April 15, 2011

Pietsch is 2011 WC Top Qualifier

Robert Pietsch

Robert Pietsch is the Top Qualifier for the 2011 IFMAR 1:8 Onroad World Championships as track conditions for the fourth & final round of qualifying were not fast enough to see any changes at the top with Atsushi Hara, Dario Balestri and Takaaki Shimo completing the Top 4 that qualify direct for the big race on Saturday. Current 9 time World Champion Lamberto Collari, who was a direct qualifier in Switzerland, has had another dismill day and will begin his title defence in Miami, Florida, from the quarter finals after running out off fuel two corners from the finish when on his fastest run.

Top 4 Qualifiers

The designer of Mugen’s MRX5, Pietsch said this was a very proud moment for him and he hopes his time has now come to win his first World title. His third consecutive TQ honour at a nitro onroad World Championship, the European Champion is undoubtedly the fastest driver in the world and hopes that on Saturday his time will finally come when luck will stick with him and he can lift the sport’s greatest title. Suffering a suspected bearing failure in his Novarossi engine, Pietsch managed only two laps in the final qualifier but said he knew the track was not good enough for anyone to challenge the top 4 times. In the end it was Serpent’s Paolo Morganti who was fastest for Q4 with 36 laps in 10:00.906 which was good enough to move the American up one position to 7th overall. Having been one of those accused of using tyre additive, Pietsch said he hoped he had now cleared his name and now his focus will be on spending tomorrow preparing his car and strategy for the one-hour final.

Top 4 Cars

Hara’s attempt at TQ’ing his first 1:8 Onroad Worlds ended as he left the pitlane when his engine died just as he reached the first corner. The Japanese ace, who paid tribute to OS and fellow user Shimo, who has been helping him with his engines all week, said the flame out was his own fault as he didn’t give enough throttle. With the engine restarted he ran the rest of the heat setting the equal fastest lap for the round of 16.064 with Morganti. Having only driven a 1:8 onroad car for the first time in a brief test before flying out to the US, Hara said he was really happy to line-up second on the grid on his debut.

Demoted to third by Hara’s Q3 time, Dario Balestri was delighted at making the Top 4 for the first time ensuring Capricorn a place in the final on their World Championship debut. A double European 1:10 Onroad Champion and set to make this third final appearance in a row, the Italian said he knew three laps into the run that conditions were slow and so he used the track time to test tyres and engine carburation for the final.

Shimo crashes in Warmup

Despite a heavy crash in the warm-up that knocked the front left shock off his Kyosho Evolva, 2009 finalist Shimo was second fastest in Q4 but in a time that was well of that which will see him line up fourth for the main event.

Keisuke Fukuda

Former 200mm World Champions Keisuke Fukuda and Daniele Ielasi will line up on pole position for the Semi finals as they finished 5th and 6th fastest respectively. Fukuda had a big incident with Team Shepherd owner Patrick Shaefer in his final qualifier. The leader of the Group he tried to pass Shaefer but the German spun and was collected by Fukuda’s Mugen with the incident earning the Japanese driver what he felt was an unfair Stop & Go penalty. Ielasi, who is still relishing his lost opportunity in Q3, continued to be out of luck today as his Picco engine dropped a plug just after he left the pitlane to start his heat.

Andrea Gardini

With a very frustrated looking Collari qualifying 22nd it was an even worse day for the man who finished runner-up to him 2 years ago. Second in Lostallo and one of the pre-event favourites coming to Miami, Mike Swauger finds himself in 51st position. It has been a tough event for Xray on their 1:8 Onroad debut with German talent Eric Dankel being the top RX8 driver in 20th while reigning 200m World Champion Ralph Burch is a disappointing 27th. Another driver who failed to deliver was 2009 direct qualifier Mark Green. The factory Serpent driver ended up just behind Collari with the 23rd fastest time.

