September 23, 2014

Tessmann stamps authority on opening qualifier

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Ty Tessmann stamped his authority on the opening round of qualifying at the 1:8 Offroad World Championships in Sicily with the HB driver topping the times by a substantial 7-seconds over Ryan Maifield.  The first of the day’s two qualifiers saw reigning World Champion Robert Batlle and qualifying top seed David Ronnefalk both struggled with their driving with Jared Tebo completing the top 3 but only after he had a technical disqualification overturn.  In general Q1 was a round that was rewarding safe clean driving.

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Setting the fastest lap of the round, with only young Italian talent David Ongaro joining him in the 36-second lap times, Tessmann declared himself ‘really happy’ saying ‘usually the first one is shaky but it was a really solid run’.  ‘Not quite as fast as practice’, the 2012 Worlds runner-up said the 10-minutes was free of mistakes and this was also the main focus for Q1. Describing track conditions for his heat, the Canadian running in the third heat, as good following overnight repairs to fill in holes he ran Pro-Line’s X1 compound Fugitive on his D812 which he will stick with for Q2.

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Maifield described his qualifier as ‘OK’ adding it was ‘nice to get a second out of the first round’.  With ‘no big mistakes’, the TLR driver said other than a few little moments it was a ‘smooth run’.  Having changed the set-up on his JConcepts equipped 8ight he said he will continue to stiffen up the buggy for the next one.  Aiming for ‘another solid mistake free run’ he said it would be ‘nice to end Day 1 of qualifying on a positive’.

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‘I haven’t been super fast yet’ at this event ‘so I couldn’t be happier’ that was how Tebo summed up his 3rd.  Having not really been in the mix throughout practice saying the 2010 Worlds Top Qualifier said other than change from AKA’s Grid Iron to Catapult tyre he ran his Kyosho the same as the final practice and just drove a good 10-minutes.  Other than twice hitting crashed cars around the track, he said the run was really good but added he may have drove ‘a little too much on the safe side’.  Having been intially excluded from the result an appeal saw the judgement changed to an official warning.  Having added a cooling hole in his bodyshell over the engine manifold, his team got the modification approved by IFMAR president Dallas Mathiesen but in technical inspection it was determined to contravene the rules.  After much discussion it was decided Tebo had not deliberately set out to break the rules and he was reinstated but for the rest of the event with his bodies already cut he will have to run them with the holes taped over.

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‘Alright’ was how Martin summed up his run,  the Brit just half a second off Tebo despite a late servo issue.  Towards the end of the 10-minutes the Mugen driver said he throttle servo started to go off causing him to loose brake and struggle with a lack of throttle response, his Beat engine going rich as a result. Happy with how his MBX7R ran before the issue he said other than fit a new servo he will run the car as is for Q2 and leave any set-up changes to tomorrow.

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Team Kyosho’s Kyle McBride took his MP9 to the fifth fastest time declaring himself ‘pretty happy’.  The 18-year-old Australian ace said he just tried to go around without mistakes and that approach ‘worked out well’.  Looking for a little more speed from his buggy for the next one the 2010 World’s Finalist plans a couple of minor changes which he hopes will make him be more comfortable with the car so he ‘can push a little harder’.

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Putting the message ‘Slow Down’ into his Futaba 4PK SR radio paid dividends for Ryan Lutz, the Team Durango driver completing the Top 6.  The US driver said watching the first couple of heats he saw a lot of drivers crash and knew if he just slowed down and kept the run clean he could net a decent round.  Having been hampered by brake issues in practice, he said the problem is still not 100% solved and he is having to dial it out over the run on his radio.  For Q2 he will go up in the front diff oil of his Alpha powered DNX8 to try and ‘smooth it out’.

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Recording the seventh fastest time, Adam Drake described his qualifier as ‘just really safe’.  The master of fuel economy he said having been happy with his Novarossi engine’s run time throughout practice in the final run yesterday he ended up running short.  Following this he decided for Q1 he would, like his rivals, make one stop but following 2 bobbles he said he threw that idea out the window.  Having to drive ‘super cautious’ so as to save fuel he would end up making it pretty easy with plenty of fuel left at the end of the 10-minutes.  Describing his 8ight as easy to drive at the pace he ran for Q2 to he will go up in shock and centre diff oil as well as going to a harder compound tyre with the aim of driving a little harder.

