Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Clanfield Photos

LeiLei Clair came along on Sunday, not only bringing the munchies, but also to take a few photo's of the event. You can check out a gallery of her efforts below, then leave a comment and let her know what you think!

Link to gallery

Monday, 4 July 2011

A tale of Nitro and Muffins

Sunday was another of this summers hotter days, and saw the nitro faithful (and Crazy L) descend on sleep Clanfield for another day of high-octane carnage. Especially the Big Dumb Truck contingent, we like a bit of carnage! Good to see a few old and new faces around as well, Shaun Douglas was back and Levon Traut was with the buggy crowd to see what racing is all about, and increase the SA head count.

The track had been rolled since my last visit, having missed the Dirty Masters in June... I was at some crazy race in France where there was a big crash or something. Anyway, it was looking good, but was obviously going to get crazy dusty as the day wore on. Tyre choice was going to be interesting, especially if you went off line which if I'm honest is where I am most of the time. In the end I ran the first couple of rounds on soft compound Kamikazes, and the second two on super-soft Harikiris and couldn't much tell the difference. The Kami's where a little less edgy I think, but they were both pretty even, and come the final a few were trying small pin tires like Suicides with some success.

Four rounds of qualifying saw four 8 lappers in the bank... a first for me as I usually have at least one dud round. Rounds one, two and three saw me qualify third behind James Tatlow and Tony RC, a bad round four saw me fourth behind Tatlow, RC and Cameron Taylor who came alive once he got the right tires on the truck. Still, with only two of the four rounds counting I'd be going off the three spot come the 30 minute final.

Lunch was a high point of the day, Lionel 'Crazy L' having bought the wonderful LeiLei along with her home baked muffins, and mighty they were to. The brown-sauce and sausage were fantastic, but apple and cinnamon have to be my favorite. Much stuffing of faces and lewd comments followed, leaving everyone happy - possibly a bit too much in Byrner's case.

Tony RC and me. And a petrol can. (Crazy L photo)

The final was probably the most fun I've had with an RC car. Close up front with Tatlow, Tony RC, Tony Bolwell, Cammers and me all pushing like crazy for the opening laps. I'd elected to go long on fuel, and try and get the Arrow into the 10 minute window and I knew with the pace we were running it was going to be close, most others would be running 7.30 stops.

Tony B was the first to drop out, his clutch bearings blowing about 11 laps in. Tony RC was next, his clutch bell coming loose after about 15 minutes. I'd pushed him for a while but couldn't live with his consistent pace on the small pin tires - it was obvious how much more grip he had.

That left Mr T way out in front, me and then Cammers who was charging. We had a titanic battle through to about 3 minutes from the end. The number two spot was swapped back and forth (especially after a quality T bone from Richie Hobbs whilst he was being lapped!), but sadly the crowd were denied a close finish when Cammer's steering servo blew after the quads.

The trouble for me was the hammer and tongs battle meant I was not where I needed to be fuel-mileage wise, and the tank went dry with a minute to go as I passed the pits. Some (semi-)quick work from Lee Warren got me back in, fueled and out for the final laps. Fortunately I had five laps on third placed man, so it was all good for second and more championship points.

The final result was JT in first by a couple of laps, me second and Cameron third having made enough laps over Adam Bailey in fourth to hold is place after going out.

The Big Dumb Truck podium: L-R me, JT, Cammers (photo by Levon)

A great days racing, big thanks to the Clanfield possie for making it happen, and everyone who's helped out with the track work. Awesome job guys.  LeiLei for the muffins, Lionel for... well being the Original really, everyone who helped pit for me and the truggy boys for an awesome days racing.

More photos coming soon.

Oh yeah, someone had a new motor as well... but I promised not to say anything. Nothing to stop people leaving comments though. There's a box below if you feel like dobbing him in. I won't stop you. Although I am open to bribes obviously.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Mr Magoo goes Old Skool

I've been aware for a while of an 'old skool' grass track for tenth racing running on the Hampshire/Surrey boarder for a while now. Started by Neil Dudman earlier this year, SHRCCC runs out of Badshot Lea, Surry with races on some Sundays and every Tuesday evenings, with select Tuesday meets counting towards their Summer Shoot out cash championship. Excellent.

So this week, with me having been to (RC) lazy-arsed to empty the car from TORCH on Sunday it seemed rude not to peel out of the office and head north for round 5 of the Summer Shootout. The track takes some finding on a first visit, but if you spot the Sea Scout building (really? Sea Scouts in land-locked Surrey???) you're in the right place.

Being a late arriver I wound up parked some way from the track, but spotting fellow Clanner Paul 'Berky' Berkinshaw I pitted with him, and just ran off the ground, in keeping with the old skool vibe.

So, what of the track? Well, a fairly small but fun looking circuit was on offer, along with a suitable rostrum. The track itself is all grass with a section of astro to protect the 'launch pad' onto the back straight and a couple of small astro covered kickers. The track has obviously taken a pounding, especially since the Fastrax GP had been run a couple of weeks earlier, and the weather of late hasn't been great for growing grass. There was a lot of dirt on show, but hey, it's off road and it all adds to the fun! It was also clear that my jet propelled 'Rango with it's high grip astro set up was going to be an interesting proposition, especially with the track being damp. Easy on the throttle then... sadly not my forte!

Neil runs and excellent meeting, not even a complete printer failure phased him! We managed to get in three rounds of four heats on quallifying (three of 2wd and one of 4wd), which saw me forth in 4wd. I'd made some subtle changes to the car over the evening and managed to dial in my driving a little and was actually starting to feel comfortable by the end of qualifying, the shock package was still to stiff though. Thinner oil is order of the day for the next visit. I was also running blue mini-spikes which weren't ideal. I think next time it'll be yellows, or possibly some DBoots.

Three finals were run, of 6 minutes or 14 laps duration. 2wd was up first, and some good racing was had with close battles up and down the field, especially in the A final. My final saw me finish fourth, having breifly held third at the start of the race. I just pushed too hard early on and made a couple of silly errors which cost me, settling down and getting a good flow going was key on a track that (unlike the astro track at TORCH) I couldn't attack.

All in all a brilliant evening, and a perfect remedy for a day of office stress. I'll definitelly make a return visit when time next allows. The next Shootout round is 5th July, and I can definitelly recommend it!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Time for some electric racing (at last)

Time for a weekend out from nitro action, and a trip to TORCH instead. The big question, what to run? Not the Mid-Rat, as that's sans electrics at the moment, and I didn't want to run the 'Rango this time out as it's too full on. I wanted something more relaxing, so the X-Pro had a chance to see the sun.

