Michal Orlowski has gone to the top of the time sheets in China, the Schumacher driver setting the fastest time in the first round of controlled practice. Having ended up P2 in free practice behind Bruno Coelho, the Polish driver ran the fastest 3-consecutive laps from TLR’s Dakotah Phend and Xray’s Ty Tessmann as daylight faded at Xiamen ARC International Raceway. While Bruno Coelho would set the fastest lap being the only driver to run a 24-second lap, he wasn’t able to put three laps together, his best effort leaving him 15th fastest to which he said, ‘the car is there I just drove like a monkey and had too many crashes’. The top American in free practice Ryan Maifield would post the fourth fastest time with reigning champion Spencer Rivkin finally finding pace to make it five different manufacturers in the Top 5.
‘It was pretty good although it did’t start well as I crashed at the first corner’, was how Orlowski summed up topping CP1 – the quickest time from CP1 and CP2 determining a driver’s heat order for qualifying while tomorrow morning’s third & final controlled practice will determine the starting order of that heat in Q1. The reigning EOS Champion, Orlowski continued, ‘the car felt really good, we have not really changed it since getting here. I’m just really glad everything is working for us’. Looking to CP2, which will be run under spot lights, he said, ‘we will driving the same car and keep working on making myself more comfortable for tomorrow’ – four of the five qualifiers making up Day 2’s schedule.
Commenting on his run, Phend said, ‘It went pretty well. The track changed a little when it cooled off’. Having been looking to get a better balance on his car in free practice, the American said, ‘we made small changes here and there and now it feels good out there. Now I just need to work on putting in clean laps with no mistakes’.
Tessmann said he was ‘really happy where the car was at’ adding, ‘I drove the whole run like a qualifier and only needed 1 marshal’. He continued, ‘I made the jump section every time which is quite an accomplishment’. Still planning to ‘try a few things’ with the set-up for CP2 he said, ‘overall I am happy how it all works’.
A slightly happier Maifield summed up CP1 with, ‘I have been changing everything on the car. I’m making at least 15 changes each run. It took a while but we are starting to get there now and I’ll make one more change for the next one’. Adding, ‘I have never been on a track as rough for 1:10’, he said, ‘I still can’t get the jump section. I am doing double, double, rolling the next one and then jumping onto the straight. Thats the only way I can do it’.
Finally breaking into the Top 10 for the first time with 5th in CP1, Rivkin said, ‘I came out with a really pace pace and was comfortable but then I got too greedy and wanted to go faster but ended up with a long marshal. This put me out of my rhythm but still it was a good overall (5-minute) run, which is what I am looking for, even with a couple more crashes at the end.’ Asked what was the biggest element to his improvement on his FP pace, the Associated driver replied, ‘it was more adapting to the track and learning a few things on the front. We will be taking it one run at a time’. For CP2, he will ‘try less motor in the next one’.
‘Ok’ was Joern Neumann’s reaction to completing the Top 6. The German and former lead Serpent driver continued, ‘I make a solid run it was maybe not super fast on lap times but its good over 5-minutes. Running a Gerg Strenge modified Associated in 2WD, having travelled to China as a privateer driver, he said, ‘we are not doing much to the car, it is almost the same as when I came here. Most of the work has been on my driving’. Behind Neumann, Tanner Denney took his TLR to the 6th fastest time followed by Ryan Cavalieri, Lee Martin and Karel Knovotny.
On the completion of free practice at the 2WD World Championships in Xiamen it is Bruno Coelho who appears to have the early advantage, the Xray driver heading a European trio at the top of the time sheets. Having set the fastest 3-consecutive laps in the second of the four practice rounds, the reigning 4WD Champion showed his pace was genuine when he topped the final practice with an identical time with a 1:15.929 compared to his FP2 time of 1:15.911. Having not really featured in early practice, sitting P17 after two runs, Schumacher’s Michal Orlowski would go fastest in FP3 with his 1:16.002 time leaving him second fastest overall. Also finding a big improvement in FP3 was David Ronnefalk with his time good enough for 3rd overall, the HB Racing driver the only one to match Coelho with a 24-second lap of the challenging track. The fastest driver counting his time from the final practice, Kyosho’s Kohta Akimoto would end P4 with Ryan Mayfield the best of the offroad power house that is North America in 5th followed by Ty Tessmann.
‘Everything is OK’ was the calm reaction of Coelho to topping practice. Despite his pace he added, ‘we are still trying to improve the car and make it more easy to drive because making the least amount of mistakes over 5-minutes is going to be the most important thing on this track’. Agreeing the track has contrasting left and right layouts, he said, ‘the right side is more onroad and I really like this and it is here I am making most of the time’. On the left side he said, ‘I was just saying to Martin (Bayer) that every time you enter the doubles section it is like it is your first time driving through there. There are so many bumps it makes it unpredictable. It a very very hard section and everyone is making mistakes even the true offroad drivers. Qualifying is going to be very hard’.
