Touring Car Semi Finals Update

The 6 drivers to join the Top 4 direct qualifiers in the 40-minute Main of the Touring Car class at the European Nitro Challenge has been decided with the running of the 20-minute Semis at the Hockenheimring, Germany.  First up was the B Semi which was won by the Shepherd of Patrick Nahr from the Serpent of Sweden’s Mikael Fransson who started on pole.  With the Top 2 from each Semi bumping up and the final two spots on the grid for the big event being determined on next two fastest race times it was Sebastian Kunz and Andreas Weyhoven, who both ran in the first Semi, that secured the 9th and 10th starting positions.  It was a good morning for the Xray driver Weyhoven who after qualifying 20th yesterday has worked his way into the Main from the 1/4 finals.

In the second of the finals, the Semi A, there was terrible luck for Kyosho driver Dominic Greiner who was on target to take the win and progress to the Main but on lap 35 of 57 he crashed into a marshal which resulted in a track rod popping off.  Able to fix the car, with over a minute lost the race was effectively over for the 18-year-old.  Greiner’s demise moved former World Championship Top Qualifier Francesco Tironi into the lead but the factory Capricorn driver saw his race ended when his car broke after collecting a stranded car at the chicane.  In the end Serpent driver Rene Pupke took the win which puts him 5th on the grid as he had the fastest winning time of both Semis while defending Champion Patrick Schafer claimed second to put his Shepherd 8th on the grid for this evening’s final.

Grid for 1:10 Touring Car Main Final
1. Eric Dankel – Capricorn/Novarossi
2. Dirk Wischnewski – Xray/Orcan
3. Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi
4. Daniele Ielasi – Shepherd/Sonic
5. Rene Pupke – Serpent/Xceed
6. Patrick Nahr – Shepherd/Sonic
7. Mikael Fransson – Serpent/Orcan
8. Patrick Scahfer – Shepherd/Sonic
9. Sebastian Kunz – Shepherd/Sonic
10.Andreas Weyhoven – Xray/LRP

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dankel & Pietsch Top Qualifiers at Hockenheim

Eric Dankel and Robert Pietsch are Top Qualifiers at the second running of the annual European Nitro Challenge at the Hockenhiemring in Germany. Dankel pulled off a superb final qualifying heat to secure the Touring Car pole position on his debut for Italian manufacturer Capricorn, a result that was all the more impressive as it is the German’s first nitro outing of 2012. Securing pole in 1:8, the result is a repeat of Pietsch’s qualifying performance 12 months ago at the event which take place within the grounds of the home of the full size German F1 Grand Prix.

Focusing on electric touring cars this season, where he is a team driver for Yokomo, Dankel was delighted with the result saying it was the perfect way to start his new relationship with Capricorn. Overdriving the opening three laps of his final heat he said once he settled down his car felt really good and he knew that the overall TQ was there for the taking. In the end he shaved over a second off the Q2 provisional pole time of Serpent’s Mark Green and knocked a massive 6 seconds off his own previous best over the 7-minutes. Expecting tyres to be a big factor in determining the outcome of the 40-minute Main,  the Top 4 qualifiers will have their own practice session tomorrow during the lunch break in which the former German National Champion will evaluate which tyres to run and make his decision on whether he will change tyres on just one side of his car or all four, the former option saving valuable time in the pits.

Last year’s pole sitter, but suffering a glow plug failure in the final, Dirk Wischnewski will this year start second but the Xray driver is not happy with the performance of his car. Good at the start of the run he said his NT1 gets very loose in the latter part and while the final is going to be different to a qualifying run he said he needs to find a better set-up if he is to be in with a chance for the win tomorrow. Planning to try a different set-up in the warm-up, he added that one encouraging thing to come from Q3 was the pit stop carried out Robert Pietsch, who is standing in for Bertram Kessler who is away on holidays, which he said was very fast. Also planning a tyre stop in the final, Wischnewski said he hopes Pietsch is also quick with changing tyres.

