September 16, 2017

Kurzbuch set to defend title after Semi win

Simon Kurzbuch is set to defend his World title this evening in France, the Shepherd driver winning his Semi Final to progress to the 1-hour final that will decide the winner of the 21st running of 1:8 Onroad World Championships.  Starting from pole in the second of the Semi encounters have lost out on the TQ to Dario Balestri and the Super Pole to Naoto Matsukura, Kurzbuch would win the 30-minute encounter from Jilles Groskamp and Silvio Hachler with the fastest race time to secure 3rd on the grid.  Winner of the first Semi ahead of fellow Japanese driver Shoki Takahata, Takaaki Shimo will line up third ahead with Takahata completing the top half of the grid ahead of Groskamp, Hachler, Alberto Picco, Alessio Mazzeo and Lars Hoppe.  Coming into the event as one of the pre-event favourites along Kurzbuch and Balestri, there was cruel luck for Bruno Coelho.  Starting from pole the Xray driver was in clear control of the race until he suffered a suspected partial engine seize at the end of the straight. While the engine fired back up in the pits he title hopes were done.  Also suffering similar faith was former World Champion Adrien Bertin.  With the large French crowd fully behind the HB driver, cheering loudly his every pass, he worked his way to the front leading for a time but with 8-minutes to go his engine stopped.  A heartbreaking end to what was to be the veteran racers retirement from competitive racing.

‘We won our Semi so we achieved our goal’, was Kurzbuch reaction to his win but he wasn’t so happy.  The Swiss driver continued, ‘I think we need to improve for the final especially also my driving.  I need to risk more’.  While pleased with his car, the factory Novarossi driver said they must also look at the engine.  He said, ‘One stint really tight.  We did have good fuel time so maybe it was the temperature. We need to check this for the final’.

Finishing just 2/10th behind Kurzbuch 2-years ago in Brazil, Shimo summed up his Semi win by saying, ‘It was unlucky in qualifying but today is OK’.  Coming through from the earlier 1/4 Final and starting the Semi 9th, he added, ‘we had work after qualifying but today we jump and jump again’.  Looking to the final, the Infinity driver, who has made the Final since 2011 and finished 2nd twice, added, ‘My car & engine are good so my plan for the final is to enjoy it and have fun’.

Starting 3rd on the grid, Takahata would have an impressive recovery from a bad start which saw the Mugen driver in the grass before the first corner and needing to be marshalled.  From last however he would quickly get back to the front to claim his first 1:8 Worlds Final start.  Making an outside only tyre change during the race, the 23-year-old saying tyre wear is higher today, he said 2 stops for all four tyres could be a option for the final but he is confident he has the car to put in a good race.  While the Semi B would see two Japanese drivers progress it would be the end for 2013 Champion Tadahiko Sahashi, the Serpent driver having the disadvantage of having to make one extra fuel stop compared to his rivals.

In an exciting battle for the final guaranteed bump up spot, the final two spots decided by quickest race times, Mazzeo would come out on top.  With Coelho’s demise, the Italian will carry Xray’s hopes in the final.  Dedicating his making of the final to his friend Giuseppe Catanzaro who passed away recently, he said, ‘Like always it came down to the last lap. The conditions were very hard with the wind and my engine was too lean so when I gave full throttle it lost power.  The car was also very loose in the rear but I grit my teeth and we did it’.  Set-up to run a different set-up for the final he concluded, ‘I have to thank Massimo (Fantini) for this and also Daniele (Ielasi) because he changed the strategy during the race and that got me through’.

‘I could not hear any commentary so I had no idea of the running order’, was Groskamp’s reaction.  He added, ‘I just drove my own race but I didn’t know if I was racing for position or if a driver was a back marker but in the end I made it and my car was super good’.  A finalist in 2013, Groskamp is one of 5 Infinity’s to make the final, with Alberto Picco bumping up from the 1/4 finals.  Unfortunately for team-mate Jesse Davis, while he looked to recover from a slow tyre change, on his last stop his mechanic’s t-shirt would get wrapped up in the front wheel costing the quick Australian time and a chance to bump up having been in contention before the stop.

Benefiting from mistakes from Hoppe and JJ Wang right at the end, Hachler was delighted to make it through.  The Swiss driver and great friend of Kuzbuch said, ‘It was a perfect race until I lost a wheel’.  As the ARC driver exited the pits after his tyre stop the rear left wheel came off with his hopes of making the final looking to be over.  ‘I pushed 100% after that.  I drove on the limit and I also got a bit lucky other crashed ahead of me but the car was perfect and I can drive on the limit for a long time so I think it will be good for the final’.

View complete event results here.

View our event image gallery here.


If you republish any elements from this page on another website, including text, original pictures or results please be sure to add a link back to this page as the source: