Watch how the 2022 IFMAR 1:10 Nitro World Championship unfolded over 60-minutes of intense racing at the RC Addict track in Bangkok, Thailand, where a number of drivers take turns at the front. Commentary from the one and only Scotty Ernst.
Tadahiko Sahashi has gained elusive ‘Double Champion’ status with victory at the 1:10 Nitro Touring Car World Championship in Thailand. Starting 5th on the grid, the Infinity driver becomes only the second ever driver to win both the IFMAR 1:8 and 1:10 Nitro Onroad, Adrien Bertin’s feat finally being matched 18-years after the Frenchman became the first to achieved it in 2004. A final that would see a number of drivers take turns at the front, when it counted most it was 2013 1:8 Champion Sahashi that lead them home. Behind, there was an intense battle for second as Dominic Greiner came under pressure from long time leader Jilles Groskamp but the only non-Infinity driver in the final was able to stave off the challenge. Making his first Nitro World final, Electric Touring Car ace Viktor Wilck had an impressive race to fourth, his trademark colour scheme having been out front during the race. Another finalist chasing ‘Double Champion’ status at RC Addict this week, Dario Balestri had the title in his grasps until he suffered a flame out as he left the pits following his tyres stop. In the end the Italian would finish 5th. Outgoing champion and Top Qualifier here in Bangkok, Naoto Matsukura was pulling clear early on. The tricky conditions however caught him out a number of times. The flip coming onto the main straight that sent his car into the bushes lining the outside of the track ultimately ending his chances of becoming the first driver to defend the title with 8th his final position at the end of the 1-hour encounter.
With the normal reserved Japanese driver’s winning reaction on the driver stand summing up exactly what the result meant, after Tadahiko said he was ‘super happy’, the double having been a ‘long time goal’ for the onroad nitro specialist. While conditions where difficult leading him, like most of the grid, to flip during the race he said he ‘never gave up’ even while it looked like the race was going the way of others. Going with a strategy to change only the outside tyres on his IF15 Prototype, he managed the tyre wear perfectly even managing to set the fastest lap of the entire event well into the closing stages of the final. Eventually crossing the line finish with a 3.5-second advantage over Greiner, asked about his nerves over the final few laps the 33-year-old said his ‘1:8 experience’ of winning the World Championship helped his ‘stay calm’ and bring it home.
‘Close’, was how Greiner summed up the final. Suffering a number of costly flips early in the race, the Capricorn driver explained, ‘we changed the car a lot in the practice before the race but I still flipped four times and lost a lot of time. The car felt good but it was on the edge. I traction rolled two more times and maybe with two less flips we would have made it’. The only driver to put it up to the Infinity team, the 2016 World Champion said, ‘We did our best but Tadahiko was better today.’ Asked about his tyre strategy which saw him change all four tyres at 28 minutes, race announcer Scotty Ernst even making comments on how perfectly it was executed, he said, ‘my tyres were done at the end so I don’t know if I would have made it just changing the outside. I was also afraid of the gap difference with only doing 2 but Tadahiko showed it was possible’.
Having once again put his hat in the ring from the very start of the action at this World Championship, Groskamp said, ‘I am super happy to be competitive and on the podium at the World Championship. On the other hand I missed the big chance to win’. Talking through his race he said, ‘I only changed one side on my tyre stop and one time flipped. Tadahiko was the man to beat, he had the fastest laps of the event. He drove good man so to be 5-seconds off after a one hour race I’m happy. I am also happy for Infinity’. Changing his flight home to the Netherlands to tonight as his third child is due to arrive in the coming days and the rain day was not needed, he added, ‘On a personal level I am happy with the work I did to prepare for the race as well as preparing for our new addition to the family. I’m happy I got the result because I think I deserve it’.
Wilck was very happy with the race he ran in the final. The Swede said, ‘It was nice to be in mix but you never know what happens’. He explained, ‘the first half of the race before my tyre change the car was very good and so was my engine and clutch. I was on one pit stop less but then because we changed both sides in the tyre stop I lost a lap’. Saying the 4-minute 30-second stops were ‘safe for us’, he said his clutch ‘went soft’ towards the end of the race leaving his engine ‘too slow’ to challenge for the podium, something he said was down to his lack of expertise with the engine and clutch. He vowed to improve that knowledge for the future.
Winner of the Super Pole, that success that clearly was a massive relief for the Italian who openly admitted to finding the unique track conditions of these World very challenging & draining, Balestri said, ‘we had a strategy to run two less stops and I was managing the pace and it was all good’. Changing all four tyres, it was during this stop that he was denied a shot at the title double, the 2017 1:8 World Champion explaining, ‘after the tyre stop I flamed out. The race was finished then’.
Matsukura said it just took ‘a little mistake’ to derail his title defence. He said, ‘on small tyres my car was difficult to drive and I just made a little mistake and flip’. Surviving his first flip while in the lead with second place also flipping at the second time allowing him to maintain position, he said his chances of a result ended when he flipped coming onto the main straight sending his yellow IF15 into the local vegetation and needing to be marshalled.
