Team Yokomo are setting the early pace at the Touring Car World Championship in Kissimmee, Florida, with Naoto Matsukura fastest over three consecutive laps from team-mate and pre-event favourite Ronald Volker. With four Yokomos in the Top 5, Atsushi Hara posting the fourth fastest time and Yannic Prumper 5th after 3 rounds of practice, it is Tamiya’s Marc Rheinard who is the closest challenger taking his new TRF419 to the 3rd fastest time. Defending Champion Jilles Groskamp managed the 9th fastest time.
Having relinquished his 1:12 World title to Rheinard yesterday, Matsukura said it was a ‘good start today’ to the Touring Car event. Runner-up to Volker at the Warm-up Race at the Full Throttle RC Raceway track back in April, the Japanese driver said he is liking the new track layout but added he needs to work on the consistency of his new BD7 2015. Happy with his pace over the first minute he said the performance drops off too much towards the end of the 5-minutes adding that is something they need work on.
‘Everything good and working fine’ was how Volker summed up the early practice runs. With Yokomo, Tamiya and Xray doing extensive pre-event testing, the 4-time Euro Touring Series Champion said it was good there was a new layout for everyone describing the layout, which features a shorter straight as ‘good’. The German said the key to the track is the left/right leading onto the straight where he said its possible to lose a lot of time. Commenting on his car, he said they were working good with him running two cars each round to work on the ‘finer details’.
The same track as where he claimed the first of his three Touring Car World titles, Rheinard described the track as ‘fluid’ adding he really likes the section coming on to the straight. Getting it ‘perfect’, the German said you could gain a lot but added it was hard to do it perfect every lap. Commenting on his car he felt it was working ‘pretty good’ for the first few runs.
Hara said his driving was his biggest problem feeling he is still driving too much like he would in buggy, his last big event being the 1:8 Offroad World’s in Sicily 2-weeks ago. Conducting one day of testing with his BD7 in Taiwan before travelling out to the US, he said that track had ‘zero grip’. With the former World Champion complimenting his team’s sharing of set-up information, he said his car is working good and most improvement is going to come from the driver.
‘Getting better’ was how Prumper summed up his three runs. One of the few factory drivers to not test at the track, he said having started off with the same setup as Volker switching back to his own set-up for P3 left him a lot more comfortable with the car. The German said the problem with Volker’s set-up is that it doesn’t suit his driving style.
Debuting HB’s all new Pro 5 chassis, Andy Moore said for a new car his early pace was ok. Only his fourth day to run the car, the 2006 World Champion said the other 3-days testing took place in Thailand where conditions where totally different. Running through a plan of set-up changes in the first three rounds, he said based on that they now had knowledge to try further set-up changes. With most drivers liking the challenge of the section leading onto the straight, the British driver would be a victim of getting it wrong as in P3 just he pulled the screws out of steering hub after hitting the boards.
Team Xray’s Paul Lemieux set the 7th fastest time. The American said his pace can get a lot better through his driving. Watching both Matsukura and Volker do their runs he said they are running what don’t seem like proper lines but they’re going faster. He plans to continue to work on this but said his brain keeps telling him the tighter lines are slower.
Sitting in between team-mates Akio Sobue and Viktor Wilck on the time sheets, Groskamp said Practice 1 & 2 felt pretty good but the others stepped it up in P3. Trying a different set-up for the third run having picked the best of the two cars he ran in other runs, the Dutch driver said it didn’t feel as good. Running just 1 car in P3 to get an idea on how it felt over the full 5-minutes, he will revert back to his earlier set-up and again back to back both his cars having made heavy contact with the boards last time out.
Wilck said his practice was going ‘OK’ adding he didn’t really get 3-good laps together in P3 before he clipped boards coming onto the straight which broke a C-Hub and his servo.
Kyosho’s Christopher Krapp set the 11th fastest time but said the second of his cars was actually faster. With the timing software only registering the transponder of the first car a driver runs, the multiple Worlds finalist described his start to the event as ‘solid’. Happy he has pace to mix it with everyone but Matsukura & Volker, he said they are so much faster and he needs to try and find out how.
Team HB are making their race debut here in Kissimmee with their all new Pro 5 platform. As to be expected it is somewhat of a conventional layout and configuration but as with almost all touring cars on the market it is the details that matter. With only the rear uprights and the front driveshafts carried over from its predecessor the car has been completely revamped. Up front the steering knuckles have keyed carbon levers for adjusting the Ackermann, the floating steering servo mount features an integrated antenna holder and battery stop.