Orlowski summed up his performance as ‘pretty good’. The Polish driver continued, ‘we changed almost nothing in the set-up and instead I tried to learn the track limits. Now I am feeling more comfortable with the car and electronics’. Asked about the track layout, the EOS Champion said, ‘you have a big jump section on the left side and then the right side is like touring car. Get the jumps right its good but if not its annoying because of the marshals’. With organisers having supplied marshals, their slow response to stranded cars has been frustrating many drivers so much so that drivers have asked to marshal and so for controlled practice the drivers with take over marshalling duties. In terms of his car, Orlowski said for the final practice he tried ‘a bigger’ LRP battery but this left the car ‘less responsive’ so he will go back the smaller pack for CP1 feeling with this in the car it also jumped better’.
‘I’m up there and the car feels good’, was Ronnefalk’s feeling on his free practice performance. Going into the final practice on second run tyres, having only had three sets for the four runs, he said the tyres were ‘almost bald going out’ but still he could feel set-up changes had improved the car with it having ‘good speed out of the gate’. Having to stop when he hit the track piping requiring the steering link to be put back on, he said he then felt his car was down on power but afterwards found out it was drops of rain on the track and not electrics related. Describing the track as ‘hard’, the 1:8 Offroad World Champion concluded, ‘I just need to keep the car on its wheels’.
The only Kyosho in the Top 10 with Jared Tebo ending up P16, Akimoto described his FP4 pace as ‘very good’. The Japanese driver said, ‘In Rounds 2 and 3 I made many changes but ended up going back to my original home set-up for Round 4. Running the match of the handout rear Sweep tyre on the front of his car for CP4 he said he feels he has now also found the right front tyres for the track’. Describing the track as ‘difficult’ he plans to leave his car unchanged for the first of the 2 controlled practices that will determine the line-up for qualifying which gets underway in the morning. He concluded, ‘I hope I can run consistent for 5-minutes’.
While having improved considerably on the P27 he found himself after FP2, Maifield clearly wasn’t happy with the event. Making his first World Championship appearance as a Yokomo driver, he said , ‘this track is not a race track. Why do they bring us to these countries and make us run on a shit tyres. I have never seen a track more impossible to drive’.
Completing the Top 6, Tessmann said, “it could have went smoother, I’ve had a lot of mistakes’. Making his Worlds debut as an Xray driver, he continued, ‘We are still trying to figure out the set-up. Mine is different to Bruno’s because of our different driving styles but we’ll get there’. Describing his 3-consecutive lap pace as ’surprising’, the reigning US National Champion said, ‘everyone is struggling a little, it is a difficult track’. Behind the Canadian, Jorn Neumann improve in FP3 to end up 7th fastest followed by Dakotah Phend, Ryan Cavalieri and Renaud Savoya while reigning champion Spencer Rivkin could only manage 11th.
With the first two rounds of free practice complete at the 2WD Offroad World Championships in China complete it is Bruno Coelho who leads the way. The Xray driver set the fastest 3-consecutive laps on his second run to top the times by a massive 2.5-seconds from Naoto Matsukura after posting a fastest lap of 24.788. With things much more closely bunched from P2 to P6, the five drivers separated by 3/10ths of second it was Jared Tebo, the last 2WD World Champion on dirt who completed the Top 3 ahead of Ty Tessmann, Joern Neumann and Dakotah Phend. With 4WD Champion Coelho fastest in contrast reigning 2WD Champion Spencer Rivkin, who celebrates his 19th birthday today in Xiamen, found himself 13th fastest.
His first 1:10 Offroad World Championship on dirt, Coelho put his improvement in FP2 down to ‘less mistakes’ and a ‘better car’. Switching to a softer spring, the sport’s impressive all-round racer said, ‘we changed some things which made the car more stable and gave more steering’. For the third of the four free practice runs he said they have more small changes adding they are taking a ‘step by step’ approach to fine tuning the set-up for the track.
‘A little difficult to drive’ was Matsukura’s response when asked how practice was going, the Infinity driver adding both the car and track were proving difficult. Choosing to run Associated cars, on his ‘standard’ B6 he said, ‘I need to make a set-up that makes it more easy to drive’. Pointing out that this is his first offroad race of the year on dirt, his successful switch to 1:8 Onroad Nitro having been a big focus this season, the 2013 & 2015 4WD runner-up likes the track describing it as ‘difficult but fun’.
‘For the start of the event its been pretty good’, was how Tebo summed up early practice. The Kyosho driver continued, ‘maybe my car was a little better the first run. For not knowing the grip levels it was pretty good. I changed a few things for the second one but will now go back’. Asked his thoughts on the track layout, the 2013 Champion said, ‘I like it a lot. It’s really fun to drive and its challenging’.
