Dylan Rodriguez put in a Phoenix style rise to secure his place in tonight’s Truggy A-Main of the Dirt Nitro Challenge on a day that started out in the F-Main culminating in victory in the B-Main to put the A-Main Performance Hobbies team driver on the 15 car grid that will battle it out for victory at the 16th running of the Arizona event. Battling it out for much of the race with Austin Blair eventually finishing 4.7 seconds ahead, the Las Vegas driver will be joined by his A-Main team-mate. Securing the third a final bump up spot would be Novak team driver Billy Fischer who would come out on top of a late battle with Cody King, the Kyosho driver giving up third with a mistake at the end of the straight with two & half laps to go.
Unfortunately for last year’s only triple podium finisher Dakotah Phend, the 18-year old will not be returning to Michigan with three trophies this year. A tough qualifying left the US National Champion in the C-Main and having bumped up he was in contention to progress to the A-Main but just after the 2/3rds distance of the 30-minute encounter he suffered another steering knuckle failure having had the same issue in one of his qualifiers. Another driver who was looking strong to bump up was Xray’s Martin Bayer. The Czech driver went with a 10-minute fuel strategy and as that played out, most drivers doing 3 stops, he was right at the front but on his in lap for his 2nd stop he ran out of fuel. Afterwards he said half way through the race a loose ackermann screw lost him steering forcing him to have to steer the truggy on the throttle leading his FX engine to just miss the second stop.
A very popular win, Rodriguez described his day as ‘crazy’. Ending up qualifying second to last after radio issues in Q1, a front drive failure in Q2 and further issues in Q3, all three qualifying heats coming to a combined 10-laps of the Fear Farm track, he said for the B-Main he was just trying to keep out of trouble and coming from 14th on the grid ‘opportunities came (his) way’ allowing him to work his way to the front. Describing his HB D8T Tessmann Edition as working really good, the recently turned 21-year-old said after such bad luck in qualifying he was delighted to turn things around and line up in the A-Main.
Blair, who is running an S-Workz truggy, was equally happy to bump up having started the race from second on the grid behind Drew Moller, the HB driver leading for the first 5-minutes before a series of mistakes dropped him down the order. The 20-year-old said having watched some ‘hectic starts’ to the earlier finals he just tried to stay out of trouble for the early laps and not hit anyone. Swapping the lead with Rodriguez and Fischer, he said he enjoyed his battle with his team-mate he was looking forward to taking part in the A-Main having missed the cut last year.
David Ronnefalk headed a HB 1-2 in the third & final round of buggy qualifying at the Dirt Nitro Challenge, the Swede outpacing Ty Tessmann by 1.2 seconds, but second for the round would be enough for Tessmann to secure the overall TQ for the 16th running of world famous track builder Joey ‘The Dirt’ Christensen’s signature event. Despite not having a good final round, TLR’s Ryan Maifield, the only driver other than Tessmann to win at DNC nitro title at the Fear Farm, will line up second followed by team-mate & last year’s Top Qualifier Dakotah Phend who also had a tough Q3. Becoming the third different driver to TQ a round, Maifield taking Q1 and Tessmann Q2, Ronnefalk will line-up 4th for Sunday night’s 45-minute final.
Happy to get the overall TQ, Tessmann described his final qualifier as ‘alright’ feeling he drove too hard at the start and ending up with a crash on lap 4. Making a diff set-up change on his D815 for the run, the Canadian said this worked out good with him able to set the fastest lap of the round. Six second down on team-mate Ronnefalk with 5-laps to go the World Champion reduced that to just over a second adding this showed the speed is there. Asked about the main he said ‘everyone is right there’ in terms of speed and ‘not one person is standing out’. Commenting on the track he said it is ‘getting more & more gnarly’ but they would just ‘have to deal with it’ come the A-Main.
Maifield was clearly not happy with changes made to his 8ight for the final qualifying with the 2013 champion saying bad decisions were made in the pits after to listening to other people. The Arizona driver said once he puts his car back to how it was in the previous qualifiers, his set-up unchanged between Q1 & 2, he knows he is faster than everyone else and his plan for the race was simple, ‘make a pass at the first corner and be gone’.
