By Tyler Hooks
Press Release from the Euro Nitro Series:
After a thrilling first half to the season that produced a different winner each round, the 2018 Infinity Euro Nitro Series travels to Aigen in Austria this weekend (6-8 July) for the continuation of the hotly contested battle for Season #5 title honours. The third & penultimate round of the championship, this will be the fifth visit to the picturesque track located high up in the Austrian hills with it a make or break event for a number of potential title contenders. Despite having won on the last three visits to the Aigen track, Simon Kurzbuch’s 2018 season is void of a victory and that is something the Shepherd driver needs to put right if he is to have any chance of going into the season finale to retain his 1:8 title. Winner of Round 2 in Germany last month, it is Dario Balestri who leads the points standings and the World Champion will be determined to make the trip to Aigen worth his while by registering his first win there having finished second to Kurzbuch there in 2016. Last year the Infinity driver opted not to contest the Austrian round and with the track having been resurfaced just ahead of the 2017 visit this will be the Italian’s first time on the transformed surface which was previously very hard on tyre wear.
In 1:10, the track had been a happy hunting ground for Teemu Leino with two previous wins there, however, illness has forced the former champion to withdraw from the weekend. Instead it is his Infinity team-mate Jilles Groskamp who will lead the challenge coming into the weekend as the championship leader at a track which the Dutchman quite likes. 1:10 is proving ultra competitive this season as it is a World Championship year for the class and the drivers have really been showcasing the category with some great racing. Taking the win at the previous round after issues at the season opener, reigning World Champion Dominic Greiner has the best track record of the drivers in attendance this weekend having won on his first visit and TQ’ing the following year.
Sitting second in the 1:10 points, just two points off Groskamp, Alessio Mazzeo has been right in the mix this season and is a very likely third different winner. This will be the Xray driver’s first visit to Aigen but as he showed at the season opener when the ENS made its debut at the Rucphen track in the Netherlands he doesn’t need long at a track to be quick with him securing the TQ. In Germany, the Italian would finish second behind Greiner and despite being one of the sport’s friendliest drivers he wants to reward his team for their hard work with the win. Mugen’s Erik Dankel kicked off his campaign with a podium in Germany having missed the season opener. Dankel has been to Aigen twice before and took second behind Leino in 2016. Representing 1:10’s fifth major manufacturer, Team Shepherd will be pinning their hopes on Thilo Todtmann who last year finished the event second behind reigning Champion Bruno Coelho.
In 1:8, World Champions Balestri and Kurzbuch are certainly the benchmark but they still face some serious threats to their reign namely in Toni Gruber and Robert Pietsch. Having missed the season opener due to the small matter of getting married, Gruber took his WRC to a podium finish in Ettlingen. While the German struggled somewhat at the race in 2017, qualifying 5th and finishing 9th, the former championship podium finisher is now in his second season with WRC and has a much better understanding of the car. Pietsch also showed really good speed in Germany and the Mugen designer is a former Top Qualifier in Aigen so expect him to be in the mix. While in the main 1:10 and 1:8 classes drivers are looking to join the title fight, in the new 40+ Class Infinity’s Arie Manten is making the journey to Austria with his eye on taking home the big prize as he aims for three wins in a row and the inaugural 40+ title.