Having proven himself to be the fastest driver in the World for a third consecutive time Robert Pietsch today finally went on to claim the crown of the World’s best racer as he lifted his first IFMAR title at the 2011 1:8 Onroad World Championship in Miami, Florida. The German headed a Mugen 1-2 in a rain shortened final at Homestead RC Raceway with Keisuke Fukuda finishing runner-up ahead of Capricorn driver Dario Balestri who completed the podium at the 18th running of the sports original World Championship.
Failing to make the podium when he was Top Qualifier in Lostallo 2-years ago and again when he TQ’d the 1:10 Worlds last July in Texas, Pietsch said his luck had finally stuck today but the reality of taking the sports greatest accolade was going to take a few days to sink in. Responsible for designing the MRX-5, which he already used to become European Champion, he was very proud of his work as not only did he win but the car made up half of the grid in the final.
Over taken in the early part of the race by a blisteringly fast Balestri, Pietsch said he was not surprised by the speed of his European rival. Having spotted the Italian true three sets of tyres before the race he was pretty sure that Balestri was going to run a two tyre-stop strategy which would allow him to push harder than the rest of the field who all ran just single tyre stops. After Balestri made his second tyre stop the champion elect had almost a lap on his rival and started to pace himself although he said a bad second last fuel stop almost saw him come undone costing him 4 seconds in time. Ultimately the rain, which arrived with about 1/4 of the race to run, brought the race to an early conclusion as the cars started to slide around the track forcing its stoppage at 47-minutes.
Having been unable to play out his strategy in full, having pitted for his second set of tyres just 5 minutes before the rain, Balestri said afterwards he wasn’t sure if the win would have been possible. The 25-year-old said he knew his Capricorn/Novarossi package was fast, endorsed by his 15.767 fastest lap of the race, and they ran the two tyre stop to try to capitalise on the outright speed of the LAB C801, but they hadn’t predicted the rain. A former two time European 200mm Champion he said he was still very happy to come away with a podium finish.
Knowing what its like to win a World title having won the 200mm crown in 2006, Fukuda said his car felt really good but he just didn’t have the pace to match Pietsch. One of an impressive line up of five Japanese drivers in the final, he thinks following Balestri’s strategy would have been better for him as the tyre diameter difference from when you stop to when you change is very large and makes the car very difficult to drive consistently.
The only Kyosho in the final having qualified directly Takaaki Shimo was disappointed to miss out on the podium. Working to his 1-hour plan the highest placed OS Speed driver believes second was on the cards but the premature end to the race did not let his strategy play out.
Having qualified 2nd Atsushi Hara could only manage 5th after his Mugen felt like it had a transmission problem 5 minutes into the race. His 1:8 Onroad debut Hara said he tried to push hard at the start of the race but he was too slow. This being his first opportunity to see Pietsch in action he said he had a lot of respect for the new World Champion who he felt deserved the win. A World champion of 1:8 Offroad and 1:10 Electric Touring Car Hara said he hoped to be at the next 1:8 Onroad worlds saying he had a lot of fun racing in what is rc racing’s Formula 1 category.
Finishing last in the final in Lostallo, Robin D’Hondt improved on that this year to finish 7th behind Shinya Shimazaki but the Belgian ace said after a trouble free run in the Semis bad luck dogged him in the main event with his Motonica needing to make a number of unscheduled pit stops. Claiming Shepherd’s first 1:8 World finals appearance Swiss teenager Simon Kurzbuch was the final finisher in 8th with Takehiro Teraucho retiring his Mugen after 23 minutes. Unfortunately the joy of getting one of their new RX8 chassis’ into the final was very short lived for Xray as Paul Lemieux would retire during the warm-up with a suspected radio receiver problem. With Shimazaki having already called a 10-minute delay the only American in the Top 10 was forced to sit out the final.
