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!