Experiencing traffic in Q3 and having to drive a full circle at the timing loop when his Serpent missed it after being punted off the track by another car, Mark Green was very content with his day as he secured third on the grid. The British driver who was provisional TQ after the second round of heats said he has ‘as good a chance as anybody to win’ but in terms of tyre wear may have a slight advantage over his rivals. Very much a testing event for the new 747, he said the car handles the transition from big to small tyres very well.

Retiring from Q3 while on a TQ run after a driver error lead to a chunked tyre, Daniele Ielasi said his Sonic engined Shepherd feels really good but choosing what tyre to use is his biggest challenge for the final. Planning to run a super hard compound in the 10 minute warm-up which the Top 4 direct qualifiers get, the 2008 World Champion said the danger is due to the low traction even on soft tyres the hard tyres could wear even faster as the car slides around even more.

In 1:8 it would be hard to bet against Robert Pietsch not winning tomorrow but the Mugen designer said the dots could be his down fall. Having been caught out by them in Q2, the World Champion said his plan is just to drive a steady and clean race. Asked who he sees as the biggest treat tomorrow the World Champion said it would come from Alberto Picco as the Italian has vast experience of how to drive a well calculated main.

Picco, who starts third, is still not happy with the set-up on his self modified Mugen. Planning to use the warm-up to fine tune the car he said it is easy to drive which is very important on this track but is still lacking steering and this is costing him the performance he needs to take the battle to Pietsch.

Confirmed as joining Pietsch & Picco on the grid will the Shepherd’s of Oliver Mack and Lars Hoppe, the latter putting in a great final qualifier to push Serpent’s Merlin Depta back to fifth meaning he will have to now work his way through from the Semi Finals in which he will start from pole. Fellow Serpent driver Andreas Giesa will start from pole in the other Semi having qualified 6th just in front of defending Champion Michael Salven who finally got a full run in, setting the seventh fastest time.

In the Hobby Cup class, in which all drivers must use a controlled Sonic engine, qualifying was dominated by 1989 1:8 Formula European Champion Jurgen Bahr and 2011 40+ European Champion Bernd Hasselbring who each topped all three of their respective 1:8 and 1:10 qualifying heats to secure pole position for tomorrow’s finals. Before then all the competitors at the 2012 European Nitro Challenge will attend a banquet at the official event hotel over looking the main straight of the actual Hockenheim Grand Prix, the perfect venue for them to discuss strategies over some food and one or two drinks!!

1:8 Final Qualification – Top 12
1. Robert Pietsch – Mugen/Novarossi – 24/7:12.15 (1)
2. Oliver Mack – Shepherd/Picco – 23/7:00.19 (1)
3. Alberto Picco – Mugen/Picco – 23/7:04.45 (3)
4. Lars Hoppe – Shepherd/Novarossi – 23/7:04.45 (3)
5. Merlin Depta – Serpent/Novarossi – 23/7:06.90 (2)
6. Andreas Giesa – Serpent/Xceed – 23/7:08.98 (3)
7. Michael Salven – Serpent/Xceed – 23/7:09.02 (3)
8. Marco Muller – Shepherd/Max – 23/7:10.66 (2)
9. Nicolai Bahr – Mugen/OS – 23/7:10.91 (2)
10.Toni Gruber – Serpent/Xceed – 23/7:11.21 (3)
11.Sabrina Lechner – Serpent/OS – 23/7:11.58 (1)
12.Thilo-Alexander Todtmann – Mugen/RB – 23/7:11.81 (2)

1:10 Final Qualification – Top 12
1. Eric Dankel – Capricorn/Novarossi – 21/7:07.53 (3)
2. Dirk Wischnewski – Xray/Orcan – 21/7:08.91 (3)
3. Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 21/7:09.29 (2)
4. Daniele Ielasi – Shepherd/Sonic – 21/7:09.80 (2)
5. Dominic Greiner – Kyosho/Orion – 21/7:12.67 (3)
6. Mikael Fransson – Serpent/Orcan – 21/7:12.95 (3)
7. Francesco Tironi – Capricorn/Capricorn – 21/7:14.48 (3)
8. Patrick Nahr – Shepherd/Sonic – 20/7:15.36 (2)
9. Patrick Scahfer – Shepherd/Sonic – 20/6:58.43 (3)
10.Patrick Gassauer – Shepherd/Sonic – 20/7:02.17 (2)
11.Rene Pupke – Serpent/Xceed – 20/7:02.35 (1)
12.Sebastian Kunz – Shepherd – 20/7:03.63 (3)

