David Ronnefalk is the new 1:8 Offroad World Champion, the Swede finally delivering on the promise he has shown ever since being crowned European B Champion in 2009. Starting from 3rd on the grid, the HB Racing driver would win the 1-hour encounter in convincing style once he got passed pole sitter & defending champion Ty Tessmann, his HB Racing team-mate eventually finishing up third. Making it a European 1-2 in the American’s own backyard, 2012 World champion Robert Batlle would take the runner-up spot recovering from some big early mistakes. With Ronnefalk claiming the sport’s greatest prize, RC Tracks of Las Vegas would put the spotlight on his replacement as nitro offroad’s next star of the future as David Ongaro, despite his age, mixed it with the biggest names in RC with ease and confidence. A back pressure pipe would deny him from finishing his first Worlds final as Vice Champion leaving the Italian 6th behind Ryan Cavalieri. With many feeling the first running of a Worlds final under floodlights would favour the American drivers, it would be Top Qualifier Jared Tebo who would be the best US finisher taking fourth 2.2-seconds up on Cavalieri.
A driver who has never lacked the belief that he would one day be World Champion, his preparations for the 16th running of the Worlds well highlighted on his Facebook page, Ronnefalk said, ‘This has been my goal since starting racing’. He continued, ‘ever since I teamed up with Adrien (Bertin) I have had a super good relationship and we won this together. I want to thank my family, my girlfriend and all the racers back in Sweden for being super supportive and letting me do what I love’. On the race he said, ‘From the start I had a good race. When Cavalieri flamed out I had a big enough gap to Ty which meant I had less pressure on how I could take the first few jumps. Ongaro also showed good patience behind me’. He continued, ‘I have no idea how long I was behind Ty but my goal for the race was to makes as few mistakes as possible. In the Semi I was just trying to survive out there so I knew I had more speed but after I got the lead others started making mistakes behind me and I pulled away slightly every lap. I think my biggest gap was 28-seconds. With 2 stops left I knew everyone’s tyres would go off so I could control the race although I had a couple of mistake coming home’. One of those mistakes was at the end of the last lap, it stopping Bertin in his tracks as he prepared to celebrate his protege’s win, with the 20-year-old saying ‘on the last lap my mind was somewhere else’. With his goal reached Ronnefalk said his new goal is the electric offroad Worlds which run next year. A podium finisher at the last 1:10 Worlds in Japan, he said, ‘now our attention will be on developing two cars for the Worlds next year in China and I will do a lot of practice at my own track where he will host a race in 2-weeks time.
‘From hospital to 2nd, I’m super happy’, was Batlle’s reaction to coming from 8th on the grid to finish runner-up after a late battle with Tessmann. The Spaniard, who on arriving in the US for the event ended up in hospital with painful kidney stones, added, ‘Given how the week started if you had told me on Tuesday I could have second I would have said OK’. On his race the Mugen driver said, ‘my car was loose at the beginning and I had 2 or 3 big mistakes that lost me a lot of time, but the car improved and was then very good letting me get into some huge battles. I’m super happy with how the race turned out but David deserved the win for sure. I’m I happy to have a World and now a Vice World Champion trophy.’
Summing up his race Tessmann said, ‘It started good and the tyres were really good at the start but the last 3/4 of the race they got worse & worse’. Running Pro-Line Fugitive Lights on his OS powered D815V2, the Canadian continued, ‘In the Semi practice I ran them and they faded but that was in the day and I thought at night they wouldn’t’. Losing out on making it a HB Racing 1-2 by just 2.2-seconds, he said, ‘David drove great and everything worked good for him. Well done to him on the win. We’ll try again in 2018’.
‘I go screwed from start’ was how a less than happy Cavalieri summed up his race after finishing 5th. Having for a few moments held pole for the final but then lost his win for contact with Tessmann on the final corner of that 30-minute encounter as the battled for the win, he continued, ‘starting from pit lane irritated me and I drove bad’. With his RC8 flaming out as the cars waited to be placed down causing the start to be aborted some confusion followed over him retaking his P2 starting position with it soon clarified he must start from pitlane. Having been on the podium at the previous Worlds, he said, ‘I tried to recover but couldn’t put it together. It wasn’t my day which sucks’.