Rolling up track side it was good to see most of the Clanfield Massive in attendance, along with the RC-Lazy mob. Handy, as I had a few bits to pick up from Mr Crabb, giving him a chance to try out his swanky new credit-card-in-a-field thingamy-whatsit.

What was also obvious was that the TORCH track pixies had been hard at it since my last visit, as evidenced by a new large table top by the rostrum, and a couple of new ramps through the far chicane section. Could be fun for me, as the I've always had fun flying the X-Pro, I'm used to the control 4 wheel drive gives in the air and I miss it with two wheel drive. What was also obvious was the growing popularity of TORCH, with a very large turn out for a 'regular' club event. Good stuff but it did mean that the 'morning' envelope was going to be some what pushed.

TORCH's reputation is definitely on the rise!

With the rest of the Clanners running 4 wheel drive (we must finance Durango the number we have between us!) I was up first, running in heat three. The driver was definitely rusty, as the qualy was scrappy and all over the shop, 9 laps in 5:44 being a lot slower than my best. It was also obvious that with huge levels of grip and the new jumps the mid-motor brigade (X6, Vega, TLR22 and Cougar) were by far the best car to have, which I guess is all the more reason to finally get around to sorting out the Mid Rat.

Round 2, and disaster at the start. A stupid grip role, and lack of marshal, delayed me significantly at the start, and then to be honest I drove like a tit... fast at times but ragged and all over the shop. Aggression and the huge grip conspired against me and huge grip induce barrel roles were order of the day. In all honesty I'm amazed nothing broke!

For round three I want back to basics. A little more camber, slightly more ride height and 20g of weight in the rear end were order of the day. Out on track the car felt loads better, and I was starting to calm down and flow the track. I was still suffering with the excess grip, I like a car that slides and the dry, warm fuzzy felt meant that was never going to happen. Still a 9 in 5:21 at least showed me I could still drive a little bit.

Tony Evdoka's Vega Elite was on fire...

Round 4 was more of the same, quick but inconsistent and a 9 in 5:33 after a couple of massive grip roll incidents, all of which put me mid field in the 'C' final. TQ was taken by the legendary Tony Evdoka with his Team Xtreme Vega Elite, which was on fire all morning running consistently quick 10 lap qualifiers and in real danger of sticking in an 11. He just needs to find another 5 seconds.

My final was a disaster, I got shuffled down the order at the start, and although I was quicker than the other cars over a lap, I just couldn't push through the traffic. The end result was 7th in the 'C', which was disappointing. I need to do some serious work on my 2wd driving I think... some new tyres probably wouldn't hurt either.

The 'B' final was entertaining, Simon Crabb and Matt Haskell having a great ding-dong scrap for second and third, Simon taking it in the end by two seconds with Rob Elems some way in front for the win.

The 'A' final was all about Tony E as he finished 4 seconds up on Phil Williams. The 'A' final was packed out with TLR 22', and it was interesting to see that only one 'conventional' rear-motored car made the A, Mark Townsend running his TRF. The mid-motor concept does seem to be the way to go on astro at the moment...

The 'A' final four wheel drive was up next, so it was time to cheer on the Clanners. Tony had recovered from a massive stack that had decapitated his Durango before round three (radio issues), and having gone down to a 7.5 motor was looking good. Dave O'Brien had works some magic on Tony's speedo and he seemed to be liking it. Cammers had looked fast and smooth all day and it was becoming obvious that Dave was really getting to grips with his Durango as well. Fastest of the lot however was Dan Brown with his Schumacher Cat, short of getting lynched at the start he was odds on for the win.

Clanners on parade in the 4wd final

A good race ensued, with Dan duly taking the win from Cammers and Mark Andrews. Tony got fourth ahead of Chris Spencer-Smith with Dave sixth, having had an issue of some kind.

So, all in all a good day, proof that I need to get back in the swing of 2wd, and that I really should take a look at getting my Mid Rat up and running. TORCH is still coming on in leaps and bounds, and with the numbers witnessed yesterday are reaping the rewards. Great work guys!

Full results here courtesy of TORCH.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Clanfield Summer Series - Round 2

Sunday 8th May saw the second round of the Clanfield Summer Series 2011, which I'm running the Losi 8ight T 2.0 truggy in. Coming the week after the double-header National round at Herts meant a hectic week of rebuilding prior to the race weekend, but it got done and was all set on Saturday night ready to go on Sunday.

Saturday night saw a break in the current run of unseasonably hot weather, with very heavy ran and thunder storms. There was some worry that this would render the track unsuitable for running, but the Clanfield regulars new better. The track drains incredibly well, and with the rain stopping at about 0400 the track was in mint condition when the racers rocked up. The weather may have put a few racers off, but numbers made for three heats of qualifiers, one truggy and two buggy. Race format for the day was four rounds, two to count and thirty minute finals for all. A bargain for a tenner!

Round one qualifying went pretty well. With a damp/wet track I elected to stick a fresh set of LRP Harikkari's on, in Super Soft and these hooked up really well. I managed an 8 lapper, but was lucky as a small flip two laps from the end resulted in a snapped front shock standoff. I think titanium replacements are called for, as the standard Losi items seem to be made of cheese. A result of 8 in 5:41 was good enough for third in the round, behind Jimbo Tatlow and Tony RC.

With the truggy fixed round 2 went better, same set-up but a drier track and cleaner run netting an 8 in 5:28 for second behind Jimbo. tiny had a 'mare with traffic and wound up well down the order for this one. Dave O'Brien stepped up to third, posting his first ever 8 lap run at Clanfield followed by Adam Bailey, knocking on the 8 lap door in his last ever run with his Hyper ST... rumors abound of a switch to Losi in the near future.

Round three was my disaster round. Running quicker than round two having switched to a soft compound Kamikaze tyre, the engine came loose three minutes in ending my quali. It was good enough for fifth in round, but was guaranteed to be dropped. Tony took TQ in the round with a blistering 8 in 5:18, with Lee Warren second on his return to the track after a long absence coming in third, fractions of a second ahead of James T.

A brief shower damped the track down at this point, but the rain passed through swiftly only really effecting the buggy boys. In did give us time to consume some of the sausages Lee W had kindly stuck on the BBQ for us.

Heat four, and back on to the Harri's for me, the track being wet again. Second in round, a solid 8 in 5:23 the reward. A couple of stupid errors cost time, but an OK result. Tony RC is flying at this point, laying down a clean 8 in 5:10 for what must be close to a club record run. James T comes in third about 10 seconds back on me.

