2018 ENS ROUND 2

2018 ENS ROUND 2

JUNE 08-10 ETTLINGEN, GERMANY

The second round of the Euro Nitro Series brought the team to Germany and following the success at the season opener, on a track that was new to everyone, our drivers were looking forward to racing again on a familiar track. However, while it is a track that had hosted rounds of the ENS previously along with the 1:8 European Championships, Minidrom Ettlingen has one very special feature - it's super fine asphalt. Resurfaced in 2014, this asphalt gives the track a unique set of characteristics that presents a challenge to drivers in finding a set-up for the high amount of steering it induces in the car. With this the fourth ENS visit for drivers, it must be said the track gets a little easier each year but it still presents a different way of thinking when it comes to dialling in the cars. Attracting a healthy 115 entries, the weather, like Rucphen in the Netherlands for Round 1, was to be very accommodating with hot conditions during the day and any rain nicely timed to happen overnight so that the timetable could run without interruption.

With seven rounds of free practice on Thursday's schedule, it was a productive first day with Jilles and his IF15 topping the times. 1:10 would prove ultra competitive throughout the entire weekend with the leading drivers covered by some of the smallest margins possible. With overnight rain bringing the level of traction from 'super high' back to a more 'normal' level for Friday, the final three rounds of free practice brought no change at the top with Jesse, Lamberto (yes, he was back for more 1:10 racing), Teemu and Andy all setting Top 10 times. With two rounds of controlled practice to decide the heats for qualifying, Jilles again set the marker albeit he only ended up fastest by 0.028 of a second! Francesco, Lamberto and Teemu would join him in the top heat.

In 1:8, free practice didn't look particularly good for Dario who was the fastest IF18 in 6th but come Friday's controlled practice he improved to P2. Jesse, who was absent from ENS Netherlands due to his honeymoon, Carmine and weekend birthday boy Oliver booked their spots in the top heat for the 4 rounds of qualifying.

The first of the qualifiers brought Friday's action to a close. In 1:10, Jilles' engine was a touch too rich on the opening lap costing him a few tenths, which given how tight everything was, was enough to leave him with a P2 behind World Champion Dominic Greiner. 6/10ths was all that separated them after 4-minutes with the Top 5 all finishing on the same second. Dario would continue his improvement over the day to open qualifying with a TQ run with Carmine 5th and Shimo, who was running in the second fastest heat, getting 7th.

Further rain Friday night meant once again the track would be slightly different for the final three qualifiers but Jilles nailed it in Q2. With Q3 producing the third different driver to go fastest this meant it all came down to a 'showdown' in the final round with a winner takes all situation. Ready for that challenge, Jilles delivered to claim his first ever overall ENS TQ. Repeating his Q3 performance with another P3, Teemu claimed 4th on the grid with Francesco and Andy also booking their places on the A-Main grid. 1:8 also went down to the fourth & final qualifier with Dario going into it having the fastest TQ time. With a minimum of second on the grid already secured, he opted to try something different with his set-up. Unfortunately it didn't work allowing Simon Kurzbuch to claim the overall TQ. Again we would have the most cars on the grid for the final with Carmine and Oliver qualifying directly with that number increasing as Shimo and Naoto bumped up after taking a 1-2 in the B-Main. In the 40+ class, Arie kept his perfect campaign going with his second TQ start of the season thanks to TQ runs in Q3 & 4.

While tyre wear is relatively low at Ettlingen, the 45-minute final still presented opportunities to gamble and try to get an advantage over rivals with a different strategy. With the 1:10 field so evenly matched every second to be gained counted. With the stakes high, Jilles opted to gamble on going long between fuel stops to save a trip down pitlane. Stopping on 5-minutes, the first refuelling went exactly as planned but things came undone at the next one as he just came short on the fuel. Rejoining in 5th, the high level mean't without others hitting problems the lost time would be too much to make up but with every championship point valuable the goal was now to finish as high as possible. Opting to change only outside tyres, the car a handful for a number of laps after the stop, he made it back to fourth finishing just half a lap off the final podium placing. Not the result the weekend had promised, it would keep him in the lead of the championship as the next round moves to Aigen, Austria - a track which Jilles enjoys. For the rest of the team, the final would bring a P7 for Francesco in front of Teemu with Andy getting 10th.