Official Final Results
1. Robert Pietsch (D) – Mugen/Novarossi – 167L in 47:06.695
2. Keisuke Fukuda (JP) – Mugen/Novarossi – 166L in 46:53.593
3. Dario Balestri (IT) – Capricorn/Novarossi – 166L in 47:00.352
4. Takaaki Shimo (JP) – Kyosho/OS – 166L in 47:02.751
5. Atsushi Hara (JP) – Mugen/OS – 166L in 47:09.161
6. Shinya Shimazaki (JP) – Mugen/Novarossi – 151L in 47:11.611
7. Robin D’Hondt (BE) – Motonica/Gi-Mar – 145L in 47:15.396
8. Simon Kurzbuch (CH) – Shepherd/Max – 144L in 47:07.745
9. Takehiro Terauchi (JP) – Mugen/Novarossi – 85L in 23:57.205
10.Paul Lemieux (US) – Xray/Max – OL
Germany’s Robert Pietsch is the new IFMAR 1:8 Onroad World Champion winning a rain shortened race at the Homestead RC Raceway from Italy’s Dario Balestri and Japan’s Keisuke Fukuda. As the race entered the final 15-minutes the dark clouds which have shadowed the track all day finally brought rain forcing Race Director Bob Ingersoll to stop the race at 47-minutes which was over 3/4 distance meaning the order of the race at that time is the official result of the 2011 World Championships.
UPDATE: Following a very long delay in the issuing of the final result there has been a change for second with Fukuda taking the runners up spot and Balestri dropping to 3rd. We understanding the change is due to one lap count back from the time at which the race was actually stopped. As this official result had to be created manually the result was not available for almost two hours after the race.
An all new 1:8 Onroad World Champion will be crowned at the Homestead RC Raceway in Miami, Florida, this evening after Lamberto Collari’s campaign for a fifth consecutive title came to an end in the Semi final. The Italian, who bumped up from this morning’s 1/4 final went out when his Novarossi engine dropped a plug 12 minutes into the 30 minute race. The 9-time World Champion rejoined but his Kyosho stopped a number of times out on the track before his team called an end to their 2011 event at the 2/3 distance.
Having controlled the first half of the final Team Shepherd’s Daniele Ielasi looked set to go bump up but there was to be heartbreak for the popular Italian. Entering the the pits for his final stop he hit the boards both on the entry and exit of the pitlane knocking one side of his steering linkage off causing him to crash the Picco powered Velox V8. Putting the former 200mm World Champion out of the event, the clearly deflated Ielasi said afterwards it was the mistake a novice would make and right now he feels he would be better off giving up racing and trying his hand at fishing instead.
Mugen driver Takehiro Terauchi went on to take an easy victory and with Ielasi out Shinya Shimazaki finished second to guarantee himself a place on the grid of the 1-hour World title deciding race, which will start an hour late due to time being called in the warm-up of both Semi finals.
The second of the Semi finals saw Michael Salven call for a 10-minute delay after his Serpent suffered radio interference. The resulting crash damaged the front bumper and destroyed his race body forcing him to revert to a spare. Changing the receiver pack to try solve the radio problem, it was all to be in vain as the car went straight on into the boards when the German left the pitlane for the restarted warm-up putting the 966 designer out of the event before the race had even got to the starting grid.
With nine cars taking to the start the rate of attrition was to be very high with only four cars left running at the end of the 30-minutes. 2006 1:10 Onroad World Champion Keisuke Fukuda took an easy win bringing the total number of Japanese in the final to 5 drivers. A dropped plug cost Paolo Morganti a bump position meaning there is no Serpent in this year’s final.
Starting last on the grid having bumped up twice from yesterday’s 1/8, Paul Lemieux took second to ensure Xray are finalists on their 1:8 Onroad Worlds debut.
The final two drivers to make the World’s Top 10, thanks to their faster race times from the first Semi, are Beglian Robin D’Hondt and Switzerland’s Simon Kurzbuch. A finalist in Lostallo 2 years ago, D’Hondt is the sole Motonica while Kurzbuch makes it in to the final for the first time for both himself and Team Shepherd bringing the total number of manufacturers in with a chance of the 18th IFMAR World crown to six.
Defending 1:8 Onroad World Champion Lamberto Collari is still in the hunt for a 10th World title but it was a close call for the Italian legend after a incident caused by American Paul Ciccarello on the entry to the pitlane cost him 6 seconds and the lead of the race. The 1/4 Finals saw the demise of some big names in Miami with 2009 direct qualifier Mark Green, 200mm World Champion Ralph Burch and Japanese Champion Masao Tanaka falling by the way side.