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Eighth fastest was Carson Wernimont. The US Mugen team driver said he didn’t try anything crazy, with the run working out ‘pretty good’.  With his AKA shod MBX7R ‘super easy to drive’, the 17-year-old said the plan for Q2 is to run everything as is and drive clean laps including when leaving the pits so as to stay in the Top 10.  While on track he had a moment during his fuel stop, a mistake coming out of the pit lane resulting in a ‘long detour’ which cost him around 5-seconds.

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‘Quite difficult’ was the response of Batlle to his first qualifier after ending up only 9th.  Making ‘three stupid mistakes’ which cost him around 10-seconds, the Mugen driver reported also having some bad luck with traffic.  Describing his MBX7R as ‘not bad’ the Spaniard said he had to push a little harder than he was comfortable with to go fast and they will make changes for Q2.

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Heading the Associated charge in the opening qualifier, Neil Cragg opened the books by completing the Top 10. ‘Steady as she goes’ was how the English driver summed up the round adding he was ‘pleased & relieved to get a banker from the first one’.  Running the new RC8 prototype he said it ran well but with ‘so much traction out there’ he planned to make the rear end a little stiffer for the next one so he can push it harder.

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Only 11th fastest, Ronnefalk summed up the start to his day in one word – ‘shit’.  The European Champion said he knew the track was a little slower than yesterday but still pushed hard leading to mistakes in the first two laps.  In an attempt to settle their driver following his poor start his team called him in early for his fuel stop after which he said he did drive better.  Feeling his Orion powered MP9 had a little too much front brake causing it to stand up on its nose under braking he said the will change this for the next one but the main focus is a better performance from the driver.

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September 23, 2014

Chassis Focus – Renaud Savoya

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Chassis – Xray XB8 14
Engine – Team Orion RS
Tyres – Sweep Micro Contacts red
Fuel – Runner Time
Radio/Servos – Futaba
Body – Kit
Remarks – 3-time European Champion Renaud Savoya is running his Xray XB8 14 here in Sicily. A pretty stock chassis, apart from the rear brace, he is running it in pretty much the same configuration as at the Euros with the exception of the front shock tower which is a lower version to that used in Germany and the standard softer front upper arms. His team mate Martin Bayer continues to use the taller tower as well as the harder front upper arms. In terms of setup he has left his shock setup pretty close to what he normally uses but has changed to stiffer diffs and anti-roll bars.

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September 23, 2014

Chassis Focus – Mike Truhe

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Chassis – Serpent S811 Cobra 2.1
Engine – TOP Plus 4C
Tyres – Pro-Line Suburbs X1
Fuel – Byron
Radio/Servos – Futaba
Body – Kit
Remarks – Mike Truhe is running the latest 2.1 version of the Serpent Cobra S811 buggy with some readily available options. Going harder in setup, and 1mm lower in ride height, the biggest change is to the diffs while the shock oils is only a small amount thicker than he normally runs. Lowering the inner camber links on the rear it has helped the car carry more speed through the corners, something required here at this high speed track.

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September 23, 2014

The Worlds according to Ruona – Monday Practice

The Worlds according to Ruona – Monday Practice

We headed out the door early today so we could make the first heat at 9am. Ty, Maifield and others were locked and loaded for great opening official practice. A little back and forth put Ty up front with his 3 best placing him well and Maifield just behind. The first 5 races have the fastest drivers from open practice so right out the gate you can see all the heros. Ronnefalk, Batlle, Lee Martin and others all ran very well too with Robert Batlle taking the first round with a great 3-lap time.

The 2nd round saw David Ronnefalk come out of the gate with his first 3 laps killing it. He busted out quick time of practice and took proverbial “TQ of practice.” It was amazing to watch and was nice to see the competitive response to Ty’s driving the day before. Between the 2, it’s a toss up on who can bring more thunder run to run. Lee Martin once again ran strong with his best time of practice and Elliott Boots finally put 3 laps together at his pace. I think Lee will put in great runs in qualifying for 10 minutes. The guy is legit in my opinion.

