Dario Balestri, best described as rc racing’s answer to Valentio Rossi, has successfully defended his European 1:10 200mm Championship title in Madrid. While many may have ruled the young Italian out after he qualified just 26th fastest, Balestri pulled off one of the greatest title defences the sport has seen.
Lining up in the 1/4 Finals due to his poor performance in Friday and Saturday’s heats the Team Magic driver finally found the set-up he had so desperately been seeking all week. Starting from fourth on the grid he quickly took charge of the 20 minute encounter winning by four seconds to bump up to the Semis and now Balestri had a real chance of keeping the crown he had won a year earlier in Heemstede, The Netherlands.
Starting 8th on the grid in the Semi B, which had a quality line-up of drivers including Kyosho’s Adrien Bertin & Francesco Tironi, Serpent’s Mark Green and Xray’s Martin Christensen, the Novarossi supported driver was getting quicker and quicker as he fine tuned his G4’s settings. Storming through the field he made it win number two of the day beating Bertin to secure that all important place in the Main Final.
With all of the sports five major manufacturers represented in the Main Final with 5 Xray, 2 Serpent, 1 Mugen, 1 Kyosho and 1 Team Magic, the stage was set for a titanic battle between established names and some of the sports emerging young stars.
Top Qualifier Teemu Leino made the most of his No.1 starting position to lead the field but it was short lived and after just a few laps local ace and crowd favourite Oscar Cabezas got past the Finn and began opening up a comfortable lead. Coming up to the second round of pit stops the Serpent SDD driver’s car came to a halt, a costly mistiming of his pit stop resulting in his car running out of fuel and loosing 2 laps a terrible turn of luck for the man with the fastest lap of the championships .
This allowed another young star and fellow 720 driver Alessio Mazzeo to take the lead. The current EC-B Champion in 1:10 200mm, the personable teenager has impressed so many people with his pace in Madrid. Keeping a cool head, Mazzeo was looking good as he led the way but double championship success was not to be as he started to struggle in the corners in the later half of the race.
While all this was going on at the front Balestri had been cutting his way through the field and with the fastest car on the circuit he was now the new race leader a lead he would not relinquish to cross the finish line over a lap in front of runner up Jilles Groskamp of the Netherlands.
Lean with his words, a smiling and rather relieved looking Balestri said afterwards, ‘I am delighted. We changed the general set-up of the car for today and from the start of the 1/4 final I knew that I could win this. This is a great result for me, Team Magic and Novarossi.’
After 45 minutes of racing that had the hundreds of onlookers glued to their vantage points, Jilles Groskamp was pleased with his first full nitro A-main final despite loosing the feeling in his left arm, ‘It was a long final for me, just half way through the final I had no feeling in my arm because I hold me radio up very high. I could not believe it was happening to me. I had no feeling in my finger so I had to do the throttle more with my hand and I missed some corners. My car was not the fastest as my engine was quite rich because of the temperature. I just drove my own race and with three minutes to go I was suddenly in second only a lap behind Dario and he was really really fast in the Final. I am super happy as it was the maximum I could do cause if you see the lap times I was for sure not the fastest car on the track but I just ran my own race and got second so I’m really really happy and for me it was the first time I ran a 45 minute final.’
Asked whether he would have a new training program to prevent future loss of feeling in his arm the Team Xray driver said, ‘I told my mechanic Denis already that on Tuesday I will go to the gym and work on my arms.’
Completing the podium Mazzeo was upbeat about his result, ‘The race was good and I finished on the podium. I’m happy, I’m very very happy. ‘ In addition to finishing third, the Italian was also crowned EFRA European Junior Champion, making it a remarkable year for the Serpent driver.
Having TQ’d for the event Teemu Leino was understandably disappointed to miss out on a podium finish on his Nitro Euros debut, ‘Yeh I am a little disappointed for sure. Maybe the set-up was not right for the 45 minute final. The two speed was not right, I did not adjust it properly and that was a problem for the whole final.’
With big names like Salven, Green, Tironi, Vrielijnck and Johnson failing to make the final, Adrien Bertin may have looked a strong bet for the title but the former World Champion was to be the only retirement of the race. ‘I think we were in a position to win, we were quite unlucky with the fuel tank. I had a problem with Martin (Hudy) on the rostrum he just put his head in front of my view and I had a crash and lost almost one lap. Then I was catching the leading group and was running with Dario and we were very fast but then the fuel cap remained open and I lost all the fuel from my car. I am really disappointed cause when you can smell the victory it is even more difficult. Anyway I am satisfied cause we have demonstrated now that our engine is very competitive.’