The final tally gives Tony and James 400 points, but Tony's blistering runs give him TQ and the big qualifying points. James is second, and I'm third, all of us comfortably ahead of the rest of the field. It should be an interesting final!

In buggy the Agama flock are all in action, Jon 'Little Bo Peep' Wolfe (!) taking TQ as usual with 'the' Fribbers in second and new buggy convert Mark Byrne in third. Mr B feels even better when he realises he's out qualified protoge Jamie Kerr, cue a small victory dance in the pits.

After a quick lunch break its finals time, starting with the buggy B. It's a bit of a scrappy affair with a number of mechanicals, not least Ben Elliot. Having qualified his Agama A8 Evo out of place he's flying in the final with the best part of a lap lead when his motor come's loose, and a front drive shaft gives up the ghost. Game over... and very hard luck as he was dominating at the point. In the end the top four who get the bump are Michael Daniel (Losi), Paul 'Berky' Berkinshaw (AE and nothing else), Jordan Young (first out with his Durango) and Neal Beagley (Kyosho).

Next up, truggy time. The start is typical truggy carnage. Tony and I get away clean, but Jimbo get's taken out multiple times and is the victim of some frankly atrocious marshaling. His car is ignored, marshaled pointing in the wrong direction and then marshaled onto the pipe. This drops him to last, well off the back of the pack and sparks a stunning fight back. Tony and I are duking it out for the lead, and I eventually get past Tony and pull out a gap which I hold for about eight minutes... before having a couple of messy laps (and some more dodgy marshaling, I mean how hard is it to put the car down pointing in the right direction?). This lets Tony and hard charging Jimbo through. The three of us have the race sown up at this point, but I get me head down and dig in to go after Jimbo... I can close the gap but I just can't quite get on terms with him. Then, he's out with about ten minutes left. His new LiFE receiver pack gives up the ghost and he has to retire. This leaves Tony an me to cruise on home first and second, Jimbo is in third as we've lapped the field so many times that they can't catch up. Losi domination in the Big Dumb Truck class. A great race and very enjoyable... a shame for Jimbo but I'll take the points thanks mate!

Truggy A final podium: Losi clean sweep!

I can't say much on the A final buggys as I was marshalling not watching. I know there were cuts and mechanicals all over the shop, and that the final results were Les T (XRay) in third, Grant Fribbings (JQ) second with Francois Nerriere (Kyosho) first. No idea what happened to the flock, Jamie Kerr was first Agama home in fifth.

Buggy A final podium, the back of Berky's head and no Agamas

All in all another top days racing... thanks to all at Clanfield for the effort, especially Chris Spencer-Smith in race control. Top job chief. Also got to give props to my pit men, Berky in the qualies and Jon Wolfe and my mentor Mr Byrne himself in the finals. We'll all be back again in two weeks for round 3 and more of the same.

Cheers to Adam Bailey for the photos. Full results on the Clanfield website here.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Tempus fugit

Wow, over a month with out an update... must be slipping! Suffices to say that I haven't been slacking, and much racing has occurred. Buggy action at Slough, and Truggys at Clanfield (twice) and Herts for the Nationals. All adding up to lots of time wrenching and not so much blogging.

On the truggy front I've made major changes this season with a switch from my Associated RC8T CE over to the Losi 8ight T 2.0. In all honesty it's been a long time coming and three races in I'm more than happy with the move. The truck is fast out of the box, and so much easier to drive than the old car. Look for a review some time real soon. Results wise it's been a mixed bag, two races at Clanfield have seen a third and a second whilst I was fast at the Herts national (and bagged some silverware) but left feeling that I could and should have done better. There will be a write up from the latest Clanfield round coming later this week

Big changes this season; Losi truggy and secret engine!

I've also been evaluating a new engine for the chaps at RC Lazy which has so far proved to be a most excellent bit of kit. Hopefully there will be some news on that front real soon, keep an eye on their site. Oh, and please buy some stuff while you're there, they really are most excellent guys.

On the rallycross front we ran again at Slough, for the first time with what could be described as 'normal' conditions, after the madcap weather we've had so far this year. Some engine problems limited my performance, nut I seem to be getting better with the twitchy little things, and some tweaks to the shock package have really helped. I think I'm starting to get my head around the Losi, still some way to go but at least I feel I'm progressing.

Electric's taken a back seat this month with the nitro season in full swing, but this weekend should see a trip to the now even more improved TORCH track for a morning meeting. I'll be reverting to 2wd with the Might Ansmann ready for their all day event in a couple of weeks, should be nice and relaxed after some hectic nitro events over the last month.

So, stay tuned. I'm back in a blogging frame of mind. There's rumors to be spread, mates to drop in it and hopefully some nudity and controversy ahead. Actually, probably not much nudity thinking about it.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Rango Tango @ TORCH

Another weekend, another trip to the races. Electric 10th again this time, but a the Might Ansmann was taking a back seat as Sunday 27th marked the first outing of my Durango DEX410R. Simon Crabb of RC Lazy , now official Tresrey stockists, had sorted me with a new Gainabull bodyshell, so with fresh paint and room for the electrics at last it was off to the races!

The morning dawned bright, dry, and rather nippy. Still a good crowd had turned out including the massed 'Rango runners from Clanfield in the shape of Chris Spencer-Smith, Tony RC, Jamie Kerr and myself. We pitted together in the shade of the RC Lazy love bus, Simon Crabb and Mark Townsend running the usual track side shop as well as racing Rango and Tamiya respectively. They were joined by the ever understated Rob 'Holywood' Raisey for the morning, arriving a little later than most. Some swine changed the clocks and forgot to mention it to him by all accounts.

The circuit had been quite substantially changed again since my last visit a couple of weeks earlier, now featuring an excellent table top, a roller/kicker arrangement and a small high speed ramp arrangement. The surface had also been smoothed out, and the pipe-work re-laid to create a superb layout offering both high speed and technical sections, and an excellent chicane onto the back straight, which proved tricky to get right but rewarded when you did.

Out for practice and the car was feeling pretty good, the blue compound Schumacher mini-spikes hooked up well, although I was glad to be running 2wd fronts, I think anything else would have been monumentally pointy!

Much hillarity was had at the extreme amount of negative camber Chris was running, some where in the region of -10 degress. It may have worked for him, but it did look some what odd it has to be said!

Four rounds of qualifying saw me going through a good progression of results, starting with 9 in 5:22 in round one and ending with 10 in 5:22 by round four. I was getting dialed in to the car, and some minor set up tweaks were also helping. Still there's a lot more to come, especially once I get more used to how quick these four wheel drive missiles are!