The final day of the 18th running of the World Championships, there was a delayed start to the opening race after Italian driver Nicola Marrone put his Serpent in the barrier at the end of the straight and called a time delay. With his Serpent fixed he then pulled off almost an action replay of the incident crashing in the exact same spot when the warm-up got underway for a second time. Although he made the race start he lasted just one lap.
The top Xray in qualifying and starting the race from pole Eric Dankel was dominating the race but a wrong fuel strategy meant the talented German had to stop for fuel with just 2 of the 20 minutes encounter remaining, dropping him to fifth and out of contention for a Top 3 bump placing.
The bizarre incident that very nearly cost Collari a place in Semi was caused when Ciccarello missed the pitlane entry and drove in the wrong direction back to the pitlane entry. Just making it in in front of Collari, who was making his penultimate fuel stop, the Serpent driver hit the chicane and bounced out in front of the Italian causing both cars to need marshal assistance. Collari rejoined in 5th position but setting the fastest lap of the race was able to work his way back into the top 3 eventually finishing second behind the Motonica of Spanish Champion Oscar Cabezas with Tsuyoshi Baba, who bumped up from yesterday’s 1/8 final, taking third to take his Mugen into the Semi.
The second of the 1/4 finals produced a less dramatic race with 2007 podium finisher Andrea Cristiani taking the win from 17-year-old British talent Kyle Branson. A factory Sirio driver this is Branson’s first 1:8 Worlds having only this season returned to the category after a number of years focusing on 1:10 nitro. Having won yesterday’s 1/8 final, US touring car ace Paul Lemieux claimed the final spot for the Semis and is the sole remaining Xray. Retiring on the spot after a big crash with Team Shepherd driver Andrea Pirani, RC America boss Burch said contact with the track boards had broke the steering linkage on his car and this resulted in him being unable to avoid the Italian. Having enjoyed huge joy at Texas nine months ago when he claimed his & Xray’s first ever World title, Burch said he didn’t have high expectations for the brand new RX8 coming here and that the event had been a 10-day test for the team. With a difficult week over for the American he said, ‘roll on 2 years time’.
With the Top 4 qualifiers now running their 1-hour practice session the next race action will be the first of the 30-minute long Semi-finals which is scheduled to get underway at 13:00 local time.
Semi Final Even Grid
1. Daniele Ielasi – Shepherd/Picco
2. Takehiro Terauchi – Mugen/Novarossi
3. Meen Verjak – Mugen/Novarossi
4. Shinya Shimazaki – Mugen/Novarossi
5. Simon Kurzbuch – Shepherd/Max
6. Flavio Elias – Mugen/Max
7. Robin D’Hondt – Motonica/G-mar
8. Oscar Cabezas – Motonica/VOX
9. Lamberto Collari – Kyosho/Novarossi
10.Tsuyoshi Baba – Mugen/Novarossi
Semi Final Odd Grid
1. Keisuke Fukuda – Mugen/Novarossi
2. Paolo Morganti – Serpent/Novarossi
3. Michele Romagnoli – Shepherd/Novarossi
4. Walter Salemi – Motonica/Max
5. Michael Salven – Serpent/Xceed
6. Rick Vrielijnck – Mugen/Novarossi
7. Josh Cyrul – Shepherd/OS Speed
8. Andrea Cristiani – Serpent/Max
9. Kyle Branson – Serpent/Sirio
10.Paul Lemieux – Xray/Max
Today was lower finals day with the biggest casualty being 2009 World Championship runner-up Mike Swauger. Driving Xray’s new RX8 chassis the Ameican ace had a difficult qualifying ending up in the 1/16th final but easily won the 20 minute encounter from team-mate Martin Hudy to progress to the final race of the day and one step away from making it through to the big day. Feeling his clutch was starting to go Swauger planned to change it for the 1/8 final but technical inspection held his car too long leaving him just 8-minutes to get ready for his bump up. Without time to change the clutch Swauger took the start but he lasted only two laps before the clutch expired. One of the pre-event favourites Swauger said he had finally found a good set-up and it was very disappointing to go out in this way.
While Swauger will play not further part the host Nation did manage to get three more drivers through to the final day of this 2011 IFMAR 1:8 Onroad World Championship. Team Serpent’s Scott Kimbrow cruised to victory in the first of the 1/8 finals ahead of fellow 966 driver and Japanese National Champion Masao Tanaka. Despite receiving a Stop & Go penalty for an incident with British driver Tim Wood, 18-year-old Mugen driver Tsuyoshi Baba finished third to secure his place in the final 36.
