A perfect 60-minute display of driving netted Tadahiko Sahashi the 1:8 Onroad World title this evening in Japan. Making his World Championship final debut, the Serpent driver cruised to victory to becomes the 11th driver to lift the biggest prize in the sport’s oldest category taking a comfortable win over the Mugen/OS pairing of Takaaki Shimo and Atsushi Hara. The 19th running of the World Championship, Sahashi’s win marks Italian manufacturer Picco’s first World title in the sport’s Formula One category and the first title for Serpent since 1997. In the pitlane it was Picco’s Eduardo Picco and Serpent designer Michael Salven who ensured perfect fuel & tyre stops en route to the 24-year-old taking a hugely popular win.
Commenting on the race Sahashi, the younger of the famous racing brothers, said he was ‘super happy’ to win especially in front of a home crowd. Making two tyre stops, the first for just new ZAC tyres on the left side and the second for a full fresh set, he said everything went perfectly. Complimenting the handling of his 977, and the performance & run time of his engine, he was particularly thankful to his pit crew for their faultless stops. Running 5-minute fuel stops, he said once he got the gap over Shimo to above 10-seconds he started to control his pace. Unable to hold back his emotions braking into tears as he drove his final lap, all his rivals paid tribute to his flawless drive.
Shimo was frustrated by not being able to take the challenge to his fellow countryman. The pre-event favourite, said a wrong choice of set-up for the final left the rear end of his MRX-5 loose preventing him from staying in contact with Sahashi. Happy with every other aspect of the final, doing two stops to change all four tyres each time, he said ultimately Sahashi did the perfect job including getting his set-up right for the track conditions and is the deserving winner.
Not called a legend of the sport for no reason, Hara’s third place finish continues a run of World Championship podiums. Starting from fifth on the grid having qualified in the 1/4 finals, the former Electric Touring Car and 1:8 Offroad World Champion made it four consecutive World Championship podium finishes having finished 2nd in both the nitro and electric touring car Worlds and 3rd in the 1:8 Offoad last year. Declaring himself ‘maximum happy’, he said while everything in the final came together including his partnership with former champion Kenji Osaka, he said he lacked pre-event track time to be a title contender. Adapting his driving style more to how most 1:8 drivers race he said this helped a lot, highlighted by him recording the fastest lap of the race. Making three tyre stops in the race, the first and third only being to change the left side, he said the strategy from Osaka was a good one.
Finishing fourth, having started from seventh on the grid, Mugen driver Shinnosuke Yokoyama was disappointed to lose out on a podium finish by just 2-seconds. The 21-year-old, who was a 200mm Worlds finalist in 2010 where he also just missed out on the Top 3, said his MRX-5 was really good in the race but engine flame outs during both his tyre stops cost him the place.
Taking the honour of being the best non-Japanese driver, Xray/Max driver Carmine Raiola ended the race in fifth having started 4th. Making his first World’s final, the Italian National Champion said he was happy with result adding that having to make three more fuel stops than his rivals finishing any higher was always going to be a tall order. Doing two tyres stops, changing all four tyres on each occasion, the 22-year-old said he was pleased with his race pace which saw him set the second fastest lap time to Hara.
Making his Worlds debut and putting himself in the final having bumped up from the 1/8 finals, Swiss driver Silvio Hachler was happy to finish in the Top 6 saying he gave his best. The 21-year-old described the pace of the final ‘as incredible’ saying but for one mistake he felt he drove the perfect race but still it left him in 6th position such was the pace of the leaders. Making three tyre stops, the first and last only for replacing the outside tyres, he said he was happy with that strategy.
Flaming out on the start line leaving him a lap down, HB’s Teemu Leino would finish recover to finish 7th on his and the R8 Worlds debut. Describing 1:8 Onroad as the Formula 1 of r/c racing, he said he was happy to make the Main, with 1:8 Offroad now the only class he has failed to reach the final at a World Championship. Following his flameout, he said he knew he needed to try something if he was to salvage anything from the race. Starting the race with Protoform’s R18 which on new tyres worked well but then starting pushing as the tyres worn down, he changed to an R15. Giving him more steering he said he declared himself happy with his overall performance in Japan.
Unfortunately having put in a stunning recovery drive in the semi final to make the Main, we never got to see European Champion Jilles Groskamp take the fight to the Japanese. The Team Shepherd/Maxima driver was the only one to serious threaten the chance of a Japanese winner over the week, but a flame-out just 2 and half minutes into the race was the start of a troubled race for the Dutch ace. Working his way back up to as high as third, in the second half of the race after changing all four tyres on his Velox V8 the engine suffered the first of a series of flameouts. Pushing hard to try and make up time with around 5-minutes to go he hit a curb and with the car not feeling right he decided to pull in so as not risk interfering with the other drivers who where battling over podium placings. Watching the final few minutes of the race from the rostrum he said looking at Sahashi driving he said even had everything ran faultlessly it would have been hard to beat the Japanese driver.