Chris was running very well on his first outing with his DEX410, running consistantly and gradually removing the camber from the back of his car. Tony RC seemed to be having something of a 'mare, only running just ahead of me. Star of the day though was definitely Jamie, he was looking fast and smooth, actually beating out local hot shoe Steve Brown in round 2. Simon Crabb must have been having a bad day, ending qualifying behind me... hope it was nothing to do with the shell I'd sprayed up for him!

Simon, Tony, and I had qualified down in the B final (oh the shame of it). At the warble we all shot off for a couple of laps of close racing before Tony broke, Simon finally got it together and shot off into the distance and I started driving like a cock.

Chris had qualified into the A main (much to his surprise) along with Cameron running his Losi. A mass brawl at the first corner reduced the field some what, Mikey Scott's Durango and Cammers being knocked out on the spot. Jamie ran a strong second, splitting the Tamiyas of Steve B and Rob for the first 8 laps, until a bad lap dropped Jamie down to third and promoting Rob to second at the line. The A final was fast and furious, the bone dry astro allowing the four wheel drive cars to lay down all the power they had.

We stayed on afterward for some practice and testing (or dicking about, which ever you prefer), and to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. Track man Martin along with Mark made some extra tweaks to the layout, which we all tried out and agreed improved the track even further.

I seem to say this at the end of every report, but the TORCH club and circuit just keep on getting better. Big thanks to all involved, it great to see your efforts paying off.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Clanfield WInter Championships

Sunday 20th March saw the final round of the Clanfield Winter Championships, and with the promise of some good weather and a freshly rolled track things were looking on for a great days racing. Going into the day the only position not up for grabs was top spot in the rally-cross, John 'Swords' Wolfe having sorted that out!

After getting my pit table set up with the rest of Team RC Banter (Byrners, Tony RC, Dave 'Dibble', Jamie Kerr and the rest) it was time for a quick track walk. At this point it became clear that some serious roller action had occurred, and that the assembled racers owed a lot of thanks to the guys who had put  in the time and hard work to make it happen.

The lesser spotted Higgsy tries to remember how racing works

Biggest shock of the day was the arrival of Rob Higgs for a rare outing with his RC8T... spring must be in the air if Higgsy is out of hibernation!

Out for practice, and the Alpha engine is not behaving itself too well, fortunatelly Jaf is happy to twiddle the screw driver and with a bit of leaning out we get some performance going. Tyre choice is proving interesting though, the now hard packed and dry track is starting to develop a fine layer of dusty marbles, and noting seems to be working that well... a smooth throttle finger is going to be needed or you will be pointing in the wrong direction pretty quickly. I'm pretty pleased with my Hot Bodies Block/Khaos combination, in their soft Red compound. They are offering as good a grip as anything else, whilst giving a nice progressive break away at the rear meaning drifting is possible, rather than crazy snap over-steer. I wound up sticking with the combination all day.

Round 1 qualifying was quite smooth (after a quick computer/timing glitch). A solid 8 laps in 5:35 is an OK start to the day. The Alpha is cracking, but seems to be taking an age to warm up, it rich as anything off the bottom for the first couple of laps then comes alive... it drinking fuel as well. Dave has a 'mare, at the end of lap to I come out of the last chicane and notice his buggy trackside with one corner hanging off, something must have given way but I don't know what. I end up fourth in the round behind Mark B, Tony RC and Jimmie Tatlow.

Round 2 is carnage... we all get bunched up and typical truggy madness sets in. It must have been hilarious to watch, at one point Tony Bolwell runs flat out down the main straight on the wrong side of the pipe before coming to a swift halt when he meets a stake in the ground. I'm not sure Tommy Chung can believe nothings broken when he marshals him! I only get 7 laps in, most of which involved some kind of coming together with Rob H, but incredibly that's good enough for third in the round.

Round 3 is cleaner, I'm back in the 8 lap range and again fourth in the round. Tatlow records a 30 second lap, followed by a 21... hum, I smell a rat!

Jon Wolfe's Agama comes in for landing during qualifying

Round 4 is back in the 7 lap range, and only good enough for fifth over all as I have a bad round and Cameron Taylor get his mojo going. Still, overall I'm good for fourth in the final, the track's cleaning up, the grips rising and my tyres are starting to really work. The truggy's running well I'm I'm really happy with the way I'm driving.

The final is a 30 minute affair of hectic action. I'd normally run a two stop strategy, but there's no way that's happening today, the motors just to thirsty. After clearing the first corner carnage I settle into a good rhythm and knock out good clean laps to my first stop, running with James T and swapping third and forth places. The first stop is OK, but again the motor goes massively rich on the full tank, so I get a couple of slow laps. The second stop is crazy slick, Jon Bennett doing an awesome job of turning me round, and things are looking good - motor goes rich again though. Then it all goes a bit pear-shaped...

I miss the call to pit for my last stop, and I know I'm going to be short to do an extra lap. Still, I get into the pits clean, Jon grabs the truggy, squeezes the fuel... and it cuts. Bugger. On to the box to restart her and nothing. Blown plug, and for once I don't have a spare in the pit lane, requiring a mad rush to my table to grab one. It takes an age to fit, but once it's in the motor fires straight up and I'm off having spent about four minutes in the pits. Tatlow is gone, and I'm fifth, Higgsy having just gone through for fourth. I drive my socks off for the last five minutes and peg back Rob's lead to just 10 seconds at the line, close but no cigar. At least I'm happy with the times of my last laps, and over all I feel I've driven the best race I can.

First rate prizes for the championship, courtesy of RC Sure Start

So the championship comes to an end, and I'm wondering if I've done enough to beat Adam B for third place, it's going to be close! And so it turns out, the final placings in truggy being Mark B in first place on count back from JT in second and Adam taking third by just two points from me... Ah well, there's always next time. The top three get some rather natty trophies courtesy of RC Sure Start, and Byrners gets a special Gold Sure Start as well.

Overall truggy podium (l-r): James Tatlow (Losi/OS), Mark Byrne (Associated/Recab). Adam Bailey (HoBao/HoBao)

The final placings in buggy see Wolfie on top of the podium, followed by Jamie Kerr and Grant 'Fribers' Fribbens.