Deciding the final 3 drivers to bump up the 1/8 Odd Main produced a close race between US 1:10 Onroad Champion Paul Lemieux and Capricorn driver DJ Apolaro. In the end the factory Xray driver took the win by 1 second with fellow Xray driver Jernej Vuga taking his OS powered example to third. Unfortunately for the former European Champion his fuel tank, which he said was the same one he has run all through qualifying, failed post race technical inspection this time round. With the Slovenian excluded from the results this gave 24-year-old Thai Mugen driver Charlee Phutiyotin the final spot on the grid for tomorrow’s 1/4 Odd Final.
Other drivers who saw their World Championship come to end for at least another 2 years were 2007 Top Qualifier Massimo Fantini and the only female competitor Sabrina Lechner. So 36 drivers remain in with a chance of becoming the 18th 1:8 Onroad World Champion including 9-time champion Lamberto Collari. Supported by Shepherd, Matrix, Blitz and Serpent, our coverage continues in the morning with a round up of the 1/4 finals when we will see if the Italian legend can recover from a poor qualification and stay in the hunt for his 10th World title.
Yesterday evening IFMAR held a 1:8 IC Track Section meeting here at the track in Homestead with a number of matters being raised including a discussion on how to ensure there is not a repeat of the tyre additive scandal that cost the opening day of qualifying. Section chairman Sander De Graaf said a number of solutions were discussed including the continuation of the controlled tyre preparation area that had to be implemented following protests that brought racing to a halt on Tuesday. While this appears to be working well De Graff said it has put extra pressure on the organisers due to the manpower which it requires.
Also discussed at the section meeting was the reduction of the length over which future 1:8 Onroad World Championship are run. Currently held over an 11 day period, a duration which most of the paddock agree is far too long, one of the Blocs that make up IFMAR are to propose that the Worlds runs from Saturday and Saturday making it an 8 day event. All the matters discussed yesterday can only be implement if first they are proposed by one of the Blocs and then are voted through successfully at the IFMAR AGM which will take place this year at the 1:10 Offroad World Championship that takes place in the middle of July in Finland.
With the corner speeds of an 1:8 car ever increasing, IFMAR want to address this and are looking at the introduction of a new Global Body Spec (GBS). Current bodyshells can run a maximum height of 165mm but IFMAR would like to see this reduced to 150mm. As part of creating the new body spec a new minimum thickness of the body will be set. Bob Ingersoll from ROAR and Franky Noens of EFRA will meet this evening with a number of bodyshell manufacturers including Dale Epp of Protoform and Fabio Domanin of SRC to discuss the matter further. The idea of GBS is to reduce corner speeds which should help to reduce fuel consumption and ultimately engine wear.
The ongoing matter of noise levels was again on the agenda with the reduction in carburettor size and nitro discussed. On a more extreme note it was mentioned that it a reduction in the engines displacement should be looked into. Currently the maximum carb diameter allowed is 9mm with a reduction to 8mm discussed. With everyone running 25% Byron fuel, control fuel having been introduced at the 1:10 Worlds in Portugal in 2008, it looks set that in the future 1:8 will run 16% nitro. Former World Champion and engine guru Rody Roem who attended the meeting believes only the nitro content should be reduced as it will have greatest effect.
We are glad to report that the matter of moving away from Top 4 direct qualifier structure was not raised. EFRA, the European governing body, passed a change to the rule which could mean that the Top Qualifier does line up for the main event with all drivers having to progress from the Semi Finals.
Speaking to Robert Pietsch about the future of the class the Mugen designer said he believes one of the main changes that should be made is a reduction of the minimum weight currently set at 2525g including transponder. The Top Qualifier for the 18th running of the 1:8 Onroad Worlds said he has to carry 160 grams of weight on his MRX-5. The 28-year-old, who was a designer for Shepherd before moving to Mugen at the end of 2008, believes making the cars run at 2400g would mean less stress on parts and reduced tyre wear which is ultimately better for the customer. The MRX5 is the first Pietsch creation from the Japanese company and here in Miami it has taken 10 of the Top 18 places in qualifying including the Top 2 spots with Atsushi Hara setting the second fastest time with it on his 1:8 Onroad debut.