August 12, 2008

Groskamp tops first qualifier

Jilles Groskamp

Jilles Groskamp is the pace setter after the first round of qualifying here in Portugal but the Dutch driver was not the fastest in the run, that honour going to Daniele Ielasi but in post race scrutiny the Italian’s fuel tank was deemed to be to big. It was very close at the top with Ielasi posting a run of 31 laps in 10:02.628 with Groskamp just 8/100th behind.

Overall the times where much slower than what we saw in the final controlled practice yesterday due to the overnight rain with Ralph Burch, who recorded the fastest lap for the round, summing it up perfectly with ‘The track was junk’.

Groskamp said his car was perfectly balanced and his Sirio engine was spot on but the track just didn’t have any traction. The Sirio team driver had one moment during the run when he had had a half spin which lost him time but added that it was important to start with a decent run. For the second qualifier Groskamp will leave his car exactly the same as the traction should be back.

Daniele Ielasi Action

With Ielasi loosing his time it is a Team Sirio 1-2 at the top of the time sheets with Chris Tosolini officially second fastest. A much happier looking Tosolini said he was really pleased to finally get a full run in and also said he could run pretty consistent. For his second heat the American will run a softer rear sway bar to improve rear traction.

Peter Jovanovic is showing it wasn’t home advantage at the last World Championship but emerging talent and the young Aussie sits in third position. Early in the run his car was very taily but after his pit stop it got better while adapting his driving style to the lower grip conditions also helped.

Fourth fastest was Japanese driver Takaaki Shimo followed by Teemu Leino. The Finn switched to a stiffer set-up after yesterday’s final practice to combat traction roll but when he had his run today there was no traction. The Xray driver will now switch to an in between setup for Heat 2.

Elsewhere Ralph Burch was on for a really quick run but ran out of fuel. The US driver is not sure why but will lean out his Max engine for the second qualifier. Also in the American camp Josh Cyrul ran out of fuel too but thinks his tank may not have been entirely filled during his pit stop. Cyrul also lost time when he caught a kerb and then got hit from behind by Shimo which caused his body to tuck under. Barry Baker who appeared to be having a lot of engine problems was straight to the point when asked what happened simple saying ‘I sucked’.

Italy’s Francesco Tironi who ended the run in seventh said he made changes to his car that just didn’t work while fellow countryman Dario Balestri was quick to put his hand up and say he made the mistake of setting his engine too rich which caused him to run out of fuel.

The second qualifier is now underway news of which we will bring you later.

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August 12, 2008

Whats new in the Pits

Sirio XXX 12 engine

This is a World Championships and because of this fact you can expect that all manufacturers will be trying their best to win this title and this means that drivers come equipped with the latest, and in some cases prototype, parts. Seen in some of the fastest cars here this week, including the car of Jilles Groskamp, is the new Sirio XXX .12 engine. Only in prototype phase now, it is a completely new motor with all new internals which boasts more power than the previous model but with the same consumption. It seems to be working and if all goes according to plan, the motor should be available in October.

Kawahara chassis

While the Mugen racers here in Portugal are all running the standard MTX-4R, some of the racers including current World Champion Keisuke Fukuda and Dutch racer Rick V are using optional Kawahara parts for extra strength and preformance. Rick V’s car features a thicker machined chassis plate, while on the rear of the car there is a new thicker rear upper link mounting plate that features some additional mounting holes for extra adjustment. Both drivers are also running the pre production Ninja JX12 T01 engines, and while Fukuda has been running the OS based motor for some time now, Rick V only received his just before coming here and the first taste of the new powerplant came on the first practice day last week.

Capricorn Radio plate upgrade

The Kyosho V-One RRR platform seems to be very popular here, however only a handful of drivers, including Takaaki Shimo, are using the Evo 2 version, the others using the previous version. Non sponsored racers such as Daniele Ielasi has upgraded his car by using Capricorn RC manufactured option parts such as this new radio plate that allows the racer to mount the Xray NT1 fuel tank in the car. Other new parts seen on the car of Ielasi include a new braking system, with lightweight brake disc, as well as a new wider rear body mount for more stable mounting of the body shell of which the Blitz Altis and the Protoform Stratus are the most popular choices.

There is still plenty more to discover here, so stay tuned for more product updates.