Overall buggy podium (l-r): Jamie Kerr (Agama/OS), Jon Wolfe (Agama/na), Grant Fribbens (JQ/Nitrotech)

A great days racing an an awesome track. Good banter with the guys (and guest stars Chris Sheerin and Ping-it Pete), excellent weather and some good memories. Special thanks need to go out to the track crew at Clanfield for their hard work, the committee for making it all happen and everyone who's helped out in any way over the winter. Bring on the summer and more nitro action in the Hampshire countryside.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Slough - 13/03/2011

Just a short write up for this one, not my usual War and Peace effort, I was a little under the weather and to be honest most of the day was a blur!

With Slough all but having dropped truggies it was out with the Losi 8ight 2.0 EU for some Rallycross action. The weather forecast was OK, and on arrival the track looked pretty dry - good news as I'd had heavy drizzle pretty much the whole way up the M3. The winter weather hasn't been kind to Slough, and the track has torn up pretty badly... but hey, this is off-road so you have to take what you're given and run with it.

Most of the Clanfield Massive were in attendance, including in-frequent away drivers Jon Wolfe and Fribbers both of whom had secure day release passes to come and race. Les Taylor appeared to have bought his patio with him, complete with parasol and Christmas tree lights. The rest of us made do with a couple of bog standard gazebos.

Of out for some early practice, and lo and behold the car's electrics are playing up, my Spektrum receiver dropping into fail safe every time I go full throttle. I don't know why but my electrics always seem to play up at Slough, I';m going to blame the proximity to Heathrow! A new battery makes no difference so it's off to the bits to try and borrow another receiver in the hope that'll fix it. I'm very grateful when Tony RC comes to the rescue, but practice is over when it's fitted, so I'll only find out if the issue's fixed in round one qualifying. Still, I;m doing better than Tony, who's pouring the inards of his motor out through the exhaust port, the Axe (ex?) Rossi having detonated it's self on the main straight. Fortunately Tony isn't short of a motor or two, so an RB is dropped in instead.

I'm out in heat three, and joy of joys it starts to rain just as I go out. Not hard, but enough to make the track crazy greasy. The good news is that my electrical gremlins seem to be sorted and I get in a consistent, if slow, full pull. The cars feeling pretty good, but the front end is washing out, that could just be the wet track. Out to marshal after my qualie, and it's stopped raining. Joy. The cars are picking up quite a lot of mud now though, so my main hope is that it will have dried before I'm next out.

Round two, and the track has dried a lot. I've not changed the car, it seemed OK last time out, I want to try pushing a bit more on the dry track and see how it takes it. Put man Byrners tops the fuel on off we go. The round goes OK, faster than the last, but the front end is still feeling a bit blunt, and the engine is fluffy off the bottom and running quite rich up top, making it hard to be consistent and ruining the top end on the straight.

Round three, and some changes are in order. Byrners takes the screw driver to the engine to give me a fine tune, and I change to a thinner front anti-roll bar to get the car a bit more pointy. It all seems to work as I'm now some 30 seconds quicker than in round 2 and actually starting to feel at one with the car. I think my electric racing has helped as well, I definitely seem to be smoother, and I think I'm carrying more speed in the corners. I end up qualifying in the F final, a couple of places behind Mark B, who's OS Speed is giving him grief, and is clearly due a rebuild.

I pit for Paul 'Berky' Berkinsaw in his final H final, a good run sees him bump to the G, where he's once again running well untill engine issues spoil his day.

The final is fifteen minutes, and is great fun. There are close battles all over the place with everyone bar the leader very evenly matched. Any slip up is punished, but on the whole the racing is very clean, and makes for probably the best racing I've had in a while. I wind up sixth, one place behind Mark who should have had the race in the bag, save for yet another cut. The OS will definitely be getting a rebuild.

Tony RC is in the E final, and keeps Steve Merry on his toes by suffering at least three cuts that I saw. Seems to be a day of engine woes for a lot of people.

Jamie Kerr is running below his usual high standards, and seems to be struggling to get the best from his new Agama A8, it's quite a different animal to his previous Xray, but I'm sure he'll get there. His new OS is also playing up, as it's only just broken in the tune seems to be drifting on him.

The day ends with us all gathering to watch the A final, at which point I let the side down by producing non-Mcvites choccy bickies. Every one has to eat at least five to confirm just how bad they are. Not a good showing, the situation is only saved by birthday-boy Marc 'Jaf' Jacca  producing Krispy Kreem doughnuts. Top fella.

Jon Wolfe pulls out the performance of the day, finishing 9th in the A, top Clanfield runner and a performance made even more impressive as he hadn't run at Slough in around 5 years,

We leave the track in convoy so that I can show the guys the cross country route back to the M3 avoiding the M4/M25. All goes well until Tony RC disappears just before Ascot, turns out Dibble had left his transmitter back at the track... doh!

All in all a good days racing, for once not spoilt by the weather. Thanks to Team RC Banter/The Clanfield Massive for some great company, Tony RC for the loan of the receiver and Mark B and Fribbers for some top pitting action. I'll concentrate harder on your car next time Mark ;-)

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

4wd Action at TORCH

As I had some time after my final on Sunday I decide to see how my Samsung Galaxy S would cope with a bit of video action. I have to say it seems to have done an admirable job.

A Final, 4wd - click the 'You Tube' logo for the hi-res version

Rob 'Hollywood' Raisey provides commentary in his own inimitable style. Sadly the 7 minute final was more than the memory card in the phone could cope with, so you only get the first six minutes. I'll do better next time!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Mr Magoo goes 4 wheel drive

New car time

Oh dear. I've been bitten by the electric bug...

As regular visitors to this blog will know I started racing 2wd electrics late last year after a number of years of nitro abuse. Up to now the Magoo garage consisted of an Ansmann XPro and Team C TC02C. Now after months of drooling over the stunning looking Team Durango DEX 410 I've finally purchased one.

Actually I've gone for the lower spec (as significantly cheaper!) DEX410R. It does everything I need, and only needs a couple of hop-up to to increase reliability. Simon Crabb at RCLazy ordered one up for me, and with in 48 hours it was in stock, giving me all the excuse I needed to pop down to his most excellent seaside RC emporium. The only thing missing was an ice-cream.

'Serious About Racing' pretty much sums it up... this is a serious piece of kit!

The Durango appealed to me for a couple of reasons, upper-most the oil filled diffs. Many of the electric old school seem unconvinced by these, but with my 8th background and general dislike of ball-diffs I was sold. I also like the nice solid ally chassis and quality of engineering. Oh, and did I mention it's just about the sexiest car on the market?

