So, time to start our year of 8th scale and this year bought a new challenge. The first round was to be on astroturf a surface that hasn't been on the calendar for a number of years, but has returned due to the loss of some dirt tracks over the winter months.
We arrived at the track at around 3pm and set up our pit tent and table ready for the weekend. Doing a few last checks to the car ready for practice the next day. After readying our car we set to work on helping a few fellow Kyosho drivers who were already at the track, get their cars prepared with the base setup we had for the track after our testing. It was soon approaching 7pm, so we headed to the hotel to check in, drop our bags off and the three of us headed out for some food. While at dinner we discussed our plan for the next day and what we would do for the two practice runs first thing in the morning. We decided that we would run a new set of tyres for each practice to bed them in ready for qualifying and finals, as the Mini Pins require the edge taking away to stop the car being as aggressive. After a good bit of local food it was back to the hotel for an early night (watching some F1/Superbikes), before all nodding off to sleep.
The alarm rang out at 6:15am to wake us all, getting sorted and heading out to the track at 7:00am, ready for a busy day at the track. The format for the national would be 2 rounds of practice on the Saturday, (A and B sided), leading to the main final.
Practice would begin at 10am, so we did last minute preparations during the time before. Getting the tyres dremeled where we had removed spikes from, and making sure everything was set on the car as we wanted, followed by making sure others that wanted any help were also
The temperature at the meeting was higher than when we had tested here so we decided to go up 5wt in the front oils for the conditions, as the oil had thinned out. We fitted a brand new set of tyres to the car ready to bed in for qualifying, to take the edge away and make the car easier to push. The engine was a little rich so for the second practice we would lean it off slightly.
The car was squatting on the rear a little hard so for this practice we raise the rear link one hole higher to help stop the car transferring the weight onto the rear as much, and also raised the rear shock oil to help. We fitted the Grey spring to the front also to help quicken the return reaction of the shock, to allow us to lean on the car more. We once again fitted a new set of tyres so that we would have two set to be able to rotate use on through the qualifying and mains.
Round 1: The track was very different in the way the grip level was and the bumps present in the track compared with the testing we had done at the track leading towards the event. We struggled a little as the grip level seemed to be a little lower than it had been during testing, may be due to the hotter temperature but we struggled a little, taking 5th for the round.
Round 2: Running close on time in the heat to Darren, a bobble threw the car onto its roof, and was not seen by the marshall costing alot of time. A heat to drop as we placed 11th in round.
Round 3: For this round we decided to change the front tower from the prototype L tower to the prototype S tower, and in the previous round the car was suffering from putting too much weight onto the nose during braking, making the car nervous and unsettled. Running at the front of the pack for half the run, a small bobble near the loop lost us some time, but still gave us another 5th in round. Times were very close for every run and small mistake could loose many places.
Round 4: During this round we noticed the car seemed to be bobbling around a little, not working the shocks like it needed to. Something that we would discuss ideas about later in the evening. The car was hard to drive and resulted in a mistake, but still gave us another 5th in round.
After the round finished we packed away quickly and headed back to the hotel, for a quick shower then down into the bar to get a drink and discuss how the day had gone. We worked on a few ideas that we could try for the last round of qualifying in the morning, deciding that we would change pistons in the shocks to get the car working more, and also lower the oil in the centre diff to help with the lower traction level and more bumps that had appeared. We then sat for some food with the Shakespeares and had a good laugh for the rest of the evening before hitting bed at about 10pm.
6am and the alarm rang out to wake us all. Getting up and dressed for a busy day, knowing we needed to get to the track and carry out the changes to the car we had agreed on. Grabbing a quick McDonalds breakfast on the way were arrived at the track just after 7am. It was then time to do all the changes to the car ready for the last qualifying round.
Round 5: We hit the track and could see that the changes were working straight away, the car being more relaxed and easier to drive. Having a good run with only one small mistake, the next heat would run and we would loose out on TQ for the round by 2th's of a second! With us getting 3rd in the round, Graham 1/10th ahead in 2nd and Neil 2/10ths ahead taking the TQ. We were happy with the car however and the changes we had made and were looking forward to the mains.
Once the results had been sorted we placed 5th overall, so would line up 3rd in the A side Semi final, behind Graham and Darren. Knowing we just needed to make it through the semi and into the main, not needing to win.
The final set off and from the start it was obvious it would be a good battle till the end, with all three of us at the front taking turns to lead the Semi. At the mid point it was still a three way battle for the lead, still swapping places with little errors by each. Towards the end of the Semi we had a mistake that dropped us back a little but managed to come back to finish just behind Graham, with Darren taking the win and Graham 2nd, and us in 3rd.
The B Semi, Neil and Lee had done a faster time then the three of us in the A Semi, so we would be lining up 5th on the grid for the main. We would head into the main hoping to come out with a result no lower than our start point.
We lined up for the main in our P5 start position, setting off we managed to pass Graham by the time we exited the second corner. It was clear to see the five front runners were all going to be very close together in pace.Coming to the first round of pit stops and everyone was on 9 min pit strategy, meaning the race wouldn't be decided on less stops. We ran our first stint a little longer to 9:35, our REDS R5T Team Edition giving great fuel mileage all weekend. This meant we gained a little on Darren who was now in the lead (Lee Martin suffering a flame out in pit lane). We would stay in 2nd coming into the next fuel stops and exit in the same position. It was during this stint the race would change. We were slowly catching Darren and had bought the gap down to 3 seconds when Darren was hit with an issue, loosing drive (we think a rear pin issue?). We passed him on track while he made his way back to pit lane, but on reaching there he was out. A shame as it was shaping up to be a great battle for all the watching spectators. After this, we had taken the lead, with a gap of 16 seconds over 2nd place who was now Neil. With this lead we decided that we would swap to 7:30 fuel stops as the weather kept trying to rain, but would then pass and we wanted to take no chances of increased wheelspin causing high fuel use. We kept to this pit strategy for the rest of the race, keeping to our own pace and coming home with the win! Nearly 10 seconds ahead of 2nd who was Neil.
A great result that we didn't expect, as we were going into the main just hoping to hold position, and came out with the win. A great way to start our 2015 National title fight, and back to Dirt for the next round at Kent.
Thanks as always to all our sponsors as without you we wouldn't be where we are:
Kyosho, Proline, Reds, Tekin, Byron, Sanwa, Bittydesign, Maugraphix, LRP Batteries, SMD, Inside Line Racing, Ghea, Radio Race Car International, RDRP, JC Racing, Racers Design Products, Muc-Off.
Next up for us will be E-Buggy at Kent this coming weekend.
See you all trackside soon!
Thanks for taking the time to read our report as always.
(Written by Liam Galvin - Mechanic)