The motor mount has been lowered and integrated with the centre pulley mount and through its three top deck mounts can be used to adjust the flex of the car. Probably the most unique feature on the car is its infinitely adjustable inner camber link mount. Completing the changes are big bore shocks, guided lower suspension blocks and bigger pulleys. Factory team drivers Andy Moore and JJ Wang, who are using the new car here, have been extremely positive about the Pro 5’s performance in pre event testing and even with limited practice here in Florida are already very pleased with their new ride.
Track Name – Full Throttle RC Raceway Owner – George Martinez Country – Florida Location – Kissimmee Direction – Clockwise Surface – Asphalt
Built in 2003 Full Throttle RC Raceway hosts it second Touring Car World Championships having previously been the venue for the 2004 Worlds where Tamiya’s Marc Rheinard won the first of his three Touring Car World titles. Hosting just the Touring Car class this time round, the 1:12 event having been hosted at the Minnreg indoors 2-track hours away in Largo the past 3-days, the track is located within a golf course and right next to Kissimmee Airport. A city famed for its aviation, the track owes its existence to the airports manager, who being into r/c, instigated a collaboration between the city and the track’s original owner. Getting involved in the track in 2008 before taking over full ownership in 2010, the track is now run by George Martinez, who as a day job works for America’s world famous Hersheys Chocolate.
Closed for the months of June and July, the Florida weather just too hot for racing, the track hosts events the first weekend of the month with Saturday a day of open practice followed by club racing on the Sunday. Annually the track’s biggest race is the US Nitro World Cup which attracts 130 entries and runs in December to coincide with George’s birthday. This year the track also played host to the US Electric Onroad Nationals, with racers having to battle the extreme weather as ROAR, the American sanctioning body, has a ruling that the Nationals must take place at the end of July.
In terms of the layout, the asphalt covers an area 255ft wide and 100ft deep with the layout created using boards. Since the Worlds Warm-up Race held back in April, the track has gone through 7-layout changes with George picking the best elements of the various layouts to create the track on which drivers will compete for the 8th IFMAR Touring Car World title.
Commenting on the new layout defending World Champion Jilles Groskamp was very positive. Using the full length of the straight at the Warm-up Race, now cars enter the straight 1/4 ways down something the Tamiya driver says is a good change, the cars previously hitting speeds of 115kph. With most of the teams returning on a couple of occasions for further testing in preparation for the Worlds, Groskamp said the layout is now not so technical as it is now more open and he likes it.
Having lost his 6-year reign as 1:12 World Champion to Marc Rheinard in A2, Naoto Matsukura took some consolation by winning A3 to secure second overall at the Florida event. Having struggled with the Finals Day conditions of the Minnreg Hall track, the Top Qualifier would lead away the field and stay out front for the full 8-minutes to head a Yokomo 1-2 from his very hard pushing team-mate Masatsugu Ido. Considering how the opening two Mains worked out, 5 in A1 and 4th in A2, the 21-year-old said he was ‘Happy to finish 2nd’. After a dominant performance in qualifying wrapping up the honour by TQ’ing the opening four rounds, which he said was the perfect gift to his mother on her birthday, he said the change in track conditions today left him with a difficult car and while ‘winning is always the goal’ today ‘things didn’t work out’. Joking with new Champion Rheinard, he said ‘I had 1:12 title long time so Marc can have it now, I go this year instead for Touring Car win’.
Equalling his best World Championship finish, Futaba radio designer Hideo Kitazawa completed the podium despite a though A3. Third overall at the Yatabe Arena in 2000, the Morotech driver was slightly disappointed he couldn’t have gone one better today adding he had the car to achieve 2nd but through no fault but his own threw away the opportunity with ‘many many (driver) mistakes’. Needing only to finish behind Matsukura to finish 2nd overall his mistakes would see him finish 8th and he would lose out on the tie-break with his fellow countryman.
Chassis – Yokomo R12 C3.1 Motor – Yokomo RP 3.5T ESC – Yokomo BL Pro 3 Battery – Yokomo 6900mAh Tires – Yokomo Radio/Servos – Sanwa Body – Protoform AMR 12 Remarks – 3-time back to back World Champion Naoto Matsukura is running this R12 C3.1 with a prototype rear pod. The new rear end is stronger, lighter and has a lower centre of gravity than the part that comes with the standard C3.1 and moves the centre shock more forward, these parts developed specifically for this event. Availability has not been decided on but it may be released as an option for the car in the future. In terms of setup they were running their basic setup from Japan with just a softer front spring which they believe now may have been quick for qualifying but perhaps not the best option for the final. The Yokomo team were also cutting the ribs from their rear rims in order to make them softer which helps with traction.