Next up was the 1:8 40+ Final and from the TQ Arie took control of the race. At the end of the half hour final he had a very healthy 5-lap advantage over 2nd. With Bo Nielsen also putting his IF18 on the podium, Arie takes the bragging rights of being the first double winner of the 2018 ENS. With Arie setting a tough task for our 5-drivers to follow, in the 1:8 final Dario kept Kurzbuch in his sights with them both pitting together for the first two stops. Unfortunately with his clutch engaging a little too early, Dario would have to change his refuelling and start to come in earlier from the third stop on but still the battle for the win was on. Opting for one tyre stop, changing all four tyres, Dario held the lead coming into the final stages of the race but the extra refuelling he would need to make was still to be played out. However, as Kurzbuch came in for his final stop he flamed out. Now with breathing space, Dario could take his extra stop at his leisure before taking the finish two laps clear of 2nd place Alessio Mazzeo to crown off a thrilling day of racing. From the back of the grid Naoto would finish 7th despite running out of fuel on his last lap with Carmine and Shimo ending the race 9th and 10th. While 'Birthday Power' had helped him in qualifying, the final didn't go to plan for Oliver and he retired from the final.

Winning 2 of the 3 finals and with our drivers now sitting at the top of all three championship tables we can safely sum up ENS Round 2 as a successful weekend. Thanks to everyone who made the weekend possible and roll on Round 3 in Austria.

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REEDY RACE OF CHAMPIONS

REEDY RACE OF CHAMPIONS

MAY 24-27 CALIFORNIA, USA

One of the world’s most unique events with its heads up racing format and starting grids that are decided by a lottery, the Reedy Race of Champion is a legendary race which drivers relish. They are racers after all and no other event offers as much 'racing' but the 21st running of the event was not just a celebration of Mike Reedy’s great creation. It was also a final celebration of one of the greatest tracks in the World - Tamiya Raceway in California. A track which is usually summed up by ‘is that it, its small’ when drivers first visit but once they have driven it and in particular raced on it they quickly grow to love it. Having been lucky enough to get a few years reprieve as the land on which it remained unsold, unfortunately a deal went through this year meaning 2018 was a final farewell to the track many attribute to what makes the Reedy Race so special. With this in mind, the Infinity EP team travelled to the US both excited and disappointed at the same time. In particular for Marc, the track has been the venue of great success and it was also here 12-months previously that he gave the IF14 it's first major international title with his 6th Reedy Race victory.

While drivers enjoyed four rounds of practice on the Thursday, the format means it has little bearing on the event ahead. Still, cold conditions this year meant the track was more challenging than normal with Marc not feeling overly confident going into the first of three days of racing. With four rounds of racing per day for the 24 Invitational class drivers, Day 1 was a great one for the entire team. Marc opened the event winning his Round 1 race as did Andy who after a two year break from the event took that win ahead of Akio. In Round 2, Akio added his first win which was particularly impressive because he had to recover from getting airborne after hitting the track’s famous kink. In the third round Marc became the first double winner with Jilles also adding a win to his points tally. The final round of the day would  prove to be the most entertaining with Marc, Jilles and Akio lining up together with Ronald Volker also in the same race. Starting on pole, Volker would get the win with Marc coming through for 2nd, meaning Day 1 ended with Marc just 1-point off the lead.

Onto Day 2 and again Marc & Akio went up against Volker who had drawn another front row start. Coming from 5th on the grid, Marc closed on Volker after a mistake but when his rival had another mistake Marc’s move did work out and he rolled. He was able to keep second despite coming under attack from Akio, all the drivers knowing every point is so important with points from 10 of the 12 races each driver contests counting in the final ranking. With the second race of the day marking the completion of the first half of the 12 races, a win would put Marc equal with Volker at the top of the points table. Another win in Round 7, this time ahead of Christopher Krapp, moved Marc in the lead. It was also a good round from Jilles who got 2nd from 4th on the grid after challenging Viktor Wilck for the win. The last round of the day presented a particularly stacked race in which Akio started on pole, Volker 5th and Marc from the back. Both Marc and Volker were involved in separate crashes at the start and Akio was looking good for his second win but it wasn’t to be with his camber link coming out and ending his race - an unfortunate end to the day for him. With Volker inheriting the win ahead Marc it meant it was all square again in the points and the stage was set for an exciting final day at Tamiya Raceway.