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Green fastest in Q2

Making his international race debut with Serpent’s new 747, British ace Mark Green has moved into the provisional TQ spot at the European Nitro Challenge after bettering Eric Dankel’s Q1 time around the Hockenheimring track with Shepherd’s Daniele Ielasi also jumping ahead of the German who retired after chunking a tyre on his Capricorn. In 1:8 there was no change in the top 5 despite both provisional TQ holder Robert Pietsch and 3rd placed Alberto Picco going out early after flipping their Mugens.

Pipping Ielasi by 4/100th of a second to set the fastest time for the Touring Car class, Green was happy with the result but on his way off the rostrum apologised to the car’s designer Michael Salven for what he said were too many small driver errors. Having suffered with his car being stuck in first gear in Q1, Green joked that having use of second gear was a big help but added that they now really have a good ‘ball park’ set-up which felt really good to drive and he feels there is still room for improvement. Planning to try different roll centre positions in the third & final qualifier the former British Champion said the 747 also appears to be very light on tyres.

Ielasi was another who said his car was perfect but the person in control was not. The former World Champion said he had three bad laps and during his fuel stop his mechanic lost grip of the fuel tank lid costing him further time. Describing tyre wear as ‘extreme’, the Italian will use Q3 to test tyres in preparation for tomorrow’s 40-minute final – the Top 4 from qualifying going directly into the Main event with the rest of the grid having to come through from the semi finals.

First & second after Q1 Dankel and Dirk Wischnewski both suffered with chunked tyres. After a mistake which caused the tyre damage Dankel decided to pull up as he knew he wouldn’t be able to improve on his opening time. After chunking his tyre in the warm-up, Wischnewski tried to complete the heat but overshooting his pitman Robert Pietsch during his fuel stop his run finally came to an end when the rear diff broke in his Xray.

Setting the third fastest time in Q3 to move up to fifth position, Shepherd driver Patrick Nahr was very happy with his run having switched to a spool in the front of his Sonic engined Velox V10. The 20-year-old former Euro B Champion said the change gave the car more steering at the end of the straight and better traction out of the corners. Once again team boss Patrick Schafer, who took the win here last year, retired with problems as did Capricorn’s Francesco Tironi, while Mikael Fransson’s Serpent 747 ran out of fuel due to his Orcan engine being set to rich.

In 1:8 Team Shepherd’s Oliver Mack was fastest from Serpent’s Merlin Depta but the times had no effect on the leading order of the qualification ranking. Mack said during the run his Picco engine felt down on power which was later traced to a broken bearing in his clutch. Switching from Xceed to Matrix tyres on his 966, Depta was very happy with his run which while it didn’t move him up the order was 4 seconds faster than his Q1 time.

Catching a dot in the chicane that sent his MRX 5 airbourne, provisional TQ holder Pietsch decided not to rejoin. Also launching his car into the air but while on the racing line, a piece of debris the suspect for the backflip, Picco decided to call time on his run after the incident resulted in heavy contact with the tyre wall on the outside of the track. Elsewhere Michael Salven again failed to finish. Changing to a set-up he ran in practice that gave him lots of steering he said it had the opposite effect today and the lack of steering lead to a mistake that resulted in his upside down 966 flaming out when it was hit by another competitor.

