VILA REAL, PORTUGAL
Just couple of weeks after 1/8 Euro’s in Cassino the other bigger appointment for European Federation was held at Vila Real in Portugal… Race location was very nice, laydown in the mountains, not so far from Porto, that was already theater of 1/8 championship few years ago. The track was huge, especially for 1/10 Nitro touring cars, with very fast layout and many different racing lines options. From first day of practice on monday the biggest problems to face was an overall lack of traction and some wind breeze that suddenly arrived without notice to disturb the drivers. Entries was around 60 with the best European drivers in attendance. Our Official team attended to shake down the new IF15 for first time; Teemu, Dario, Francesco, Jilles, Carmine and Andy spreads many effort in practice days to collect as many info possible to prepare the World’s Championship in late october.
After three full days of practice and opening ceremony Wednesday afternoon on Thursday morning the race officially started with 2 control practice and 2 qualifying rounds. After reseeding all our drivers was classified in the 2 best heats with surprising 15 years old Milan Holthius from NL that get a place in fastest one. In qualifying Pietsch looked as the most comfortable driver on the track TQing 4 rounds and jumping directly in the final. The closest driver to challenge his speed seemed Leino that in some occasions was really close (in 3rd round only couple of tenths with faster laptime) and was second overall. Balestri, after struggling a bit in first heats, improved a lot seating in 3rd once gained the last round moving straight to superpole… Groskamp also struggling searching best setting of his materials on the track but with good driving consistency finished 7th just in front of Tironi 8th and Moore 9th… 5 cars in top ten looked very good but was even better looking at Raiola that finish 11th after a bad start and Holthius that get a Semi’s spot 15th nine days after he finished to build the car. All IF15 are in semifinals!
Superpole was a very competitive show… Highlights start with Alessio that repeated his trick to cross the line full speed (as he makes in Gubbio 2 years ago) setting 20.8 in hot early afternoon conditions… but the best had to come: Dario was confident to have a chance to jump in front “cutting” as much possible the racing line of the big sweeper: in the two first attempts he suffer the loosing of the rear-end but at third lap he hold on FULL throttle sliding a bit for an astonishing 20.6! Teemu had safer approach and was forced to pass trough the semis.
For the final day temperature raised a bit giving to all drivers more concerns about fuel milage and tire strategies… 21 sec lap times didn’t allowed any risks in pit stops and due to fast layout (amazing sweeper before finish line airpin) the different wearing of tires inside/outside was unusually high. All solutions are possible: 1 full, 1full and 1 outside, 2 full. SemiB was the first with only Francesco for Infinity that start safe, drive smooth and consistent with a super 5minutes refueling strategy… 3rd place and Amain bump up for him! SemiA saw five of our cars at the start… Teemu put “cruise control mode ON” and drove safely first place tone to tone. Unfortunately for Andy first and Jilles later a stop caused them to finish here their race. Carmine suffer a problem in the beginning but he managed to arrive at his first refueling, tuned the engine and then started to chasing the field with nice pace having clearly in mind the overall time limit of SemiB… the 4th place with faster time gave him the Amain spot; even Milan was faster than other semi but he finish only 6th slightly missing the Final but bringing home the European Junior Title; congrats to you and your father!
AMAIN: Four drivers with IF15… after presentation and warmup, Final starts in the hottest hour of the day… As described before the strategies will have maximum importance in these conditions hoping to avoid any failure. At the start Dario passed Robert in two corner showing great confidence in his package; Teemu avoid any problem or contact early stage and drop down 2 position just behind Francesco and in front of Carmine. At 6th lap a little fault of Balestri allowed Pietsch to lead again the field; at first fuel stop Dario’s race was decided by a lack of fuel (or power) forcing him to get marshaled and loosing lot of time… Tironi with his fuel strategy quickly recover positions taking the lead often when rivals go to the pits and Leino drives his way to the front with consistent pace. Raiola suffered couple of stops in the pits that didn’t allowed him to express all his potential. Tire change was the turning point: Robert, Francesco and even Dario that chasing the group trying to recover positions planned 2 full set change. Teemu and Alessio that were in front only 1 full… And was the winning choice; smooth driving of Leino with used tires compared to competitors on fresh set show the great consistency of the Finnish driver; a great pit work completed the job. Pietsch hold on fighting for a while then he had to pit long time to fix a problem; Mazzeo spread all his energies to fill the gap but when he catched Leino, 3 minutes to go, he had to “splash” to complete the 45 minutes. Francesco sure of podium spot cruised to finish line taking care to avoid any problem and Dario finalized his chasing with a final 4th place. Congratulation Teemu! And Thank You Very Much to you and Milan for this European Titles! See you at the Worlds in Homestead!