Day 3 and another perfect start from Marc as he clocked up win No. 5. After the disappointment of Saturday evening, Akio bounced back to take victory in his opening encounter which he would back up with another in Round 10 to move into contention for the overall podium. Chasing Rick Hohwart for the win in his race, Marc just ran out of time to find his way to the front but with Volker suffering a mechanical, 2nd was good in terms of points.  

With just two races dividing him and his 5th overall Reedy Race victory at Tamiya Raceway, it was to be the penultimate round that would decide the 2018 title. Up in the first of the round's 3 races, Marc added race win no.6 putting even more pressure on Volker to win his encounter but he could only manage 3rd place securing Marc the title and legacy of being the last Reedy Race Champion to be crowned at the iconic track. While Marc could celebrate early, Akio was still fighting to join his team-mate on the podium. Battling with Wilck and Krapp for the final step on the podium, the trio would go head to head in their last race.  Coming under pressure from Wilck, Akio kept his IF14 out front for his 3rd win of the day to snatch the podium finish, his first time to do so at the track which after August will no longer be. Marc and Akio’s combined result also meant that for the second year running the team pick up the Manufacturers Trophy with Jilles finishing 6th to make a 50% Infinity IF14 Top 6.

Following the podium presentations such is the high regard held for the track drivers were invited to sign the curbing of it’s famous kink. With every driver having their own story about the kink, it is hoped the kink can be removed before the track is demolished and each driver can have a piece of RC racing history. A huge thank you to everyone at Tamiya Raceway, and all involved in putting on the Reedy Race of Champions, for the great memories over the past two years. It is a real shame we didn’t get to enjoy more times at the track but we look forward to being part of it next year where ever its new or temporary home will be.

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EFRA GP SERIES 2018 RD.2

EFRA GP SERIES 2018 RD.2

19-20/05/2018 Club R.A.C.G. Montbonnot -FR-

One month after Fiorano is RACG club, close to Grenoble, the host of the second round of GP series presented by EFRA. This location will be probably chosen to held next 1/8 European Championship in 2019. The Club was well organized with a good number of person as staff very helpful and friendly. The complex is quite amazing with an impressive on road track as “main focus” completed by EP/GP buggy track on the opposite side. Pit stands are really huge and comfortable as the rostrum that was really deep and big.

For Infinity official team was Carmine, Francesco and Alberto that attends the race with Bilal of Infinity France in support from Reunion Island. Practice was very good with Raiola “on fire” that immediately built a good feeling with this track that we could define as “tricky” with not a really difficult layout but very tough to complete a “perfect” lap. The back chicane is really a “pif-paf” where entering line is the most complicate thing to do; correct line and good speed means couple of tenths gained! Also Tironi after few heats gets his confidence with the layout seeding 2nd with a good pace; Alberto mostly developed his new engine loosing some time but gained comfortably the fastest heat.

Saturday morning the appearance of Simon added more excitement to the race expecting him fast as usual even without the necessary practice. Carmine won the first round in front of Francesco confirming their “good shape”. Unfortunately, due to a problem with the counting system race was “freezed” more than one hour and we have to wait until lunch break to get the official results with the impression that round could be cancelled. This waiting damage the “concentration” of Raiola in second round that makes an error in the big sweeper while Francesco, steady in the pace, gets third behind Pirani and Gruber getting also the overall lead. Picco finish 5th with good improvements. The 3rd round signed the “end of practice” for Simon… he got the TQ with Carmine in his roots very close and in the 4th round was Carmine to set again a TQ run for a definitive #1 in the main thanks to fastest run obtained in the morning. The final round sees Toni as winner with Francesco second and qualified for superpole with Pirani, Gruber and Kurzbuch. After 5 minutes warmup for all a rain shower forced organizers to postpone the challenge at Sunday morning.

Sunday starts first with the lower mains and after couple of phases was again Superpole; Francesco drove really well but his choice to use the best set of tires available didn’t paid off as diameter was too low providing him not enough acceleration and high speed. He must pass trough B semi where he won staying in control in front of John to secure a main spot. In the other A semi Alberto was really careful driving faultless taking the 5 place plate for the Amain.