‘Happy’ with his sixth but adding ‘second would have been better’, Ongaro said nerves led to a couple of early mistakes. With his MBX7R getting better as the race progressed he was able to recover the lost time and get up to second. With the race producing a number of intense battles for the podium places at various stages over the 60-minutes, the fuel pressure pipe coming off would ruin his spectacular showing. Having to nurse the engine for a lap & a half to get to his next scheduled stop, that stop would be lengthy as they refitted the tubing, with a crash on the entry to the pits compounding the lost time’. Behind Ongaro, Renaud Savoya would be the best of the TLR drivers finishing ahead of team-mate Ryan Maifield, who for a time looked on target for at least a podium. Despite how rough the track was to become for the finals, all 12 cars would go the full distance with the order completed by ninth place Ryan Lutz, Elliott Boots, Dakotah Phend and Kyle McBride.
Ty Tessmann is on pole position for the 1:8 Offroad World Championship decider. The reigning World Champion will start his title defence from the front of the grid after a time penalty dropped Semi Final winner Ryan Cavalieri to second. The Associated driver looked to have snatched the top spot on the grid after a thrilling win over Ty Tessmann in the second and faster of the Semi Finals. The 2014 Runner up driver took the win on the last corner by a margin of 4/10ths of a second but contact with Tessmann would later result in the American being demoted to second which promoted Tessmann to the win and pole for the 16th running of the World Championships. Winning the first of the Semis ahead of young star David Ongaro, David Ronnefalk will start 3rd with the very impressive Ongaro next up. For Top Qualifier Jared Tebo, his quest for a first nitro World title will begin from 6th on the grid after he finished 3rd in the same Semi as Ronnefalk, him giving away the race lead on the first lap with a mistake. The same Semi would also bring an end to 2010 World Champion Cody King’s run of World Final appearances since his title, the Kyosho driver finishing 8th.
Looking to become the first ever drive to successfully defend his World title, Tessmann said ‘it was a good race, my car felt good and at the end I was able to slow down’. He continued, ‘I also had good gas mileage and for the final its just down to deciding which tyre to run’. Using Pro-Lines older Fugitive tyres, he said it will be between that again and the newer Fugitive light. On the track conditions, he said, ‘it getting even more rough out there so its really hard to be consistent now’. Asked his approach for the final, most of which will run under flood lights, he replied, ‘I’m just going to drive around and try not to fly of the track’.
Starting from second on the grid, Cavalieri said, ‘once I got passed Elliott (Boots) I just paced myself’. He continued, ‘the car got better as the race went on and I got more comfortable with it. Out the back and on the right side of the track I could gain time and caught Ty’. Commenting on his contact with Tessmann, the multiple electric offroad World Champion said, ‘I was a little tense and had a bobble on the last lap and cased the jump and we were both just going for it’. On the subsequent time penalty he said, ‘ to me it was just a racing incident. I didn’t do it intentionally’. Also coming through from Cavalieri’s Semi would be Boots with third followed by 2012 World Champion Robert Batlle and Ryan Maifield, the TLR driver posting the fastest lap of the the Semis. McBride got through on the fastest time outside the Top 5.
Ronnefalk said, ‘I just drove to survive out there’. The Swede, who last time missed out on the final in Italy after problems in his Semi, continued, ‘Once I passed Jared and then got out front I didn’t push too hard. The car and tyres were really good’. Coming under pressure from Ongaro at the end he added, ‘Ongaro started to catch me and if he had of raced me hard I would have let him go’. Using AKA Double Down tyres on his Orion powered MP9, he said ‘Top 3 is a good starting position and for the final the aim is to get a clean first few laps’, concluding, ‘It’s going to be hard work getting to the end’.
Finding himself last after contact with Dakotah Phend on the first lap, 15-year-old Ongaro said, ‘I kept calm and just drove. I knew I had a fast car’. Changing to thicker oils for the race after the Semi practice run, he said his LRP powered Mugen was ‘just perfect’. Catching leader Ronnefalk he said, ‘I was a bit faster but I knew I didn’t need to pass him so I didn’t push for this’. Delighted to make his first Worlds final, he said while that was a ‘great achievement’ he is hoping for ‘more’ in the race. Behind Ongaro was Tebo with the others to go into the main show from the Semi being Ryan Lutz, long time race leader Phend and Savoya who scraped the last spot on the grid with the second fastest non Top 5 race time.
