Former European Champion Fabio Domanin was the unofficial pace setter at Day 3 of the EFRA European Championships which are taking place at the Autet track here in Valencia, Spain. The Italian set an unofficial lap time of 17.204 with his team-mate Massimo Fantini next fastest in terms of lap times but both Serpent drivers have still to cure the problem of making a full 5 minute run.
Mark Green was one of the first of the leading drivers to make a full 5 minute run and so used his final runs to test body shells back to back. Running both the Xceed Zytek and Central Lola, the Serpent driver reported that the Central was faster over a single lap but the Zytek was quicker over five minutes as it was easier to drive.
Robert Pietsch is another who appears to have solved the run time problem, running two Novarossi engines today he was able to complete full runs with both units but the German says he must run Team Orion’s CPD. Responsible for creating the Shepherd Volex, the German ran the steering servo saver in the forward position in his last run resulting in more steering. Tomorrow the EC Warm Up Race winner will try more engines and experiement with clutch settings.
Kyosho’s two star drivers here appear to be struggling. Current World and European Champion Lamberto Collari appeared frustrated with his day, the Italian struggling to get his Evolva M3 to turn in. Adrien Bertin says he is improving all the time but unfortuately so is everyone else. The problem for the Frenchman is that his car is bitting on the curbs and this makes the car nervous to drive. The Team Orion engine development project leader says this is also effecting his run time as the engine is being forced to work harder.
Motonica’s top hope Dario Balestri is very happy with his car and the day in general but says he is still 5 seconds short on run time. Together with Novarossi, the Italian has a few things he will try in the morning which they believe can give them those vital seconds.
At the end of practice on the pit table of local hot shot Oscar Cabezas, Fabio Domanin’s pitman was seen working on the front end of the Spanish Champions car. Running the same chassis as today’s pace setter, Cabezas is hoping that running Domanin set-up will give him more steering for the first of tomorrow’s timed practice runs.
While most of the field are scratching their heads wondering how they can make five minutes, Mark Green continues to complete the full 5 minutes at blistering pace. The Serpent/Mega driver switched engines to save what he believed was a very good engine for qualifying but found the second engine was just as good and also gave better run time. Green’s car looks really good with the Englishman running the soon to be released Italian foam Xceed tyre on also soon to be released lightweight OS2 rims.
2006 European Champion Fabio Domanin is another quick Serpent with the Italian running very low 17 second lap times but run time still plagues him. A switch to 16% did give him an extra lap but he still needs more if he is to complete a heat without needing to do a stop.
Bruno Coelho is reporting that the RB pipe is working perfectly with his Sirio. The young Portuguese Mugen driver’s biggest problem was with the Collari 905 body shell, which he says is causing his car to run too hot. For his final run today he will revert to the Central Lola to see if that cures this problem.
In general, very few of the top drivers are experiencing much problems with chassis set-up the big issue continues to be fuel consumption. Speaking to engine developer Rody Roem, the France based Dutch man believes drivers will need to adjust their driving style in order to conserve fuel. The new EFRA pipe has slowed the cars and as a result the drivers are on full throttle more which could be part of the problem. The former World Champion however believes if they switched back to 2007 spec pipes fuel would remain a problem as the engines are simply being pushed to their limits.
As the drivers continue to get their laps in, in a bid to find those extra few tenths of a second and improve their run times, we took a look through the paddock to discover more new products and developments. Current European 1/10th scale Champion, Dario Balestri, is testing a new rear end on his Motonica. The car is using a prototype aluminium rear upper wishbone mount as well as prototype upper wishbones and the Italian is pleased with resulting changes in handling.
In the Novarossi cabin we were shown some new products that the company is testing, including a manifold. At the 1:8 Off Road Euros two weeks ago there were problems with the interputation of the new EFRA on manifolds and following clarification at the meeting on the Crete Island, Novarossi have been quick to exploit the new terms of the ruling which states the diameter of the inlet and outlet of the manifold should be 13mm. The prototype part complys to this regulation but uses a larger 15mm diameter tube (right) in an effort to gain more power. The company has seen some improvements but they say it needs further testing before they decide whether it should go into production.
Also new from Novarossi is this back pressure radiator that their team drivers are currently running on their cars. Mounted inline with the back pressure tubing, it helps cool the gases that are flowing through it with the device measuring upwards of 80 degrees celcius when measured after a 5 minute run. Early indications from their drivers show that it does help and using it gains them a small advantage in run time, however the Novarossi team are still coming up short in this area.
Also shown to us by French company KD Racing, are these machined aluminium and titanium parts. Available for Kyosho, Mugen, Serpent and Shepherd cars, these new chassis come in two versions, light and ultralight, with the difference being the amount of machining that has been done to it. The light chassis gives a saving of 50 grams, while the ultra light version, which is noticably lighter when holding it, saves 80 grams. KD Racing also have a number of other option parts including titanium mid axles, brake discs and and 2 speed oneway carriers, as well as full sets of ceramic bearings. Racers wanting custom machining can contact them with their request, with contact details being found on their website here.
Fuel consumption continues to be the biggest challenge facing drivers here on Day 3 of the 2008 EFRA 1:8 On road European Championships. A number of drivers are claiming to be making 5 minutes but it is believed that as the temperatures rise here in Valencia they will once again be faced with the problem of completing a full run.
