European Nitro season saw the start in the incredible track of Vigo in Galizia northern-west of Spain. The location was simply amazing with the track lay downed on a hill just in front of the Atlantic Ocean… The layout was funny and fast: a long straight opposite to rostrum, two big sweepers with an infield technical part that have the tough point in an hairpin… Surface wasn’t in good condition for the first day of practice as wind from the sea deposit lot of sand and dust on the track during the winter.
Friday the track was sensible better with better grip conditions every round drivers hit the track. Our team had good practice session with new comer Rick Vriljinck that topped the ranking for long time (he won 7 of the 9 heats); unfortunately some of the other drivers suffered the lost of some luggages as Francesco and Lamberto that have to share some stuff to can practice. Teemu was the unlucky one: his luggage with all equipment arrived only Friday night so he started directly from qualification heats. In 1/10 Dario and Carmine looking forward to learn the track and the setup to fight with some fast local drivers.
Saturday the qualifying of 1/8 was really exciting: in 5 rounds we had 5 different winner… Drivers were really close each other and any little driving imperfection must be paid. The battle for TQ was open until last round between Gruber and Collari; Tironi was really close and Leino, that immediately found the “feeling” with the track, set the fastest time winning the 5th round gaining an unexpected place for superpole. In 1/10 Balestri was consistent and fast assuring an early TQ with Raiola not so far in second position.
In the superpole Tironi complete the job setting the fast time in front of Leino and Collari for 1/8 while in 1/10 Raiola won beating 3 times his best lap just to please the audience… Few minutes later schedule were modified to allow some lower mains because weather forecast for the night wasn’t good… And in fact rained a lot!
Sunday morning the track was wet and the start was postponed to 11.00 am. The numerous spectators that crowded the track all the days patiently wait to see the show; Organizers decided to declare wet conditions: in 1/4A Iñaki Otero won in shape with his IF18… In Semi B the other talented Spanish Infinity driver Victor Gonzalez drove the “perfect race” leading the phase for long time; unfortunately he run out of fuel in the last lap but his advantage was big enough to close in second position and step into the Amain. In Semi A Lamberto paid maximum attention to slippery condition that compromise the race of many other drivers trying to avoid any contact… After swapping the lead with Teemu in the early stage he won just in front of Finnish driver and Rick for a nice 1-2-3… Iñaki Otero suffered some contact in the hard battle for 4th place and closed 6th. Five cars in the Amain: looks promising!
In 1/10 Amain Dario showed his skills starting first and he never looked back; he drove perfectly managing his speed with track condition and competitors… From outside we can felt the consistency of driving and with a good strategy he won lapping the field. Carmine race was more tough with some problems; at the end he had to fight with local star Hidalgo Garrido managing to arrive second just in the last lap. Congratulations for the 1-2!
In 1/8 Leino fueled “maximum push” mode from the start: he passed Collari 2nd lap, Tironi at 3rd and took the lead during 4th lap thanks to Gruber mistake entering the straight; he lead the race for 50 laps briefly swapping position with Lamberto during pit stops. Unfortunately Victor Gonzalez had to retire soon when he was in good position due to engine failure; Tironi cannot found the pace of the qualification and Vriljinck suffered too many problem dropping down in the ranking. When Teemu pitted to change tires was Collari that took the lead and maintain the position until his tire change 25 laps after; thanks to his more “gently” driving style he can planned a strategy with only 1 tire change and the refueling stint of 5 minutes that put him in the conditions to win the race. Unfortunately, few minutes after stop, a lapped car don’t open for him and continuing forcing spin hitting Lamberto and putting his IF18 upside down; once marshaled Collari lost the front clips, body shell come out loosing more than 1 minute and the chance to win the race. Gruber comes back in the lead with Leino that spread all his efforts to challenge him for the lead; was a tight fight but a couple of mistakes advice Teemu to grab the second step on the podium… With this level of competitors we can’t wait to see next race in Gubbio… See you there!