MONTBONNOT ST. MARTIN (FR)
Last weekend the annual European Championship for the 1/8 on road category was held in the beautiful setting of RACG club of Montbonnot St. Martin very close to Grenoble in France. Most of drivers was present at the track from early Monday morning to take advantage of the two days of free practice before the event.
From the beginning the track layout looked really challenging… the back-chicane in the front of the rostrum can be considered the “key-point” to set good lap times: coming from two “high speed” big sweeper (one right and one left) you have to slow down dramatically to guess the correct racing line… the chicane high kerbs don’t allowed any type of mistake. The right side of the track included two hairpins where mechanical traction is mandatory to have a car moving forward with high risks of spinning once exaggerate on throttle…
In the controlled free practice all our drivers seemed pleased with the handling of the car setting good lap times… On Thursday, the Control Practices for the reseeding went well with Dario topping the ranking; unfortunately a problem with computer delayed the start of first qualification round in middle afternoon forcing the Federation to move the 2nd round to Friday morning for a tighter time schedule with 4 rounds instead of usual 3.
In the first qualification round was an epic battle between Carmine and Simon that droves together all the heat; the Swiss driver took the first position for the blink of an eye… On Friday morning Raiola got his revenge topping the round followed close by Balestri, holding provisional TQ for the fastest overall time. No time to relax and again on the track for third round where Kurzbuch close again first in front of Balestri that recovers superpole position after the bad start on Thursday afternoon. In the fourth round was the Italian current WC that bring home the round… with this result is opened an unusual three way situation for the #1 in the Amain: the one of them that took the win in fifth round will be the Pole sitter… At the tone Carmine was “on fire” with amazing fast and consistent laps; after 90 seconds Simon made a mistake that took him out from the fight… Dario smell the “blood” and showed his killer instinct placing an astonishing pace in the second half of the heat passing Raiola, that have a slower competitor in front loosing a bit of pace, in the last two laps… Dario is overall TQ and Carmine in Superpole challenge 3rd overall. Very good news from the rest of the team that summed an impressive result with Jilles 7th, Francesco 8th, Oliver 11th, Jeffrey 13th (at his Euros debut! Well done!) and Lamberto 14th in direct semis: 50% of the cars in the semifinal was IF18!!!! Carmine tried to sort out all his speed in SuperPole challenge but Simon was quicker and go directly in Final.
Saturday morning Leino (from 1/8) and Vrjilinck (1/4) bumped up to Semi… In Semi B Tironi , with good pace, managed his speed without risks grabbing a spot for Amain arriving 3rd… In Semi A Raiola solved the practice quickly leaving the field behind him and arrive in 2nd place grabbing the Final… considering the SemiB as a lot quicker, the last spot was an hard fight between our drivers and the local driver Picard: was Groskamp that finish 3rd and took a place for Amain in front to the French driver and Rietveld that signed the best overtake of the event in the middle of the back chicane…
Amain start clean with Dario in front… he push very hard from the beginning in “hammer mode” as his strategy included 1/2 tire stop more than rivals… the race was really tight and with firsts fuel stops position started to change a bit. Dario change outside tires at second pit at 8.30; from the field the fastest was Carmine that, after third refueling recovered a podium spot starting from P9! In the middle of the race the leads swapping from Kurzbuch to Balestri and reverse for the different fuel strategies: when the Swiss driver make his full tire change Dario complete his masterpiece squeezing 120% of his IF18… an astonishing series of fast laps allowed him to make his full tire change maintaining the lead and after that he never looked back also if Simon tried all he can to fill the gap… Francesco unfortunately suffer a failure… Carmine after 30 minutes become little rich and slightly loose some pace in the end of the race that allowed Jilles to recover for a beautiful podium 3rd spot that can only give him more confidence for the upcoming Worlds! Last minutes seemed an eternity but the faultless drive of Balestri crowned an awesome job of the whole team… Well deserved Dario… you’re the European Champion!!!