Managing only the 15th fastest time for the third round, Phend said his 8ight was good but battling with sickness it didn’t go well from a driving point of view. With the round finishing up shortly after 11pm, the top drivers having been at the track from before 7am to complete their final round of truggy qualifying, the 18-year-old said he now just want to go to sleep. With a good starting position already locked in with his results from the first two qualifiers he used the final run to test Pro-Line’s Lockdown tyre with a view to running them in the Main. Providing more traction and feeling less edgy than the Holeshots he ran previously he said he will most probably use them for the final.
Ronnefalk said for anyone watching the warm-up they would have said he had no chance of a TQ run as he made a series of stupid mistakes one of which saw Boots make contact with his D815. Adopting a ‘little easier’ driving style for the start of the qualifier he said this and having a clean track ahead of him worked out well adding he was particularly happy to do one TQ run in each of the three 1:8 classes. Having one mistake at the whoops section, adding with the track conditions as they are now you were always going to have some bobbles out there, he said the biggest difference for Q3 was his tyre choice. Having run AKA Catapults, he changed to Typos which resulted in increased traction and more steering.
Posting the fifth fastest time for Q3, that is where Ryan Lutz will line up on the 15-car A-Main grid. The Tekno RC driver said ‘the start was good, the middle was good, but the end was not so good’. Running a Top 3, hitting the top of the timing screens for a lap, he caught traffic towards the end of the 7-minutes and then made mistakes of his own. Despite this he said it was nice to be on the pace with a change to CVDs in the back of his prototype buggy curing the issue he had with the rear end of the car dumping under power. Feeling he made a lot of progress with his buggy over the three qualifiers he is confident he can run a good final.
Completing the Top 6 on the grid by backing up his P5 in Q2 with a P6 in the final round that allowed him to drop his disastrous Q1 result, Ryan Cavalieri will lead the Team Associated challenge in the final. Behind him Elliott Boots will line up 7th as the top Kyosho qualifier followed by HB’s Drew Moller, Truggy Top Qualifier Jared Tebo, Mugen’s Barry Pettit and Kyosho’s Cody King. Agama driver Darren Bloomfield secures the 12th & final direct spot on the grid which will be completed by the Top 3 finishers from the B-Main.
In a repeat of what he did in the final round of Truggy qualifying on Jared Tebo, HB’s Ty Tessmann snatched the TQ for the second round of Buggy qualifying at the Dirt Nitro Challenge with another blistering final lap, this time knocking Kyosho’s Elliott Boots from the top of the timing screen. Starting his final lap holding the P2 pace, the defending champion would run 2/10th faster than Boots to deny the former World Championship Top Qualifier his first TQ run at the DNC by just 0.022 of a second. An extremely close qualifier, Q1 pace setter Ryan Maifield would finish third just 3/10th of a second off having ended his run with the fastest lap of the round.
Chasing a third DNC Buggy title, Tessmann said switching to thicker shock oil on his D815 for the hotter temperatures of Q2 worked well with the Canadian happy with his buggy. Running Pro-Line’s M3 Lockdown tyre he said while they were maybe not the fastest tyre to run on they left his buggy feeling good to drive. Having a coming together with Boots in the warm-up and needing to pit to have his bodyshell seen to he said this left him with not a lot of practice laps making the start of the run ‘a little hairy’. With over 4-hours of a wait till the third & deciding round of qualifying Tessmann expects they will make changes due to the cooler temperatures of the night time run.
Only 13th fastest in Q1, Boots said his improved performance came simply from driving smoother. Happy with the speed of his car in Q1 he said ‘a few mistakes’ left him down the order but knowing he had a good car he didn’t make any changes to his Reds Racing powered MP9. Again running Pro-Line M3 Blockades, the British driver who qualified 4th overall on his DNC debut in 2013, said the plan for Q3 was to ‘just do the same again’ although he added ‘anything can happen on that track’ but he would ‘try to keep it clean’ for the 7-minutes.
Doing nothing to his TLR 8ight other than mount a fresh set of JConcepts Blue Chasers and instead using the long time between rounds to get some sleep having had to visit ER during the night due to a throat infection, Maifield said he ‘thought (Q2) went good’. He said ‘I did everything I could and I wouldn’t change anything over a couple of tenths’ referring to how close the top 3 ended up on the increasingly difficult track which he said is ‘getting tougher and rougher’. Running a completely kit stand 8ight, the 2013 Champion said the car was running fast, super consistent and reliable and he was looking forward to the final qualifier.