One thing to come out of the 2007 EFRA Euros is the number of future stars that are emerging in our sport and this bides well for many more thrilling events like what was experience here in Madrid this week.
Red RC would like to thank the AECAR and ARCA for their hospitality during the championships and in particular the timing crew who assisted us in bringing the huge number of site visitors coverage of what has been a thrilling 7 days of rc racing.
Download the complete final results here (PDF). Qualifying list is also available here (PDF).
The race is just over and the 2006 European 1/10th scale Champion Dario Balestri has retained his title after a great finals day that saw him move up from the quarter finals to claim a place in the final. The young Italian racer finished ahead of Xray racer Jilles Groskamp in 2nd with European B Champion Alessio Mazzeo finishing in 3rd. Pole position man Teemu Leino led for just a few laps and was quickly passed by Oscar Cabezas, who then led for close to 10 minutes until running out of fuel handed the lead to Alessio Mazzeo. A very fast Dario Balestri got past Mazzeo for the lead and never looked back and in the closing stages Mazzeo was passed by Jilles Groskamp who claimed the 2nd spot.
Open Final Result
1. Dario Balestri – Team Magic – 153 laps in 45:14.866
2. Jilles Groskamp – Xray – 152 laps in 45:17.457
3. Alessio Mazzeo – Serpent – 151 laps in 45:01.035
4. Teemu Leino – Xray – 151 laps in 45:01.664
5. Guiseppe D’Angelo – Mugen – 151 laps in 45:09.004
6. Oscar Cabezas – Serpent – 151 laps in 45:11.246
7. Martin Hudy – Xray – 149 laps in 45.13.604
8. Niki Duina – Xray – 142 laps in 45.04.138
9. Martin Christensen – Xray – 140 laps in 45.12.048
10. Adrien Bertin – Kyosho – 103 laps in 33.04.688 Fastest lap – Dario Balestri – 16.776
Download the complete final results here (PDF). Qualifying list is also available here (PDF).
View our updated image gallery here. Full report to follow soon.
Reigning European Champion Dario Balestri is in flying form today in Madrid winning his Semi Final to give himself a chance at defending his title. The Italian Team Magic driver had struggled in qualifying but a change in car set-up this morning gave Balestri new found pace. Winning his Quarter final to line up 8th on the grid for the Semi B he went on to win the 20 minute encounter from Adrien Bertin and both now bump up to the Main Final.
In the Semi A it was an Italian 1-2 with Xray driver Niki Duina winning from Giuseppe D’Angelo. The final two places in the Main Final go to Martin Hudy and Denmark’s Martin Christensen as the two fastest Semi times outside of the Top 2.
Big names to fall by the wayside include Mark Green, runner up for the past two years, who suffered an engine cut out after rolling his Serpent early in the Semi B. Another to go out at Semi stage was Sirio top man Francesco Tironi who hit a marshal resulting in damage to his Kyosho. Rick Vrielijnck didn’t get past the 1/4 Final after his fuel tank failed to seal correctly during his run. Multiple European Champion Michael Salven was elimated from the Semi A when his car was first spun by one car and then collected by the next forcing instant retirement for the German.
