Pietsch & Wischnewski win at Hockenheimring
Pre-event favourites Robert Pietsch and Dirk Wischnewski claim victory at the European Nitro Champion in Germany but had to work hard for the success in their respective finals in which the Top 2 where separated by less then 4 seconds after 45-minutes of hard racing at the Hockenheimring track. Top Qualifier in 1:8, Pietsch took his Mugen to a 3.45-secs win over Alberto Picco with Oliver Mack third while in the 1:10 Touring Cars Wischnewski, who started second, had a 3.93-secs winning margin over Mark Green with Daniele Ielasi completing the podium.
The first of the two main finals saw some confusion among the drivers, after the race started, when the timing screens showed the race distance as 45 minutes and not the 40 as published on the timetable. Apparently the change to 45-minutes was made last night after it was realised that this was what was printed in the information given for the race but with no updated schedule printed all the drivers made preparation for 40-minutes. Wischnewski said after the 10-minute lunch time practice session for the Top 4 qualifiers that he based all his calculations on the race being 40-minutes, but in the end extra 5-minutes didn’t effect his race too much as tyre wear today turned out to be a lot less than yesterday. Having had overnight rain on the previous two days of the event, which washed away any build up of traction, Saturday night stayed dry making for much improved track conditions in the finals.
Starting from pole position and making his race debut for Capricorn, Eric Dankel looked to be well in control of proceedings but as the race reached 3/4 way distance his Novarossi flamed out coming off the end of the main straight. Firing up immediately when they got the car back to the pits, the German said it was very unusual as normally a flame out results in a broken plug and the tank still had plenty of fuel as he only pitted 2-minutes earlier. Scheduled to run more stops than Wischnewski, who was stopping every 5-minutes compared with his 4:30, Dankel said even with this he believes he would have still taken the win by around 2 seconds. Disappointed, he said he had to look at the positives of his first nitro race of the season as he showed both he and the Capricorn are competitive.
Having TQ’d last year but suffered similar faith to Dankel when he his engine dropped a glow plug, Wischnewsk said this year his Orcan engine worked perfectly and he was very happy to take the win. Collecting the car of outgoing champion Patrick Schafer when the Shepherd boss flipped his Velox V10 coming onto the start, the 2009 European Champion said his Xray NT1 felt tweaked and so it was a difficult race.
Finding himself last after the opening lap Ielasi was very happy to recover to finish on the podium. The Italian said he wanted to make a clean start from 4th on the grid but said some of the drivers had other ideas. Getting ‘knocked’ around on lap one the contact caused his brake linkage to come undone leaving him to run the race without brakes. In this World Championship year, the 2008 Champion said he was very happy with the performance of the Velox V10 which he said they have improved considerably in the last 12 months.
Making his international race debut with Serpent’s new 747 chassis, Green came very close to taking the win. The former Worlds finalist took the lead of the race when Dankel flamed out but suffered an unusual incident of his own at also the same spot. On lap 116 having come off the straight his car came to a stop and he thought he ran out of fuel but throttling the car it started to move again. Making his way to the pits to have the car checked over everything was OK and he rejoined the race. Losing about 6 seconds, the British ace believes something must have got caught in the drive train. Overall Green was delighted with the performance of the new car saying he never saw such large diameter tyres on a 200m car at the start of the race but it did not hamper the performance in any way as highlighted by him recording the fastest lap of the race. Having expected to see tyre changes during the race in the end none of the 10 drivers did so.
In 1:8, where drivers did not have the same confusion over the length of the race, Pietsch admitted afterwards that taking the win was a lot tougher than he was expecting. Having predicted after qualifying that Picco would be the biggest treat, the Italian kept the pressure on the German right until the final pit stop. Running one more stop, Pietsch swapped the lead with Picco on a number of occasions and it was only when Pietsch made his final and extra stop, coming out ahead of Picco, that he knew he had the win. Having suffered a plug failure last year the Mugen designer was happy to have a problem free race.
His first time at the European Nitro Challenge Picco appeared a little disappointed after the race saying he lost the race at the beginning. Starting from 3rd on the grid on lap 3 he flipped his Picco Torque powered Mugen upside down after making contact with the rear of another car and needed marshaling losing him 7 seconds. One of the greats of 1:8 Onroad racing, he joked that it is for this reason that he keeps telling his pitman & brother Edoardo he must take up tennis so he will be faster in future! Very happy with the performance of his self modified MRX 4.5, which set the second fastest lap of the race, he said following his tyre stop the car was a little more difficult to drive than usual and took about three minutes to come in.
Factory Shepherd/Picco driver Mack was happy to be on the podium but at the same time disappointed after having been able to run with Piestch in the opening stages of the race. The German said ultimately three big mistakes of his own doing cost him any chance of victory. Suffering with his engine going rich during the race he eventually finished 4 laps down. For outgoing champion Michael Salven two plug failures resulted in retirement with 1:30 to go. The Serpent designer, who was holding third at one stage, said his 966 had a lot more steering than he normally runs and this caused him to make too many mistakes.
In the Hobby Cup classes the Top Qualifiers both took dominant victories with Bernd Hasselbring taking his Xray to victory over Alex Kempe in the Touring Car class while Jurgen Bahr also enjoyed a 3-lap winning margin in 1:8 ahead of Dutch racer Pili Luigi.
Created by Shepherd but attracting backing from fellow chassis manufacturers Serpent, Mugen & Motonica, engine companies Picco & Sonic along with LRP and Matrix tyres the second running of the European Nitro Challenge has been a huge success and the feedback from competitors is that the event will be even bigger and better next year. This is a positive for onroad nitro racing which is in need of a boost. Red RC’s first time at the event we are already very much looking forward to coming back to bring you coverage of the 2013 European Nitro Challenge.
1:8 Final Result
1.(1) Robert Pietsch – Mugen/Novarossi – 148/45:10.32
2.(3) Alberto Picco – Mugen/Picco – 148/45:13.77
3.(2) Oliver Mack – Shepherd/Picco – 144/45:15.33
4.(6) Andreas Giesa – Serpent/Xceed – 142/45:15.46
5.(9) Nicolai Bahr – Mugen/OS – 140/45:18.92
6.(4) Lars Hoppe – Shepherd/Novarossi – 139/45:17.43
7.(7) Michael Salven – Serpent/Xceed – 132/43:33.00
8.(5) Merlin Depta – Serpent/Novarossi – 130/43:47.49
9.(10)Thilo-Alexander Todtmann – Mugen/RB – 121/45:20.16
10.(8)Toni Gruber – Serpent/Xceed – 114/45:08.75
1:10 Touring Car Final Result
1.(2) Dirk Wischnewski – Xray/Orcan – 130/45:05.66
2.(3) Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 130/45:09.59
3.(4) Daniele Ielasi – Shepherd/Sonic – 129/45:09:00
4.(7) Mikael Fransson – Serpent/Orcan – 128/45:00.00
5.(1) Eric Dankel – Capricorn/Novarossi – 128/45:14.52
6.(10)Andreas Weyhoven – Xray/LRP – 125/45:22.62
7.(6) Patrick Nahr – Shepherd/Sonic – 124/45:10.30
8.(9) Sebastian Kunz – Shepherd/Sonic – 121/45:11.15
9.(5) Rene Pupke – Serpent/Xceed – 110/39:21.71
10.(8)Patrick Scahfer – Shepherd/Sonic – 76/29:05.20
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