October 6, 2013

New World Champion to be crowned in Japan


1:8 Onroad is set to crown a new World Champion this week with the news that reigning World Champion Robert Pietsch has not made the trip to Japan for the 19th running of IFMAR’s longest running World Championships.  The German has been forced to miss the chance to defend his title due to being struck down with pneumonia.  Having attended the Warm-up Race at the Keitune Racing Speedway back in May, the Mugen driver struggled while fellow Mugen driver & World title favourite Takaaki Shimo using O.S. dominated with many rumours circulating since then that Novarossi were struggling to get their engines to suit the specialised track.  Having received an e-mail along with a medical cert from Pietsch, his fuel sponsor Jarb Ratanarat of Maxima said its a real shame the strong advocate of onroad nitro racing can’t attend as he feels despite his showing at the Warm-up race  he believes he would have had a real chance at a second title.  The event has already had shock withdrawals with Lamberto Collari, who had his run of 4-consecutive World titles ended by Pietsch in Miami 2-years-ago, announcing a month ago he would miss the event over fears of health risks from the radiation off the Fukushima Nuclear plant. The general feeling from within the pits is that the 9-time World Champion’s decision was heavily influenced by his sponsors.  Capricorn team-mate Dario Balestri, a podium finisher in Miami, along with former 200mm World Champion Daniele Ielasi are two other high profile Italians who while appearing on the original 127 person entry list have not turned-up.  1999 World Champion Adrien Bertin is the only former Champion racing in the event.


While the event has lost some key drivers the event has attracted one of the all round legends of the sport, with Atsushi Hara confirmed as a Mugen driver for the event.  The Japanese former World 1:8 Offroad and 1:10 Electric Touring Car Champion, made his 1:8 Onroad World’s debut 2-years ago and made the final finishing 5th overall.  Having recently departed his long time HB team, Hara has teamed up with 2001 World Champion Kenji Osaka who will act as his mechanic for the next week, this being one of the terms of him signing the late deal to race for Mugen.  Making it clear that Shimo is still Mugen’s No.1 driver for the event, Hara has had just two days of testing and the first of those was spent breaking in OS engines but himself and Osaka worked well together.  Airing his disappointment that Pietisch and in particular the Italians are not at the race he said he hopes this doesn’t detract from the event and in particular the success of who ever becomes World Champion.  Thankfully the race is not totally void of Italians, a nation that is the heart of nitro racing, with National Champion Raiola Carmine and Hot Race tyres owner Nicola Marrone both racing and Edourdo Picco here to provide engine support.

Jilles Shell

Unfortunately yesterday’s (Saturday) opening day of the event was washed out by heavy rain and again a wet start today means drivers have lost one & a half days of practice, although we are glad to report that shortly after our arrival cars finally got to do some initial laps.  Talking to European Champion Jilles Groskamp after his first 7-minutes practice run the Shepherd driver said the traction was ‘ok’ feeling pretty close to what it was when they tested here last month.  Commenting on the track layout he said its hard to do clean laps due to the high curbing.  While the sweepers at either end of the track look the same the Dutch ace said the positioning of the curbing was different with the right side allowing you to run closer to the inside adding that if you hit the blocks they have positioned in the corner its going to be pretty much game over.


Running 12 cars heats today which should allow drivers to get four 7-minutes practice runs in, it getting dark at 17:00 local time, IFMAR official are hoping to revise the timetable for the rest of the event so as to make up the lost track time.  Speaking to IFMAR IC Chairman Sander DeGraaf he said there is still a threat of further bad weather with Typhoon Fitow heading for Japan and the direction it takes will effect how they plan the rest of the event.  Should the rain stay away he said the plan is to give drivers back the lost day of practice tomorrow and then due to the slightly lower entry of 108 drivers run 3 qualifiers per day over 2 days rather than the originally scheduled two 10-miute qualifiers per day over 3-days.  Either way it is early starts for the drivers with the first group of the drivers due on track at 07:00 due to how early it gets dark, not helped by the fact that the track is situated inside a a forest containing some rather impressive bamboo trees.

Tire Room

This is the first time the World Championships has featured a controlled tyre although multiple brands are available.  Matrix, Contact, ZAC Project, Hot Race and ULTI have all supplied the race organisers with tyres. In an attempt to quash any rumours of tyres being treated with additive the tyres are being trued on a line up of Hudy tyre truers (preset to 69mm for fronts and 76mm for rears) by event staff in a controlled room where drivers pass through for their runs and also collect their fuel.  In the past the fuel has been provided by a single supplier but has been opened up with Cosmo, Maxima, Klotz, Nasa all providing handout fuel.

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