One driver deserving of a mention is Arturo Carbonell. One of the pioneers of 1:8 Onroad racing he was the 1981 World Champion driving a Delta Super J and it is great to see him still racing 30 years on. Carbonell qualified 66th of the 122 drivers that posted a time.

Tomorrow’s schedule will start off with the lower finals running up to and including 1/8 finals from which 6 drivers will make it through to the main day on Saturday. Our coverage which is supported by Shepherd, Matrix, Blitz and Serpent continues tomorrow with a round up of Friday’s action.

Final Qualifying times
1. Pietsch, Robert (D) – Mugen/Novarossi – 37L/10:12.769 R1
2. Hara, Atsushi (JP) – Mugen/OS Speed – 37L/10:13.653 R3
3. Balestri, Dario (IT) – Capricorn/Novarossi – 37L/10:14.446 R1
4. Shimo, Takaaki (JP) – Kyosho/OS Speed – 37L/10:15.456 R3
5. Fukuda, Keisuke (JP) – Mugen/Novarossi – 37L/10:15.730 R3
6. Ielasi, Daniele (IT) – Shepherd/Picco – 37L/10:15.785 R3
7. Morganti, Paolo (USA) – Serpent/Novarossi – 36L/10:00.906 R4
8. Terauchi, Takehiro (JP) – Mugen/Novarossi – 36L/10:01.206 R1
9. Romagnoli, Michele (IT) – Shepherd/Novarossi – 36L/10:04.437 R1
10.Verjak, Meen (THA) – Mugen/Novarossi – 36L/10:04.739 R1
11.Salemi, Walter (IT) – Motonica/Max – 36L/10:04.889 R2
12.Shimazaki, Shinya (JP) – Mugen/Novarossi – 36L/10:05.307 R1
13.Salven, Michael (D) – Serpent/Xceed – 36L/10:05.691 R2
14.Kurzbuch, Simon (CH) – Shepherd/Max – 36L/10:06.193 R3
15.Vrielijnck, Rick (NL) – Mugen/Novarossi – 36L/10:06.710 R1
16.Elias, Flavio (BRA) – Mugen/Max – 36L/10:07.048 R1
17.Cyrul, Josh (USA) – Shepherd/OS Speed – 36L/10:07.384 R2
18.D’Hondt, Robin (BEL) – Motonica/G-mar – 36L/10:07.828 R1

View our event image gallery here.

April 14, 2011

New in the pits – Part 2

New in the pits - Part 2

We already had Serpent chief designer Michael Salven run you through the new Serpent 966 Evo update package. Alongside all those new features listed, he forgot to mention the new front wheel axles as well as the new aluminum clutch bell which they have been trying out to see if it will go into production.

New in the pits - Part 2

Mugen have a number of new parts here in Homestead including this all new clutch. The new configuration has the flyweights reversed compared to normal with the taper facing the clutch bell. They say this gives the clutch more punch as well as making it easier to adjust. Also new for the MRX-5 are some steel front bearing blocks which give additional weight to the car without the need to attach extra weights. New brake pads and a soft aluminium brake cam help give the car a smoother braking feeling as the previous version was a little too powerful and therefore aggressive. Finally Mugen also have some harder plastic parts specifically for this race, but racers like Robert Pietsch have opted not to run them as they prefer the flex from the softer parts.

New in the pits - Part 2

Kyosho have their prototype Evolva chassis here which is sometimes being used by Lamberto Collari as well as by Takashi Miyashita. The Japanese driver is the main designer of this car but has left the company and so believes that this car will never be made.

New in the pits - Part 2

Italian company Capricorn are giving their all new LAB-C801 1/8th scale chassis its big race debut at this event and so far it has been doing very well in the hands of factory driver Dario Balestri, who is currently sitting in the top 4.

