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.
While the action on the track is heating up as the drivers finalize their setups, we took a look through the pits to see what was new here at the event. Most interesting thing being tried is this back pressure adjustment needle on the car of Massimo Fantini. Mounted in the pressure line, it can be adjusted to best suit the present conditions and is currently being tested as a way to help conserve fuel. As always at gas races conserving fuel is super important and other racers are trying similar things, with many of the front runners adopting the CRF Constant pressure device in an attempt to make the 5 minutes.
Also new, and spotted on the Kyosho Evolva M3 of Alberto Picco, are these Collari made lightened spring steel axles that are designed to be used together with wheel nuts to keep the wheels perfectly true. Available for both the front and rear of the car, they have been lightened through the milling of small grooves around the outside of the outer edge.
Another interesting thing to note is that a lot of the Kyosho Evolva M3 racers are running with a different fuel tank to the standard version. It seems the Serpent tank is the most popular and helps cure the fuel pick up problems that the original tank apparantely suffers from.
New on the bench of Adrien Bertin are some new optional parts for the Evolva M3, some like the aluminium front upper suspension arm brackets we have seen before, but others like this steel battery plate are new and similar to versions on other cars, adding weight to this optimal place on the car.
Finally, for now, the front disks that come with the Matrix tires are in use by factory Kyosho racers Ilia Van Gastel and Adrien Bertin. Said to make the turn into the corner smoother, they remain as a seperate disk over the spoked wheel to retain the flex benefits of such a wheel combined with the better aerodynamics of the disk.
The European 1/8th scale circuit Championships are in full swing as the competitors go into their 2nd day of practice here in Valencia. The weather is very hot and humid and is causing more problems for the drivers than for the machinery as everyone tries to stay in the shade, even at this early stage in the day. All the top names are here, including current World and defending European Champion Lamberto Collari as well as the other usual supects made up of many previous National and International Champions.
So far the racers have been very happy with the track, a mix of high speed corners, flat out on and off the main straight, as well as slower 180 degree bends that test the car under braking and a tricky kink just left of the drivers stand where a lot of time can be won and lost. The traction is high and the kerbs are low, so the drivers have a wide sweet spot and they are presently trying the find the quickest way around. Racers that were fast yesterday were EFRA GP winner Robert Pietsch and his Shepherd team mate Patrick Schaefer, local ace Oscar Cabezas, Michael Salven who is on his first visit to the track and World Vice Champion Andrea Cristiani all racing Serpent. Practice is still underway so we will keep you posted throughout the day.
As a wrap up to our coverage from the European 1/8th scale buggy Championships, which was brought to you thanks to Kyosho and LRP, we have now added 70 new images to our events gallery. Newly added are photos from all the finalists, action from the main final and the prize ceremony celebrations as well as close ups of the winning Mugen MBX5R of newly crowned European Champion Renaud Savoya.