2019 - ENS ROUND 4 SEASON FINALE
SEPT 06-07 ETTLINGEN, GERMANY
The Season Finale of the 2019 Euro Nitro Series concluded at the German track of Ettlingen with the popular track playing host to the championship for the 5th time in its six year history. With both the 1:10 & 1:8 titles decided at the previous round in Aigen, Austria where Teemu took his IF15 to the 1:10 title, the weekend was an important test event ahead of the upcoming 1:8 World Championships in the USA. As a track, Ettlingen has been a fruitful one for Dario who came into the race sharing the honour of the most wins on the challenging circuit having won here last year en route to the 2018 ENS title. As has become the norm at every race this season, bad weather was going to see the timetable shuffled around to beat the rain that was being forecast for Sunday. In sunny conditions this meant Friday would be a busy day made up of 2-seeding rounds followed by all four qualifiers to allow the finals to be run Saturday - this decision proving the perfect call as everyone woke to rain Sunday morning!
In seeding it was Dario who topped the 1:8 times while Milan lead our challenge in 1:10 with P2 ahead of Jilles who set the fourth fastest 3-consecutive laps. With the 1:10 title already his, Teemu opted to race only 1:8 for the weekend to test for the World Championship leaving Jilles to try and make it a clean sweep for the IF15 as he chased win number four of the season at the fourth round.
Going for a complete set-up change for the start of qualifying, this paid off for Jilles as he took a super close battle for the fastest time by just 0.054 of a second. A good start, Jilles knew there was more to be found in the set-up. While the balance was good he felt he could benefit from making the car more stable so changes were a foot for Q2. Those changes allowed for another TQ run and with a greater margin over his rivals. Opting to try re-run tyres for Q3, Jilles admitted afterwards it wasn't the best decision he had made but with Thilo Todtmann having traffic issues late in the qualifier Jilles was able top the run and secure the overall TQ, his first of the season. With a best run of a P4 in Q3, Milan would secure 5th on the grid for the 45-minute final.
In 1:8 it was also a strong start to qualifying with Carmine kicking things off with a TQ run ahead of Dominic Greiner. Pushing the limits of his fuel consumption, Carmine flamed out as he crossed the loop to finish his 4-minute run - great timing or maybe some luck but this was to be the start of a strong showing from him in Germany. Dario, who together with Carmine travelled to Germany straight from racing in Japan the weekend before for the opening of the Infinity International RC Speedway, had a more challenging start to quali. Coming into the pitlane for the start of Q1 he made contact with the lowly held car of Toni Gruber and catching the bottom of the car it caused the trim tab to be pulled from the body. While his mechanic Massimo tried to repair it for the run, the body was ripped, leading to Dario having a high speed off during the qualifier as the tab came undone again. He ended up 5th fastest. A better Q2 for Dario netted him a close P2 behind Simon Kurzbuch while Carmine had his turn at being unlucky, a stripped gear forcing him to stop 3-minutes into the qualifier. In Q3 Dario would set the fastest lap on his way to another P2 as Carmine experienced another difficult run and ended up outside the Top 10. Still in contention for the overall TQ going into the final qualifier, Carmine started strong but in the final 2-minutes of the heat found it hard to match the pace of Dario and Kurzbuch. Dario pushed Kurzbuch hard but traffic ended his chances of the top spot. Still P3 for Carmine secured him his best stating position of the season in second with Dario lining up third. Jeffrey joined them on the grid in 6th and the total number of IF18s in the A-Main grew to 5 when Oliver won the B-Main ahead of Rick V allowing them both to bump up to the main event.
On to Saturday, now the finals day, and the team was upbeat about wrapping up the ENS Championship with a strong result. Known for his strategic approach to finals unfortunately Jilles' afternoon was going to take a turn that was outside his control. In the Warm-up, extended as another driver called for a 10-minute delay, Jilles struggled to get a tune on his engine. Taking to the start after numerous visited to the pits to make adjustments it seemed all was ok as he took the start and led away the field from the pole position, but it was short lived. Two and a half minutes in Jilles' engine stopped with no warning causing Todtmann to crash into the back of him with both having to be return to the pits. Fitting a new glowplug, Jilles rejoined but the engine was now too rich so more visits to the pits were required. Once tuned, the car ran the rest of the final faultlessly and he was able to recover from 12th to 6th. Dirt in the fuel or carb is suspected as being the culprit for this disappointing finish to an otherwise strong performance. Also having a tough final Milan finished 9th.
In 1:8, Carmine and Dario set off in formation with their two while coloured IF18s in pursuit of Kurzbuch until the Top Qualifier made a mistake and went on to the grass. On different fuelling strategies Dario was first to stop with Carmine going slightly longer with them resuming there close track position each time Carmine exited from his stops. This was building up to an exciting finish to see how the strategies would work out but during one of his later stops Carmine would get fuel on the gearbox causing trouble with it changing between gears. This was enough to allow Dario go by to take his fourth ENS 1:8 career win but Carmine wasn't far behind. A super 1-2 finish for the IF18, the result was Carmine's best finish of the season despite his issues and is a nice positive to take going into the Worlds in California next month.