Dominic Greiner is the new Nitro Touring Car World Champion. Widely regarding one of the world’s fastest 200mm drivers the German finally took the sport’s biggest prize heading a Serpent 1-2 in Gubbio, Italy. Starting 3rd on the grid, he quickly made the race his own with a faultless drive eventually crossing the line one lap up on his rivals for a much deserved win. With Top Qualifier Dario Balestri’s race lasting just 9 laps due to diff failure, Super Pole winner Alessio Mazzeo would briefly take over the lead when the problem sent his fellow countryman’s Capricorn on the grass with only 2-minutes on the clock. Staying out front for 2-laps, Alessio could match the pace of his team-mate and once Greiner went to the front the attention of the race was on who would fill the podium. With less than 10-minutes to go, that would be decided in an epic three way battle between crowd favourite Mazzeo, Simon Kurzbuch and Bruno Coelho. On the last lap it looked like Mazzeo would throw away 2nd but while Kurzbuch would get him into the corner the Italian had better traction to the line snatching the runner-up spot by 6/100ths of a second and sending the large attendance into a frenzy. Covering a race distance of 209 laps of the fast Miniautodromo Internazionale M.Rosati track, a bad last lap would result in Coelho missing the podium by 1.7-seconds. The best non-European finisher Takaaki Shimo would complete the Top 5 with only one car failing to finish the race.
A driver who has strived so hard to be No.1 and always regarded anything else as a failure by his own standards, Greiner’s raw emotion of becoming World Champion showed just how much he wanted it. Roaring with the joy & relief as he crossed the finish line, the 2014 Top Qualifier and podium finisher was overcome by the win. Commenting on the race having no time to let the fact settle in as a stream of people looked to get a selfie with the new World Champion, he said, ‘What should I say, everything was perfect’. He continued, ‘we trained so hard the last few months for this. We practiced hundreds of tyre changes and fuel stops to make sure we had it right’. Giving an overview of the event, he said, ‘the week started very good but then we struggled a bit in the heat but in the end we found the perfect set-up’. In the race he said ‘after the first tyre stop at that point I could drive just 90% to make it safe’. Opting to run less camber for the final he said while making the car slightly slower it was ‘better for the long run’ as it meant less tyre wear. With mechanic Thomas Günsel seen by many as the key to turning Greiner from being one of the fastest drivers into also a race winner, Greiner himself acknowledging his input over the last two years. He said, ‘Thomas is the best help I can have. This is not only my thing its a team win’. Also thanking Daniele Ielasi for his help in the pits and also with his Novarossi engines, Greiner said the 1-2 for the 748 today was down to ‘good team work all round’.
‘An amazing race. Today maybe 700 people cheer for me, what an amazing sensation’, was Mazzeo’s reaction to finishing on the podium on his World Championship final debut. Asked about his final lap which had the Italian crowd biting the nails, the popular 24-year-old said, ‘my heart, I just did my best and I’m so happy with second’. Asked for an overview of the final, he started by saying, ‘I’m sorry for Dario, he is one of the best’. He continued, ‘For my car they were not good conditions, it was hard to drive because of the temperature. The strategy for the race was good but I made a mistake by myself and lost time. Dominic got first and I got second so I’m happy’.
Kurzbuch summed up his podium finish with, ‘It was a super good race. What Bruno, Mazzeo and me showed here was amazing’. The reigning 1:8 World Champion felt time lost during the first of his two tyres stops cost him a chance at the win – all the front runners stopped on 20 and 40-minutes for a complete four tyres change. ‘We lost a bit of time in the pits when we dropped a wheel nut’. Failing to stay in the nut spinner, the Shepherd driver added, ‘you win together & you lose together but we never gave up’. He continued, ‘my brother was shouting at me to push as hard as I can and we were able to come back in the race and we won third place’. Team Shepherd’s sole representative in the final, he concluded, ‘we showed the car is good and put on a great race so I’m happy’.
‘For sure an amazing final. After 1-hour three drivers are still fighting for second’, was Coelho’s summary of the race. The Xray driver continued, ‘OK we did not win but it was still amazing, I don’t see this like a fourth place’. Offering his congratulating to Greiner he said the new World Champion ‘was stronger than us and could pull away at the beginning’. Commenting on the performance of his Max powered NT1, the Portuguese driver who goes to China next week as one of the favourites for the Electric Touring Car World title said, ‘Everything was perfect, the car, the engine, tyre stops’.
Commenting on his retirement, having made the final for the first time since 2008 in Portugal, Balestri said, ‘the first time after 3-years’ a reference to his rear diff failure adding ‘and today it broke after 7 laps’. Having fitted a new diff to his Tesla powered LAB CO3 in preparation for the 60-minute final, the Italian said, ‘After four laps I knew I had a problem as the car was strange’, it shooting out of the lead and onto the grass 4-laps later.
Elsewhere 2010 Top Qualifier Robert Pietsch said his ‘race was done after 3-minutes’. The factory Mugen/Picco driver would suffer with his engine going lean and while he would pit for tuning the ‘plug was already broken’. Rejoining the race to finish 8th, the 2011 1:8 World Champion said ‘I’m really disappointed as my lap times were really competitive’, only Kurzbuch setting a faster lap time in the race. For 2012 World Champion Meen Vejrak, who had been battling with Kurzbuch early on, a flame out as his Capricorn was released from it’s first refuelling would end the Thai driver’s challenge, him eventually classified 9th.
View complete event results here.
View the event image gallery here.
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