The 12 drivers that will battle it out later today for the 2010 IFMAR 1:8 Off Road World Championship here in Pattaya Thailand has been decided with reigning champion Atsushi Hara the man that will start the 1-hour encounter from pole position. Hara took victory in the first of the Semi finals which was the faster of the two with Cody King, who was in the same race, securing second on the starting grid. The winner of the second Semi A final, Top Qualifier Jared Tebo will line up third followed by Ryan Maifield and Billy Easton. Serpent’s Easton, who came up from the 1/4 finals, pushed Tebo hard for the win in the 30-minute race showing he could be a real threat this evening.
The biggest casualty of the Semis was 2008 Top Qualifier and runner-up Mike Truhe who flamed out coming up to his first fuel stop ending his chances of getting through. Losi team-mate Adam Drake just made it through after a battle to the line with France’s Jerome Aigoin and will start on the 12th and final spot on the grid as the sole 8ight entry. Others to fall by the wayside were 2008 finalists Ty Tessmann and Travis Amezcua.
Team Associated are the best represented manufacturer with three RC8Bs on the grid, Ryan Manifield best of those in fourth, despite damaging his car. The find of the 13th running of the World Championships, debutant Kyle McBride from Australia has put his name firmly on the map and will join 2008 podium finisher Renaud Savoya in carrying Mugen’s hopes of a third title. Eight different manufacturers will compete for the sport’s biggest prize, Jeremy Kortz putting his Hobao through to carry No.7 and the 2nd of the buggy newcomers LRP also making the cut with young German talent Joern Neumann to start 10th.
In the first of the 1/4 finals 2008 Finalist Robert Batlle cruised to an easy victory to book his place in the Semis ahead of the young star of these World Championships Kyle McBride. The 14-year-old was involved in a great three car battle with Americans Taylor Petersen and Travis Amezcua for what looked like being the final two bump spots. Entering the last lap locked together McBride went to the front of the group with Amezcua looking like his event was about to come to an end, but a flame out for Jesse Robbers, who was holding a solid second, would see the Mugen driver scrape through. Finishing fifth, Robbers’ exit is the second 2008 Finalist who will play no part in the big race later today, Taylor James’ event having come to an end in the 1/16th final yesterday. We also lost Pre-Worlds race winner Meen Vejak, the Thai driver hitting engine trouble 4-minutes in.
The second of the 1/4 finals also saw a clear winner, this time Kyosho’s Jerome Aigoin taking it comfortably from Martin Bayer who bumps ups for a second time today with Matt Castellano finishing third. The final bump up spot was decided by a thrilling battle between Serpent’s Billy Easton and Mugen driver Borja Hernandez. Having swapped position throughout the final part of the 30-minute encounter, the pair fought right to line but both made mistakes in the final two corners, Easton recovering fastest to secure himself the last available spot in the Semis. The race reduced the field down to just one remaining World Champion with 2006 Champion Mark Pavidis’ campaign coming to an end. Running safely in the Top 4 and setting the fastest lap of the race his OS powered Kyosho flamed out at the 20 minute mark. British teenager Elliot Boots was another looking on target to bump up until the steering servo in his Mugen packed in.
24 drivers remain and going on what we have seen so far this morning with engine cuts and servo failures, the Semis are going to be a case of which 12 can survive the 30 minutes rather than who are the fastest 6 drivers in each.
The opening race on the big day here in Thailand, the 1/8th B Final, saw Pre-Worlds race winner Meen Vejrak take victory from South African Dean Steenmans, who bumped up from yesterday, with Joseph Quagraine third. Having led the race early on a flame-out for 2000 World Champion Yuichi Kanai ended his chances, although he got running again the Kyosho driver would retire 18 minutes into the half hour encounter. The big battle of the race was for the final bump up spot between 2004 Champion Guillaume Vray and the recovering Levi Jackson who suffered a flame at the 22 minute mark. Holding the spot with a minute to go Vray broke his Mugen allowing Jackson to bump up for a second time and into the 1/4 finals.