1:8 Qualification after Round 2
1. Robert Pietsch – Mugen/Novarossi – 24/7:12.15 (1)
2. Oliver Mack – Shepherd/Picco – 23/7:00.19 (1)
3. Alberto Picco – Mugen/Picco – 23/7:05.00 (1)
4. Merlin Depta – Serpent/Novarossi – 23/7:06.90 (2)
5. Marco Muller – Shepherd/Max – 23/7:10.66 (1)
6. Nicolai Bahr – Mugen/OS – 23/7:10.91 (2)
7. Lars Hoppe – Shepherd/Novarossi – 23/7:11.32 (1)
8. Sabrina Lechner – Serpent/OS – 23/7:11.58 (1)
9. Thilo-Alexander Todtmann – Mugen/RB – 23/7:11.81 (2)
10.Tobias Hepp – Xray/Orcan – 23/7:15.10 (1)

1:10 Qualification after Round 2
1. Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 21/7:09.29 (2)
2. Daniele Ielasi – Shepherd/Sonic – 21/7:09.80 (2)
3. Eric Dankel – Capricorn/Novarossi – 21/7:13.48 (1)
4. Dirk Wischnewski – Xray/Orcan – 21/7:14.07 (1)
5. Patrick Nahr – Shepherd/Sonic – 21/7:15.36 (2)
6. Mikael Fransson – Serpent/Orcan – 21/7:17.90 (1)
7. Dominic Greiner – Kyosho/Orion – 21/7:19.99 (1)
8. Patrick Gassauer – Shepherd/Sonic – 20/7:02.17 (2)
9. Rene Pupke – Serpent/Xceed – 20/7:02.35 (1)
10.Bernd Raush – Kyosho/Orion – 20/7:04.71 (2)

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pietsch & Dankel top Q1 at European Nitro Challenge

In the first round of qualifying for the European Nitro Challenge at the Hockenheimring in Germany it was Mugen’s Robert Pietsch and Capricorn’s Erik Dankel who set the fastest time over their 7-minute heats to claim the provisional TQ in 1:8 and 1:10 respectively. For defending champions Michael Salven (1:8) and Patrick Schafer (1:10) it was a tough opening qualifier. Salven had a steering rod come off on his Serpent 966 while Schafer suffered a stripped first gear on his Shepherd Velox V10.

Pietsch, who was the only driver to make 24 laps, said following the ackermann change on his Novarossi engined MRX-5 after yesterday’s practice, the car was now easy to drive and he just focused on putting in a clean & safe opening run. Planning to leave the set-up unchanged for Q2, the World Champion said he expects Q2 to be slower due to the warmer conditions with the sun now shinning brightly over the Hockenheim track.

Second fastest Oliver Mack almost didn’t make the opening qualifier. The factory Shephard driver was warming up his Picco engined Velox V8 in the pits when it suffered a conrod failure. Together with the rest of the Shepherd team he managed to fit a new engine in time for the start of his heat. Just missing out on a 24 lap run by 19/100th, the German said the new Picco engine felt slightly down on power compared to the previous unit. Struggling with a lack of rear grip Mack said the car was difficult to drive causing him to make a small mistake.

Alberto Picco took his Mugen MRX ‘4.5’ to the third fastest time but had to contend with a damaged car. In the warm-up the Italian crashed which resulted in damage to the front roll bar and bumper which started to drag on the ground. He also lost valuable seconds in the pits as he came in for fuel earlier than expected, having thought he heard his named being called, catching out his brother Edoardo who was not ready for the stop.

With Salven hitting problems, the top Serpent in Q1 was Merlin Depta who took his Novarossi powered 966 to the fourth fastest time. The German was very happy with his run and does not plan any set-up changes ahead of Q2 but depending on the conditions at the time of the qualifier may try a different shore of tyre. Also making the Top 10 for Serpent was r/c’s fastest female racer Sabrina Lechner who took her OS powered example to the 7th fastest time just behind the Shepherd’s of Marco Muller and Lars Hoppe.

In the Touring car class, setting the fastest lap for the round (19.96) on his final lap while last year’s Top Qualifier Dirk Wischnewski made a mistake three laps from the end, Dankel took the round ahead of his fellow German by just half a second with yesterday’s practice pace setter Daniele Ielasi third after a mistake in his opening laps. Getting his first nitro race of the season off to an encouraging start, Dankel said overall the run was good but again overnight rain had made for very low traction which resulted in him making a few mistakes over the unforgiving corner dots. Happy with the set-up on his LAB CO2 the former German Champion said he only plans to adjust his ride height having run it a little to low in Q1. Unfortunately Capricorn team-mate Francesco Tironi suffered an engine failure in the warm-up due to it being too lean and so failed to post a time.

