in 2nd position behind the local star Pesenti for most of the time until a battle with Marco Vanni, that recovers the initial gap with an aggressive strategy, forced Marrone to the 3rd position that anyway means Amain! Victor Gonzalez suffered a “pin” issues at his gearbox before the start and he had to call a technical delay; during the semi he recover quickly the field but after twelve minutes a mistake before the back chicane drop him out of “bump-up” battle… Will be for the next time.

The awaited Amain promised a great show to the audience; at the start Simon and Lamberto pulled away from the rest of the drivers having a sensible faster pace… Strategies will play the most important role to decide the win: Kurzbuch pits at 4min mark while Collari decided to go “deeper” for 5 minutes “stints”. At second refueling Simon changed only the outside tires and Lamberto was  comfortably in front. At 15 minute mark was Collari that decided for a full tire change giving back the provisional lead to Kurzbuch until minute 27 where the Swiss champion makes his full tire change. Meanwhile Nicola had unfortunately to retire for some different “little” issues but for the first time with Infinity car he was really satisfied. All the people waiting for Lamberto’s last tire change to know who will win this sort of “heads up race”… Collari made the pit stop at 31 minute so the forecast will be really exciting: the gap it’s only 6,5/7 seconds and the Italian driver had to refuel one time less than Kurzbuch. Last pit stop at 41 minutes show them simultaneously in the pits: at the exit Lamberto quickly fill the gap with Simon but at the penultimate lap, trying to avoid the car in front, Collari brake hard in the bump of the back corner with the result to go wider in the grass loosing the chance of a possible overtake in the final lap… Bad luck for Mattia Pesenti and Kyle Branson that were forced to retire while they were on a podium spot position. Kurzubuch win the race in front of Lamberto and Daniele Ielasi previous winner in Cassino and overall Series Winner; 2nd Simon Kurzbuch and 3rd Lamberto Collari.
Congratulations to all drivers!

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CIC ROUND 2

ITALIAN MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP CIC ROUND 2

MINIAUTODROMO 5 COLLI GUBBIO 16-18 JUNE 2017

In the last weekend the second round of the Italian Manufacturer’s Championship took place in the beautiful Gubbio track already venue of last year 1/10 WC. After the Infinity 1-2 in the first round where Dario Balestri took the win and Alberto Picco finished second, our team attended the season finale with Carmine Raiola and Francesco Tironi backing the championship leader. Since the early practice it was Carmine to look the most comfortable on the track, and his Infinity dominated both friday’s and Saturday’s practice followed close by Dario and Francesco. The first round of qualifying went to Dario, but it was Carmine who completed Infinity’s full sweep of the four rounds taking Q2, Q3 and Q4 earning the overall TQ and the pole position for Sunday’s A-Main.
The A-Main saw Carmine start well and lead the race from tone to tone, despite the early pressing from Mazzeo. Behind him Balestri would complete another amazing race despite a bad starting position, with Francesco Tironi rounding up an all-Infinity podium!

Thanks to the wins of Balestri and Raiola, che championship taking into account the best manufacturer’s result in both races,  Team Infinity has also been crowned Italian Champion chassis. Another trophy for this amazing 2017… Thank you guys!

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AOC ROUND 2

AOC ROUND 2

JUNE 23-25 TRC RACEWAY, HONG KONG

After a successful opening round to the Asian Onroad Championship in Shanghai, China, back in April, our EP team travelled to TRC Raceway in Hong Kong for Round 2 of the Scotty Ernst series. Claiming a 1-2 in Shanghai, Akio, Naoto & Andy would be joined by Jilles with the team having a productive day of testing on the Thursday to get familiar with the bigger GP track layout the organisers had opted to use.

Unfortunately like Akio and Naoto's experience the weekend before at the ETS in Slovakia, after a dry day of free practice the race schedule would be effected by rain although in a competition of heaviest rain it was the Hong Kong weather that was a clear winner. Despite the spectacularly heavy downpours, the TRC Raceway track was almost magical in how quickly it dried with the traction levels pretty much how they had been prior to the rain. During the rain breaks, the team used the downtime to join Scotty for a video track walk to give their insight into the layout.

Once qualifying did get underway, Akio and Naoto got straight down to business taking a 1-2 in the first of the four rounds ahead of Alexander Hagberg followed by Andy and Jilles. Q2 would see the IF14 complete the Top 3 times with Akio again setting the pace as Jilles improved to record a P3 run. With Akio and Naoto the class of the Modified field, the duo would again battle it out for a TQ run in the third round. Setting the fastest lap, Naoto would take it after a bobble from Akio on the last lap cost him a competitive time. With only Naoto able to deny Akio the overall TQ, all the team went into the final qualifier fired up and aiming to better their starting positions. The result was an Infinity 1,2,3,4 on the times sheets with Akio taking it and the overall TQ ahead of Naoto, Jilles and Andy. Overall this put all four cars in the Top 6 on the A-Main grid, Naoto starting 2nd, Jilles 4th and Andy 6th.