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August 12, 2008

Wet track delays start to qualifying

Peter Jovanovic and rest of the Australians

Overnight rain here in Lisbon caused a delay to the start of proceedings as race organisers decided to wait an hour to allow the track to dry before starting the first qualifier of the 2008 IFMAR World Championships. Drivers from Groups 1-7 have just finished their two qualifiers for today, and are free to hit the beach, while Groups 8-15 are getting ready to kick start their battle for the Day 1 TQ honours.

Peter Jovanovic, who was one of the stars at the last World Championships for 1:10 200mm in Brisbane where he claimed a podium finish, is loving the track here in Lisbon. The talented young Aussie says his car is working perfectly and he would rate the track as one of the best he has ever driven. Jovanovic says the circuit is a lot more flowing than he is used to back home and learning it has been his biggest obstacle so far. Now that he is mastering the bumps he’s really happy with his progress. The Xray team driver had struggled a little with clutch set-up in practice but believes he has now got that right and this should allow him to get the maximum horsepower from his Novarossi engines.

Team Magic of Marc Rheinard

Marc Rheinard has been using his free morning to practice his tyre truing skills something the electric racer wouldn’t be to used too prefering the less dirty task of applying additive to his rubber tyres. The German has yet to finish any of his runs but is very happy with the handling of his new WC spec Team Magic G4. His debut nitro race, Rheinard is discovering how important the clutch and engine settings are in getting the most from a nitro car. Still adjusting his driving style to suit the different characteristics of nitro over electric he admitted to preferring the later but he is enjoying the experience and hopes if he can finish a run he can put in a decent showing. In his final run yesterday he failed to finish after the lid on his fuel tank failed to seal properly.

Josh Cyrul

Josh Cyrul is struggling with boredom but believes his busy schedule before the race is also catching up with him. The Motonica factory driver is running an Xray, while he waits on Motonica’s much anticipated entry in to 1:10 200mm, and did as much racing as possible with the NT1 prior to the event in order to get used to the car but thinks he may have over done it a little. Very happy with how the car is working, the American said the boredom is knocking the enjoyment out of the event and maybe a new format should be looked at for future World Championships.

The length of the event, most of the drivers are here a week already, and the limited track time is a common complaint among the competitors. A solution to the problem is hard to find as the organisers are hard pushed to fit in an more track time due to the large number of competitors who have travelled the globe to compete in the sports blue ribbon event.

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August 11, 2008

Groskamp sets pace as practice ends

Jilles Groskamp

He was the talk of the paddock when we arrived and he has made it official that he is the pace setter by putting his name at the top of the time sheets as 5 days of practice comes to an end and qualifying for the 2008 1:10 200mm World Championships beckons.

Jilles Groskamp produced the fastest run over 10 minutes in the second of today’s two controlled practice notching up 32 laps in 10:12.223 with his Sirio powered Kyosho. Running a larger head shim for the practice, as Team Sirio played with run time, the Dutch star said the car was not as quick but they had plenty of fuel left after the run and the test would now help them to work out a better compromise between power and consumption.

Daniele Ielasi

Second fastest on the official time sheets was Daniele Ielasi. Having put his huge 1:8 European Championship disappointment behind him the Italian ace ended up only 3/10th off his Dutch rival. Running his own brand IDM engines Ielasi, who did his fastest time in the morning run, said all is OK with the bumps his only real problem, a common complaint with all the drivers here at the Monsanto track. Driving an older Kyosho V-One RRR, the Worlds Warm-up race winner used the second of the days two runs to test a second of his Picco based engines.

Niki Duina

Niki Duina was very happy with his day as he put his Xray third on the time sheets. The Italian said the track looks easy but to run fast is very difficult due to the bumps as they unsettle the car. Although he would like a little more steering on his Max powered NT1, Duina says he will not make any changes for the first qualifier in the morning which many predict will be the faster of the 2 heats each day due to the cooler conditions.

Former double World Champion Adrien Bertin is the leading official factory Kyosho in fourth. The French driver who is also responsible for Team Orion’s engine program said today things turned good for him and he is finally competitive after finding a cure to run time issues which hampered him in earlier practice. As a result of having to focus his main attention on finding the best engine set-up for the controlled Merlin fuel, Bertin says he is struggling a little still with his chassis set-up and needs to find a few more tenths if he is to be on the finals pace.

