November 2, 2023

Kurzbuch repeats in penultimate qualifier

Mugen Seiki’s Simon Kurzbuch has become the first driver to repeat a TQ run at the 1:8 Onroad World Championship as he made it two in a row in the penultimate round of qualifying in Japan.  The Swiss driver managed the run perfectly as Infinity’s Naoto Matsukura pushed him for the TQ but on the last lap the Japanese driver once again ran out of fuel.  This handed Dario Balestri the second fastest time, the Infinity driver just 3/10ths off.  More than a second back, a big margin at these World Championships, Toni Gruber would complete the Top 3 just ahead of defending Champion Shoki Takahata with everything still to play for in the sixth & final round of qualifying at the Infinity International RC Speedway.

‘Exactly the same as Q4, we just repeated what we did before’, was how Kurzbuch summed up the fifth round.  One second slower than his previous TQ run, the former World Champion continued, ‘this one was all about managing the fuel.  We saw the heats before a lot of drivers run out of fuel so I was trying to manage my pace against the others.  The were very fast so it was on the limit but at the end everything went to plan’.  He concluded, ‘Like I said to you after the last round, we are still not there and so need to keep focus and close it off in the last one.’

Summing up his performance, Balestri said, ‘It was OK, everyone is super close, it’s very tight’.  Top Qualifier at the last 1:8 Onroad World Championship prior to Covid,  the Italian continued, ‘It was a good run but my car was a little bit too loose in the rear, the front tyres were a little softer than before but this is what I got so I had to use them’.  In the hunt for the overall TQ and that lucrative direct starting spot in Saturday’s World Championship deciding 1-hour final, the reigning European Champion concluded, ‘I will go all in for the last one so I will try something different on the car.’

Explaining his latest qualifying attempt, Gruber said, ‘Overall the speed was good but the balance of the car was not good enough for me to go for the TQ.’  The German explained, ‘In the corner the rear gets to loose so it was hard to keep on the line’.  Asked if he knew what to change to improve this for the Round 6 qualification showdown, he replied, ‘there are so many things that can influence this so it’s hard to decide.  It’s not clear what to do.’

After going with ‘a safe run’ to open Day 2 of qualifying, Takahata said while his car & engine was good he pushed too hard in Q5 and ended up making a driver error.  With a TQ from Q3, the Mugen Seiki driver needs to finish with a strong qualifier to at least ensure he puts himself in contention for Super Pole, although his goal is still the overall TQ honours.

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