July 9, 2009

Other Aigoin takes 2nd Qualifier

Yannick Aigoin has topped the second round of qualifying for the 2009 EFRA European Championships here in Austria. Setting both a new fastest run time and lap record, the French star said he was suprised to beat Robert Batlle’s time having watched the Spaniard’s run as he waited for his own group.  Running the same set-up as this morning, only switching from Caplier to Revolver tyres, he said his Losi/Novarossi combination is working really well and he will leave it the same for the third qualifier.

Although Batlle put in a very fast time with his GRP engined Associated the Spaniard wants to reduce the grip he is getting. Running on GRP Cubic A compound, the high grip is causing the car to snap oversteer so he plans to try a harder tyre and also lower the rear shock positions.

Renaud Savoya appeared disappointed with his run saying its ‘a question of tyres’. The defending Champion ran Proline Holeshot tyres but his Mugen is lacking side grip. Setting himself the aim of a fault free run, having made two mistakes in the first qualifier, he achieved that but the big decision for the French ace is what tyre to go with next time out.  Currently Caliper is looking his mostly likely choice.

After a disasterious first qualifier when a borrowed set of tyres came off the rims, former World & European Champion Daniel Reckward put in a very strong second run to post the 4th fastest time.  Now running an identical set-up to Mugen teammate Savoya, the German described his MBX6 as ‘fantastic’. Having used a fresh set of hard compound Tourex X500 tyres Reckward plans only a change of tyre compound as his next run is the last of the day and conditions should be a lot cooler.

Martin Bayer continued his strong run with the fifth fastest time. The caster changes made to his Losi 8ight since the first round gave the car more steering but the Czech driver feels he went with the wrong tyre. Running the Revolver M2 he thinks the car will work better on the Caliber pattern.  Completing the Top 6 it was Riccardo Rabitti with his Sirio powered Losi.  The Italian suffered a receiver battery failure on the opening lap of the first qualifier but could show his true pace this time around.  With the car starting to go off near the end of the run he will set the rear of the car lower and increase the rear toe to the same as Aigoin.

Elsewhere Jerome Aigoin, who topped the first qualifier, had a bad run rolling his Kyosho twice on his way to 13th while England’s Neil Cragg, another of the fast guys in round 1 suffered a flame out.  For timed practice pace setter Miguel Matias he lost time when he ran into a crash car but the Portugese former World Champion appears to be struggling with set-up today and has decided to revert to his ‘Warm Up’ set up for the next outing.

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July 9, 2009

Big industry support in Austria

Just how important the 1:8 Off Road market is to the r/c industry is clearly visable here in Austria. Walking around the pits its like a whose who of those behind the companies that provide racers with their cars, engines and tyres. It is the European Championships but it could easily be mistaken for the Worlds due to the big international presence with plenty of big names in attendance to support not just their team drivers but paying customers too.

Kyosho designer Yuichi Kanai, Team Associated’s Richard Saxton, Losi boss Bill Jeric, LRP owner Jurgen Lautenbach, Team Orion engine man Adrien Bertin, Sirio’s Andrea Rossi , RB’s Eric Aita and GRP’s Stefano Gandini are just some of the big names busy offering support to the capacity 180 competitors here in Wolbling.

His name is sonomouse with r/c racing and although no longer involved with the company that bears his family name, Gil Losi is here to support drivers using tyres from his latest venture AKA. The legendary American, who himself is a former electric off road World Champion, owns the company along with 2006 World Champion Mark Pavidis, and is here this week to teach drivers more about their range of tyres and how to get the most out of them. Losi feels its important for him come to the Euros and support drivers as he can learn a lot about European style tracks and how AKA can develop future products to suit. It would appear they already have a very strong package as proved this morning by Jerome Aigoin and we hear their inserts are making their way on to a growing number of leading driver’s cars.  Asked how he was enjoying his new venture Losi said it was nice being an independent company now as they can focus fully on the racing market.  Just an idea of how hands on Losi is in the company he told us when he returns home to the US next week he will be packing orders while Pavidis heads off to support the ROAR Off Road Nationals.

A year ago Novarossi was not such a big player in the off road market but the Italian company have made huge inroads since the launch of their new off road line at the Toy Fair in Nurnberg. Greater focus on the market too and the recruitment of Bernard Durand has been key to that growth. For Durand he says it is important to support all drivers, not just those on the team, and share information on how to tune the engines for economy and different power delivery.  Also here representing Novarossi is team manager Federicio Barchi who feels the Euros is an opportunity for him to meet in person with their many National team drivers who he would normally only deal with via e-mail or phone and he said that this personal contact is important to the strenght of the Novarossi team and brand.