In the 1/8th B final up front Czech Team Losi driver took a comfortable win ahead of Spain’s Borja Hernandez and America’s JR Mitch. There was heartbreak for Korea’s Dani Choi as he was on target for his fifth bump up but with less than three minutes to go the front right hinge pin on his Agama came out. Trying to continue on three wheels he was easy pray for Chad Bradley who, despite hitting tyre problems on the final two laps, took the all important fourth place. Another to suffer cruel luck was Swedish Kyosho driver Linus Thern, holding a bump up position he went out at the half way mark with a throttle servo failure.
Day 6 of the 2010 IFMAR 1/8th off road World Championships saw the running of the lower finals, but with 8 lucrative places in the big day tomorrow still up for grabs there was plenty of thrilling hard fought action.
Starting with the 2048th final and ending with the running of the 16th finals the day saw the end of the event for one of the five Buggy World Champions competing here in Pattaya. After a torrid qualifying 2002 Champion Greg Degani ended up qualifying in 106th, leaving him to start out the day in the 128th final. Driving his Z-Car, the American was on a roll bumping up 4 times and into the 16th B final where he would join 2004 Champion Guillaume Vray. While the battle up front saw American teenager Levi Jackson win over veteran Associated driver Richard Saxton and South African Dean Steenmans, the battle for fourth was the focus of attention, with commentator Scotty Ernst really putting on a show as the two former World Champions battled it out for the last bump position. With two laps to go in the 20-minute encounter Degani moved to fourth briefly, but a mistake allowed Vray to regain the spot. Despite intense pressure, with Chad Philips also getting involved, the French Mugen driver held on to progress to tomorrow morning’s 1/8th B final.
The last race of the day also saw the battle for the final bump up spot go right down to the line – literally. Having been a reserve for the event, former Touring Car World Champion Surikan C, who bumped up from the 1/32nd final, would get the win with his Xray but only just from Jammin team driver Chad Bradley. Two corners from finish Korea’s Dani Choi, who started off in the 1/128th final went on his roof. Getting going just ahead of fourth placed Richi Gomez they touched slowing the latter slightly, which allowed France’s Jerome Sartel to dive down the inside of the Spaniard at the final corner. Gomez’s Mugen rolled just before the loop and Sartel took the last bump up position of the day.
Also racing in the last final of the day was 2008 World Finalist Taylor James, but the American went out just after the half way stage of the race ending his 2010 World Championship campaign. One driver deserving a mention for his efforts today is Hong Kong’s Wei Ping Hu who raced five finals having started out in the 1/1024th and worked his way up to the 1/64th. 56 drivers remain in the event and our coverage, which has been possible thanks to the support of Team Durango, LRP, Reds Racing and Team C, will continue in the morning with updates after each of the finals.
1:8 Buggy is a hugely important market for the r/c industry as it enjoys massive popularity and the World Championships is the best place to showcase your products. Walking around the pits here in Pattaya one can see the importance of being able to call a brand the World Champion by the huge presence of the big manufacturers. Of the capacity 180 entry, the majority of whom are customers paying for products with their own money, it is Kyosho that is the most popular chassis with 18% of the line up using their MP9. This is no real surprise considering the Japanese company is by far the most winning manufacturer with 7 World Championship titles to its credit.
The only other manufacturer to have won the World title more than once since its inception in 1986, with victory in 1990 and 2004, is Mugen and they are the second most popular brand with 17% of drivers using their MBX-6. Losi are the third car of choice on 16%. Interestingly Team Associated a company which holds the most IFMAR World titles, none of which are 1:8 Off Road, makes up just 8% of the field sharing fourth with European manufacturer Xray. Reigning World Champions Hot Bodies are the fifth most popular chassis with 6%, or 10 cars, running here. Interestingly the smallest team here is from the best known r/c company in the world, with Tamiya having just a single entry driven by European 1:10 Off Road Champion Lee Martin.
In terms of engines Italy’s Novarossi is the most used engine with 24% just ahead of defending champions OS on 21% who have 5 World titles to their credit. Securing the Top Qualifier honours here yesterday, Team Orion are the third engine of choice with almost 12%.