2018 ENS SEASON FINALE
SEPT 20-23, FIORANO, ITALY
The Euro Nitro Series reached a conclusion at a favourite among racers - Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter, Fiorano. Having claimed the first title of 2018 after Arie was crowned the inaugural 1:8 40+ champion at the previous round in Austria, the team travelled to the fourth & final round in the hunt for top honours in 1:10 and 1:8. After securing his second win of the season at Round 3, Jilles was going for his second ENS title with Dario, the winner of Round 2 in Germany, also vying for his second title in 1:8. Despite it being the end of September, the weather in Italy was to bring glorious sunshine over the weekend with temperatures hitting 30 degrees. The stage was set for a thrilling finish to what is already the fifth season of the ENS.
As is tradition on ENS weekends, Thursday is a day of free practice but for Dario it was to bring a frustrating start to an important weekend. Unfortunately he would collect a car that after having its own came across the track and into Dario's path with the impact destroying his race car. Not what you want on only your second run of the day. It would take some time for Dario to get back up to speed with him only 11th fastest at the conclusion of free practice at midday on Friday. Carmine however ensured the IF18 was at the sharp end posting the 2nd fastest time with Jessie also up there in P5. In 1:10, Jilles finished free practice fourth quickest with Teemu taking his IF15 to the the second fastest time.
With two controlled practices to determine the heats for qualifying, Friday's action to end the first of the four rounds, Carmine maintained his form with the 2nd fastest 3-consecutive laps. Getting his car more & more close to what he had before his previous day's crash, Dario showed he was back in contention as he improved to the 3rd fastest time. In 1:10 it was a similar story with Teemu again the fastest Infinity driver in P3 as Jilles seeded 5th in the 11-car top heat for qualifying.
With the evening timing of Q1 making for a cooler track, Jilles kicked things off with a P3 run ahead of Teemu. Francesco put in the fifth fastest time with Andy completing the Top 6 for a strong start to qualifying. In 1:8 40+ Arie opened with a TQ run while Dario capped off the days action with a P2 in front of Carmine. Alberto made it three cars in the Top 6.
With another sunny day greeting drivers on Saturday, an early mistake from Jilles left his with a P5 for Q2 but a strong performance from Teem netted him second with Francesco improving to go 4th fastest. Unfortunately in 1:8 it was to a be a frustrating finish to second qualifier for Dario as he was hampered by traffic over the final two laps while on the TQ pace. Having been on for the fastest time of the weekend, his car enjoying the cool morning conditions, he ended up P2. The third round netted a clean Infinity sweep with Teemu, Dario and Arie all topping the times. Arie's third TQ run of the weekend, it secured him pole for the A-Main while the result gave Teemu and Dario a chance of the overall TQ. Warmer track conditions fir Q4 however meant getting the time needed to take the tie breaker would increase the difficulty of the challenge. In the end, Teemu was 3rd fastest on his final attempt while a 110% push from Dario, knowing he needed the quickest time of the weekend, resulted in a mistake. Overall both drivers would start 2nd while Jilles would go for the title from 4th on the grid. Doubling the number of IF15s on the grid, Francesco and Andy secured 6th & 7th respectively. In 1:8 the IF18 was even better represented with Carmine starting 4th, Alberto 7th, Lamberto 9th and Jesse 10th. In 40+, while Arie completed a 100% TQ record for the season securing his fourth pole position and Bo starting directly behind him, the big news was that Kenji had made his first ENS A-Main qualifying 9th!
First of the A-Mains on Sunday would be the 40+ and it would be incident packed for our guys. Starting to pull clear, Arie was denied taking win No. 4 after contact with a lapped car. Dropping him to the back and having to pit for repairs he found himself 3-laps down but over the remainder of the 30-minute final he was able to recover to grab the final podium position only 1-lap down on winner Andrea Hächler. Unfortunately for Bo, having taken the lead from Arie, his hopes off a first win ended rather suddenly with contact with the pit wall with 10-minutes to go. Still, having missed Round 3 in Austria, the points for being classified 9th in Fiorano would lead to Bo becoming Vice Champion. For Kenji, while it was a rather hot A-Main debut, he progressed two places to finish 7th.
With a noticeable heightening of tension ahead of the 1:10 final, given the title stakes, for Jilles the approach to the race was 100% strategic. Even his rivals predicted a very calculated race from him. At the start, with Top Qualifier Dominic Greiner running wide into the second corner, Teemu seized the opportunity to make a pass for the lead. Getting down the inside under braking he didn't have enough brake to get stopped resulting in contact with Dominic that dropped him to the back. For Jilles the start was trouble free and he set about his 'long game' which even if Greiner took the win required him to only need second. The first to pit for tyres, Jilles opted to change just one side and when his rivals later changed all four tyres with no significant advantage in their pace, Jilles knew he just needed to keep the car on track to get the P2 he needed. Unfortunately for Teemu, while he would set the fastest lap of the race, an off resulted in a flame out and he finished 7th. Up front however Jilles and his pitman Felix executed the perfect race to give us our second ENS title in 1:10.
Now the question was could we do the triple? For Dario the scenario was simple, he needed to win. At the start Dario shadowed Top Qualifier Simon Kurzbuch with both drivers pitting at the same time for fuel. On the second stop however his pitman Massimo found Dario a few tenths with a super fast stop. Coming out right on Simon's rear wing it was enough to make a pass possible on the out lap and once in front Dario never looked back. The race later became a matter of finishing once Simon hit mechanical problems. Our third ENS title of the season, it was extra special as it was our first time to lift the 1:8 Championship, the class in which our company's journey began. Also adding to the celebrations was that Carmine made it a 1-2 to finish out our amazing 2018 season.