Wischnewski said he ran too small a diameter tyre on his Orcan engined Xray NT1. While the car worked very well at the beginning of the heat but got very loose and difficult to drive by the end of the seven minutes leading to his last lap mistake. The 2009 European Champion & pre event favourite is confident that with a larger tyre he has the pace to post a new TQ time.

Shepherd’s Ielasi flipped his Sonic powered Velox V10 two laps into the opening qualifier resulting in a chuncked tyre and over six seconds in lost time. Continuing with the damaged tyre, which caused his touring car to look more like a 1:8 with the rear end stepping out, the Italian still set the third fastest time and afterward declared that with four good tyres a TQ run should be easy.

Setting the fourth fastest time Mikael Fransson was top Serpent. The Swede said the low traction made for difficult conditions with his Orcan engined 747 was very loose but opting to drive a safe heat he said he was happy with the start to his day. Planning to add more toe-in and camber to the rear of his car for Q2 he hopes this would lead to improved traction. Serpent lead driver Mark Green could only manage the 11th fastest time after his Novarossi powered 747 got stuck in first gear. The British driver suspects oil in the gearbox as the problem as having cleaned it after the run the gearbox seems to be functioning again. Making it five different brands in the Top 5 Kyosho driver Dominic Greiner set the fifth fastest time ahead of the Shepherd of 2011 European B Champion Patrick Nahr.

In the controlled engine Hobby Cup, which is also running as part of the European Nitro Challenge, it was the Mugen of former European Champion Jurgen Bahr who was fastest in 1:8 with Bernd Hasselbring quickest in 1:10 at the controls of his Xray.

1:8 Qualification after Round 1
1. Robert Pietsch – Mugen/Novarossi – 24/7:12.15
2. Oliver Mack – Shepherd/Picco – 23/7:00.19
3. Alberto Picco – Mugen/Picco – 23/7:05.00
4. Merlin Depta – Serpent/Novarossi – 23/7:10.37
5. Marco Muller – Shepherd/Max – 23/7:10.66
6. Lars Hoppe – Shepherd/Novarossi – 23/7:11.32
7. Sabrina Lechner – Serpent/OS – 23/7:11.58
8. Tobias Hepp – Xray/Orcan – 23/7:15.10
9. Philip Sting – Serpent/Xceed – 23/7:15.83
10.Gerhard Kandelhard – Xray/Sonic – 23/7:16.79

1:10 Qualification after Round 1
1. Eric Dankel – Capricorn/Novarossi – 21/7:13.48
2. Dirk Wischnewski – Xray/Orcan – 21/7:14.07
3. Daniele Ielasi – Shepherd/Sonic – 21/7:17.52
4. Mikael Fransson – Serpent/Orcan – 21/7:17.90
5. Dominic Greiner – Kyosho/Orion – 21/7:19.99
6. Patrick Nahr – Shepherd/Sonic – 20/7:00.76
7. Rene Pupke – Serpent/Xceed – 20/7:02.35
8. Thomas Gunsel – Kyosho/Orion – 20/7:05.05
9. Mirco Thalheimer – Mugen/LRP – 20/7:06.81
10.Pedro Rombouts – Xray/Orcan – 20/7:08.89

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

World Champions top practice at Hockenheim

Practice for the second running of the European Nitro Challenge has been completed at the Hockeneimring in Germany with World Champions laying early claim on the event with current 1:8 World Champion Robert Pietsch quickest of the 1:8 runners and former 1:10 World Champion Daniele Ielasi fastest in the 200mm touring car class. Having originally scheduled 6 timed practice runs race organisers added at seventh round in which both drivers produced their fastest three consecutive laps to become top seeds for qualifying tomorrow.

Pietsch, who was Top Qualifier at last year’s inaugural running of the event, was pleased to finish the day with his fastest time but added he still needs to work on his set-up to make his MRX 5 easier to drive. Not a typical European style track, he said having a well balanced car is very important on this track as an aggressive car can cause the car to twitch on the painted curbing causing it to hit one of the dots inside of the curbs which end up flipping the car. The man responsible for designing the MRX 5 Pietsch will adjust the ackermann for tomorrow morning’s Q1.