After drivers presentation and a technical delay Amain finally starts with Carmine that open a little gap on Simon with Alberto that immediately jump in “podium area” with a couple of overtakes… Francesco hardly fought in the back of the pack showing a good pace. After first refueling an error costs to Raiola the race as 2 speed get “loose” making shifting unstable… Simon acquire the lead but few minutes later he finish his race in the grass; Francesco tried a different tire strategy but this drop him out of the fight for the podium. Alberto, Toni and Carmine sweeps the lead for long time for the different fuel strategy but is a “stop&go” for Alberto that stops him in the chasing for first position. Carmine push till the end signing also the fastest lap of the final but Toni cruised “mistakes free” for more than 30 minutes securing a deserved win. Carmine and Alberto fill the podium with Francesco 5th overall. Nice  team job!
See you all in Ettlingen!

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ETS ROUND 4

ETS ROUND 4

MAY 11-12 ANDERNACH, GERMANY

Following a disappointing trip to Round 3 of the Euro Touring Series in Spain, our EP team travelled to the fourth round with high hopes. Having previously hosted the season finale of the opening four years of the ETS, Andernach in Germany was back on the calendar after 7 years.  A late addition, following the news of the closure of the Mulhouse track in France, our distributor Tonisport put in sterling work to have the track ready and looking pristine for race weekend. For Marc the return to Andernach meant one of the shortest trips of the year for him with Motodrom Andernach located right in his home town of Andernach. While only a few 100 metres from his family home, the track is however not one which he makes use of but the winner of 3 of the 4 previous ETS races there this doesn’t appear to affect his performance. Marc and Akio would be joined for the event by Naoto and Andy. Both travelled directly from the ENS season opener the weekend before in the Netherlands, stopping off for a day of nitro testing at Ettlingen on the Monday in preparation for the second round next month.

With the ETS calendar featuring more ‘nitro’ style outdoor tracks in recent seasons, the return to tight technical Andernach track made for a different challenge. While no driver would claim to really like the track, the majority did like that it was something different albeit it difficult. Unfortunately Thursday's practice day would be hit by rain and there was more rain forecast for Sunday. The good news was though that Friday and Saturday were to be nice, shorts wearing type days. Based off the many weather predictions, the decision was made to condense the event into 2 days - Friday & Saturday.

At the end of practice, our guys looked good with Marc fastest in seeding ahead Naoto with Akio also making the top heat of qualifying. Following the three rounds of practice that started off Friday’s action, it was then straight into 2 rounds of qualifying. In Q1 Marc posted the 2nd fastest time feeling he didn’t drive very well. Behind, Naoto put in the third fastest time reporting that after a strong first 2-minutes his car began to develop understeer. Managing to improve his car from practice, Akio recorded the 4th fastest time. With Q2 taking place in cooler evening conditions this was going to be the ‘rocket round’. With small changes reducing his car's drop off after 2-minutes, Naoto was on target for this critical TQ but touching the curbing on the last lap he got ever so slightly out of shape. Given how close everyone was it was enough to cost him the TQ by just 5/100ths of a second!! Further improving his car set-up, Akio was again 4th but for Marc changes he made didn’t work and he could only manage 6th.

Saturday would be a full day for the team with 2 more qualifiers to run followed by the triple A-Mains. An even sunnier day than Friday, the hot conditions meant a slower track but Naoto got the day off to the best start possible posting a TQ run ahead of Marc. His first ever TQ run of the ETS, it also meant he had a chance at the overall TQ but the high temperatures were working against him. In the end it wasn’t to be, drivers with new tyres for the fourth & final qualifier coming to the fore and Naoto having already used his 3rd allocated set of tyres. With 2 from 4 rounds to count, the final outcome was Naoto would start 2nd behind Bruno Coelho, with Marc fourth and Akio 8th.

With all the drivers predicting overtaking being a challenge given how tight the track is and how high its curbs are, Naoto knew he needed to put pressure on Coelho for a mistake from the start. Running on his rear bumper and clearly with a quicker car but showing great patiences, the mistake he was waiting for eventually came and he was able to get down the inside to take the lead. Again trying the same approach for A2, they both had small errors that cancelled out any opportunity. Trying to set up an inside pass through the chicane on the final lap, Naoto was just a little too far in and the curbing sent his car into a roll. He could still manage to retain his P2 given how much they had pulled clear of the field. Marc would finish each of the opening A-Mains in 3rd.