Dominic Greiner and Jilles Groskamp took convincing Semi Final wins at the 1:10 Nitro Touring Car World Championship as the final grid to decide the 9th running of the Championship is set in Thailand. Up first Greiner drove a controlled race with it looking like it was going to be a Capricorn 1-2 as Alex Thurston put in a great drive. Holding second, his dream of a first World Final was suddenly dashed when the British driver ran out of fuel. This promoted Brayden Stanley, who was shadowing Thurston for most of the race, to second with Andy Moore coming through to complete the Top 3 after his car had been on its roof on the opening lap. Unfortunately having looked to be in contention to come from last in qualifying and through to the final, a mistake from Teemu Leino ended his run of bump-ups with the 30-minute encounter also being the end of the road for Meen Vejrak, champion here in 2012, current 1:8 World Champion Shoki Takahata and Takaaki Shimo. The second encounter, the last chance to join Top Qualifier Naoto Matsukura and Super Pole winner Dario Balestri in the 1-hour title decider, Groskamp took the win. A slower race than the previous Semi he starts fourth behind Greiner, who will be the only non-Infinity driver on the grid. Tadahiko Sahashi will again get a go at doing the Nitro Onroad double, the 2013 1:8 World Champion crossing the line second followed by Viktor Wilck, the Electric Touring Car ace securing his first nitro final appearance. With the Top 3 directly progressing, the grid is completed by the next fastest two drivers in the Semi results, Chavit Sligupta and Jesse Davis getting that done in the second Semi with 4th and 5th.
While a dominant performance from Greiner, the German said his goal for the race was ‘only to survive and stay on four wheels’ adding, ‘If the car drives like this in the final it is impossible to win. We need to change something on the car but I don’t know what’. With today notable warmer than previous days, he continued, ‘It is really hard out there. It is super hot today. Driving for half an hour was crazy I don’t know how we will drive for 1-hour’. He concluded, ‘the first step is done and 1-hour is long enough that everything can happen’.
‘I’m super happy to make the the final again, the track conditions were super difficult and the car was on two wheels a few times’, was replied Groskamp when asked how his Semi was. A driver admired for the hard work in puts and which has kept him at the top of the game 14-years on from him being Top Qualifier of these World Championship in Portugal 2008, he said, ‘I just tried to keep the car on track for the 30-minutes and follow the game plan’. He continued, ‘when the tyres came in it was super difficult to drive. Asked about tyre wear he said this is the first time we have a long run to see how it is and I still need to make my calculations for the final’.
Finding the tyre wear high, Sahashi said his car was good for the first half of the race but due to the wear things were tricky in the second 15-minutes. Opting for a safe drive he also rain one of his fuel stops longer than what he had been doing in order to check what options he has for the final but overall the Japanese driver is confident starting from fifth.
Delighted to be starting his first Nitro Worlds final, lining up 6th on the grid, Wilck said, ‘I had a really bad start and was almost last. My car was always good and I had no problem with it trying to flip so I could work my way through. I passed three guys on the track and the rest in the pits’. The Swede, a multiple podium finisher at the Electric Touring Car Worlds concluded , ‘I am happy to be in the final again after my mistake in Gubbio, the Italian track hosting the electric Worlds in September and Wilck missing the A-Main cut.
‘Awesome’ was Stanley’s reaction to his very impressive drive, the Australian adding ‘I don’t know how to do this’ in response to us asking him about his performance. The 16-year-old explained, ‘my goal was to plod around and hope some guys had issues but from the start was car was really good and I stuck with Alex (Thurston). I had a bit of luck I guess, I am really stuck for words. My goal was to finishing in the Top 20’. His first international race and now a World Finalist, he exceeded that plenty lining up 7th on the grid.
‘I know this is my home track but am super happy to make the final again after so long’, was Moore’s reaction to progressing to the title deciding race for the first timer since the World was previously held at his home track back in 2012. The former Electric Touring Car World Champion said, ‘Francesco (Tironi) took me out at the start and I was well back from the pack at the beginning. I knew the car was OK but I wasn’t sure about tyre wear so I just tried to make sure I had no mistake and no mistakes on my pit stops’. Coming home 2-seconds behind Stanley, the factory Infinity driver continued, ‘I could have pushed harder but it would have only put me ahead of Brayden which would make no difference in the final so it was better to keep it on 4-wheels’. The British driver, who starts 8th ahead of Chavit and Davis, concluded, ‘I am just going to enjoy the final’.
Teemu Leino’s comeback from qualifying last at the 1:10 Nitro Touring Car World Championship continues full stream ahead with the multiple World Championship finalist winning the first of the 1/4 Finals which got the final day of action underway in Bangkok. Falling ill on the first day of seeding practice (Tuesday), the Finn would miss the next three days of action on the track. Feeling better yesterday, the Infinity driver took up his starting position at the back of the 1/16 final bumping up to the 1/8 which he duly won to put himself through to the big day. Starting from 8th on the grid in his 1/4 Final, he would get caught up in a first corner crash ahead of him which would leave him with a chunked right rear tyre. While making the sweeper at the end of the straight even more challenging than it is already, he worked his way to the front to win the 20-minute encounter from Francesco Tironi, the Italian a podium finisher here at RC Addict at the 2012 WC. The big battle of the race was for third, the final bump-up position, with impressive young female talent Supanun ‘Ferrari’ Khwanyuen going head to head with 9-time World Champion Lamberto Collari. After a late pit stop Ferrari was closing down the Italian but ultimately run out of time allowing Collari through to book his place in the Semis.
In the second of the 1/4 Finals, Charlee Phutlyotin would take his Serpent to the win ahead of the Mugen of Shinnosuke Yokoyama who had started from pole. Bumping up from yesterday’s 1/8 Final, Finnish driver Sammy Pajalin gets to go again after coming through to take 3rd ahead of winner of that 1/8 Final Purisek Jeamjak. Drivers now 30-minutes of action in the Semi.