Spencer Rivkin has booked his place in the Semis, the reigning US National Champion driver winning the first of the 1/4 Finals at RC Tracks of Las Vegas to bump into the same race as Top Qualifier Jared Tebo where he will be the sole Team Associated driver on the 12-car grid. Behind, Dylan Rodriguez would continue to recover from his disappointing qualifying to bump up for a second time today at what is very much a home race for the Las Vegas driver. Also progressing from race would be TLR’s Renaud Savoya, the Frenchman a podium finisher the last time the US played host to the 1:8 Offroad World Championships, and Mugen driver Cole Ogden. Having bumped up from the 1/8 Final one notable driver whose event would come to an end was 2014 Finalist Alex Zanchettin, the TLR driver finishing 8th. In the second 1/4 encounter, Kyle McBride went through easily for Team Associated winning comfortably from Mike Truhe with Tanner Stees and Joe Bornhorst taking the final to bump ups. Unfortunately Serpent’s Billy Easton couldn’t progress for a fourth time, finishing 7th.
Commenting on his race, Rivkin said, ‘I drove smart at the start just trying to get back into it having not driven for 2-days’ – qualifying having ended on Thursday and yesterday a day for lower finals. The reigning 2WD Offroad World Champion, he said, ‘It took a bit of time for find the right lines but at the end I was getting it good and my car is also getting better’. Looking to his Semi final and having a 1/2 an hour advantage of extra track time over the direct Semi Finalists the 17-year-old said, ‘track time is track time so its good to have it going into the Semi but the main thing is that I have been able to work on improving my driving in that (his 1/4) final’.
Matching his performance of the 2012 Worlds in Argentina, again making the Semi Final, Rodriguez said, ‘its a big turn around from qualifying’. The HB Racing driver continued, ‘I couldn’t find a tyre that suited me in qualifying but now I’m using M3 Fugitives. These have made the car consistent and much easier on the bumps as it’s not catching the bumps like before’. The 22-year-old added, ‘the track is really rough now but I have already got an hour of running in today so thats a big help going into the Semi’.
Summing up his win, McBride said, ‘I had a decent start from 6th on the grid.I ran a Fugitive tyres which due to the watering of the track was a little shaky at the start but after that it was a smooth run’. His first time on the track since qualifying, the Australian said, ‘the track is very different from qualifying and thats why we ran a completely different tyre. It’s a lot more drier out and for the Semi practice I might try something with that in mind’. Now down to the final 24 drivers, semi-finalists will get a 10-minute practice session before their final.
There was a huge cheer for the winner of the opening race to the final day of the 1:8 Offroad World Championship, as Las Vegas’ own Dylan Rodriguez booked his spot in the 1/4 Finals. The HB Racing driver would win the 30-minute encounter by 7-seconds from Joseph Quagraine and young Associated driver Alex Kosciuszek. The last bump spot from the 1/8 Odd Final would go to 2014 Finalist Alex Zanchettin, the Italian benefiting from the bad luck of Xray’s Martin Bayer. Suffering a flame out as he pitted for fuel as the race leader, the Czech driver was still looking good to progress holding fourth with a lap to go but again his car would stop handing Zanchettin the spot in the 1/4 final. Another high profile European to have his campaign end in the 1/8 was Lee Martin, the British driver having had to qualify for the event through last Friday’s ‘Race In’. In the 1/8 Even, Billy Easton took the win continuing his bump up form, this being his 3rd time to bump up after a difficult qualifying. Behind the Serpent driver was Darren Bloomfield, the Agama driver another of last night’s successful 1/16 Finalist. There would be a great closing battle for the other two spots which eventually went to Cole Tollard and Marco Natale after a last last lap error from 3rd placed Jerome Aigoin. The race would mark the end of 2008 World Champion Atsushi Hara as he could only manage 6th having started from 8th.
‘I just charged the battery and continued doing what I was doing last night’, was Easton’s reaction his latest bump up, his event having started out in the 1/32 final after struggling to get a good feeling from his SRX8 in qualifying. The Serpent designer said, ‘I took a gamble on Holeshots but at the end the fronts were pretty shot’. He continued, ‘we need to do something about that for the next one because I lost steering. Maybe other drivers had the same issue, but with it so dusty offline and the track getting blown out we need to try find a solution’. The former electric offroad World Champion added, ‘I also have to make an extra stop because my engine is a gas guzzler and there is nothing we can do about that’.