With triple A-Mains, the first encounter would see Akio convert his TQ into an unchallenged win as Naoto rolled on the curbing early ending his race. With Hagberg inheriting second, Jilles would complete the Top 3 with Andy moving up from 6th to 4th. Akio looked like he was target to repeat the result in A2 and wrap up his second AOC victory of the season early but with less than 30-seconds to go he broke a rear belt handing Naoto the win ahead of Nicholas Lee. This set up a dual between Akio and Naoto for A3 to decide the overall winner. Setting fastest laps 4/10th faster than any of the rest of the field, they went at it but despite his best efforts Naoto couldn’t find a way passed allowing Akio to wrap up another win for the IF14. Naoto joined him on the podium ahead of Hagberg with Jilles claiming fourth overall and Andy finishing 7th. Having put the IF14 top of the time-sheets throughout qualifying and the finals it was another great effort and performance from the team.

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ETS ROUND 5

ETS ROUND 5

JUNE 16-18 TRENCIN, SLOVAKIA

The Euro Touring Series travelled to Slovakia for its fifth round and while it is officially the Summer in Europe that memo appears to have never reached those in change of the weather over the city. After claiming the first international title for Infinity with his win at the Reedy Race of Champions followed by a sun holiday, Marc was in confident form despite the Hudy Arena being extra challenging given whose home track it is. Fresh from taking his first win with the team when he led a 1-2 ahead of Akio at the second round of the CETC in Xiamen the previous weekend, Naoto was also upbeat about the chances of a good result at the ETS.

After a day of testing on Wednesday in Vienna while en route to Trencin, Thursday’s free practice at the Hudy Arena would be run in sunny conditions.  With 6 runs over the day, it was Marc who set the pace ahead of Bruno Coelho while Naoto completed the Top 3. With Akio in 6th it was a very encouraging start to the weekend. Going to bed having basked in the sun all day, the team would wake to a very wet morning and a day that would test their patience. Waiting for the track to dry, it taking two attempts as further rain fell, once dry enough drivers would finally get back on track with a 3-minute practice run to get the track back up to speed so qualifying could finally get underway. Getting 9 heats in the 27 of the first qualifier, the rain returned and while a second attempt was made to dry it, the track wouldn’t be suitable to race on and time was called on the day.

Saturday morning would be a repeat of the previous day with drivers having to play the waiting game once more as they arrived to a wet track but eventually qualifying would get underway. Naoto was right on it putting in an impressive run to set the second fastest time. While feeling his car was not as dialled in for the cooler conditions as it had been on Thursday, Marc, even with a mistake, was fourth fastest with Akio 10th. With the worldwide gathering of drivers happy to have finally got some meaningful driving in the books, just as the second round of qualifying started the rain was back and ultimately the day was done.

With Sunday’s weather showing dry conditions from first light, the organisers decided to get in a second round of qualifying ahead of the finals meaning an extra early start for the team. Marc would improve on Q1 with the 3rd fastest time for the round but would remain 4th on the grid. Akio also improved with the 6th fastest time for Q2 to move up to 8th on the grid, each driver’s best points finish of the two rounds determining the starting order. Having made a change to his set-up for Q2, Naoto had a difficult second qualifier but his Q1 result would give him 3rd on the grid - his best ever ETS qualifying result.

For the first of the triple finals Naoto would revert back to his Q1 set-up and come good on his starting position to find a way passed the No.2 starting Alexander Hagberg. Delighted with his 2nd and the performance of his IF14, Naoto was also a little frustrated at having been stuck behind Alexander for so long as he didn't get the opportunity to challenge Top Qualifier Bruno Coelho. Unfortunately for Marc, suffering a spin on the curbing he would be collected by Akio putting him out on the spot while thankfully Akio could continue to get 6th. A2 was looking like a similar race with Naoto piling the pressure on Alexander but with a minute to go they touched with Naoto fairing worst and dropping two places. Leaving Marc to take up the Infinity challenge, he would finish 3rd with Naoto 5th and Akio 7th.

With newly re-crowned ETS Champion Bruno able to sit out the concluding final having wrapped up the overall win in A2, it was all to play for in terms of the other podium positions. Again Naoto would run all over the rear wing of Alexander but he managed to keep the door shut for the 5-minutes. 2nd in A3 would secure Naoto 3rd overall, his first ever ETS podium finish. Delighted to be on the podium, he was quick to attribute this confidence boosting result to the input of IF14 designer & his mechanic Kotonori Fujiwara. Marc would end up fourth overall with Akio improving on his starting position to finish 7th. While mentally a challenging weekend for the drivers due to the rain delays, it was another great effort from our EP team. Rejuvenated by his performance, the season finale of the ETS cannot come quick enough for Naoto. He will use the 6-week gap before the championship makes its first visit to Ettlingen in Germany to test & build on his new found confidence within the team and with the IF14.

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