The 7th running of the Nitro Touring Car World Championship is down to the final 22 with most significant driver to bump up from the 1/4 finals being 2014 runner up Yuya Sashashi. The Serpent driver bumps up on to the back of the Semi B final grid after finishing third 3-seconds behind Capricorn driver & pole sitter Kyle Branson who in turn was 3-seconds back on the 1/4 B Final winning Team Infinity of Carmine Raiola. Unfortunately for 2014 Finalists JJ Wang his attempt at the third bump up felt short as he finished 4th, half a lap back on Sashashi. In the 1/4 A Final Toni Gruber would book his place in the Semis going one better than in 2014 as he took the win ahead of 2010 Worlds runner up Takehiro Terauchi. There was dramatic finish to the second of the encounters as 1/8 final winner David Loppini ran out of fuel on the last lap while holding third, gifting Dirk Wischnewski the final spot in the Semis.
Bringing newcomers Team Infinity’s tally of cars in the Semi Final to five, Carmine Raiola said he ‘went easy to get the car in to the Semi’. Pleased with the performance of the prototype car, the 2013 1:8 World Finalist said the Semi final was going to be won making the right decision on tyre strategy. Asked what he planned the Italian wasn’t giving anything away but added, ‘ask me afterwards and I will tell you if I got it right or wrong’.
Leading the first of the 1/4 Finals from start to finish Gruber said hewas pleased at progressing to the Semi finals for the first time but said the latter part of the race was difficult due to the track’s high tyre wear. Describing his Novarossi powered Serpent 748 as ‘in the beginning very good’, the German said by the end of the 20-minutes he had ‘no control’, his front right down to the rim adding ‘it was very close at the end and my only plan was to defend’. In addition to the lack of control he said the small tyres had a huge effect on his top speed. Registering 105 kph on the track radar, by the end of the race his top speed down the straight was down to 85 kph. Looking to the longer Semi final he said ‘I think 4 is the only option’ referring to how many tyres he would change during the 30-minute race.
Shaking his head, ‘lucky’ was Wischnewski’s response to making the Semis after Loppini’s misfortune. The Shepherd driver and current championship leader of the Euro Nitro Series, it was at the Miniautodromo Internazionale M.Rosati track that he won his 2009 European Championship title. Having had to get to that final through the Semi Finals after qualifying P5, the Top 4 making it direct to the Main, the German said his Velox V10 had very good speed but suffered an engine flame every stop and ‘lost a lot of time’. Planning to ‘change something on the pit stops’, he said he is a little concerned over his car after he crashed it heavily finishing the race and he said he ‘hope(s) it is OK’. On his Semi final, him starting the same race that will be led away by team-mate Simon Kurzbuch, he said, ‘now anything can happen’. On tyres he said ‘we have to change’ adding ‘I have to decide 2 or 4 but you can only push hard if you go for all four’.