Dominic Greiner has won the season finale of the Euro Nitro Series but it is Teemu Leino who claimed the biggest prize with 6th in a rain shortened A-Main in Fiorano enough to crown him the 2016 1:10 Champion. Top Qualifier for the race, a heavy crash with Marc Rheinard would leave Greiner with a difficult car for the final but strategy and quick work by his pit crew would allow the Serpent driver to take his first win of the season. With the race going 40 of the scheduled 45-minutes, the World Champion’s second ENS win would come ahead of title contender Eric Dankel, the fast closing Mugen driver finishing 4-second off when the race was stopped. Having led for a time in first half of the race, last year’s race winner Alessio Mazzeo was to complete the podium at Mini Autodromo Jody Scheckter. Starting second on the grid, while Leino never needed to win the race to secure the title he didn’t make things easy for himself with an early off that resulting in a flameout and the loss of 2-laps raising the heart rates of his Team Infinity crew. Keeping his composure and a close eye on the progress of points leader coming into the weekend Dirk Wischnewski, the Finn would recover from 11th with the fastest lap of the race to finish 6th. With Wischnewski finishing 4th, this was enough for Leino to take the title by 3-points from the German with Dankel’s second giving him 3rd a further 1-point back.
Commenting on his error that made his title quest that more challenging, Leino said, ‘In the beginning I was just following Dominic and trying to get a gap on third but then I don’t know, the racer kicked in and I wanted to win the race and I made a stupid mistake at the chicane’. With the error sending his car flying through the air and it flaming out on landing in the far left corner of the track with two laps lost as he was returned to the pits, he said ‘I knew from the first 3-minutes the car was fast enough so there was no need to panic and I could push to make up positions and make the points to become champion’. He added, ‘I only needed to follow where was Dirk and I was not far behind him’. Describing his performance this weekend as ‘not the full potential’, his 1:8 Offroad World Championship participation and the lack of practice at the race due to the rain leaving him on the back foot compared to his rivals, he said he was ‘surprised how well the car has gone in such a short time’, it only making its debut at the World Championships in August before taking its first win at the ENS in Aigen. His first season with the new Infinity team he said, ‘I think next year we can be stronger and I have to thank Kenji for his support because without it this title wouldn’t have been possible. I also have to thank Novarossi for the engine, it was the same engine I used in all three races’.
‘A super difficult race’ was Greiner’s reaction after finally registering a win this season having been a contender at all four rounds of this season’s ENS. He continued, ‘I hit Marc (Rheinard) on the back straight in the warm-up and the chassis was tweaked but we had no time to change it’. He said while the car felt ok at the beginning, his fastest lap coming on the 7th lap, he said as the race went on he could feel the car was not right after the warm-up crash. Struggling with his tweaked Novarossi powered 748, he was quick to attribute the work of his pit crew for today’s win. With the same World Championship winning crew of Thomas Günsel and Daniele Ielasi, he said, ‘I had an excellent pit crew again and they made this victory happen’. Admitting it was going to be a close race with Dankel, describing his fellow countryman as ‘super fast’, Greiner said for 10-laps before the race was stopped he was struggling with conditions adding ‘stopping (the race) was the best decision’. With ‘bad luck in Aigen’ ending his title chances Greiner said, ‘our package is very good at the moment so I hope for better luck for the next ENS season’.
‘From 9th on the grid it was good’ was how Dankel summed up his race. The 2014 Champion continued, ‘my opinion is they stopped a little early. Ok it was a race control decision but on my side it was unlucky but on Dominic side it was good’. Feeling ‘it would have been close (for the win) had the race gone the whole distance’, he said his fuel strategy was not as good as Greiner’s. ‘We couldn’t do 5-minutes, Dominic did’. Further compounding this was Dankel’s own error of pitting a lap early. He said, ‘I thought I heard my pits call me so I came in but they hadn’t and were expecting a lap later and this messed up our strategy a little’. Finishing third overall, he said, ‘compared to last season it been a very good year’. Having moved to Mugen for 2016, he continued, ‘I know more about the car now so if we can start with the same pace next season we should be stronger for the championship’. Having TQ’d the season opener but the race turn out to be wet, he was to sit out the final having never driven the car in wet conditions before.
‘We were fast but we lost time in the tyre change’, was Mazzeo’s view of where he missed out on the win. The Serpent driver, who would lead for more than 20% of the race, continued, ‘then after the tyre stop I traction rolled at the end of the straight and lost one lap’. The Vice-World Champion would un-lap himself and get to within challenging distance of both Greiner and Dankel for the win. ‘I was only 6-seconds back but the rain came. If the race didn’t stop I could take the win, I was faster today. Anyway congratulations to Dominic, he has a very good team and also congratulations to Teemu on the title.’
Wischnewski said ‘for sure we lost it at the beginning’. Finishing almost 2-laps off the final podium place, the Team Shepherd driver would get caught up in the ‘chaos’ of the first lap and drop from his P5 starting position to 9th. He said the contact left his car ‘a little tweaked’ but recovering 3 places he would make a mistake that sent him in to the grass and with damp tyres he found himself back in 9th. Opting to change just one side in his tyre stop, the winner of the season opener said ‘this was a good decision’ but the damage was already done at the start. Despite this the former European Champion was pleased to end the season as Vice-Champion matching his result of the inaugural season of the ENS.
Elsewhere for yesterdays bump up master, the A-Main being the 7th final of the weekend he would race, a third lap clash with Thilo Tödtmann, would end any chance of a good result for Bruno Coelho. The Xray driver said after the incident his chassis was ‘like a banana’. Recovering to finish 5th, the Portuguese driver said while engine issues in qualifying made the weekend an uphill battle he was encouraged for next season by new parts he was running on the car which he said were very good. For ENS debutant Marc Rheinard an engine change for the final would deny him from backing up his strong qualifying performance. The Team Infinity driver, who on a one race deal is expected to do a full 2017 ENS programme with the new manufacturer, was caught out by the run time on the new engine suffering a flame out as he pitted for fuel. Working his way back into podium contention from this unfortunately the multiple Electric Touring Car World Champions engine would move and strip the gears. The German said, for sure we were close to fight for the win but we will be better prepared for the next time’.
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