Making progress every run, factory Shepherd driver Oliver Mack ended the day second fastest with his P7 time. Having only made minor changes to his Picco engined Velox V8 the German said he is very happy with how the day went and he believes he is in good shape for qualifying. Shepherd team-mate Marco Muller was also very happy with his final run as he posted the fifth fastest time. The Swiss National Champion was struggling with a lack of rear traction on his Max powered chassis but having pared the rims of his rear tyres for the final practice he said the extra flex transformed the handling and with that problem solved he can look forward to the rest of the event.

Unable to better his time from P2 yesterday, Alberto Picco said he tried many set-up changes today with most of them making his modified Mugen worse. Planning to run the set-up he used yesterday but with a softer spring, the Italian said the track makes you make the choice of a set-up that is fast or one that is safe as the curbs are the key to success around the American style track. Ending practice 3rd fastest the multiple World and European finalist said he is about 10-15% away from the safe set-up he wants but still has a few things he wants to try to help him achieve the safe set-up he is after.

Unable to improve on his P4, which put him 3rd fastest at the time, 21-year-old Philip Eberle struggled to get his Xceed engined Serpent 966 to turn in. Having to break much earlier than his rivals to get the car to turn in for the corners, he said he tried a number of changes but to no avail and at the moment he has no idea what to try for tomorrow. Fellow Serpent/Xceed driver Philip Sting managed to improve his time in the penultimate practice run but dropped to sixth as Mack & Muller improved their earlier pace by a bigger margin.

The 1:8 defending champion, Michael Salven finished practice with 7th fastest time. Having had limited 1:8 track time this year due to his focus on the development of Serpent’s new 747 1:10 chassis, the German said he tried a lot of things today and while some worked most didn’t. Confident that he has a base set-up that works, the Serpent designer said he may not be so fast over three laps but he is able to drive the track very consistently and that is more important when it comes to the 7-minute qualifiers.

In 1:10 Ielasi used the extra practice round to put his Shepherd at the top of the time sheets as he beat early pace setter Dirk Wischnewski by just 1/100th of a second over three consecutive laps. The 2008 World Champion, who in a nice gesture took time out to use his Velox V10 to put the rolled Capricorn of fellow Italian Francesco Tironi back on four wheels during the run, declared himself very happy with his day. Happy with both his car and Sonic engine he said while the evening conditions made for a slightly faster track he was happy that in those same conditions he was fastest and he is confident for tomorrow’s 3 rounds of qualifying.

Losing a screw from the left rear camber link on his Orcan powered NT1, Wischnewski said the set-up he tried in the final practice was ‘OK’ but for the first qualifier he will revert to the set-up he used in this morning’s opening run. Able to rejoin after his pitman for this weekend Robert Pietsch ran back to the former European Champion’s pit area for a new screw, the 30-year-old factory Xray driver is confident that he is in good shape for tomorrow adding that racing over 7-minutes is very different than putting three quick laps together.

Despite his relative lack of track time with Capricorn’s LAB CO2 chassis Eric Dankel ended up third overall thanks, as is also the case for Wischnewski, to his time set in the opening round of practice yesterday. Dankel summed up practice as ‘So, so’ saying that his Novarossi powered car felt pretty good on soft tyres but having tried harder shores with a view to Sunday’s finals they have still to find a better set-up as it was very difficult to drive. Team-mate Tironi produced his best three laps in P7 to finish up 5th fastest. The former World Championship Top Qualifier managed to improve the steering on his Capricorn powered example saying ‘step by step’ they improved the set-up and that they were now almost ready to go qualifying.

Making it four different cars in the Top 4, Serpent’s Mark Green was happy with what was a day all about learning. Running the manufacturer’s new 747 chassis, the British ace’s times have been up & down throughout the day as they tried new things but in the final practice his Novarossi powered example felt particularly good. With the car featuring a number of adjustments which they never had before, such as the adjustable chassis weight, he said they are still working on finding what could be determined as a good base set-up and on ruling out changes that have little efforts on the feeling of the car. Mikael Fransson completed the Top 6 for Serpent, the Swede trying another rear diff set-up in the final practice which was not to his liking.