Maifield’s Team Losi Racing team-mate Dakotah Phend would finish fourth fastest again just missing out on an 12-lap run. The 18-year-old said it was ‘another solid run’ and making no changes to his Pro-line equipped example of the 8ight he ‘just went out there and drove (his) own pace’. Locked into the A-Main, last year’s podium finisher said for the final qualifier he would probably try a bigger pin tyre as testing for the Main that is set take place in similar conditions on Sunday night.
Having got caught out by an earlier than expected start to Q1, him pitting for fuel unaware the clock was already running and leaving him to end up 40th, Ryan Cavalieri would post the 5th fastest time. The Associated driver said his RC8 prototype had the pace and the run started off really good until he had a few bobbles leading to a few 39-second laps. Running AKA’s new Chain Link tyre he said for the final qualifier he might switch to their new smaller pin Rasp tyre which he feels will give more grip if there is more moisture in the track.
Setting the 6th fastest time, David Ronnefalk said overall his HB D815 felt ok and now he just needs to work on the small details. Suffering one crash and a small roll, he said as a result Boots passed him but following his former team-mate for a few laps he was happy with his pace. With his buggy pushing a little he put this down to a wrong tyre choice and for Q3 he will switch from AKA Catapult to the new Rasp, his engine tuner Adrien Bertin set to test the tyre for his protege during his run in the 35+ class.
Making a number of changes to his prototype Tekno RC buggy, Ryan Lutz set the 7th fastest time. Standing up the rear shocks one hole and raising the rear camber link he said they didn’t have the desired effect with the rear of the buggy dumping worse on power making the right hand corner before the big step-up particularly difficult. With the car pushing more and more as the run went on a last lap mistake would lose him a position to Ronnefalk and he hopes a ‘Tekno family discussion’ will help him come up with a better set-up for he final qualifier.
Eighth fastest would be Tanner Denney, the Associated driver putting his run down to better driving. The 19-year-old said he was on a solid run in Q1 until a last lap crash which dropped him to 15th. Driving a ‘smarter’ Q2, he said his RC8 Prototype ran well with him particularly happy with his choice of JConcepts blue compound Diamond Bar tyres which he said gave him ‘a lot of forward grip’. For Q3 he said will check over the front end of the car feeling it was binding a little and for the colder condition he will also go down in shock oils. Behind Denney, Agama’s Darren Bloomfield and Mugen’s Barry Pettit who where 5th and 6th fastest respectively in Q1 round out the Top 10.
Ty Tessmann is the overall Top Qualifier in eBuggy at the DNC, the Canadian topping the times for a second time in the third & final qualifier having yesterday TQ’d the opening round. The HB driver, who qualified on 7th last year, will start on pole position ahead the S-Workz of 2013 Top Qualifier Austin Blair who ran his best round in Q3 posting the second fastest time. The pace setter in last night’s second qualifier, defending champion David Ronnefalk would only end up 6th fastest but with a 5th from Q1 will start from 3rd on the grid. Behind the Swede, whose win last year made him the first European to win a ‘Dirt’ title, former team-mate Jared Tebo will line-up 4th with arch rival Ryan Cavalieri and British National Champion Elliott Boots completing the Top 6 of the increasingly competitive field.
Ryan Maifield headed a 1-2 for Team Losi Racing in the opening round of buggy qualifying at the Dirt Nitro Challenge, the Arizona driver the only one to complete 12 laps of the Fear Farm track. Behind him last year’s triple podium finisher Dakotah Phend would set the fastest 11-lap run over the 7-minutes in a marked improvement from the 17-year-old who ended up only 27th overall in Truggy qualifying. Behind the TLR pairing it was defending champion Ty Tessmann that would complete the Top 3 despite losing over 4-second when he rolled his HB while on target for a TQ pace.
Asked about his qualifier, Maifield running in the X group of the 6 unseeded heats, said he ‘went for it’ and while he had a few bobbles it was fast with his Orion powered 8ight having ‘a lot of power’ something he said was a nice complaint. Having used eBuggy qualifying to work out his tyre choice, all drivers having only had one 6-minute practice on the track on Wednesday, he said his choice of JConcepts Chaser tyres in blue compound worked really well. Suffering a little with his brakes fading towards the end of the qualifier he said he will make a small engine adjustment to cure this for Q2.