New in the pits - Part 2

Used by Atsushi Hara, Takaaki Shimo and Josh Cyrul, OS Speed have their new .21 engine here called the 21XZ-R. Featuring all new crankcase internals, as well as new crankshaft and piston liner, they have created a motor with more torque and better fuel economy. The fuel economy is proving an advantage as Hara and Shimo are inside the top 4, running only one stop. The engine also sports a lightweight cooling head which is lower than its predecessor, coming down over the crankcase. It’s available from next month.

New in the pits - Part 2

Sanwa’s new SRG-BRX high end competition servo is making its international competition debut. Fitted in the car’s of their team drivers including Keisuke Fukuda and the rest of the Japanese Mugen team, the X in the name stands for extra torque, especially in the furthest points of the rotation. This high speed servo also features metal gears and is ideally suited for steering and throttle for both 1/8th on road and off road.

New in the pits - Part 2

Japanese company ZAC Project have released some new brass weights for the Mugen MRX-5, which are being run here by Atsushi Hara. They also have some new rear body stiffeners which are in use by a lot of the Japanese drivers.

View our event image gallery here.

April 14, 2011

Hara moves up to second

Atsushi Hara

Atsushi Hara has moved into second spot in qualifying at the 2011 IFMAR 1:8 Onroad World Championships after improving his time in this morning’s third round of qualifying at the Homestead RC Raceway in Miami.  The Japanese ace improved by almost 6 seconds as he set the second fastest time in the penultimate round behind provisional Top Qualifier Robert Pietsch who was unable to better his Q1 time.

Atsushi Hara

‘Getting closer everyday’ was the former electric Touring Car & 1:8 Offroad World Champion’s response to the 10:13.653 run which is just .884 of a second off Pietsch’s overall TQ time.  The factory Hot Bodies driver, who is running a Mugen, said yesterday’s rain had changed track conditions to a lighter type of grip which allowed his MRX5 to run more freely and for him the conditions were the best so far.  With a change of order for the fourth and final qualifier when Hara’s run will be the second last of the day he feels by then the track will once again oil up making it hard for him to deny Pietsch his third consecutive onroad nitro World Championship TQ honours.

Robert Pietsch

Topping the round, Pietsch said conditions this morning were good enough to set a new fastest time but he came across too much traffic.  The German said track conditions were for him a little slippy following yesterday’s rain and that the cooler conditions suited both Hara and Shimo who are running one-stop strategies.  Asked if he thinks the last round will prove to be the ‘rocket round’ the European Champion said if the wind stays away he will have to give 100% to hold on to the top spot but if there is a strong wind, which causes the rear of the cars to get loose, the Top 4 should stay as it is.

Third fastest for the round and now third overall, Capricorn driver Balestri said he struggled with the track conditions for the opening few laps ending his challenge for overall TQ honours. Running a different tyre diameter on his LAB C801 he said it was not the right way to go.

Takaaki Shimo

Improving his time and breaking in to the 37 laps for the first time, Kyosho’s Takaaki Shimo said he was disappointed with his time as on track it felt as though he was running a much faster pace.  Having made a few changes to his OS Speed powered Evolva, the 2009 Finalist said he was confused by changes he had made to the car, as while it was better in some areas it also made the car worse in others.  The Japanese driver hopes he can find a better balance for his final run and keep himself inside the elusive Top 4.  One driver who came close to knocking him out of fourth was fellow country man Keisuke Fukuda.  Having been dogged by radio problems yesterday the Mugen driver said the issue was still on his mind during Q3 but now that he managed a trouble free run his confidence is back and he is feeling positive about the final qualifier.

One of the sports most friendly characters Daniele Ielasi was irate after his run.  The factory Shepherd and Picco driver was on target to run an outright TQ time but had problems with traffic including an incident with 200mm World Champion Ralph Burch.  The Italian said it was ‘extremely upsetting’ when you get everything right only for another driver to cost you a Top 4 time and maybe even the TQ honours.  Heading the timing screen in the top group up until the first pitstop he managed to better his Q2 time but drops to sixth overall.