Defending European Nitro Challenge Champion Patrick Schafer described his day as ‘up & down’ with the Shepherd boss ending up 9th fastest in between the Xray of Dutch National Champion Pedro Rombouts and his own team driver & 2011 Euro B Champion Patrick Nähr.

1:8 Top 10 Practice Ranking
1. Robert Pietsch – Mugen/Novarossi – 52.50
2. Oliver Mack – Shepherd/Picco – 52.65
3. Alberto Picco – Mugen/Picco – 52.90
4. Philip Eberle – Serpent/Xceed – 53.38
5. Marco Muller – Shepherd/Max – 53.53
6. Philip Sting – Serpent/Xceed – 53.53
7. Michael Salven – Serpent/Xceed – 53.67
8. Andreas Giesa – Serpent/Xceed – 54.12
9. Nicolai Bahr – Mugen/OS – 54.17
10.Lars Hoppe – Shepherd/Sonic – 54.21

1:10 Top 10 Practice Ranking
1. Daniele Ielasi – Shepherd/Sonic – 59.50
2. Dirk Wischnewski – Xray/Orcan – 59.51
3. Eric Dankel – Capricorn/Novarossi – 59.86
4. Mark Green – Serpent/Novarossi – 59.93
5. Francesco Tironi – Capricorn/Capricorn – 60.05
6. Mikael Fransson – Serpent/Orcan – 60.08
7. Dominic Greiner – Kyosho/Orion – 60.28
8. Pedro Rombouts – Xray/Orcan – 60.86
9. Patrick Scahfer – Shepherd/Sonic – 60.89
10.Patrick Nahr – Shepherd/Sonic – 61.17

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Pietsch & Wischnewski set early pace at European Nitro Challenge

After four rounds of practice at the European Nitro Challenge which is taking place in Germany this weekend it is pre-event favourites Robert Pietsch and Dirk Wischnewski who are setting the pace around the Hockenheimring track where a capacity entry are set to do battle to become champions of the second running of the Shepherd Micro Racing created event. Located right behind the grandstand, that on the weekend of the full size German F1 Grand Prix would give spectators the perfect view of Sebastien Vettel and co. coming onto the main straight, the track is not your traditional European style track but more similar to what American’s would be used to racing on.

Having sugar watered the track yesterday ahead of the start of practice, the traction built up over the two rounds of controlled practice was unfortunately washed away by heavy rain yesterday evening. Only able to give the track a light spraying this morning for fear that a heavy application would not dry sufficiently to allow proceedings to get underway on time today all the drivers are reporting much lower levels of traction today with tyre choice being the main item of change on the agenda.

Top Qualifier at the inaugural European Nitro Challenge last year, only to go out in the final with a plug failure, World Champion Pietsch was happy with how things were going so far with his factory Novarossi powered Mugen. The same MRX-5 which he used to win the recent Austrian GP, preparations for last weekend’s 1:10 200mm European Championship warm-up race in Italy meant he had little time to work on his car but with a 1-hour lunch break on the timetable and the time between rounds, the German will give it a full rebuild which he says should allow him to improve on his current pace.

Driving what has been nicknamed the Mugen ‘MRX 4.5′, engine guru & one of the greats of 1:8 onroad racing Alberto Picco was pleased with his early performance on a track as he set the second fastest time over three consecutive laps. His first visit to the Hockenheimring, the Italian is finding it hard to adjust to the track admitting he is still building up his confidence in terms of running over the painted curbs behind which there are corner dots which if hit tend to launch, in particular, the 1:8 cars. Running a MRX 4 chassis fitted with a different front anti roll bar and radio plate configuration similar to the MRX 5, hence the 4.5 name, Picco said he has done little with his set-up since arriving and today, due to the low grip, he is just focusing on his driving as hopefully with the weather due to stay dry right through to the end of tomorrow’s qualifying the traction levels will come back up as the 155 cars lay down a racing line.