With both Naoto and Coelho having a win & a second a piece it all came down to A3.  Again great patience drive from Naoto saw him shadow Coelho as he waited for an opportunity. It presented itself after 3-minutes as Coelho jumped the curbing in the centre chicane, but as Naoto went for the pass the cars touched as Coelho’s car landed letting the pack come through. The result left both drivers tied on points but Coelho's faster A2 race time meant Naoto’s quest for his first ETS win continues. Still it was an impressive performance from Naoto who drove three brilliant finals. Marc made it a podium double for the IF14 but unfortunately it was a tough day for Akio and he finished 9th. In the other ETS classes, we also made the +40 Masters podium thanks to Beni Stutz while Dominic Vogl took a strong 5th in the A-Main of Pro Stock. The 11th qualifier for the Formula A Main!, the 11 car grid the result of a solution to a miscommunication regarding the extra tyres for the final, Jitse managed to make up 2 spots to finish 9th. An exciting weekend given how close Naoto came to the win lets bring on the next round.

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ENS ROUND 1

ENS ROUND 1

MAY 3-6 RUCPHEN, THE NETHERLANDS

The start of the new season of the Euro Nitro Series would present a new track with De Baanbrekers in the south of the Netherlands the venue for the first of the championship's four races. 257 metres in length, the track on initial inspection would look rather easy but after a few practice runs drivers agreed it was a very different challenge to go fast around. The key to the track was the entry onto the main straight where the curbing would catch out many drivers over the weekend. With a great air of excitement coming into the start of what is now the fifth season of the ENS, four days of sunshine created a great atmosphere together with the good humour of the Dutch hosts.

With 2018 a World Championship year for 1:10, this would be reflected in how competitive and close the top drivers would be. For our team it would also be the first time racing our upcoming IF15 kit release and from the very first practice our drivers had a good overall feeling from the new car. After free practice, the Top 10 would contain 4 of our cars with Jilles leading the way with the 2nd fastest 3-consecutive laps just ahead of Teemu. Looking like some sort of timing error to see his name on the 1:10 time sheets, Lamberto would post the sixth fastest time ahead of Andy in P7. One of the greatest drivers in 1:8, this was actually Lamberto first ever 1:10 race and with just 7/10ths separating the Top 10 he was right there. In 1:8, there was now two classes to follow with the introduction of the +40 class. In the main class, Dario produced the second fastest time followed by Lamberto with Naoto completing the Top 6. In 40+, Arie would give the first indication of the weekend he was to have by topping the times.

With a break in proceedings during which time the drivers briefing was held on track, the switch to timed seeding practice would bring a change in track conditions. With 1:10 drivers having been looking for more steering, now they needed more rear traction. After the 2 runs, it would again be Jilles who led the way for us with the second fastest time behind World Champion Dominic Greiner. Unable to improve on his time from the first run, Teemu ended up fifth fastest feeling he still needed to tweak his set-up for the different conditions. Lamberto would also make the top qualifying heat with the 6th fastest time in a car that someone else in the team had built, which was fitted with a borrowed body shell and was using one of the team’s spare engines. In 1:8, Dario seeded P2 behind Simon Kurzbuch as he still looked to perfect his set-up. One of the challenges of the track for Dario was how sensitive it was to even the smallest of set-up changes - a small strong change feeling like he had done something a lot more drastic. Bringing Fridays’s action to a close, Naoto and Lamberto managed the 4th and 5th fastest seeding times. Arie would remain in control of the +40 class.

With Saturday’s schedule made up of all four rounds of qualifying plus some lower finals, Jilles and Teemu got things off to a strong start with a P2 and P3 for Q1. The second round would prove even better with Jilles running a TQ time with Teemu again third fastest over the 4-minutes despite a mistake entering the straight in the final laps. On the third attempt, the track getting slower due to rising temperatures, Jilles delivered the 3rd quickest time with some bad laps meaning P6 for Teemu and P7 for Lamberto. In the final qualifier, the track at it's slowest, the team would deliver a 1-2 with Teemu at the top of the times ahead of Jilles. All this meant Jilles would line up second on the grid for the 45-minute A-Main behind Alessio Mazzeo with Teemu starting third and Lamberto 8th. In 1:8, after a good start that resulted in a P2 in Q1, Dario had a tough 2nd and 3rd qualifier, traffic an issue in Q3. Finishing out qualifying with a P3, this would mean lining up 3rd on the grid behind Simon Kurzbuch and Silvio Hackler. With Carmine qualifying 6th,a superb effort from Chavit rewarding him with 7th and Lamberto 8th, the total number of IF18’s was then to be boosted to 5. After a rough qualifying, that tricky corner on to the straight being his nemesis, Naoto would start out his Sunday down in the C-Main. Winning that 20-minute encounter, he went on to come through to also win the B-Main to line up 11th in the main race. In +40, after dropping off the top in Q1 & 2, Arie came back to TQ the third & fourth round to secure the overall TQ ahead of fellow Infinity driver Bo Nielsen.