Elsewhere Lamberto Collari improved his time by almost four seconds but the 9-time World Champion is still a long way off the pace as he struggles with the set-up on his Kyosho.  Team Serpent’s Michael Salven was on a good run until his INS Box got knocked off during his second fuel stop.  The German said he had too little brake on his 966 for the pitstop and while pitman Karl-Heinz Meister did a good job of catching the car during the first stop he was unable to pull it off in the second and as a result the filter got knocked off.  Runner-up at the last World Championships in Switzerland, Mike Swauger finally completed a run but the American who is running Xray’s new RX8 said they made too many set-up changes and now they are lost.  Team Shepherd’s Josh Cyrul was on for his best run but having changed to a brand new piston & liner in his OS engine for the round, the still not fully run-in motor eventually cried enough after 19 laps.

Qualification Ranking after 3 of 4 Rounds
1. Pietsch, Robert (D) – 37L/10:12.769 R1
2. Hara, Atsushi (JP) – 37L/10:13.653 R3
3. Balestri, Dario (IT) – 37L/10:14.446 R1
4. Shimo, Takaaki (JP) – 37L/10:15.456 R3
5. Fukuda, Keisuke (JP) – 37L/10:15.730 R3
6. Ielasi, Daniele (IT) – 37L/10:15.785 R3
7. Terauchi, Takehiro (JP) – 36L/10:01.206 R1
8. Morganti, Paolo (USA) – 36L/10:02.815 R1
9. Romagnoli, Michele (IT) – 36L/10:04.437 R1
10.Verjak, Meen (THA) – 36L/10:04.739 R1
11.Salemi, Walter (IT) – 36L/10:04.889 R2
12.Shimazaki, Shinya (JP) – 36L/10:05.307 R1
13.Salven, Michael (D) – 36L/10:05.691 R2
14.Kurzbuch, Simon (CH) – 36L/10:06.193 R3
15.Vrielijnck, Rick (NL) – 36L/10:06.710 R1
16.Elias, Flavio (BRA) – 36L/10:07.048 R1
17.Cyrul, Josh (USA) – 36L/10:07.384 R2
18.D’Hondt, Robin (BEL) – 36L/10:07.828 R1

View our event image gallery here.

April 14, 2011

Video – Heavy Rain stops completion of Q2

Just prior to the completion of today’s qualifying the heavens opened up over Homestead with three of the 13 groups still left to run their second round of qualifying.  Normally in such a situation the round would be cancelled for all drivers as the entire field did not get to compete under the same track conditions.  Thankfully the organisers have been able to agree that the drivers from the three group who missed out on running Q2 today will be given an extra run in between Q3 and Q4 tomorrow saving the second round of an already shortened qualifying schedule.

April 13, 2011

Pietsch holds provisional TQ in Miami

Robert Pietsch

Robert Pietsch holds provisional TQ honours for the 2011 IFMAR 1:8 Onroad World Championships at the end of the first day of qualifying.  The German was fastest in both the rounds that made up today’s schedule but it was his Q1 time that puts him top of the ranking ahead of Dario Balestri, Atsushi Hara and Takaaki Shimo.

Top Qualifier at the last World Championships, Pietsch had an incident filled Q2 but said a faster time was never going to be possible as the warmer conditions made for a slower track.  Pushing much harder than in the morning, the Mugen designer was able to improve his outright lap time to claim the fastest lap of the round.  Facing a lot of traffic due to his lower starting order for the round Pietsch had a coming together with Italy’s Andrea Cristiani on lap 9 and then again when he braked too late during his first pitstop.  Missing his box this led to his pitman placing the car back out on top of Cristiani’s Serpent costing both drivers valuable seconds.