Putting it together

The build was pretty straight forward over a couple of evenings. Take you're time and there's nothing particularly tricky in the build, just keep the thread-lock to hand, and make sure the main diff gears are well seated. The hardest part was getting the electrics in, there's not an awful lot of room available! My Fusion Pro ESC isn't the smallest on the market, but it's not the largest either. Even so I wound up fitting a Spektrum SR3500 receiver due to it's small size - and it is tiny! Getting all the wires in and away from moving parts was also fun, but some big old blobs of LazyGoo held everything where I needed it. Big thanks to Tony RC for the soldering skills (and excellent curry!).

Not much room in there. Note the micro Rx (and over long sensor cable!)

There were only a couple of issues encountered during the build. First being the ball cups. The Durango items are shocking, being so loose the pop off when any pressure is applied. Losi cups and HPI balls provide the answer to that one. Not major, but annoying on a car of this quality. The second was (hopefully) unique to my kit, the manufacturer having missed tapping one of the servos saver axles. A quick email to TD saw a replacement drop through the door in the post next day, so we're all good.

The only hop-ups fitted so far are some boots to cover the CVD's and the alloy front hinge pin brace (by all accounts an absolute must). When RCLazy get's them in stock a 'bling-red' Tresrey servo saver arm sill be fitted, as that another know weak spot. With my local shop being the new Tresrey importer for the UK, there may well be a few other red bits fitted to the over the next few months.

The shell is beautiful, and got a quick paint scheme shot onto it to replicate one of the PR cars from the US, and she was all ready for the track.

A quick paint job and she's ready for the track

The Shakedown

After racing at TORCH on Sunday I had enough time left to stick a couple of packs through the car to see how she went. I'm running a Fusion Pro ESC and 6.5T motor with 4500 30C cells, and after a good squeeze of the throttle I was blown away by the speed. There's no slack in the power, and at the top end the car's a missile, all be it a finely controlled one. Tyre choice for the dry astro was totally wrong, with yellow Schumacher mini-pins at either end providing way to much grip, and instant grip-roll on demand. The shocks were also a little on the heavy side, the team drivers seem to prefer slightly large holes in pistons so I'll be sorting that before it's first race outing.

Even with the set-up issues I can tell there's an awesome car lurking in my workshop now. After a couple packs and some big stacks there was no visible damage to the car, and everything was still working as expected. I'm definitely going to have to up my game to get the best out of this car.

Next move

Pretty simple really, better choice of tyres (blue mini-spikes I think), a shock rebuild with large shock holes and finding somewhere to sqeaze a PT in. Then race it as hard as I can. Watch this space!

Should be ready for TORCH in a couple of weeks time

TORCH in the sunshine

(at last!)

Sunday the 6th March was scheduled to be another morning of electric fun at the southern Hampshire venue of TORCH. Big things have been happening at the club of late, and even more is promised. Making this weekend racing extra special was the prospect of running the new layout on the new astro in the dry for the first time.

Waking in morning I was disappointed to see we'd had rain overnight. I only live about 15 miles from the track, so assumed it would be wet there as well... drat. But, on arrival at the track things are back on track, no rain there, and none for the day according to the BBC. Blooming cold though.

I chosen this race as the last run, for while at least, of the Mighty Ansmann. The XPro has done me sterling service, but the Magoo Skunk-works had rustled up a new ride to play with in the shape of a Team Durango DEX410R. Not quite ready for racing, but the visit did give me some time for a shake down test after the racing. More on that in another post...

I'm quite excited about the move to 4wd...

Hollywood Rob Raisey was trackside, running his 2wd Tamiya TRF201, after electrical gremlins at Maritime the previous weekend. He was joined by Simon and Mark from RCLazy running a shop to support the racers. Of the usual suspects, we were down on numbers, Crazy L was out with his Durga, along with Byrners, Cammers and Chris Spencer-Smith, all in 4wd. Tony RC had to work (and was probably sulking about that), young gun Jamie Kerr had homework or some-such to do. Over all driver numbers were right up, with 14 in 2wd and 15 in 4wd - that's got to be a good sign for a club with ambition.

Out for round one qualifying and I'm out with the big guns... how did that happen? The run feels pretty solid, cars going well with my Schumacher yellow staggers up front and pins out back giving good grip, but meaning the car is very edgy. It takes a lot of effort to be smooth and avoid grip rolling in the corners. My 8.5T motor is feeling a little sluggish too, with the extra grip. Biggest concern is that there's no 'bleep' as I cross the line. School-boy error, I ran a hand-out last time at TORCH having forgotten my PT, and I'd neglected to point out to Mike when I booked in that I was back to my normal number. Oh well, that'll be a dropped round then!

At this point I was out to marshal, and took up post by the jump, where I marshaled all day. I'm not sure if I was wearing a target or not, but I seemed to be some kind of magnet for Lionel and especially Chris who seem to be aiming at me. Thanks for keeping me on my toes guys, but I;m sure it's faster if you keep it between the pipes ;-)

Hollywood kicks back in the sunshine... he's got it all under control

Round 2 qualifying, and I'm getting in the groove. The unforgiving set up on the car and increased speed is causing a lot of mistakes, but an 8 in 3:19 is OK, and nets me fourth in the round. I'll assume a high level of breakages!

Round 3, and I'm feeling really good. A half degree extra negative camber on the rear end has eased the grip-roll problems a little (I still can't relax though). A couple of goofs mean that over all I'm only a second faster this time out, and record a 7th in the round. Still, I'm pretty happy with that.

For round 4 Cammers suggests a move to worn yellow min-pins. These 10th tyres are still a black art to me, but I trust his judgement so I make the swap. I quick practice lap and I'm not sure it's a good move - has Cammers done me?

Out to qualify and the answer is a definite 'no'. Whilst the rear grip is down from the mini-spikes the balance is better, and the snap grip-roll is gone meaning I can push harder and stay consistent. It's going really well until the lest lap when two crashes and then 20 seconds stuck under the pipe at the last corner cost me a 9 lapper. But hey, I'll take 8 in 3:11, it's the fastest I've ever gone by some way. I think finally I might have a dry set up that works as well as my wet settings.

Byrners preps his B44 for the final and contemplates his bladders

Finals time, and I'm 6th in the 7 car A main. I'm stoked having hoped for the sharp end of the B at the start of the day. Hollywood is just shocked to see me on the rostrum... can't say I blame him! After a driver vote we're running 7 minute finals, which is good by me. I find five minute single leg finals really hard, as one mistake and you're days basically done.