Fastest of the non-Europeans is American electric star Paul Lemieux, the US Electric Touring Car National Champion posting the fifth fastest time ahead of defending World Champion Keisuke Fukuda. Lemieux, who admitted to being a little surprised by how fast the pace was when he first arrived in Portugal, switched to the same set-up as his RC America team-mate Ralph Burch and is now happier with his Xray although he says the car is still very loose on the straight.

Although Burch doesn’t feature highly in the timing, the US star is quick around the Lisbon track as is fellow countryman Chris Tosolini. Pleased with how his NT1 is working, Burch said his Max engine was running a little rich and as a result he has failed to complete the full 10-minutes. Tosolini also had fuel issues on his second run while running on the tail of Groskamp. It was a drama filled CP2 for the Kyosho/Sirio driver as on his out lap for the warm-up his car was launched into a roll after hitting one of the bumps at the end of the back straight causing damage which his pitman was luckily able to complete in time for the timed run itself.

Defending Champion Fukuda completed the Top 6 but in terms of outright lap times was fastest. Running the new Ninja .12 engine in his Mugen, the Japanese ace was one of the few that didn’t have an issue with the bumpy surface saying it was very similar to tracks in Japan and so for him it was OK.

Oscar Cabezas

Leading Serpent at the end of practice was their Serpent Driver Development program team member Oscar Cabezas in seventh position. The young Spaniard is complaining of his car being very loose at the rear which means taking big risks every lap especially on the left hand sweeper at the end of the main straight. Cabezas hopes to cure the problem for the morning while his Serpent team-mate Mark Green hopes to cure his lack of steering. The English driver’s 720 is traction rolling not because of high grip but due to the amount of lock he has on his car in an attempt to get it to turn in.

Two drivers that are currently running below the radar are reigning European Champion Dario Balestri and fellow Italian Francesco Tironi who according to current pace setter Groskamp are very strong. Tironi says he has resolved his run time problems and will be OK for qualifying. While his Kyosho is sliding around a lot at the end of the straight it feels good on the rest of the track despite the compromised set-up needed to combat the bumps.

The 2008 IFMAR 1:10 200mm Onroad World Championships officially opened this evening with the introduction of the complete driver line up and so the stage is now set for a thrilling battle to decide who will take TQ honours as the first of six qualifying rounds, which will be run over the next three days, gets underway here in Portugal at 09:30 local time. Thanks to our event sponsors Kyosho, Xceed and Serpent we will bring you full coverage througout the day.

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August 11, 2008

Welcome to Portugal

Monsanto track Lisbon

We have finally arrived in Portugal where conditions are overcast making for welcomed cooler conditions. After a quick walk around the pits to say hello to drivers the main talk is that of the blistering pace of the Sirio team drivers and in particular electric touring car ace Jilles Groskamp. The Dutch driver is fast and more importantly very consistent although a 2 speed one-way bearing failure in the warm-up for the first controlled practice means we will have to wait till this evening to get a true indication of his pace over 10-minutes. Groskamp is really happy with the combined pace of his engines and Kyosho chassis which he says are allowing him to comfortably run fast consistent laps.

Team Magic of Barry Baker

While most drivers combat boredom with around 4 hours to kill between runs, we killed some of Barry Bakers waiting time to chat about the America veteran’s new collaboration with Team Magic who have won two European titles with their G4 in the hands of Dario Balestri. Making your competition debut with a new manufacturer is a daunting task at the best of times but doing so at the World Championships is the ultimate challenge and thats exactly what Baker is doing along with former World & newly crowned European Electric Touring Car Champion Marc Rheinard for whom the event is also his nitro racing debut!

Marc Rheinard action

Both Baker and Rheinard are running special WC spec cars which features new front upper suspension brackets with convention roll centre adjustments and rear lower suspension brackets in which whole block can be adjusted up and down. Balestri continues to run the G4+ version as its a package he knows works and the Italian is once again showing the potential of the car running some very impressive lap times here. Moving to Team Magic is a brave move for Baker who previously ran Xray but the vastly experienced multi discipline racer says he has been really encouraged by his dealings with the Asian company to-date. Despite his limited running with the cars, Baker says the factory are very open to his feedback on developing their range of competition cars and this is key to the success of any team driver/manufacturer relationship.

We will bring you a full round up of the day’s controlled practice and the views of the leading driver in our next update once we have settled in and got all the hand shaking duties out of the way. With a near capacity entry booked in and with all the major manufacturers here to support their team drivers the pits is a hive of activity.

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