By Mike Garrison
Press Release from the Euro Nitro Series:
The Infinity Euro Nitro Series concludes this weekend (21-23 September) and while the new for 2018 1:8 40+ class champion is already confirmed, the overall 1:10 and 1:8 titles are still to be decided. One of the world’s most popular tracks among drivers both for its layout, facilities and unique atmosphere, Fiorano is once again the venue for the season finale, the race marking the 20th ENS Championship race and the conclusion of Season #5. With the 1:10 World Championships in the US just one month away the fourth stop on the ENS calendar carries even greater significance this year as it is the last major international race before the Worlds and an opportunity for teams and drivers to gauge form for next month. Given the year that is in it, 1:10 has been ultra competitive this season and former champion Jilles Groskamp comes into the weekend leading the points with reigning World Champion Dominic Greiner set to challenge him for the title. In 1:8, the title fight is between three drivers with Simon Kurzbuch also facing competition from the reigning World Champion in the form of Dario Balestri and Toni Gruber.
With Greiner ultimately needing to TQ and then win on Sunday to lift the ENS title for the first time, the Serpent driver does come with a good record at the iconic onroad nitro track. The Championship’s most winning driver, the German has won on the last two visits and TQ for the last three years, his 2015 dominance of 1:10 only ended by an engine failure in the final. The only other winners were Dario Balestri in the inaugural year of the championship and Alessio Mazzeo the following year, denying Groskamp in the final laps of the race. Groskamp has enjoyed two wins this season with Infinity and last time out in Aigen the team enjoyed a 1-2 finish with Francesco Tironi taking second. This weekend former champion and reigning European Champion Teemu Leino is back to make for a very strong Infinity line-up.
While out of contention for the overall title, Mazzeo isn’t making the trip to the season finale to make up the numbers. The Xray driver has been quick all season but has had his issues. He started off his campaign with a TQ at the season opener and on a track where he is always strong he will be looking to add that win he has been working so hard for, a result that could see him become Vice Champion. Elsewhere Mugen will be hoping former Champion and Round 2 podium finisher Eric Dankel can deliver a win, backed up by Dirk Wischnewski.
In 1:8, Kurzbuch has his sights set on a fourth ENS title and will be aiming to achieve it with his 11th ENS career win, a result that would give him a more than 50% success rate. The Shepherd driver has won the season finale for the last three years with the only other Fiorano winner being 9-time World Champion Lamberto Collari in 2014. Despite his winning record, Kurzbuch has only started from the TQ once (2017) with Balestri having the best qualifying record with TQs in 2015 & 16. The Italian had a DNF at the previous round in Austria but taking each drivers worst score into account is only 1-point off his Swiss rival. The Infinity driver secured his 2015 ENS title at Fiorano and will now be aiming to give Infinity its first 1:8 ENS title to go along side Arie Manten’s 40+ championship victory.
Having missed the season opener, Gruber lies 13th in the championship but with podiums in the other two races he could become champion with a victory. The WRC driver has yet to join the ENS Winner’s Roll of Honour, only 7 drivers having achieved this in 5-seasons, but there is no doubting the German’s ability or speed. Elsewhere, after securing his first podium finish at Round 3, Serpent’s Merlin Depta will be aiming to secure a Top 3 in the overall championship but faces strong competition from Shepherd’s Lars Hoppe, 3rd coming into the weekend, and Mugen’s Robert Pietsch.