Having come into the event feeling under the weather and suffering ‘a bunch of stupid stuff’ in Truggy, Phend said he managed to take on a new mindset for the change over to buggy qualifying and it worked out well. Last year’s Buggy Top Qualifier, he said despite the track getting rougher and it harder to get around without mistakes he was happy with how ‘super easier’ his 8ight was to drive. Running Pro-Line’s M3 Holeshot tyre, he said they were a safer choice for his style of driving and his big focus for Q2 was to keep his new found form going.
‘Was going pretty good until I crashed’, that was how Tessmann summed up his opening qualifier. The World Champion said everything in terms of his D815 and Pro-line M3 Blockade’s ran pretty much as expected although he will rebuild his shocks for Q2, his father Gord joking ‘we should have enough time’. With approximately 4-hours between rounds, this year’s DNC attracting over 800 entries for the 1:8 classes, Tessmann said changes would depend on how the track is looking nearer to the time of the day’s second of three scheduled qualifiers.
Setting the fourth fastest time Ryan Lutz seemed a little happier than he was with his truggy qualifying describing his first buggy qualifier as ‘pretty good’. The Tekno RC driver said ‘luckily 80% of the track is right turns’ as he had less left turn steering feeling something must have been binding on the buggy’s steering. Running AKA’s new Chain Link tyre he said they ‘seemed good’ and are ‘very forgiving’. Asked about any changes for Q2, he said it all depended on how the track was going to be and whether they were going to water or not jokingly referring to the event as the ‘Dirt Nitro we leave you guessing challenge’.
Former European Champion Darren Bloomfield was delighted with his opening run as he took his Agama to the fifth fastest time. Saying the result takes a lot of weight off him as he targets his first A-Main appearance at the DNC, the British driver said the run ended up a lot better than he thought. Running early on side by side with former finalist Elliott Boots and then towards the end of the run with Tessmann who he had to open up for twice after the champion made his mistake right in front of the him, he felt his driving was slightly compromised by this. Just 4-weeks on the market, Bloomfield said his new A215 ‘felt really good although a touch edgy’. still trying to learn how American tracks evolves over an event he said they used eBuggy to get a set-up for Q1. Happy with how that ran in the final qualifier, he said taking the weight of the electric buggy, which is heavier, into account they reduced the oil weight in the nitro buggy, adding they ‘guessed well’. Running Beta’s Vmax tyre he said he is tempted to try their small pin style Cube for Q2 but will wait to make that call.
Despite suffering two crashes on his way to posting the sixth fastest time, Barry Pettit described Q1 as ‘a decent opening round’. The Mugen driver said while the run started out a little slick due to the watering of the track his MBX7R ran good getting better & better over the heat. Running Pro-Line’s M3 Holeshot tyre he said while he would have to ‘wait & see’ what happens to the track over the remainder of the round, the Pro heats running first, he didn’t plan on making any changes being happy with how everything is performing.
With a few mistakes, Cody King said he wasn’t going to complain about getting points for 7th. The former World Champion said the track is changing quite a lot add he got lucky with the timing of his heat as the sun came out for the heats up after him. Planning to ‘make a few adjustments’ to his Kyosho for Q2 he said the track might turn out looser and so he might end up holding off.
Posting the 8th fastest time, Serpent’s Mike Truhe said he ‘went safe and it worked out good’. Describing it as being ‘as clean as can be’, he said the front shocks were too thick causing his S811 to be loose on-power although it was ‘not terrible’. Set to make a few minor set-up adjustments for Q2, the former double champion said he would take it from there and see how it goes. His first big race using Picco engines, Serpent’s US distributor taking on the distribution of the Italian manufacturer with both Alberto and Edo Picco on hand at the DNC for support, he said everything in that department was working out well.
Behind Truhe, new HB pairing Drew Moller and David Ronnefalk completed the Top 10. Moller would set the fastest lap of the round with a 37.173 while the run was effectively Ronnefalk’s first run in nitro buggy after he managed one lap in practice as his engine moved. The Swede said his D812 felt pretty good but compared to eBuggy the whoops section was a lot harder and by the end of the 7-minutes he had started to get it figured out and he feels good he can improve in Q2.