A scruffy start drops me way back, although I've recovered to my starting position by the end of the first lap. It's a long first lap at TORCH as you start on the back straight meaning it takes a lap-and-a-half before scoring starts. I then proceed to run round in 6th, trying to stay out of the way of the fast guys and not to make too many mistakes. I'm reasonably happy with my lap times, but there are a couple of mistakes which cost considerable time, a bobble means a minimum of 10 seconds delay and so they are very costly. In the end I'm 6th, which given my experience and the level of driving I'm quite happy with. It's a good send off for the Ansmann.

Lionell 'Crazy L', the Original since '76, King of the Sausage Rolls etc.

The A final for 4wd is good to watch. The first lap is carnage, leaving commentator Rob Raisey speechless (probably a first) with no idea who's where. Things eventually calm down, Steve Brown with his Tamiya giving a master class in 'smooth and clean is fast' to take the win by 17 seconds from the battle between Jon Dell (Tamiya) and Phil Williams (Durango) who cross the line in that order .17 of a second apart. Byrners brings his B44 in 8th, but declares himself happy with his new secret weapon - bladder and foam compensator equipped shock. I'll be testing the in 'Rango next time out, so we'll see what the score is.

Great stuff, there will be a video of the first few minutes on line in the next day or so.

All in all a great day. Fantastic weather, a great club and good company. Top job to all involved in making it happen.

Full results can be found on the TORCH website here.

Photos courtesy of Crazy L

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Clanfield Winter Series - Round 6

Or finally the weather relents... sort of.

After what seems like an eternity Clanfield was finally blessed with some decent weather for Round 6 of their Winter Series, at least for qualifying. It all went a bit Pete Tong later in the day, but we'll come to that in a minute.

The more astute of you will be thinking 'but wait, if this is the report for Round 6, what happened to Round 5?', and well you may ask. It rained. A lot. A few hardy souls raced, and then spent the next week rebuilding very poorly cars. Dave Dibble, Byrners, Tony RC and myself, we came, we saw, we buggered off for a fry up at Loomies fine biker cafe. If you're ever out that way head to the Meon Hut cross roads on the A272 for some of the finest bangers around, highly recommended. Anyway, back to round 6.

After something of a false start (driving off with both mine and the wifes house keys, oops), and getting lost (how the hell did I forget how to get to Clanfield and wind up driving into Pompey?) I finally made it to Clanfield to find the track cold, but bathed in wondrous spring like sunshine. It was almost overwhelming after the lousy winter we've had so far!

Numbers were down on recent events, but truggy numbers were up to nine, some thing of a record of late. Dave Dibble was popping his truggy cherry with another EBay bargain Losi 8ight T2, joined by Tony RC with his Christmas present Losi and futher support for Losi came from Lee 'Tortoise' Warren, returning from his regular winter hibernation, and Jimmy Tattlow. Rich Hobbs was running another Losi, I think an original 8ight with Alpha power. Byrners, Paul Berky Berkinshaw and I were rolling with AE as usual, and Adam Bailey was running a fully rebuilt Hyper looking considerably spankier than it had last time out!

The buggy boys featured the regulars, including a few of the Agama flock, Jamie Kerr trying to get some wheel time before his trip to the Neo race in a months time. I won't mention Jon Wolfe at this point, having dropped him in it with the misses after the last race report. Sorry buddy, we'll stop laughing about it soon, promise.

The track was looking damp, but no where near as sodden as expected. One bonus to Clanfield is that it does drain really well, and so dries up quicker than any dirt track I know. Tony B and Les had been out with a whacker plate the day before tarting up the worst areas of the track, so it was rough but perfectly drivable and practice showed that most of the jumps were much better than last time out. They seem to wear to a point of blowing out and becoming unpredictable, but then settle back in with some weathering. It was going to be a challenge, but then that's why we race off-road and not touring cars.

Ten minutes off free practice got the Alpha S851 in my truggy tuned up and singing. The little mill has some serious millage on it, but puts a grin on my face every time I get to open it up. The bottom-end is massive but not explosive and tuned right on the top end it can sing out with the best of them. My setup changes had worked for the most part, but the back end was still skipping and the HB red compound tyres were just a little too hard for the cold conditions.

for round one qualifying I elected not to change anything, and rolled out for the five minute run. Everything went well, and a pretty consitent, if not particularly fast, round saw a solid 7 laps and fifth place. Clearly it was time for a change. I've been struggling to get on top of the truggy for a while, and not getting 8 lappers in, which is where I need to be. I was going to be busy in the 15 minute break!

Rear springs were softened, and the rear ride height substantially dropped. A change of tyres was made, the HB Blocks and Khaos making way for a set of worn LRP Kamikaze medium compounds. I'd have loved a set of softs, but there were none in my tyre box. The Kamikaze has long been the tyre of choice for Clanfield, especially in the damp, and I probably should have switched back some time ago.

Round two was much better. The truggy was as consistent as before, but the rear end was much more planted, meaning I could be far more aggressive into the corners, and use more throttle through the rougher sections of the track. I was straight back into the 8 lap bracket, winding up fourth behind Byrners, Tatlow and Tony RC.

For round three I figured it was probably best to leave everything alone.I drove a little more erratically, again an 8 lapper behind the usual suspects, but 10 seconds slower. I caught traffic, and had a slight red-mist moment. I need to learn to calm down, or at least drink less coffee on race days.

Out for round four, and no Jimmy T in sight, out with a blown servo. My best qualy of the day, an 8 in 5:29... well chuffed with that. Mention of the round has to be Dave O'brien though, coming in just 9.76s short of an 8 lapper on his first time out with a truggy, and only his fourth ever nitro race. Top job geezer.

Qualifying over, and the top five truggys were

  1. Mark Byrne
  2. James Tattlow (JT would not run the final due to breaking)
  3. Tony 'RC' Scott
  4. John Clarke (me)
  5. Lee Warren

In buggy it was a close fought battle for TQ honors, Jon Wolfe taking it on count-back from Tommy Chung both having scored 400 points. Third and fourth was also a count back, Francois Nerriere taking it from Jamie Kerr. Jamie must have been kicking himself for the school-boy error that saw one of his wheels over-taking his car at the end of the main straight during round two. Coach Byrne wasn't impressed.

Time for the finals, and at this point mother nature played her joker. The A final truggies took to the rostrum to a dry track, but an overcast sky. Just as the countdown started the rain began to come down. Truggy drivers are a hardy bunch, and we all stayed out but I have to say it was probably the hardest 15 minutes of driving I've ever done. The track got crazy slick, and a really gentle throttle finger was needed.

