Naoto Matsukura has cruised his way to an unchallenged fourth consecutive 1:12 World Championship TQ wrapping up qualifying in Florida early with another fastest run in the fourth of the six scheduled qualifiers. The Yokomo driver was again the only driver to turn 53 laps of the Minnreg Hall making it four from four by taking Q4 from rapid American Donny Lia who set a new track record with an 8.822 lap time. Matsukura’s Yokomo team-mate Masatsugu Ido would complete the Top 3. Such was Matsukura’s pace that over the 8-minutes he ran a full lap more than that of fourth place finisher Hideo Kitazawa.
Declaring himself ‘happy’ to again be defending his title from pole position, Matsukura said the run was his best yet and it was good to get the first part of his program over with early. Testing extensively in preparation for his going for an unprecedented fourth consecutive IFMAR World title, the 21-year-old wanted to thank the new Change Circuit in Japan for facilitating him in testing on a similar sized track to the Worlds track, his Yokomo team’s Yatabe Arena being too big & open for meaningful testing. With the pressure now off, he will use the final two qualifying runs to test a few things adding he would like to find a little more steering ahead of the tomorrow’s finals.
Lia, a driver who is using every inch of the tight track, said ‘its a tyre game and they are getting close now’. Adding that his clean run so far was a big factor to his second for the round, the TOP Racing driver said while his BSR tyres faded towards the end of the 8-minutes they are working towards a good strategy and he believes in the next one he ‘should hit it on the head’.
Leaving his car unchanged Ido was much happier with his driving declaring the run as his best so far. Set to continue with the same set-up, the 20-year-old hopes to repeat the run in Q5 and added another Top 3 run having also posted the third fastest time in Q1 which should ensure he makes his 1:12 Worlds debut at the sharp end of the A-Main grid.
Behind Kitzawa, Jilles Groskamp finally registered a Top 5 run. Running for the On-point team, the 2010 Runner-up said his run was ‘not so fast but stable’ but while he can’t say he took it easy he was able to drive it around for the 8-minutes. Struggling with overall grip from the start with it getting particularly bad towards the end of the run he said he knows he is not competitive but he still wants to do the best he can and the aim now is for clean runs to at least try and give himself the best possible starting spot for the final.
Another driver recording his best round so far was Alexander Hagberg. Having failed to make the Top 10 in the opening three qualifiers the Swede took a similar approach to that of Groskamp. Setting the 6th fastest time, the European Champion was happy to at least finish a run with no major dramas. Going for a clean run he said his Xray is nowhere near the pace it had yesterday with the set-up used then just not working today. While they are still trying to find a good set-up he said he is conscious of the fact he needs to finish off qualifying with two good runs if he is even to make the A-Main.
Japanese National Champion Hayato Ishioka took his CRC to the 7th fastest time with the honour of top Team Associated falling to Juho Levanen in 8th. Separated by just 0.002 of a second Markus Mobers and Paul Lemieux completed the Top 10. Elsewhere Marc Rheinard’s improving runs came to an end as he suffered two heavy crashes, the second of which caused the centre shock on his CRC to pop off. Another non finisher of the round was Q3 fourth place finisher Alexandre Laurent who pulled up after just the 1-minute mark.
At a somewhat subdued 1:12 World Championship, only 44 drivers contesting the longest running electric category World Championships, Naoto Matsukura made it three out three in qualifying at the Florida event. Round 3 of qualifying saw the Yokomo driver again top the times as he became the first & only driver to run 53-laps over 8-minutes to put himself on provisional pole for his quest for a fourth consecutive title. With 3 from 6 rounds to count the only way the Japanese driver can now be denied becoming Top Qualifier is for one driver to top all three remaining qualifiers, the last of which takes place tomorrow morning. Behind Matsukura the continually improving Marc Rheinard, who was 4th in Q1 and 3rd in Q2, set the second fastest time with Hideo Kitazawa completing the Top 3.
Running a larger diameter tyre for the third qualifier, Matsukura said the change improved his R12 C3.1, a fact that was clearly highlighted by him upping the pace to 53 laps having been slightly slower than his first round pace in Q2. Describing the run as ‘95% correct’ he said he had a few small mistakes but nothing too major. Gaining his confidence, having been left somewhat stunned by Alexander Hagberg’s pace in yesterday’s practice, for Q4 he will again run his Yokomo tyres to the same larger diameter adding with that change in mind they will make some very small tweaks to the car.
‘OK’ was how Rheinard summed up his qualifier. A former 1:12 Worlds podium finisher, the German said a change to a brand new battery left him lacking ‘punch’ towards the end of the run. In terms of his CRC he said while it had a little understeer it was easy to drive and he was happy to continue to run it as is. While his battery issue was most likely due to it only having one charge on it he will play safe and revert to the pack he used in the earlier qualifiers.