Robert Batlle slammed through another run and I’m impressed. I thought he might be pushing a touch extra but in the end he’s a proven World Champ driver and who am I to doubt the push? Dakotah got his last 3 laps to count during round 1 today and Drew Moller busted out of a mini slump and got his runs together to get into the elite.

Jared Tebo, remember him? The Neobuggy race killer, current 2wd World Champion and the media king of the 2010 Thailand worlds… He ran well today and bumped ahead of a few including Maifield. There are so many guys with 1 minute 52 seconds in 3 laps. The elite is 1 lap 50 and 1 lap 51.

Where is the 2008 champ Hara? I don’t know. He says he’s still sleeping until the Semi… Don’t sleep too long good friend. :)

Where is the 2010 champ Cody King? His cars look awesome but he just hasn’t gotten those magical 3 to go down. In 2012 Cody struggled and then bumped into the final to be amazingly quick. He’ll be there in the end and I think they will call on that tomorrow.

After about race 6 it’s a little tough to watch but hey, that’s where I would be too. I’m one of those guys that people don’t want to watch anymore at this kind of level…..great. It’s lonely in the back half of the tournament. Your pit guys don’t even watch you and might even be reading RedRC on their phone while you are racing.

It’s amazing how the fast guys have difficulty believing the slower drivers on setup, tire selection or really anything. At races like this everyone thinks the fast guys are geniuses and the slow guys are squirrels on and off the track. It’s hard to get that respect from the upper echelon unless you can put it down on the race track. You can know everything in the world about aerodynamics, suspension dynamics and engineering but if you can’t hit a lick on the track the fast guys won’t believe you. When you are fast you can tell people you feel 2gms of weight on the track and they believe you. When you are slow nobody believes you can feel anything.

Speed is everything. When you can drive, you are funnier, better looking, down to earth, everyone’s buddy, setup god, aerodynamic genius and part time engineer and life of the party. When you speak people listen, when you are having a party everyone attends and when you go to eat everyone wants to be at your table. “You are the man” You roll with a deep entourage and plenty of people trying to snag a piece of your success. This is what you see at the worlds and everyone rides these guys coat tails until they no longer have the magic. Enjoy the short ride.

It’s ok to be slow. It’s ok to be ugly, not funny or eating alone at the resteraunt. As long as you are having a good time, that’s what it’s all about. You don’t need to search out the support of the heros. Do your own thing, learn things for yourself, find a good group to hang with and get better. When the heros decide you know what you are talking about, you are improving. Congrats! Enjoy this as the longer ride.

R/C is strange, we really have very little technical track data at an event like this and all we can go on is driver feel, lap times and what they say. We have multiple sets of eyes on the vehicles and sometimes guys like me trying to get a grasp on the situation. It’s been my experience that drivers gravitate toward the product / setups they have their best runs with not necessarily what functioned better. They believe in luck, confidence and what keeps their heads from falling off or what prevents them from the ill fated…blow out run.

I’m here to tell you that the fast guys don’t know everything. They have practical experience, a massive load of driving talent and at some point or another conquered the mental game. Once you have those things, you are a fast guy and what you says matters. The next level is building a support structure around you that you can trust or rely on. Parents, spouse, mechanics, minions, sugar daddy’s and cheerleaders. Once you sell them on your ability and confidence, you have your support team.

More than anything, this is a sport that challenges you mentally. The mentally strong get the job done on a continued basis. To be the best or even decent you need to conquer the mental game first. Before the car settings, before the tires and before the engine you need to be able to log consistency from yourself. Mental power….

But does 3 laps make you the best? Does 10 minutes make you the best? Does 30 minutes make you the best? Does 60 minutes make you the best? I saw some guys today trying their hardest to fit in with the 3 lap heros. I saw pit guys so energized over hanging on for 3 laps that it was actually fun to watch. I saw guys at the bottom of scoring shoot to the top because they pulled off the 3 laps on their last 3 laps. Zero to hero! It was exciting to watch from the pits as crew and drivers hit high-fives afterwards to celebrate. But, there is really no pressure here right?

Are they the real deal or are they impostors? What will separate the men from the boys? More time required.

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September 22, 2014

Photos of the day – Monday

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