Alessio Mazzeo has TQ’d the third round of qualifying at the Nitro Touring Car World Championship. After a delayed start to the second day of qualifying as the rain that halted Q2 continued overnight in Italy, the Serpent driver was fastest in the slower track conditions ahead of Robert Pietsch and team-mate Tadahiko Sahashi. Having taken the opening round of qualifying yesterday, Dario Balestri would manage only the 7th fastest time, as he was hampered by a shock issue on his Capricorn. Again Bruno Coelho would show strong running on a TQ pace like in Q1 but this time rather than a mistake of his own the Xray driver would crash into the Shepherd of Simon Kurzbuch which spun in front of him in the windy conditions.
I’m really happy because the conditions are very had hard. There is a lot of wind and this is not good for the car especially under braking’, was Mazzeo’s reaction to his first ever TQ run at a World Championships. With the moment made more special for the 24-year-old by the fact his mother & brother were here to watch the run, he said the pressure of the occasion lead to his final laps not being perfect. Still fastest by almost 7/10th of a second, the former European Champion said, ‘For the first 5-laps I took it easy but once I saw the car was OK and had a good feeling for the condition I started to push’. With his next run to be the running of Q2, the round halted by rain yesterday just as the top heat started their engines, he said the track conditions will be the same as Q3 which means they will be a lot slower that the current TQ time for the round which is current held by Kyle Branson. Commenting on the International Jury decision, he said ‘it is impossible to make the best choice for al drivers so I respect their decision’. He added, ‘120 drivers raced so it is not good to change that they loose that run either, I will try to push for a good time but for sure it will be slower’.
Pietsch had the opposite view to Mazzeo on the running of their Q2 heat saying, ‘It’s totally unfair, the track is 3-seconds slower’. The German added, ‘You can’t compare the conditions, it’s the wrong decision’. On his MTX6 in Q3, the Mugen designer said, ‘the car had a little oversteer and I had to drive careful not to crash it’. To cure this he will ‘change (his) rear diff for the next one’.
Behind the Picco powered Serpent of Sahashi, Francesco Tironi would prove the surprise of Q3. Having not been on the radar in practice and 15th in Q1, the Infinity driver described Day 2 of qualifying as ‘much better today’. The Italian said his prototype touring car from the manufacturer newcomer was quite good yesterday but suffered too much push’. Making the front of the car 2mm narrow for today, the former World Championship podium finisher said they are now working on caster adjustments saying ‘the car is very sensitive to caster change’. Having got to complete his Q2 as he is running in the fourth fastest heat, for Q4 he said they will adjust more the caster ‘to find the limit’.
Posting the 5th fastest time Dominic Greiner wasn’t pleased with his car. The Serpent driver said, ‘the track changed a lot. I had no feeling for the car and it was very difficult to drive’. Planning to change the car for the next one, he said a softer set-up should work better for today’s low traction conditions. On the running of Q2, the German said it is ‘super stupid, the track is never the same as yesterday’ adding the qualifier will be ‘a run to test the car’.
Completing the Top 6 Luca Redaelli said he made a front shock change to his Capricorn in anticipation of the conditions but he still struggled suffering with oversteer. Planning to go back to his original shock set-up, he said now that he is getting over the nerves of contesting his first Worlds he also plans to ‘push more’. Team-mate Balestri, who was 5/100ths slower over the 5-minutes said he ‘knew immediately something was wrong (with the car), with his mechanic suspecting it was to do with a bad shock which he added ‘we must check’.
Commenting on his incident with Kurzbuch, Coelho said, ‘it was a little difficult because of the wind but the car was perfect. I was running behind Simon and then he spun in front of me and we crashed. That was the end of the qualifier for me’. Continuing the rest of the run he would get P18. Kurzbuch said, ‘I am really sorry for Bruno. I lost the rear and touched him’. the 1:8 World Champion continued, ‘I think it was the wind because the car was ok through there all the other laps’.