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July 9, 2009

New in the pits – Part 2

Continuing on from our earlier installment on whats new in the pits, we have come across some other goodies. From Team Orion, Adrien Bertin took us aside to show us some new items for their Alpha line of engines. Firstly there is a new range of shims, that uniquely go under the liner before placing it in the crankcase which helps adjust the timing on the engine to have more lower or higher end power. The shims will be sold in a set of 3 pieces, in 0.1, 0.15 and 0.2mm thick and should be used in conjunction with taking out a shim from under the combustion chamber for every shim you put under the liner.

Also from Team Orion is this all new carburettor. Currently machined from aluminium, the final version will be cast aluminium and is said to have close to a perfect idle. To avoid issues like vapour lock, the carb mount will be wrapped in plastic to isolate it from getting too hot. The carburettor will be suitable for all Alpha engines and will also have a new line of venturis available for it.

Seen earlier in the week Team Durango have their 1/8th scale buggy here. An evolution of the design by Gerd Strenge, this current version is being tested with a hydraulic braking system, which we were asked not to photograph. A very neatly made system, it is slightly heavier than the standard braking system and maybe an optional part for the car when it is released later this year.

Yesterday’s pace setter Miguel Matias is running a prototype CLX buggy from GS Racing that he is developing to suit European tracks better. Using the front end from the older CL1, the car he is running also sports some extra options including the use of dual front shock towers which are supporting Mugen shocks.

Yuichi Kanai of Kyosho is here and he has brought with him a number of new items that we werent allowed to photograph, including stronger rear uprights and front upper wishbones as well as a number of other updated items that were given to Kyosho drivers.

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July 9, 2009

Aigoins head first qualifier

It is the Aigoin brothers, Jerome and Yannick who are setting the pace with the Kyosho of Jerome taking the first round of qualifying by 5 seconds from Yannick’s Losi. Jerome really found good pace this morning becoming the first driver to break into 44 second laps to set a new track record. Finding the track to have less grip than yesterday he said this suits his Sirio powered MP9 which was very easy to drive.  Running AKA Grid Iron tyres Jerome plans no changes for his second outing.

Although outpaced by his twin brother, Yannick described his Losi as ‘perfect now’ and he plans no changes instead opting to return to his hotel for the long break until his second qualifier.  A change of the running order for the next round means he has a couple of hours to kill.

Martin Bayer was surprised with his morning pace describing the run as ‘very good for me’. The Czech driver said his Revolver M3 shod Losi was very easy to drive but plans to change the front caster as he would like a little more steering.

Topping the Associated challenge with three cars in the Top 10 was Neil Cragg. Neil appeared to be struggling yesterday but a switch from M2 Revolvers to M3s seems to have transformed the car.  The current 1:10 off road European Champion feels better is to come and other than a slight change of oil in the centre diff will now wait for the track to come to him.

Associated team mate Robert Batlle was fifth fastest but could have been second but for a roll on the last lap of his five minute run which cost him four seconds. The 2006 Champion said his RC8 B is working ‘so much better’ today thanks to lighter oil in the centre and rear diffs. Running GRP Cubic A tyres, the Spaniard’s car is still nervous on the rear and plans a change of shock position to cure that. Throughout the run Batlle’s every move was being watched by US star Richard Saxton who was very pleased with how his team driver was running despite the last lap roll. Fellow Spaniard Richi Gomez posted the sixth fastest time with his Hong Nor X2.

Defending Champion Renaud Savoya posted the seventh fastest time with 7 laps in 5:25.249 but the Mugen driver feels he could have run a 5:20 if he hadn’t made a mistake on his opening and final laps. Savoya is please with his RB powered MBX6 but says he needs to work more on tyre choice. Having used Caliper M3 he is swinging towards Holeshots for the next round.

Darren Bloomfield, who is running in the same heat as his Losi/Novarossi teammate Yannick Aigoin, was happy enough with his run and in particular with the improved track conditions.  The Brit is being engineered this weekend by r/c legend David Spashett who plans a number of changes to the 8ight including diff oils and more rear toe.  Bloomfield’s choice of tyre was the Revolver M3 but thinks a different compound will be required for his second heat which is a few hours away. Craig Drescher and the Team Orion powered Losi 8ight of German ace Jorn Neumann complete the Top 10.