Part of the 2-Speed Race Team, the company who look after Serpent’s European distribution, Philip Eberle finds himself third after 4 of the 6 practice rounds just ahead of team-mate Philip Sting. Both running Xceed engined 966 chassis’, 21-year-old Eberle has used today’s outings to try different tyres shores. Running Xceed 32/35 in P3 he switched to 35/37 in P4 and for his next outing he is considering to try 30/32. Only his second race with Serpent, Sting is very happy with his early practice pace saying his car is really easy to drive. Enjoying the track the 26-year-old said he quickly got a set-up he liked yesterday and so far he has made no changes allowing him to just concentrate on driving.

For defending champion and Serpent designer Michael Salven today has been a ‘weird’ one for the German. Losing his rear roll bar in both of the morning runs along with suffering a jammed carb he said problems aside his 966 feels really good. Sixth fastest after P4, Salven said he loves the track, describing it as being very nice to drive but added the size of the track and the distance of the main straight away from the rostrum makes the cars feel slow on the straight and after his first run he had to check he was actually getting full throttle – which he was.

Setting the fifth fastest time, with his P4 run, Oliver Mack was fastest of the Shepherd drivers. The former World & European finalist said his Velox V8 has been getting better every run as he just left his set-up as is and let the track come to the car. Having switched engine sponsor this year away from Novarossi to Picco, he has been focused more on clutch and engine settings. Although he is able to call on the support of Picco engine tuner Edoardo Picco, who is here as mechanic for brother Alberto, Mack said he is keen to teach himself how to get the best from his Picco engines as he will not always have Edoardo pitting next to him.

In 1:10 former European Champion Dirk Wischnewski is running a fresh Xray NT1. Prior to last weekend’s 1:10 European Championship Warm-up race the German built two new cars as he knew he would not have enough time to prepare in between races and from the set-up he started with yesterday he said he has had to change nothing on the Orcan powered chassis.

Having been more focused on electric touring car this season Eric Dankel was very happy with his early pace, with his Capricorn second fastest after four rounds of practice. Having signed for the Italian manufacturer at the start of the year this is the German’s first race with them with just two days of testing in Italy his only previous experience with the car. Team-mate Francesco Tironi is currently 6th fastest, the former World Championship Top Qualifier who is used to running additive in the Italian Nationals and at the Euro warm-up is having to get used to running again without it this weekend as the European Nitro Challenge is an additive free event. Describing Hockenheim as a ‘good location for a nitro race’ and liking the ‘American style’ track, the friendly Italian said he needs to find more steering and will try different set-ups in the final two practice runs.

Former World Champion Daniele Ielasi was third fastest for Shepherd with team boss and last year’s winner Patrick Schafer 8th. Ielasi, who is this year focusing on 1:10 in preparations for November’s World Championship in Thailand, has been focusing on tyre choice saying it is very hard to find a good compromise between grip and wear. Running a Sonic engine in his Velox V10 he said the balance of the car is good and overall is happy with his early pace. Schafer said he took the wrong direction with the set-up on his car and will go in the opposition direct to the set-up he had yesterday when he posted his fastest three laps.

The newest car on the market Serpent’s 747 set the fourth and fifth fastest time respectively in the hands of Sweden’s Mikael Fransson and British ace Mark Green. Having only had one test day prior to traveling to Swede Fransson was very happy with his Orcan powered 747 which he said feels very promising. Another driver who is really enjoying the track he has used today’s runs to try different diff settings so as to start to build up a better understanding of how the new car reacts to changes. Green, for whom this is first international outing with the car and first visit to the track, he said it is a steep learning curve but so far the car is working well and having tried something new every run the car is proving to have a very wide operating window.

Drivers have two more opportunities in which to improve on their three fastest consecutive laps which will determine the heat groupings for tomorrow’s 7-minute qualifiers.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

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Red RC are at Huge RC in Bangkok, Thailand for the 2014 IFMAR 1/10th 200mm World Championships. Returning to Thailand for the 2nd time in as many years, last time out it was Meen Vejrak that took the win on home soil and this year racers from around the World will be out to take the title away from him on this indoor high grip asphalt track. Red RC's coverage begins in full on Monday noon (10th) and we will be trackside bringing you reports, insights, videos and photos directly from the track throughout the week.

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