Setting the fourth fastest time in FP2, Tessman said, ‘the first one I was figuring out the size of the track and after that we put more speed in the car and made a set-up adjustment’. The reigning US Champion added, ‘I’m happy with how stable the car is and know we will just work on some fine adjustments’. Regarding the track, the Canadian said, ‘It is going to be good for racing. It open so you can pass and then there are difficult parts. It’s a fun track and the grip is good. I thought walking the track yesterday it would be higher but it is still high’.
With his fastest 3-consecutive laps set in FP1, when he topped the opening practice, Joern Neumann said, ‘the first one was good but in the second I was running with other drivers and couldn’t run 3 clean laps’. Running as a privateer in terms of chassis but with his trip to China being supported by Pro-Line and Team Orion, the German is running an Associated in 2WD and will then switch to an Xray for 4WD. With the B6 having undergone some work by his long time mechanic Gerd Strenge, who has also made the trip despite no longer working in the RC industry, Neumann said the only planned change for FP3 is to try a different front tyre, the rear being a handout tyre from Sweep. Describing the track as ‘pretty challenging’, he said, ‘the four doubles are very difficult to get right every lap and also some parts have more traction than others which makes the car edgy in one place and then have understeer in the next section’.
‘Good so far’ was how TLR’s Dakotah Phend summed up his start to the event. The American continued, ‘the track is definitely unique. The Double, double, double is difficult. There are some hard parts out there’. On his car he said, ‘It is working really well. We did a lot of work before coming here so we were pretty well prepared so we knew what we need to do to the car’. Asked about changes for FP3, he said, ‘we will make a few small changes to improve the flow of the car. There are some fast parts followed by slower sections so we will try to get the car as balanced as we can for that’. Behind Phend, Kohta Akimoto, 2007 Champion Hayato Matsuzaki, multiple champion Ryan Cavalieri and reigning 1:8 Offroad World Champion David Ronnefalk completed the Top 10.
Track Name – Xiamen ARC International Raceway Host – 3-Circles Country – China Location – Xiamen Direction – Anti-clockwise Surface – Sugared and glued dirt
With China putting on an ultra impressive show when it hosted an RC World Championship for the very first time, with Beijing the venue for the 1:12 & ISTC Worlds, at that same event it was announced that they had been awarded the 1:10 Offroad World Championships for 2017. With high expectations given the quality of the facility that greeted drivers in Beijing, the city of Xiamen and the race hosts 3-Circles haven’t disappointed with even the more critical drivers complimenting the impressive Xiamen ARC International Raceway. Built on the same grounds of the 3-Circle battery factory, the facility boasts the largest drivers stand in the world. At 200 metres long, it provides pitting on the first floor, drivers standing area and tyre tech on the second floor and a third floor for spectating for both the offroad and an equally impressive onroad track. 3-circles is predominantly a producer of alkaline and Lithium batteries but through its Sunpadow brand of LiPos is involved in the competition end of the battery market supporting an RC boat World Champion, RC pilots and reigning 1:12 and former touring Car World Champion Naoto Matsukura. The Infinity driver is contesting the 1:10 Offroad Worlds driving Associated cars.
In terms of the offroad track that has been created for this the 17th running of these World Championships, the 42m wide by 35m deep track has been designed by Lung Chuan Lee from Taiwan who also designed the onroad track layout in Beijing last year. Originally built as a 1:8 Offroad track, work started on building the smaller 1:10 track 2-months ago however a Typhoon and Hurricane delayed the final build which was only finished last week. With the dirt having been both glued and then sugared, Event Director Max Lim, who was also at the helm in Beijing, expects that the surface will be maintenance free once it doesn’t rain with the only planned work being to re-sugar the track ahead of the start of 4WD proceedings.
Getting drivers reaction to the track after they got their first taste of the track in the first of four controlled practices, reigning 2WD Champion Spencer Rivkin summed it up as ‘definitely different’. The Associated driver added, ‘I planned to just go around slow but found it was better when I pushed, attacking it works better’. Asked about the traction, the American replied, ‘Its medium, I wouldn’t say high’. On the layout he said, ‘it’s a fun layout but the jumps are not built that awesome but that will make for good racing and everyone will adapt to them once they get a few more laps’.
With the last 1:10 Offroad Worlds held in Japan on astro turf, reigning 4WD Champion Bruno Coelho said, ‘I haven’t driven on dirt with such good traction before’. Adding the track is ‘super bumpy’, the Xray driver continued, ‘I think the layout is OK, its pretty difficult’. The reigning Euro Offroad Series Champion, a four round championship run on carpet tracks, he said the grip levels here are ‘weird’ adding the overall grip is not so much but then all of a sudden you flip’.