The Euro Nitro Series travels to Ettlingen in Germany this weekend (17-19 July) with Round 3 of the onroad nitro championship attracting an impressive 160 plus entries. The first time the ENS has visited the recently resurfaced track, it is Round 2 first time winners Simon Kurzbuch and Teemu Leino who head the high quality field. With no one yet marking their dominance on the second season of the high profile championship the opening rounds producing different Top Qualifiers and winners in both 1:8 and 1:10, this weekend is set to be no different as drivers and teams aim for the top step of the podium on Sunday evening.
Having secured his first ENS win in Austria last month, reigning champion Simon Kurzbuch will no doubt be looking for a repeat so as to further extend his lead at the top of the standings over Dario Balestri. The Team Shepherd driver will have new found confidence going to Germany and will have the extra support of two strong team-mates in Oliver Mack and the German manufacturer’s new signing Rick Vrieljink. A front runner last year, Mack makes his first 2015 Championship outing this weekend. While having started out the season with Mugen, for World Championship finalist Vrieljink the race marks the Dutch ace’s debut with Shepherd. Absent in Aigen, Francesco Tironi also bolsters the team’s 1:8 line-up.
Top Qualifier and runner-up behind Lambero Collari at the season opener in Bologna, Round 2 would prove a tough event for Balestri on the unique track but the Capricorn driver and reigning European Champion can be expected to be back on form at Ettlingen, the track where he will defend his European title at next month. A finalist at Round 1 but retiring from the 45-minute encounter, after missing the Austrian round Kyle Branson will strengthen team boss Patrizio Rossi’s 1:8 efforts together with Andrea Lorenzi.
Top Qualifier last time out and finishing second despite losing a wheel, Robert Pietsch again leads the Mugen charge. Sitting third in the standings, the track has good memories for the former World Champion as it was where he won his only 1:10 200mm European title back in 2011. Also expected to put Mugen in contention for their second win of the season is Pietsch’s engine sponsor Alberto Picco. Winner of the opening round of this year’s highly competitive Italian National Championship, Picco just missed out on the podium at ENS in Italy. Another significant factory Mugen entry is that of JJ Wang who has travelled from Shanghai to make his first ENS appearance.
A team that put in a very strong showing in Aigen getting four cars in the final, ARC will be looking to build on that performance. Securing a podium finish at Round 2, Lars Hoppe heads the class’s newest manufacturer along with Flying Dutchman John Ermen, fourth in Austria, Swiss star Silvio Hachler and Shasa Lackner.
Having shown good speed on his debut with WRC at the previous round, qualifying & finishing 5th, Daniele Ielasi together with the car’s designer Andrea Pirani will be carrying the hopes of the small Italian manufacturer. Despite a tough race in Aigen, having to bump up from the B-Main, Pirani sits fourth in the championship and will be hoping to return to his Round 1 form when he finished third behind Collari and Balestri.
With Merlin Depta their top driver in Aigen finishing 10th, Serpent come to Germany with a strengthened line-up. Multiple British Champion Mark Green and former European Champion Alessio Mazzeo will both make the switch from 1:10 to 1:8 for the weekend as the sport’s founding manufacturer launches its new Viper 977 Evo.
After a thrilling 1:10 encounter in Aigen where Teemu Leino took a very popular win over HB/HPI Racing team-mate Jilles Groskamp and Top Qualifier Dominic Greiner, the podium covered by just 6 seconds at the end of 45-minutes if intense racing, the touring car class couldn’t be closer. At the top of the standings Round 1 winner Bruno Coelho and Groskamp are tied on points with Xray’s World Champion Alexander Hagberg third.
After a terrible start to his title defence at Round 1 and being forced to miss Round 2 due to work commitments, reigning champion Erik Dankel comes into the event looking for nothing more than a win now that his title hopes are over. A double race race winner last season, Dankel together with ThiloTodtmann, who had a strong showing in qualifying at Round 2 and British driver Joe Kerry, the surprise of qualifying at Round 1, will aim to give Capricorn its first win of 2015 after the team notched up 3 wins last season.