The last qualifying race for the south of Germany took place on the end-of-June/beginning-of-July weekend. The race was held at the very nice and technical Asbach track.
I arrived Saturday morning to a slightly cold and rainy track. But even if the weather wasn't perfect at least the mood of most of the drivers was very high. According to the weather forecast, the weather would clear up and for once the weathermen actually seemed to be correct! So around noon on Saturday the first cars went out on the track and the race started to take form.
For me this was the last race I would do before the Euros in Madrid and I wanted to test some final things and also get the best possible result. I already knew that my NT1 would perform great, just as it had done the last couple of races, but this time I wanted to squeeze out even MORE performance out of my car.
The first qualifying round was a very good benchmark of things to come. I took TQ this round by 1.5 sec. The car was very good but I felt that I could go faster if I could get some better drive through the sweeping corners so I went to maximum caster.
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For the second round the car got better and I improved my time to 21laps at 5.00.40. This was 1.5sec faster than the previous round and I was now in lead by 3sec because some other drivers also improved.
This was all the qualifiers that we had on Saturday because of the rainy start of the day. So I felt quite good but I still thought that there was more speed to gain on some parts of the track and so I decided to build two new diffs to test for Sunday. I filled them fully with 100.000 oil (front and rear) and put them in to the car (whereas previously I had used 80.000 front/rear). I also removed some droop and tightened my clutch spring.
With this done and the weather forecast telling us about better weather for Sunday I felt very comfortable for the continuation of the race.
On Sunday we had another 3 rounds of qualifying.
The first round was very good. The grip had increased and already some people in the early rounds were making small improvements in their times from Saturday.
I then went out for my round. I could already in the first laps feel that the setup was an improvement to the car as it now drove almost exactly like I wanted it to. Unfortunately I got a little carried away and drove too close and hit a curb and ended up on the roof. I lost over 9sec on this error and obviously could not improve my time. I did however improve my best lap time with almost 2/10 of a sec.
However, this put 2 other drivers now very close to me so now there were 3 drivers that had 21 laps 5.00 sec. But I was still in the lead.
So for the 2nd qualifier on Sunday I really focused and tried my best to simulate a Euros qualifying round. I pushed the car harder than I had ever done before and the car responded perfectly. Honestly I do not remember so much from this round other than that I pushed crazy hard. And it paid off. The new setting on the car combined with some pressure and a clean run put me on 22 laps 5.09. I set a new lap record and a new qualifying record. And I was now TQ by 6sec ahead of my closest competitors.
I was really happy about this qualifying round as the car was really really good and the setup changes I had done worked exactly in the way that I had foreseen.
So for the second race in a row I was TQ. This time I really hoped that I would be able to finish a final without any problems.
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The start went off but unfortunately my engine fattened up so I lost 4 places directly before the first corner. After another 3 corners I was up to 3rd and after 1 lap I was right up on the 2nd place driver. As the final was 30min I decided to take it easy and not push too hard initially to save the tyres and to keep cool. After 3 minutes Dankel (in 2nd place) had a 2nd gear eaten up and could only go on 1st gear… so I passed him. With Mirco Thalheimer (who qualified 3rd was now in the lead with 2 sec in front of me), I slowly closed up on him and stayed right behind him and took it easy not making any stupid attempts on overtaking him.
At the 5 minute mark we both went into the pits really close. It turned out that my pitman was an incredibly fast refueler so I came out of the pits over 2 sec ahead Mirco. This was very nice as I could now start driving strategically. I kept the same distance to Mirco for the next 5 minutes and during the pit stop I again pulled away some 2-3sec. At this point I had now saved tyres for 10 minutes and was in the lead by about 6 sec. I decided to start pulling away a little bit to be able to have some distance if something unexpected were to happen. This worked very well as during the next 10 minutes I pulled away and had a lead of about 12 sec. Then at the 22min mark I got really worried. For some reason my car started to behave very strangely… unexpected slides and an unbalanced feeling. I didn't know what it was but I could feel that I was going slower. But there was no immediate need to worry because it turned out that it had started to drizzle. No heavy rain, just enough to take away grip. It continued to drizzle and everyone got even slower. Normally I do not have anything against low grip, but since I set my car up for high traction the balance was not perfect. But I could still keep an decent speed without risking anything. I passed Mirco who was still in second place and I was now 1 lap in front. Then disaster struck for Mirco; his glow plug broke which force him to miss several laps before getting out on the track again. I was now in a comfortable lead and was able to win the race by 2 laps ahead of Reto König who had made his way up the field during the final. In third place was the young and talented Felix Bishof.
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So it was very nice for me to take my first win in 1:10 Nitro as it was also the last race before the Madrid Euros.
I would like to thank XRAY and Juraj for a great car and LRP for a great engine, fuel and the new VTEC tyres that helped the car show its true potential.