Having lost his 6-year reign as 1:12 World Champion to Marc Rheinard in A2, Naoto Matsukura took some consolation by winning A3 to secure second overall at the Florida event. Having struggled with the Finals Day conditions of the Minnreg Hall track, the Top Qualifier would lead away the field and stay out front for the full 8-minutes to head a Yokomo 1-2 from his very hard pushing team-mate Masatsugu Ido. Considering how the opening two Mains worked out, 5 in A1 and 4th in A2, the 21-year-old said he was ‘Happy to finish 2nd’. After a dominant performance in qualifying wrapping up the honour by TQ’ing the opening four rounds, which he said was the perfect gift to his mother on her birthday, he said the change in track conditions today left him with a difficult car and while ‘winning is always the goal’ today ‘things didn’t work out’. Joking with new Champion Rheinard, he said ‘I had 1:12 title long time so Marc can have it now, I go this year instead for Touring Car win’.
Equalling his best World Championship finish, Futaba radio designer Hideo Kitazawa completed the podium despite a though A3. Third overall at the Yatabe Arena in 2000, the Morotech driver was slightly disappointed he couldn’t have gone one better today adding he had the car to achieve 2nd but through no fault but his own threw away the opportunity with ‘many many (driver) mistakes’. Needing only to finish behind Matsukura to finish 2nd overall his mistakes would see him finish 8th and he would lose out on the tie-break with his fellow countryman.
Chassis – Yokomo R12 C3.1 Motor – Yokomo RP 3.5T ESC – Yokomo BL Pro 3 Battery – Yokomo 6900mAh Tires – Yokomo Radio/Servos – Sanwa Body – Protoform AMR 12 Remarks – 3-time back to back World Champion Naoto Matsukura is running this R12 C3.1 with a prototype rear pod. The new rear end is stronger, lighter and has a lower centre of gravity than the part that comes with the standard C3.1 and moves the centre shock more forward, these parts developed specifically for this event. Availability has not been decided on but it may be released as an option for the car in the future. In terms of setup they were running their basic setup from Japan with just a softer front spring which they believe now may have been quick for qualifying but perhaps not the best option for the final. The Yokomo team were also cutting the ribs from their rear rims in order to make them softer which helps with traction.
Marc Rheinard is the new 1:12 World Champion after a stunning recovery drive in the second A-Main of the Florida event saw him take the win and enter the history books as the first driver to hold both a 1:12 and Touring Car World title. Ending the 6-year reign of Naoto Matsukura, the 3-time Touring Car World Champion becomes only the 7th different winner of IFMAR’s longest running electric World Championship and with it brings 1:12 stalwart chassis manufacturer CRC their first World title.
Winner of A1, Rheinard’s chances of deciding the 17th running of the championships early appeared to end very prematurely when on lap 3 he got hit by a hard charging Alexander Hagberg. Needing to be marshalled and dropping to 5th, while everyone turned their attention to Matsukura up front what was to come was nothing but spectacular from the German. Over coming a second incident on lap 9 which dropped him a further position, he found his rhythm working back to second by lap 33 before closing down on the outgoing champion forcing the Yokomo driver into a mistake on lap 43 of 54. Visually drained after the race by his ‘push to win’, Rheinard said it was the hardest he had ever driven. ‘Pissed’ at the incident with Hagberg, he said with 7-minutes still to run he knew it was all still to play for and he just took the approach of going for ‘all or nothing’. Taking ‘huge risks’, he said he ‘couldn’t have got any closer to the boards’. With Frank Calandra’s response to his driver’s amazing recovery unpublishable, the CRC boss finally getting the title he came close to winning two years ago with Andy Moore, Rheinard said the incident with Hagberg was just something that happens in 1:12 due to the speed of the cars with everything happening so fast and he acknowledged that there was no bad intentions from the Xray driver.
Again the fastest driver on the track further lowering the outright fastest lap time, Hagberg took the full blame for the hitting Rheinard. The Swede said he knew he had the fastest car on the track and his downfall was he was too eager to get to the front. Although he waited on Rheinard after the contact, the Swede was served with a Stop & Go penalty. Summing up an event that started off so strong, the European Champion said ‘thats how it is’ and it was ‘not meant to be’.
A understandably disappointed Matsukura, who has held the 1:12 World title since making his debut at the age of 15, said he had no response to Rheinard describing his friend as being ‘huge fast’. Having to ‘overdrive’ his R12 to try at stay ahead he said the car was a little difficult to drive resulting in his mistake that let Rheinard through for the win. Finishing the race in 4th position, the 21-year-old said he has no choice but to change his set-up as he needs the A3 win if he is to salvage at least a podium finish.
Behind Rheinard, Hideo Kitazawa took second place putting him strongly in contention to take the overall runner-up spot. Starting from 9th on the grid Team Associated’s Keven Hebert had an impressive drive to finish third having ran 2nd for a time before being passed by Rheinard and then Kitazawa.
Chassis – TOP Rebel 12 Motor – Trinity D3.5 ESC – LRP Flow Battery – Revtech 7100mAh Tires – BSR Blue front & rear Radio/Servos – KO Propo Body – Protoform AMR 12 Remarks – The only US driver to make the main here in Florida, Donny Lia is running the TOP Rebel 12 with a prototype chassis plate. Featuring no holes, the thinner chassis plate gives the car more traction due to it flexing more. In terms of setup Lia changed to harder front springs and more rear pod droop to stop the car from pushing but he has continued to play with the car’s camber and caster throughout the event. Like all the other drivers his main focus has been on tire treatment and how long to apply the handout sauce.