With tyre wear on the high side, the big discussion ahead of the final was strategy.  With such a closely matched grid and tyre changes a greater challenge in 1:10, quick work in the pits was going to be vital. Making a great start and running side by side with Mazzeo off the line before playing safe and backing out knowing 45-minutes of hard racing lay ahead, Jilles would put in a flawless race. While his car didn't miss a beat he would have a human body mechanical while leading the race. Suffering from his throttle finger going numb he had to stretch his arms to get the feeling back - not ideal in a race. All the time in the pits however Felix produced flawless fuel stops and two full tyre changes while also keeping his driver well informed even instructing him to open up to allow cars battling for lower positions to overtake such was Jilles lead advantage. For a time it looked like it was set to be an all Infinity podium with Teemu racing Jilles for the lead, but with his air filter came dislodged during his second last refuelling causing the engine to run lean and stop on track ending a great effort and resulting a 9th place finish. Lamberto was 3rd in the closing stages but then got hit forcing him to pit to fix the body dropping him to a P5 finish. Jilles' win was to be his first ENS victory and it was all the sweeter because it was on home soil delighting all the locals with his dad Frank on hand to enjoy the celebrations. Given the year that is in it, it is also a great ENS debut result for the IF15.

With +40 next up with a 30-minute A-Main, Arie completed the perfect weekend with a tone to tone victory with Bo joining him on the podium in 3rd. The big question was could we do the clean sweep. For a time it looked very likely, Dario was leading the race but it was to go wrong at the first of the two tyre stops. Leaving the pitlane, he would hit a stray tyre which he mistakingly thought had come of his car. Stopping at the pitlane exit and returned to his crew, complete with the stray tyre, it was discovered he still had all four of his own wheels intact. Unfortunately the incident was enough, given the World class quality of the field, to cost him a chance of victory. Dario would battle back however enjoying a great fight with Kurzbuch to come out on top to finish second behind Robin D’hondt. While not the result he hoped for, second place points is a solid start to his ENS campaign. After suffering a broken body following contact at the start, Lamberto finished 4th while Chavit backed up his qualifying with a super P5 finish. Naoto would complete the Top 10 but unfortunately Carmine would retire 4-minutes from the finish.

Delighted to take the win with our new IF15, the opening round of the ENS highlighted the competitiveness of both our cars and already we are looking forward to Round 2 in Ettlingen in Germany. It might be five weeks away but the work to be even better never stops.

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EFRA GP SERIES

EFRA GP SERIES

RD.1 MINICAR FIORANO 13/15-04/2018

Due to an unusually long cold weather in Europe the Round 1 of the Efra GP Series 2018 could be considered the real first important race of the year… Well known Jody Scheckter track in Fiorano was chosen to host the event. Our team attended with their European based nitro drivers in both categories: Dario, Lamberto, Carmine, Alberto and Nicola shaking down the new IF18 while Teemu and Francesco showed the potential of our future IF15 platform.

Thursday a good series of free practice allowed drivers to “re-enter” in the competitive ambience after the long winter rest… Organizers looking to bad weather forecast for Sunday decided to modified the schedule rushing a bit to complete the race Saturday evening… now we could say  that was a good call !

Due to this decision Friday 2 rounds of practice were skipped from the timetable to enter directly in the reseeding with CP1-CP2 before 4 qualifying rounds… A very long day that saw a solid performance of Simon in 1/8 and of Dominic in 1/10, both grabbing overall TQ honor in advance. In 1/8 good news was Carmine that close in 2nd place the first 2 heats overtaken by Dario only in the last round thanks to his TQ run. Alberto had to face some different issues as Nicola did, while Lamberto had to fight with some glowplug/engine problems. In 1/10 Francesco and Teemu seemed really quick switching position in chasing the leader learning the new car.

Saturday the last qualifying round confirmed the fastest guys with Lamberto that finally manage  to close a decent run finishing 6th overall. Alberto and Nicola both in semis with Dario and Carmine qualified to Superpole. In 1/10 Francesco confirmed as second “force” of the race with Teemu 4th progressing (both in Superpole) in testing setup and parts for new platform.