Top 10 after round 1
1. Jerome Aigoin (FR) – 7 Laps in 5:16.548
2. Yannick Aigoin (FR) – 7 Laps in 5:21.080
3. Martin Bayer (CZ) – 7 Laps in 5:22.897
4. Neil Cragg (GB) – 7 Laps in 5:23.418
5. Robert Batlle (ES) – 7 Laps in 5:24.045
6. Richi Gomez (ES) – 7 Laps in 5: 24.722
7. Renaud Savoya (FR) – 7 Laps in 5:25.249
8. Darren Bloomfield (GB) – 7 Laps in 5:25.573
9. Craig Drescher (GB) – 7 Laps in 5:25.839
10.Joern Neumann (DE) – 7 Laps in 5:25.051

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July 8, 2009

Matias to carry No.1 for qualifying

Portuguese driver Miguel Matias will carry the No.1 on his car in the top heat at the 2009 EFRA 1:8 Off Road European Championships after topping the time sheets in final practice with the fastest run of the day. Posting 7 laps in 5:24.219, he ended the round 2.1 seconds up on Yannick Aigion, who will be placed No.2 in the reseed.

Former World & European Champion Matias said his prototype GS Racing CLX was better in the second run, the biggest change coming from running a lower oil in the centre diff.  Now easier to drive, he will leave his Ninja powered prototype the same for the morning opting to get used to the car and to also see how the track changes.  The heavily modified chassis, which features a double front shock towers, is being developed by Matias on behalf of the GS factory to better suit European market as the original CLX was designed more for US style tracks.

Aigoin made a number of changes to his car following his fastest time earlier, some of which he said were good but others were bad. The 2006 Champion, who rolled during the run, said the raised ride height was the wrong way to go and he will now make a compromise set-up between the two.

Richi Gomez who set the early pace for the second timed practice, ended up dropping to third but the result was good enough to see the Spanish Hong Nor driver reseeded as car No.3 ahead of the Kyosho MP9 of Jerome Aigoin, twin brother of Yannic.  Interestingly Gomez is running a standard plug in his Novarossi Plus 4 to get better fuel consumption.

Fourth for the round was former Champion and top Mugen Daniel Vega followed by fast Brit Darren Bloomfield and defending Champion Renaud Savoya who both felt they made the wrong tyre choice for the second run.

Craig Drescher, who apart from racing is also looking after the Associated team drivers along with American Richard Saxton, had a strong second run to set the seventh fastest time. Driving the new RC8 B he described the run as ‘steady’ but he feels there is more to come from the car across the team.  The B version of the car is slightly different to that which they ran at the Warm Up and they are still learning it but Drescher is confident they can close the gap tomorrow on their rivals.

Having not featured on the radar so far, electric off road ace Hupo Honigl made a huge leap forward after pretty much changing everything on his LRP S8BX buggy allowing him to post the eight quickest run for the round.  Also using LRP engines, the Austrian said the car is working really well now and that it is not far away in terms of the ideal set-up.  Honigl will be reseeded 12th just behind 2006 Champion Robert Batlle.

Top 10 reseed
1. Miguel Matias (PT)
2. Yannick Aigoin (FR)
3. Richi Gomez (ES)
4. Jerome Aigoin (FR)
5. Daniel Vega (ES)
6. Renaud Savoya (FR)
7. Darren Bloomfield (GB)
8. Martin Bayer (CZ)
9. Riccardo Rabitti (IT)
10. Craig Drescher (GB)

A late addition to the timetable here this evening in Wolbling is a very short 3-minute practice run for drivers in their reseeded heats but the real business of the 2009 Euros gets underway tomorrow with three of the five scheduled qualifiers making up Thursday’s timetable.  Our live coverage, which is supported by Team Orion, Mugen Seiki, LRP and Kyosho, continues in the morning.

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July 8, 2009

Gomez sets pace for second timed practice

Richi Gomez has put in a very strong time with his Novarossi powered Hong Nor X2 to put himself top of the time sheets from former Champion Daniel Vega.  Gomez put his improved time of 5:27.633 down to him driving better and is very pleased with the car, so much so he plans no changes for the first round of qualifying in the morning.

Vega, who won the title 10 years ago, was very happy with his run saying the the track is starting to come to his Ninja powered Mugen.  The Spaniard, who is running JConcepts Nines, said his car is still a little nervous and he plans a few small changes for tomorrow that he hopes will make the steering less aggressive.

Having been just outside the top 10 in the first timed practice Darren Bloomfield is looking stronger this time round.  Currently holding the third fastest run for the round, he said his choice of Calipers was wrong as the car is moving around a lot and Revolvers would have been a better choice.  He is still pleased with his run but is finding it hard to adjust to the lack of grip on the track compared with his last visit here but he feels the track is starting to get back to that level now.

The man everyone has come to Austria hoping to deny him back to back titles is Renaud Savoya and he is currently fourth after making the wrong tyre choice.  Having switched tyre compound from the M3 he ran this morning to M2 for he feels the lower track temperature resulted in less traction.  Top Kyosho driver Jerome Sartel completes the current Top 5 for now but the big dangerman is his brother Yannic who topped the first timed practice and has yet to compete his second run.

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