While he had a tough Q2 in terms of crashes ending up only 8th fastest, Kitazawa said his Morotech was ‘now going a lot better’ after he extended the timing of his tyre sauce. Able to run a much cleaner Q3 he plans to further clean up his driving in Q4 adding with the car working well he will leave it as is.
Another driver benefiting from improved driving was 3-time French National Champion Alexandre Laurent. 15th and 11th in the opening two qualifiers, the Blackart driver took his XB22 conversion CRC to the fourth fastest time. Having improved the balance of the car by changing tyre size and adjustments to the front end he said while the car is still pushing a little it is very consistent over the 8-minutes. For Q4 he will focus attentions on further improving his driving style.
3rd fastest in Q1, Masatsugu Ido would take his Yokomo to the 5th fastest time. Describing his R12 C3.2 as running ‘really good’, the category newcomer said he lost time with a ‘couple of mistakes’ at the beginning of the run. With ‘no need to change the car’ he will try to clean up his driving for Q4.
The categories most winning manufacturer, Team Associated managed a Top 6 run thanks to US National Champion Keven Hebert. The Canadian said ultimately he drove better but added that in terms of set-up Q3 also saw them get headed in the right direction. While getting closer to what they need for the low grip track he said it is still not quite right with a general lack of steering the main issue but he is positive they have started to make progress in that area.
Having changed tyre for Q2, something that didn’t work out leaving him with no rear traction, Markus Mobers reverted to his Q1 tyre choice to set the 7th fastest time. The On-Point creator, said while the car was good for 5-minutes he had a big drop off in traction for the final 3-minutes. Planning to stick with the same Mobgum tyre for Q4 he will run them with a larger diameter which he hopes will lead to a more consistent car from start to finish.
Setting the 9th fastest time behind CRC driver Kazuki Endo, Donny Lia would set the fastest lap of the round. Running in the top heat, the American is still having too many mistakes one of which resulted in Xray’s Olly Jefferies, who for a time was running the TQ pace, ending upside down. Needing to be marshalled Jefferies would complete the Top 10 for Q3.
Elsewhere, 2012 runner-up Andy Moore would retire while running ahead of Laurent after stripping a spur gear while an electric issue with also see Touring Car World Champion Jilles Groskamp DNF. Alexander Hagberg again couldn’t translate his practice pace in a qualifying run with the Swede struggling with a lack of traction something he is putting down to the track having changed.
Naoto Matsukura backed up his Q1 qualifying performance to make it two from two at the 1:12 World Championships heading yet another Japanese 1-2 this time from Hayato Ishioka. Running a fractionally slower time than his opening run, the defending 3-time champion topped the times by 1.233 from the Japanese Champion with the pair being the only two to run 52 laps of the Minnreg Hall track. Pushing Matsukura hard, Ishioka would record the fastest lap of the round, only him and Alexander Hagberg managing 8-second laps.
Despite tangling with Hideo Kitzawa twice, the first time both cars ending up in the boards and needing to be marshalled, Marc Rheinard completed the top three, half a second up on Olly Jefferies. Second fastest in Q1, Kitizawa didn’t fair as well with his Morotech ending up 8th behind Round 1 retiree Jilles Groskamp and Andy Moore. Unfortunately for Hagberg a competitive Top 3 run would come to a very sudden end just as the run reached the six minute mark. Clashing with another car on the infield US racer Donny Lia’s car would get launched onto the straight with Hagberg having little time to respond and make a direct strike that would end his race. Lia would continue to again be the top home driver, claiming another Top 10 finish with 9th ahead of Masatsugu Ido.
Defending Champion Naoto Matsukura opened qualifying at the 1:12 World Championship in Florida with a TQ run, the Yokomo driver setting the pace over fellow Japanese driver Hideo Kitazawa and Masatsugu Ido. Having convincingly stamped his authority on practice yesterday to be top seed for qualifying, an early crash put Alexander Hagberg out of contention, the Xray driver eventually ending up 11th at the end of the first of the six 8-minute qualifiers.
Having struggled to match Hagberg’s pace yesterday, Matsukura said both an improved car and better track conditions made for an improved package today and he was pleased to open his title defence with a TQ run. Going for a fourth consecutive title, the 21-year-old had one mistake over the run and having had to deal with a little understeer on his Yokomo Double Pink shod R12 C3.1 he will make a small set-up tweak for Q2.
Running a Morotech chassis, Kitazawa described his P2 run as ‘so, so’. The Futaba employee said he didn’t get the timing right with his tyre sauce, all drivers now have to use Gravity RC sauce in a controlled area, and for the first 2-minutes he had to deal with very aggressive steering. Describing the track as ‘good but very narrow’, he will extend the sauce time of his ULTI tyres for Q2 together with trying to eliminate crashes – the opening qualifier seeing a lot of crashes from the top drivers.
Only racing 1:12 for four months, having a back ground in 1:10 Offroad, Ido was pretty pleased with his opening qualifier. The 20-year-old team-mate to Matsukura said his goal was to run a clean run and up until the end that was going to plan before a late mistake. ‘Pretty happy’ with his R12 he said he will run it the same and again focus his attentions on keeping the run clean.