Daniele Ielasi

Setting the second fastest time, Daniele Ielasi was one of the few drivers to improve his time in Q2.  The Italian looked to be on target to take the round but in the final three minutes he encountered a clutch problem on his Picco powered Shepherd which dropped him back behind Pietsch and cost him a 37-lap run that would have put him in the elusive Top 4.  Ielasi, who ends the day fifth, said while the track conditions were not as good as the morning his car felt better and is very confident he can now make the Top 4 tomorrow.

Despite spinning his OS Speed powered Mugen as he put a pass on former World Championship Top Qualifier Massimo Fantini, Atsushi Hara was third fastest in Q2.  The spin cost the former 1:8 Offroad World Champion over 2 seconds and he missed out on making 37 laps but the 1:8 Onroad debutant still sits a very impressive 3rd overall.

Separating the Mugen’s of Pietsch and Hara in the overall ranking is Dario Balestri.  Second fastest in Q1 the Capricorn driver gambled on a harder shore tyre for his second outing but it was the wrong decision.

Takaaki Shimo

Having made changes he thought would better suit his Kyosho for the warmer track conditions Takaaki Shimo said they didn’t have the desired effect and his Evolva was very loose.  The Japanese driver was still able to post the fourth fastest time but was unable to better his morning time which puts the 2008 Finalist provisionally in the final direct qualifiers position.

Having driven poorly in the opening qualifier Paolo Morganti said he was better this time but the track was nowhere as fast as Q1.  Setting the fifth fastest time for Q2 he lies 7th overall as the Top Serpent and leading American.

Lamberto Collari

Chasing his 10th World title here at Homestead RC Raceway, 1:8 Onroad legend Lamberto Collari has not had a good start to his campaign.  Failing to finish the first qualifier, he did manage to complete the second with just a single fuel stop but the end result was quite a bit off the pace.

Due to the tyre additive scandal that caused the first day of qualifying to be cancelled, drivers have just 2 more chances tomorrow to post a quick time.  Tomorrow’s running order is Group 4 to 1 followed by 13 to 5 for Q3 and then in the afternoon for the final round Group 4-1 followed by 5 to 13.

Qualification Ranking after 2 of 4 Rounds
1. Pietsch, Robert (D) – Mugen/Novarossi – 37L/10:12.769 R1
2. Balestri, Dario (IT) – Capricorn/Novarossi – 37L/10:14.446 R1
3. Hara, Atsushi (JPN) – Mugen/OS Speed – 37L/10:19.342 R1
4. Shimo, Takaaki (JPN) – Kyosho/OS Speed – 36L/10:00.085 R1
5. Ielasi, Daniele (IT) – Shepherd/Picco – 36L/10:00.890 R2
6. Terauchi, Takehiro (JPN) – Mugen/Novarossi – 36L/10:01.206 R1
7. Morganti, Paolo (USA) – Serpent/Novarossi – 36L/10:02.815 R1
8. Romagnoli, Michele (IT) – Shepherd/Novarossi – 36L/10:04.437 R1
9. Verjak, Meen (THA) – Mugen/Novarossi – 36L/10:04.739 R1
10.Salemi, Walter (IT) – Motonica/Max – 36/10:04.889 R2
11.Shimazaki, Shinya (JPN) – Mugen/Novarossi – 36L/10:05.307 R1
12.Salven, Michael (D) – Serpent/Xceed – 36L/10:05.691 R2
13.Fukuda, Keisuke (JPN) – Mugen/Novarossi – 36L/10:06.490 R1
14.Vrielijnck, Rick (NL) – Mugen/Novarossi – 36L/10:06.710 R1
15.Elias, Flavio (BRA) – Mugen/Max – 36L/10:07.048 R1
16.Cyrul, Josh (USA) – Shepherd/OS Speed – 36L/10:07.384 R2
17.D’Hondt, Robin (BEL) – Motonica/G-mar – 36L/10:07.828 R1
18.Pirani, Andrea (IT) – Shepherd/Novarossi – 36L/10:08.615 R2

View our event image gallery here.