Groskamp sets early pace in Japan
Jilles Groskamp set the early pace on Day 2 of practice for the 1:8 Onroad World Championships in Chiba, Japan. After two of six rounds which make up today’s schedule at the Keitune Racing Speedway, the Team Shepherd driver set the fastest three consecutive laps with a time of 49.207 followed closely by Serpent’s Yuya Sahashi (49.249) and the Mugen of Pre Worlds race winner Takaahi Shimo (49.286). An event that marks the debut for HB in what many view as the Formula 1 category of R/C, Hideo Kitazawa took his R8 to the fourth fastest while Teemu Leino was the second fastest non-Japanese driver, the Finn posting the 6th fastest time ahead of 200mm World Champion Meen Vejrak.
Having found a good base set-up on his Maxima powered Velox V8 in yesterday’s four practice rounds, Groskamp said his focus today is all about bodyshells. The reigning European Champion is pleased with how close his chassis set-up is and that the fine tuning is all in the bodyshells and their preparation and positioning. The Dutch driver said the shell is so important now to the overall set-up of the cars and with it very easy to break a body on this track he said its important to run as many bodies as possible so as to know how each one reacts should he require a spare. Apart from that Groskamp said he is also running a different engine each round, the last one being a little rich on the low end, just to ensure they are all ready to go should the weather see a sudden change in the timetable which might mean qualifying gets underway earlier than expected.
The older of the two Sahashi brothers, Tadahiko taking his 977 to the 5th fastest time, Yuya said a change of body resulted in him finding some extra pace in the second of today’s run. Having run Protoform’s R18 in the first run he switched to a Blitz which he said while it made for a more difficult car it produced faster lap times. For his next practice he said he will switch back to the R18 which is overall easier to drive, something that will be important for the 10-minute qualifiers.
Having finished 4th in Miami, then driving for Kyosho who have since left the class, Shimo was overall pleased with his early practice runs. Mugen’s big bet for the World title, especially with reigning World Champion Robert Pietsch missing the event due to illness, he said he is working to a step by step plan and so far those changes are gradually improving his OS powered MRX-5. Describing his run to the 3rd fastest time as ‘quite OK’, he added that there is still run for improvement. One of those improvements he is looking for is to get the car to get more steering from the front end rather then using the throttle to steer the rear end.
Making his 1:8 World Championship debut, Leino described his early runs with his OS powered R8 as ‘pretty OK’. Having debuted the car at the KM Cup here last month, along with fellow HB team-mate Andy Moore who is also making his Worlds debut, he said they have a good base set-up but they are continuing to use every run to try something new to build up as much data as possible. Moore, who did a full test programme in Thailand with the car, prior to arriving in Japan, said his first practice was going pretty wheel before he broke a front wheel. Changing swaybar and springs in the second he said the changes were not good. As a nitro novice having made his 1:10 debut at the 200mm Worlds in Thailand where he made the Main final, the former Electric Touring Car World Champion said everything is totally different in 1:8 adding that the cars are really good fun to drive. With a slightly smoother driving style to some of the more seasoned 1:8 drivers he said the clutch set-up to suit that is ‘so crucial’ but having been in the Top 10 yesterday he is happy with how things are going so far.
Driving KM Racing’s new K8 Chassis, Vejrak tried a different set-up for the second practice which gave him a much more stable car but at the cost of a little steering. Describing the set-up as ‘good for the final’, the Thai ace will try to make his OS powered car a little more aggressive for the next one. Running a Protoform R18 he said he is happy with that and doesn’t plan on changing away from it for now. Setting the 8th fastest time, team-mate Keisuke Fukuda described his Picco powered K8 as ‘not so good’. The former 200mm World Champion and runner up in Miami is struggling with a lack of steering. Changing the set-up to try and find the steering he is after he said it makes the rear end too lose and he needs to find a better balance.
A late entry for the event, Atsushi Hara said things are ‘getting better and better every run’ as he took his Mugen to the 9th fastest time. Having only signed a last minute deal to drive for Mugen in this event following his shock departure from HB, Hara didn’t have the opportunity to test on the track prior to his arrival for the event. A legend of the sport who has enjoyed success across the spectrum of classes, he said of all the cars he has raced 1:8 Onroad feels like the one with the most understeer. Looking for more off power rotation he said as his pitman Kenji Osaka, the 2001 World Champion, gets back his feeling for the class they are able to improve the OS powered MRX-5 small steps at a time. Having back to back tested Protoform’s R18 and a Blitz body the former 1:8 Offroad & Electric Touring Car World Champion said the he prefers the rotation he gets from the R18 adding in this class the body shell plays such a big part in the overall set-up.
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