Mark Green appears to be the pace setter and is making 5 minutes but the English Serpent driver admits it will be marginal in the fourth of today’s runs when the track will be at its hottest. ‘I have made a number of changes and was able to make 5 minutes in my two runs this morning but I think the fourth run will be the most critical which is funny as the track is slower but consumption is higher. For qualifying a good run in the morning will decide the grid’. Asked what changes he had made Green was not forthcoming with information but we believe one of the elements allowing him the extra run time is the use of 16% fuel. On the car the British Champion said, ‘The car is fantastic, I had a little push in the first run but as the track got hotter the handling was spot on.’
All the leading Serpent drivers appear to be pleased with the handling of the 960 08 but unlike Green they still have concerns of fuel. Michael Salven who was not comfortable with his car yesterday is much happier today saying his car is good again. On the subject of fuel the former European Champion says that running less nitro is an option but he will stick with 25% for the moment and try to find a better pipe combination. The German also ran shorter gearing which he says makes the engine run more stable with the new EFRA spec pipes.
Shepherd Velox designer and EC Warm-up race winner Robert Pietsch was running a different rear geometry on his car which has improved rear traction. The new suspension brackets move the wishbone pivot point 7mm closer together combined with a new carbon shock mounting plate on the rear wishbones to retain the original shock angle. Pietsch is also making five minutes but was another who expressed concerns about the warmer runs later today. Pietsch’s team-mate Daniele Ielasi on the other hand can’t make a full run and will run a CPD in an attempt to cure the problem as he needs to complete one more lap. The Italian is otherwise very happy with his Volex.
Leading factory Mugen/JP driver Rick V is very happy with the speed and consistency of his MRX-4 but is looking for 0.1 to 0.2 of second more per lap. The Dutch racer will work on finding more speed through the hairpins which he says is the key to good lap times here as the track has no less than three such corners. Other Mugen news is that Sirio team driver Bruno Coelho has turned up and will be racing. The rapid young Portuguese driver, who arrived late last night, is running a Sirio in his Mugen but with pipes from RB.
Adrien Bertin is also reporting a better day saying that both the car and driver are working better today. The Kyosho/Orion driver has not been able to make 5 minutes and but the former World Champion has an easy solution to the problem, ‘I just need to do 16.5 laps and then I can make a one pit stop during my run’. At present the unofficial fastest lap times are in the 17.6 second region.
Italian Dario Balestri is reporting his Motonica to be working well but the Novarossi factory driver is still testing options to try and make 5 minutes.
While fuel is the main news here the other big factor appears to be what body shell to use. A lot of quick paint jobs are being carried out here in the pits as drivers scramble to try the various options with the Zytek from Sprint RC proving a popular option together with the Collari 905.
The Sirio factory team are noticeable absentees from this year’s 1:8 On Road Euros as the Italian manufacturer struggles to get its engines to work under the new 2008 EFRA pipe rulings. In an attempt to reduce noise levels, the sports European governing body introduced new specs for .21 exhausts for the 2008 season. The new pipes have reduced the noise but the design criteria has made it more difficult to tune engines as they now have a more critical sweet spot. Following the Warm-up race here in Valencia a number of manufacturer wrote to EFRA asking for the postponement of the new regs so as to give them more time to develop the new pipes but the ruling remains in place.
At the recent 1:8 Off Road Euros in Crete Sirio chief Andrea Rossi told Red RC they were experiencing problems with the new pipes and hinted that his line up of star drivers may have no choice but to sit out the Spanish event unless EFRA, to whom they had written, reconsidered its position. The team did not attend the Warm-up back in April for the same reason. In 1:8 Off Road the new pipe ruling has had a much lesser impact on engine tuning.
With the official Sirio team absent we will be without the talents of Francesco Tironi, winner of last month’s EFRA 1:10 Italian GP, and Dutch EP star Jilles Groskamp. It is unclear as to whether young Portuguese hot shot Bruno Coelho will race but so far the Mugen driver has not been seen at the track. Coelho’s father Cesar is one of the key organisers of the 1:10 200mm Worlds which take place in Portugal next month and it is understood important works to the Lisbon track have delayed their arrival here in Spain.
With no official times to work off it’s hard to tell who is quickest, but looking on the track and talking to drivers its clear that the Shepherd team of Pietsch, Schaefer and Spanish racer Carlos Peracho are quick, while for Serpent its Salven who is still turning fast laps along with Mark Green and Oscar Cabezas. For Mugen, Rick V is doing some very fast laps as is Motonica team driver Dario Balestri. A lot of the top guys, such as the Italians, that you would normally expect to be quick are still working on choice of body and engine pipe combination before focusing on putting in really quick times.
It is precisely that search for time that has lead some racers to try fuel with a lower nitro content, with some drivers trying both 20% and even in some case 16%. With Spanish fuel firm Merlin present trackside to support their drivers, it seems that those racers using their fuel are the only ones able to try this. Merlin team driver Oscar Cabezas, who tried the 20% mixture, believes there is little or no noticable power difference and he did get longer run time, but for him personally there is still some run time needing to be found.