August 13, 2016

Grid set for 7th Nitro Touring WC decider


The 10 drivers that will battle it out for the honours of becoming the Nitro Touring Car World Champion is decided with the line-up including one former champion in Meen Vejrak, the 2012 Champion coming through the second of the two 30-minute Semi finals.  The seventh running of the World Championship, where for the first time two drivers directly qualified for the final, joining Top Qualifier Dario Balestri and Super Pole winner Alessio Mazzeo are only two 2014 Finalists in Vejrak and Dominic Greiner.  The 2014 Top Qualifier, Greiner would book his place in the 1-hour final with a win over Bruno Coelho and Carmine Riola in the first encounter.  In the second, Simon Kurzbuch controlled the race throughout to book the 1:8 World Champions first 1:10 Final start.  The Shepherd driver would take a comfortable win over 2010 Top Qualifier Robert Pietsch with Vejrak seeing off a last lap charge from Takaaki Shimo to complete the Top 3. Shimo would still make the final, together with Semi B fourth place finisher Kyle Branson, the British driver surviving a last lap spin to claim the last spot with the second fastest time of the non Top 3 finishers.  Dramas for those that didn’t progress include a flame-out during his tyre stop for Team Infinity’s Jilles Groskamp. The 2012 Electric Touring Car World Champion said afterwards, ‘unbelievable, the bad luck continues.  I felt I was driving a controlled race’.  Team-mate and 2012 Top Qualifier Teemu Leino would crash out of his Semi while battling for second spot.


Summing up booking a place in the Main, having been the only direct qualifier in 2014, Geiner said, ‘everything was perfect’.  The German continued ‘I made a good start and could pull a gap and then after the first stop I could drive to save the tyres’.  Pitting one lap later than his rivals giving him a clear pitlane, he said this was intentional for that reason.  The only one of the Top 3 to change all four tyres, the stop came just after the half way mark with former World Champion Daniele Ielasi on hand to assist his regular pitman Thomas Günsel for ‘a perfect stop’.  Looking to the final, the Bangkok podium finisher said in terms of the car he would change nothing but planned to check over his Novarossi engine describing it as feeling a ‘bit strange’ during the Semi.


‘Finally no bad luck for Xray’, a reference to team-mate & reigning champion Alexander Hagberg being crashed into while leading his 1/8 final which ended his campaign, was Coelho’s first reaction to the race.  The Portuguese driver, who changed only his outside tyres during his second fuel stop said, ‘my car was a little difficult after 10-minutes’.  Asked if only changing 2 tyres was the right decision, he said ‘it got the job done’.  Taking the lead of the race after Greiner came for his longer 4-tyre stop, the reigning European Champion said, ‘at 5-minutes to go I opened for Greiner.  It made no sense to block, we were both bumping up and its a long race so the starting position is not important’. Asked about tyres for the final, he replied ‘I can’t say’.


Set to start 5th on the grid, Kurzbuch said, ‘we reached our first goal, and now that we are in the final we will go all in’.  Commenting on his Semi, which he started from pole having qualified second overall,  he said, ‘my pit crew did a fantastic job and that meant I just drove my own race’.  Stopping for just a fresh set of outside tyres on his Velox V10, he said ‘the car was maybe a bit too loose so we will change it for the final so I can push harder’.


Having missed out on the Worlds final the last two times, 2010 Top Qualifier Pietsch said, ‘the car was super good but I made mistakes which dropped me back from Simon’.  Going for the same strategy as his 1:8 rival in changing just his outside tyres, the Mugen designer felt he had a quicker car than Kurzbuch saying ‘I’m happy I was able to close again to him’ after the earlier mistakes.   Describing his Picco powered MTX6 as ‘super comfortable’, for the final he said ‘it is now up to me to drive it’.




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