First Superpole was exciting for the closest gap ever between contenders: only cents of seconds divided 1st to 4th. Was Dario that confirms his speed in front to Silvio and Carmine jumping directly in the Amain… In 1/10 Francesco make his personal “show” running an astonishing second  lap where was able to destroy his opponents deserving 2nd spot on the grid with a gap of 3 tenths of second.

Lower mains starts immediately… Carmine and his brother helped two of their Infinity customers fighting for the bump up but only Adriano manage it (3rd) in front of Antonio 4th. In 1/8 of Final was Gianluca that had to leave the race due to a “grilled” engine when he was in second place. Former Spanish champ Victor suffered a contact in his main with the result of a broken servo saver and early back home.

SemiB was the first starting with Lamberto, Alberto and Nicola… The start leave Nicola in the grass for a big contact that involved him “badly”; took lot of time to repair his car. Lamberto seemed in “challenging mode” developing different strategy (5minute refueling) testing it for the main switching position with Leader Andrea depending on “pit time”. Alberto looked comfortable in 3/4th with good perspective when a loosen tap screw forced him to pits… A shame that few minutes later hit Lamberto that broke his engine before transponder line… Sure not their race! SemiA was surely better with a dominant Carmine on the track… fast, consistent and steady like a stopwatch. No risks at all for a deserved win with a 3rd place on the grid…

In 1/10 Amain Teemu called a tech delay starting from 11th spot; with 5 minutes refuel strategy Francesco decided for an aggressive driving style looking to overtake Dominic in the firsts corners… unfortunately the move  hadn’t the success expected leaving him in the back of the pack. 10 minutes later Franci gets results of his speed recovering 2nd position trying to challenge again for the final win with another aggressive move: he change only external tires during second refuel but something goes wrong and after 3 minutes he run out of fuel on back chicane… Game over. Teemu tried to battle at his best  for the podium but some issues and contacts penalized him. A 5th place for Finnish driver and 7th for Italian wasn’t what really expected from this race. Dominic deserved the final win.

In 1/8 Carmine was the nicest surprise with a very competitive pace… he makes an amazing job trying to stay as much close possible to Simon that lead and win the race. Dario looked little bit less performant compared to qualifies but, in a sort of “strategies war” with his team mate, succeeded to overtake Carmine in the last pit stop… A great race in one of the best locations of the worlds to practice our hobby. Look forward to ENS rd.1 in Netherlands in three weeks for another challenge… meet you all there!!

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1/10 NITRO SEDAN WORLDS WARMUP

1/10 NITRO SEDAN WORLDS WARMUP

HOMESTEAD (FL) 23-25/03/2018

Weekend before Easter was held in Homestead the most awaited Warmup for incoming Sedan 1/10 Nitro Worlds next october… Our team attended the event shaking down the first batch of IF15 pre-production to understand the overall performance and areas to be improved before item release.

Location of the race is exactly the same of April 2011, when the 1/8 Worlds was held here… in the shadow of the NASCAR complex you can feel the heritage of Motorsport competition! Honestly speaking the facility is amazing with hundred meters of covered pits, bathrooms and all services you may need to be comfortable at the track. Layout is the same during these years as the surface.

Leino, Balestri and Raiola respectively supported by Miyashita, Miura and Alfonso attended the race to collect as much info possible staying also other couple of days to test every sort of setup. From Thursday practice the pace of our drivers was impressive: all of them feel really comfortable around the track that was “sauced” some days before the event to have a nice overall grip.
Friday couple of control practice reseeded the field with last heat full of talented drivers with some of the most knows US drivers like Paolo, DJ, Joaquin Jr and European specialist as Thïlo. The limited number of drivers that attended the race leave organizers the room to open the track between every session; this “relax mode” allowed all drivers to refine their setup more times a day leaving all very satisfied. Handout Tires (Matrix) and single fuel (VP) completed the race panorama.

In the six heats of qualifying was Paolo and Joaquin Jr that get the attention of the competitors thanks to their “5mins fuel strategy”… Fuel milage was really critical in this track with all our drivers very fast but forced in the pits at least twice in the 10 minutes runtime. Carmine suffered little bit more difficulties sitting 8 overall as Teemu and Dario got a spot for the “SuperPole” challenge. With Paolo TQ, competition start with DJ as first to hit the track… unfortunately a damaged differential stops Balestri before his 6 laps than Leino set the limit in 17,365 that Desoto Jr cannot succeed to beat.

