July 18, 2011

2WD practice underway in Vaasa

2WD practice underway in Vaasa

After the low point that was the 2009 Electric Buggy World Championship in South Africa when teams and drivers boycotted the race on the grounds of safety leaving German driver Martin Achter to beat a handful of drivers to become World Champion, the stage is set here in Finland for one of the greatest World Championships ever. Hosting with great acclaim the 2007 1:10 Offroad European Championships, Vaasa Motor Car Club is raising the bar in terms of how the biggest showcase for our sport should be organised.  Billing the event as the ‘Coolest race ever’, the club’s attention to detail is impressive and has come in for great praise, something drivers are not best known for giving out.

With two World Champions to be crowned here in Vaasa this week, it is 2WD that is up first.  As specified by the IFMAR rules the World Championship track has been changed since the Warm-up event held here in May with the initial feedback from the top drivers after the first few practice runs being positive on the new layout.

TLR Team

Team Losi Racing won the Warm-up race with their new TLR22 but the driver who took the victory, Darren Bloomfield, has not been granted an entry for the big event this week.  Having not competed in any of the British National races during the qualifying year for a World Championship entry, Bloomfield was under the ruling of his federation, the BRCA, not allowed to race.  With a number of no shows, including 2007 2WD World Champion Hayato Matsuzaki, meaning there are spaces it is a shame the talented British driver is not here racing.

Dustin Evans Car

Despite no Bloomfield the TLR squad is still a main contender for the 14th 2WD World Championship title.  Dustin Evans and Mike Truhe come here off the back of a 1-2 at the recent Hot Rod Hobbies Shootout with the TLR22, which was for the American drivers, the power house of off road racing, a final warm-up before the Worlds.  Evans said that the direction they have gone with the set-up of the buggy since the Warm-up is working really well and after his first taste of the new track feels they have a much better package than they had in May.  Liking the new layout, which he said is not as fast as before, the 25-year-old from Colorado believes the team are looking really strong. Team-mate Truhe, the reigning US National Champion, is also happy with his opening practices and is relieved the wind, that was a major problem during Warm-up, is so far not a factor.

Ryan Cavalieri

The most successful manufacturer of these World Championships winning the 2WD title 10 times, Team Associated face their greatest challenge this year in terms of rival manufacturers with big team efforts here from new market entries Team Durango and Tamiya.  Speaking to AE Team Manager Brent Thielke, who has great admiration for the work of the Finnish organisers, he said the team come here with a proven package after making the decision that they were not going to change things just for the sake of it.  Racing himself this week, Theilke said the driver is a big factor and this is something they are focusing on.  With much talk of new shocks being introduced for this event AE have stuck with their existing versions as the drivers are familiar with how it reacts to change and are still finding ways of improving it.

Brian Kinwald

One change to the B4.1 is the longer chassis that was developed by former World Champion Brian Kinwald and tested by the team at the Warm-up. Thielke believes the team have a huge asset in the return of Kinwald who he said is playing a major role behind the scenes at AE.  Working in particular with Ryan Maifield, Thielke believes having come from an era of intense rivalry when drivers were far less friendly with their competitors, the 93 & 97 Champion has a lot to offer in terms of supporting their star drivers this week.

Jared Tebo

One of the most successful brands in 1:8 Offroad, Kyosho have not won an electric title since 1987 when Joel Johnson lifted their one and only crown but they are armed with one of World’s fastest off road drivers Jared Tebo.  A former 4WD World Champion when he was an Associated driver, Tebo said he is feeling really good in himself and he is happy with how the heavily modified Ultima RB5 they have for this event is working.  1:8 Buggy World Champion Cody King is also in Finland for the Japanese company but the American is realistic about his chances saying he would be happy if he could make the A-Main.  Having not run much electric, his main focus being nitro, he has been practicing back home ahead of the race so as to get his ‘electric finger’ back but having not making it over for the Warm-up he is trying to get a feel for the track here, which he described as being much bigger than what he was running on with electric.

Lee Martin

Here with a three car team Tamiya are pinning their 2WD hopes on British ace Lee Martin.  The winner of 4WD at the Warm-up, the current European Champion said the TRF201 felt good in the opening 4 minute practice runs.  An unchanged buggy to that used at the Warm-up, the team have a new bodyshell this week which features a more forward positioned Cab which Martin said has improved the steering.  Team-mates Marc Rheinard, the current Touring Car World Champion, and Viktor Wilck are expected to be more at home in 4WD later in the week but Martin said Rheinard, who openly admits he is not a fan of 2WD, was running a some good lap times in the early practice.

Hupo Honigl

While they have the reigning World Champion Martin Achter on their team, Team Durango will be looking to Joern Nuemann and multiple 2WD European Champion Hupo Honigl to deliver success for the DEX210.  Both were not giving much away after early practice but appeared to be content with their opening runs.

View our event image gallery here.

July 17, 2011

EP Buggy Worlds open in Finland

EP Buggy Worlds open in Finland
The 2011 IFMAR Electric Buggy World Championships was officially opened this evening in Vaasa, Finland with a short ceremony at the Pitkamaki Motorsport Centre where over the next 7 days two World Champions will be crowned.  Having had rain in the build up to the 14th running of the championships, which first ran in 1985, the arrival of sunshine today was perfectly timed to greet drivers and their teams.

Finland’s second time to host the Electric Buggy Worlds, both champions from the 1999 event are here in supporting roles with Masami Hirosaka representing FEMCA and Jukka Steenari, now based in California, here in his product development role for Team Losi Racing.

Event concourse

While the track action does not get under until tomorrow, when drivers will have 8 rounds of 2WD practice to get to grips with the track, the initial impression is that the organising Motorsport Club Vaasa are going to put on an event that is truly worthy of a World Championship.  Their attention to detail is impressive from branded shuttle buses to ferry competitors and press between the track and their hotels to one of the best quality driver passes we’ve seen in our travels.  The stage is set for a great weekend of offroad racing.

Our coverage from Vaasa, which is supported by Team Durango, LRP, Speed Passion and Team C, will commence in full tomorrow but in the meantime you can check out our image gallery which has pictures from the opening ceremony.

View our event image gallery here.