Semi Final B Result
1. (8) Dario Balestri – Team Magic – 68 laps in 20:08.835
2. (1) Adrien Bertin – Kyosho – 68 laps in 20:09.917
3. (6) Martin Hudy – Xray – 68 laps in 20:12.377
4. (5) Martin Christensen – Xray – 67 laps in 20:05.666
5. (7) Helge Johannessen – Xray – 67 laps in 20:06.361
6. (9) Basile Concialdi – Xray – 67 laps in 20:09.310
7. (3) Josue Artiles – Mugen – 66 laps in 20:05.959
8. (2) Mark Green – Serpent – 59 laps in 19:57.921
9. (4) Francesco Tironi – Kyosho – 37 laps in 11:36.537
10.(10)Israel Solis – Mugen – 15 laps in 06:27.087
Semi Final A Result
1. (7) Niki Duina – Xray – 67 laps in 20:16.284
2. (2) Giuseppe D’Angelo – Mugen – 67 laps in 20:16.685
3. (3) Juanito Hidalgo – Team Magic – 66 laps in 20:03.107
4. (9) Mario Spinello – Team Magic – 66 laps in 20:06.202
5. (1) Darren Johnson – Team Magic – 66 laps in 20:10.401
6. (4) Daniel Tomaschko – Serpent – 65 laps in 20:01.837
7. (8) Mark Gilliland – Xray – 62 laps in 20:07.156
8. (6) Javier Hidalo – Serpent – 60 laps in 20:01.322
9. (8) Arnaud Chaussard – Serpent – 12 laps in 4:56.271
10.(5) Michael Salven – Serpent – 8 laps in 2:30.052
In a less dramatic that expected final round of qualifying for the 2007 EFRA 1:10 200mm European Championships in Madrid it is Teemu Leino who is the Top Qualifier. The flying Finn improved on his provisional overnight pole time by almost a second in this morning’s fourth and final heat but was never seriously challenged for the TQ time as the track conditions were much hotter than expected.
Serpent’s Oscar Cabezas did improve his time as expected but it was not enough to deny Leino and Team Xray their first 1:10 Nitro European Championship TQ honours.
Biggest improvement this morning came from Dutch driver Jilles Groskamp who improved his time by 4 second for third position and secures a place in Sunday’s all important Main Final. Making it two Xray’s and two Serpent’s that will occupy the front two rows of the grid, young Italian talent Alessio Mazzeo will line up fourth with his Max powered 720.
Another major improver in the final heat was Britain’s Darren Johnson who broke into the 16 second laps for the first time and will start from pole for one of the Semi Finals as the leading Team Magic driver. Top Mugen starter is Italy’s Guiseppe D’Angelo who improved his time this morning to end up 7th fastest just ahead of Serpent’s Mark Green.
Reigning European Champion Dario Balestri looks to have his work cut out for himself if he is to defend his title after qualifying a disastorous 26th. Others facing a challenge to make the Main Final are Michael Salven (13th), Martin Hudy (16th) and Rick Vrielijnck (23rd) .
Final Qualifying Result
1. Teemu Leino – Xray – 18 laps in 5:06.772
2. Oscar Cabezas – Serpent – 18 laps in 5:08.371
3. Jilles Groskamp – Xray – 18 laps in 5:08.931
4. Alessio Mazzeo – Serpent – 18 laps in 5:09.569
5. Darren Johnson – Team Magic – 18 laps in 5:09.612
6. Adrien Bertin – Kyosho – 18 laps in 5:09.880
7. Giuseppe D’Angelo – Mugen – 18 laps in 5:10.332
8. Mark Green – Serpent – 18 laps in 5:10.968
9. Juanito Hidalgo – Team Magic – 18 laps in 5:11.315
10.Josue Artiles – Mugen – 18 laps in 5:11.400
11.Daniel Tomaschko – Serpent – 18 laps in 5:11.525
12.Francesco Tironi – Kyosho – 18 laps in 5:11.911
13.Michael Salven – Serpent – 18 laps in 5:11.996
14.Martin Christensen – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.200
15.Javier Hidalgo – 18 laps in 5:12.243
Teemu Leino can return to his hotel tonight a happy man after putting his Xray in the overnight TQ position. The Flying Finn produced the fastest run of the day in the first of the day’s three qualifying heats and the nitro European Championship debutant was naturally pleased with his day if not slightly cautious about tomorrow, ‘I’m very happy, it was a good day for me but there are still two more days to go so we will see’.
Fastest man outright setting a new lap record today for the ARCA track was local star Oscar Cabezas. The young Serpent driver had his first trouble free run of the day in Round 3 producing a superb time for the conditions to go second on the time sheets just over one second off Leino. ‘I had a lot of problems in the morning, in the first heat on the first lap the engine cut because of the low temperature but the car was working very good. In the second heat the car rolled and hit the barrier in the warm up. For the third heat I was very nervous because I was last but I got a good result. Tomorrow is a big day for me.’
Alessio Mazzeo drops to third retiring from the final heat suffering from grip roll but the European 1:10 B Champion is confident that he can challenge for the TQ position in tomorrow mornings final qualifier when the track should be at its best.