Driving for CRC, Tamiya Touring Car ace Marc Rheinard posted the 4th fastest time despite tweaking his car at the end of the opening lap. The German said his car felt really good off the start but coming onto the straight for the first time he clicked the boards heavily. A run full of ‘small errors’, he said while he would make some small changes including his Much More Speedo settings, the focus was more on getting rid of mistakes as that was where most time was to be gained.
British National Champion Olly Jefferies said the qualifier felt a lot longer than 8-minutes as he just tried to focus on not crashing his Xray ‘as much as everyone else’. Happy with the performance of CRC shod X12 at the start of the run he said after 4-minutes it started to get loose. Planning to tweak his tyre prep as well as his body shell, he will change the set-up of his LRP speedo as he looks to get a better feeling through the throttle stick of his Sanwa radio. Team-mate Hagberg, who surprised everyone yesterday with his pace said while his mistakes didn’t help he ws struggling for rear traction towards the end of the run. Setting the fastest lap of the round, with a 8.916 lap, the European Champion will change the tyre prep of his Hot Race tyres for his second qualifier.
Completing the Top 6 was Japanese National Champion Hayato Ishioka. The 18-year-old CRC driver described the run as ‘a little rough’. Running Kimihiko Yano tyres and describing the track layout as ‘really fun’, he plans to leave everything the same for Q2 and just work on tidying up his driving.
Next up was Markus Mobers. Setting the 7th fastest time the On-point owner said he was ‘getting there’ as he finally found rear traction. With the Mobgums shod OPC12 ‘super good’ for the first two minutes he said it then started to push due to improved rear traction but happy to have that the German said they can now adjust the set-up to cure the understeer and he is more confident for Q2. Unfortunately team driver and Tamiya’s reigning Touring Car World Champion Jilles Groskamp it was a very short lived Q1 as he stripped a spur gear at the first corner. The Dutch ace said a heavy crash in the morning practice looks to have moved his Orion motor slightly with him not noticing it as he prepared the car for the first qualifier.
Donny Lia headed the home challenge taking his TOP Rebel to the 8th fastest time. Making ‘a lot of mistakes’ he said the driver was ‘quite a mess’ and he needs to work on that. Happy to get a Top 10 for the round, he said having figured out his BSR shod car it felt really good and for Q2 he will run it the same and just ‘settle down’ his driving.
Runner-up at the 2012 World Championships in the Netherlands, Andy Moore struggled to the 13th fastest time. Again racing for CRC, the HB Touring Car team leader, made a tyre change for Q1 which he said was alright for the first 2-minutes before the ‘traction just disappeared’. For Q2 the British driver will change to the same CRC Pro Cuts tyre as used by CRC team-mate Rheinard to get a P4 out of Q1.
Track Name – Minnreg Hall Organiser – George Martinez Country – USA Location – Largo, Florida Direction – Clockwise Surface – CRC Carpet
The 17th running of the IFMAR 1:12 World Championships takes place at Minnreg Hall in Largo, Florida, a site that is no stranger to World events having previously hosted the 1:10 Offroad World Championships in 2003 on a grass site at the rear of the building. Originally set to be hosted at the outdoor asphalt Full Throttle Raceway in Kissimmee, where 1:12 legend Masami Hirosaka won the last of his World titles in 2004 and which hosts the Touring Car Worlds later in the week, the hall is a 2-hour drive from Kissimmee. A temporary track, the hall which is used for a range of local events & exhibitions, it was picked due to it being Florida’s only indoor carpet racing site with two r/c events held here each year – The Minnreg Turkey Shoot and a round of the FSEARA (Florida State Electric Auto Racing Association) Championship.
Designed by local racer Mike Bean, the track laout covers an area 96 feet wide by 44 feet deep and is constructed using the same boards that are used for the building of the famous Snowbirds track – that race’s organiser Mike Boylan playing a big behind the scene part in putting on these 1:12 Worlds. With only 44 racers making the trip to Largo, race host & Full Throttle Raceway owner George Martinez said putting on a carpet race was only made possible thanks to the support of 1:12 protaganist Frank Calandra whose CRC company sponsored a fresh supply of its industry leading Ozite racing carpet.
In terms of driving the track, which visually doesn’t look very challenge, defending World Champion Naoto Matsukura gave the layout a thumbs up. Liking the feeling of the track, the Yokomo ace who is chasing a fourth consecutive title said while the right side of the track is very fast & straight forward the left side is a ‘little difficult’ to get right every lap. European Champion Alexander Hagberg, who stamped his authority of Day 1 of practice, said while he was expecting a ‘more technical’ track he likes driving the ‘typical US track’. Like Matsukura the Xray driver said the left side is the key to a good lap with a good line through the sweeper allowing you ‘to pick up a lot of time’.