Sunday 30 minutes semifinals saw Dario and Carmine jumping in the Amain even facing some problems… Dario change external tires after 8 minutes to guarantee the correct consumption of the foams while Carmine decided for a “tone to tone” strategy for his tires.

The Amain start see a “little drama” with some contacts in the firsts positions and Raiola leaved (like a Ninja Turtle) on his roof for more than a lap and half in the chicane… sometimes happens it’s not your day! Fight was maximum harder from the beginning with Leino chasing the lead and succeeding to jump in front after few minutes with Balestri close to his roots. Unfortunately our Finnish driver runs out of fuel at second stop and few laps later he chunk a tire (forced to pits) loosing the chance to fight for the win. Dario drove really fast but safe knowing disadvantage of fuel milage trying to control the race until the tire change that could be considered the “turning point” of the race. In the meanwhile Carmine don’t stop to push HARD every single lap!!!! His amazing determination helped him to recover the field respectless 2 flame outs and shortest refueling time ever (at 3 minutes). Miura & Miyashita makes an astonishing job at 28 minutes in the pits during tire change allowing Balestri to jump in a comfortable lead on Morganti… Dario engine wasn’t perfect so his pit crew try to tune it during refueling but an unpredictable cut-off drop him in second position with 16 minutes to go. Teemu and Carmine fights together for last podium spot about 10 minutes “neck to neck” when also the leader few laps later run out of fuel giving back the lead to our Italian driver; different pit strategies and damaged pipe excited the audience with Dario managing the gap and Paolo pushing hard to recover. With the drivers divided only by couple of second the final call was for Miura San that assures Balestri that his opponent needs a “splash&go” to finish the race.

Dario, Paolo, Carmine and Teemu 4th the final result.
Congratulations guys! ;-)

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FEMCA CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018

FEMCA CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018

MAR 9-11 HONG KONG

The 2018 edition of the FEMCA Onroad Championships was held at the Tom Racing Circuit in Hong Kong with Jesse, Naoto and Shimo making the trip to compete for the 1/8th honours. With the event officially getting underway with a single round of timed practice, this would set the team off on a positive way with Jesse recording the fastest 3-laps to become top seed for the qualifying. Shimo would take his IF18 to the 3rd quickest time while, despite having a crash that cut short his run, Naoto was 4th.

With five rounds of qualifying to get through, 3 to count, it would be the perfect opening run from Naoto as TQ'd ahead of Shimo. Unfortunately for Jesse it was to be a difficult Q1 and he would be classified 9th. He bounced back in Q2 however leading a 1,2,3 for the team ahead of Naoto. After that Naoto would go on to rule proceedings posting three more TQ times to become Top Qualifier and book himself directly into the Main Final. Jesse soon joined him as the only other direct qualifier by winning the Super Pole. Qualifying 3rd overall, Shimo would have to drive an extra 30-minutes to secure his place in the Main winning his Semi Final from pole position by a comfortable margin.

The final was to prove a tough 45-minute encounter with multiple lead changes between the Infinity trio. At the end, it was Jesse who came out on top 3.5-seconds in front of Shimo to become Asia's new 1:8 Onroad Champion. Forced to make a late tyre stop while holding the lead, Naoto completed the Top 3 a further 6-seconds back for an all IF18 podium. With Jesse already completing a clean sweep at the Victorian State Titles at the start of the year in his home country, it has been a great start to the 2018 nitro season for our Aussie.

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TITC 2018

TITC 2018

MAR 1-4 BANGKOK, THAILAND

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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ETS ROUND 2

ETS ROUND 2

FEB 2-4 DAUN, GERMANY

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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EWS INTERNATIONAL

EWS INTERNATIONAL

DEC 8-10 ESSEX, ENGLAND

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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US NITRO CUP 2017

US NITRO CUP 2017

FULLTHROTTLE RACEWAY KISSIMMEE 29/11-03/12

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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CHARITY RACE

CHARITY RACE

DEC 1-3 SCANDIANO, ITALY

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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AOC FINALE

AOC FINALE

NOV 24-26 YATABE ARENA, JAPAN

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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Contacts

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