Adrien Bertin continued his climb up the order after failing to finish the opening qualifier having run out of fuel. Despite the slower track in the final heat the Team Orion driver put in a strong run to move himself in that all important top 4 however the former World Champion believes tomorrow will be better, ‘I think the last shot will be tomorrow morning. I feel the traction coming up and I thought the last one was Ok I just ran the engine way too lean.’
Francesco Tironi failed to improve on his morning time and the Sirio team driver falls to 5th. Germany’s Michael Salven, who had a troubled first two heats, finally completed a run and it was good enough to put the Serpent driver into sixth place.
Others to improve their times in the final run were Martin Christensen, Darren Johnson and Dario Balestri who sit 7th, 14th and 17th fastest repectively overnight.
The general feeling among all the drivers in Madrid is that the times will tumble in the final qualifying heat tomorrow so it should be a very exciting if not tense atmosphere at the track in the morning.
Qualifying after Round 3 of 4
1. Teemu Leino – Xray – 18 laps in 5:07.684
2. Oscar Cabezas – Serpent – 18 laps in 5:08.895
3. Alessio Mazzeo – Serpent – 18 laps in 5:09.569
4. Adrien Bertin – Kyosho – 18 laps in 5:09.880
5. Francesco Tironi – Kyosho – 18 laps in 5:11.911
6. Michael Salven – Serpent – 18 laps in 5:11.996
7. Martin Christensen – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.200
8. Martin Hudy – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.270
9. Niki Duina – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.276
10.Helge Johannessen – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.328
11.Jilles Groskamp – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.680
12.Mark Gilliland – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.697
13.Andreas Myrberg – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.707
14.Darren Johnson – Team Magic – 18 laps in 5:13.363
15.Rick Vrielijnck – Mugen – 18 laps in 5:13.701
16.Walti Beat – Xray – 18 laps in 5:13.720
17.Dario Balestri – Team Magic – 18 laps in 5:13.844
18.Basile Concialdi – Xray – 18 laps in 5:13.934
19.Teemu Saarinen – Mugen- 18 laps in 5:13.949
20.Giuseppe D’Angelo – Mugen – 18 laps in 5:14.003
With the temperature rising for the second round of Euros qualifying in Madrid there was little change in the Top 10 as the track lost its grip with Adrien Bertin being the most significant mover. The Kyosho driver, who ran out of fuel during his first heat, recorded 18 laps in 5:12.706 to jump to 9th on the time sheets and bettered his fastest lap time from the mornings opening run.
With all of this mornings top 10 failing to improve their times it is Finland’s Teemu Leino who remains in the provisional Top Qualifier position from Italian’s Mazzeo and Tironi.
Other big names to improve in round 2 but still someway off the pace were Mugen’s Guiseppe D’angelo and the Team Magic pairing of Dario Balestri and Darren Johnson. D’angleo improved by just under 3 seconds to move up two places to 19th overall while fellow countryman and reigning champion Balestri made 18 laps jumping 21 places to go 23rd fastest. Johnson ran his first full five minutes but could only manage 17 laps and is well down the order in 35th.
The fastest man in Madrid so far in terms of outright pace, Oscar Cabezas again had misfortune in Round 2 and failed to start after his car rolled in the warm-up causing damage to his Serpent. Similar bad luck struck team-mate Michael Salven whose engine dropped a plug at the start of the run.
Drivers have one last chance today to improve their times and with temperatures starting to fall the track should be fast again when the leading drivers go out. We will bring you a full update later.
Qualifying after Round 2 (Provisional)
1. Teemu Leino – Xray – 18 laps in 5:07.684
2. Alessio Mazzeo – Serpent – 18 laps in 5:09.569
3. Francesco Tironi – Kyosho – 18 laps in 5:11.911
4. Martin Hudy – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.270
5. Niki Duina – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.276
6. Helge Johannessen – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.328
7. Jilles Groskamp – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.680
8. Mark Gilliland – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.697
9. Adrien Bertin – Kyosho – 18 laps in 5:12.706
10.Andreas Myrberg – Xray – 18 laps in 5:12.707
11.Rick Vrielijnck – Mugen – 18 laps in 5:13.701
12.Walti Beat – Xray – 18 laps in 5:13.720
13.Martin Christensen – Xray – 18 laps in 5:13.863
14.Basile Concialdi – Xray – 18 laps in 5:13.934
15.Teemu Saarinen – Mugen- 18 laps in 5:13.949