November 3, 2019

Stunning drive puts Kurzbuch in final after start-line flameout

A stunning drive has put former Champion Simon Kurzbuch in the 1:8 Onroad World Championship Final in California.  Suffering an engine flame out on the grid, the pole sitter for the second of the Semi Finals missed the start and had to be returned to the pits to be restarted as the rest of the field got underway and the general feeling of the stunned onlookers was the Swiss ace’s event was done.  Kurzbuch however defied the odds, driving at 110% he started to put himself back in contention for a bump up spot as the crowd watch on in awe.  Setting the fastest lap of the race he crossed the line in 3rd position to ensure he gets another chance to do battle with his great rival and reigning champion Dario Balestri.  Up front in the Semi Odd, Jesse Davis made the race his own, leading home fellow Australian Jeff Hamon to secure both drivers their first 1:8 Worlds Final start.  In the first of the Semi Finals, Dominic Greiner led from start to finish despite struggling with his engine with Shoki Takahata a close second and Toni Gruber third.  Unfortunately for Lamberto Collari he fell just three minutes short of making the Main Final on the 10th Anniversary of his last World title after he suffered an engine flame out. With the second Semi the faster the finals, the two drivers to book their place in the main event at the 22nd running of IFMAR Worlds would be Takaaki Shimo and Carmine Raiola.

Reacting to his dramatic Semi, Kurzbuch said, ‘my father went to the starting grid and the engine flamed out.  The engine setting was good so I don’t know what happened but in the end we had a lucky outcome’.  He continued, ‘We had to work hard for it and show everything we had. I’m sure my father was the fastest in the pits in the final’. Looking to the main final, the Shepherd drivers said, ‘everything from now on is a bonus. I will just enjoy the 60-minutes but the car in the Semi was amazing.  We matched the set-up to the conditions. Apart from the flame out the package is perfect for the final. Lets see’.

Winning with a good buffer, Davis said, ‘This is my first IFMAR A-Main,  I’ve made five Semis in a row but had bad luck but today we did it finally’.  On his Semi Final, his fastest time securing him 3rd on the grid behind Infinity team-mates Dario Balestri and Naoto Matsukura, he said, ‘It was the perfect race. We stuck to our fuel stops and knew the tyres would do the distance. I just raced the clock’.  Regarding his World final debut, he said, ‘I think the car is so good I just need to keep circulating for 1-hour and see what I can do’.

Having made his first final at the 1:10 Championships last year in Miami, Hamon said, ‘It went pretty good. It was a pretty solid and clean race. My pit crew was solid even if I was stressing a little over them fully fuelling the car so that if I had more up my sleeve if I needed it’.  A new signing to the Serpent team this year, starting 4th on the grid he said his goal is to better his 5th place finish from Miami.

Despite winning his Semi from the pole, a very concerned Greiner said, ‘I had a problem with the engine. I had to make one more fuel stop than planned. Something is not right’.  Having quickly pulled clear of the field at the start, the Serpent driver had just 3/10ths on Takahata at the end of the 30-minutes and looking to the final the German said, ‘For sure we will change the engine but maybe also the pipe and the tank.  Something is not working with the power’.

Takahata said he made a ‘super safe drive’ to book his second consecutive Worlds Final start.  Starting third on the grid, the Mugen driver had to use caution at the start to avoid crashing.  Describing his pace as ‘quite good’ he said he will ‘try my best’ to better his 2017 podium finish.  Asked about strategy, the Japanese factory Mugen driver said that based on the car’s performance both his run time and tyre wear are safe and these should be factors in the 1-hour final.

Securing his first World Champion Final appearance, Toni Gruber said, ‘This track is really difficult. It changes every time so I hoped the car would work for the conditions and it did’.  The Shepherd driver did however suffer a gearbox issue in the second half of the race which causes him some difficulties.  He explained, ‘Sometimes the car was getting stuck in second gear, one lap it would be fine, the next lap it would get stuck so we need to check this for the final’.  Battling with Collari during the race, the German said, ‘I was having a close fight with Collari but I had some luck when he had a problem with his engine. Asked about the final, he said, ‘When you bump up from the Semi Final I think your only goal has to be to push, this is the World Final.  One hour is a long time, a lot can happen but we will see what we can do’.

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