I cam off third on the grid, and briefly had second before getting carried away at the first jump and binning it. Bugger, I'm last. A quick chase back saw me up to fourth and running ever so slightly faster than Lee in third. Byrners was running away with it, Tony RC in second trading fast laps but over all falling back from the Iceman. I couldn't quite get u to Lee, too many silly bobbles kept knocking me back. Pit stops at 8 minutes saw a quick turn-around for the top three. Knowing I could do 10 minutes I opted to stop a lap later to ensure a clear pit lane, and the binned it on the way in. Bugger again. Twinkle-toes Berky my pit man was quick to recover the car, and I was soon off after Lee again, but the mishap cost me time and meant all chance of catching Lee was pretty much gone. I kept pushing though, and racing on the slick track was proving a fun challenge. I think my recent time with 2wd electric is helping me to drive smoothly and in the conditions that paid dividends.

Late in the race I noticed a minor altercation on track as Byrners was passing Lee, who I was managing to reel in by this point. I don't know quite what happend, but the next thing I know is that Lee's car has gone rogue and shot off the back of the far right hand banked corner. I think probably a run away. I'm up to third due to Lee's misfortune, and cruising. Mark's a lap up, and Tony get's me for a lap just before the line. Still, a third is a third, handy championship points, I'll take it!

By the end of the Truggy A final the tracks awash, the rains coming down and the buggy boys in light of the experience a couple of weeks earlier elect to knock it on the head. Good call I think, if disappointing.

So, it all comes down to the final round at the end of the month. The truggy championship is probably between Tattlow and Byrners, with me hovering to take third factoring in dropped rounds. But Byrners and I don't have any rounds in hand and a number of other drivers do, so a bad day for either of us could have a huge effect. It's crunch time and the pressure is on. My money is on the Iceman FTW, but we'll have to see.

Big thanks to the Clanfield crew, Jon 'RC SureStart' B and Chris S-S for running a great event, Tony and Les for the track work, Nora for the coffee, Berky and Jon Wolfe for pitting and the racers for a good morning of banter. Lets hope next time we can get a full day's racing under some more spring sunshine.

Full results here (courtesy of Clanfield RC Club)

Photos to follow.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

TORCH 10th

February 20th should have been another round of racing at Slough, the home of UK 1/8 rallycross, however t he Great British weather knew better. Heavy rain the week before caused the track and surrounds to be so water-logged that there was no way the race could be run. Truth told we'd all been trying to decide where to head for some race action, this just made the decision much easier... off to TORCH for a morning of 10th electric.

Me in action, Tony 'RC' on the camera

I rolled in at 8:15, pretty much last of the regular runners. Jamie Kerr was running his Kifopaint bodied Durango, Byrners was out with his day-glo orange B44.1, Cameron had defected to 4wd with one of Dave 'Dibble' O'Brien's old Losi's and Tony 'RC' was running his 'Rango as usual. I had the Mighty Ansmann X-Pro all set up and ready to go, plus the Team C TC02C 'mid-motor' version almost ready. With the track obviously wet an slick I figured rear-motor was the way to go, the TC02C will be out later in the year when it dries up.

RC Lazy in da house (Simon Crabb in da van)

We were joined for the day by Simon Crabb, of fame, running his Schumacher Cougar. It was good to finally meet Simon and be able to put a name to a face... plus pick up some Lazy Goo and Lazy Balls!

The day got off to a great start when I realised I'd main a complete noobie mistake and forgotten to transfer my PT from Truggy into the electric. Rats, guess I'll be adding an extra hole to my shell and running a hand-out. In truth I've been waiting to do it, and at least it was a club that still has a few hand-outs. Moral of the story - I need a second PT...

Tip #1: Don't forget your PT!

Round one quali, and I'm coming of the one spot. Running my standard TORCH setup, with a change to medium front springs and the normal spot rears. Pretty much the rest of the field were on spikes of one kind or another on the rear, but I stuck with a set of mini-pins... with stagger ribs up front I just love the balance the car has with these. The run was awesome, the car felt the best ever and I streaked off from most of the field, swapping second an third place. Off the rostrum at the end of the run, and I'm well down the field. A quick check on the computer reveals my hand-out transponder had kindly dropped my last two laps. Bugger.

Round two, pretty much the same deal, but with worse driving by me . Trying to compensate for the first round I wound up pushing too hard, something a 2wd seems to punish you for. Clipped pipes resulted in a couple of flips, and you ain't making time while you're on your lid. Better yet, the hand-out once again lost a couple of my laps. Next quali it's time for a differnt hand out and we'll see what happens.

Third quali saw some better, if not great driving and at last a fully functional hand-out transponder. At this point the tracks got a drying line, and my car's set up is going off a little - the car's good, but has a little more on power push than I'd like. I'm going to need to work on this as I'm definitely losing time on a drying track. I think a little extra nose weight should help fight the push I tend to suffer... I may also cut the stagger ribs and see what effect that has.

In 4wd Jamie Kerr was having an up and down day, flying most of the time but suffering a lot of breaks, and also a lack of his usual consistency. This culminated in Byrners beating him home in round three, some thing he delighted in pointing out at any and every opportunity. It's amazing Tony 'RC' didn't start pointing out he once bumped up...

Byrner's beats his prodigy. He may have mentioned that...

Rounds four and five netted a fifth and fourth place respectively, happy but not delighted with that. I'm turning consistent 38-40s laps which is OK, what I need to do is drop the odd mistakes I'm making. A little tweaking on the set up should help trim a little lap time and then it's just down to sorting out the driver... much harder to set up!

Finals next, and I'm in fifth. To be honest my performance we poor to say the least. Inconsistent, and making stupid mistakes - a flip on the first lap in a marshal free spot drops me way back, and there's no way I can fight back from there. No one to blame but the driver this time round.

Jamie Kerr buffs his ride for the final, and tries to remember where he left the alcopops.

The 4wd final was a master class from Steve B as usual, although this week not with his familiar Durango. In the opening stages Jamie was giving him a run, but again Jamie's bobbles let him down, unusual for Jamie as he's normal fast and reliable. Back down the field Cammers and Byrners seemd happy to knock seven bells out of each other, while Tony's Durango was looking (and sounding) much healthier than before. The move back to a 7.5T motor from his 6.5T also seemed to have helped his consistency.

I grabbed a little bit of (poor quality) video of the mixed 4wd/2wd B final. Next time I'll try and get the HD camera up and running, if I can ever find the charger in my huge box of cables. Still, for those who've not been to the new TORCH circuit, this should give you an idea of what to expect.

Mixed final footage

Another top morning of racing and banter, big thanks to the TORCH guys for organising, and the lads for making racing what it is. Next week should be truggy time at Clanfield if the weather holds... see you all there.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Slough Winter Series Rnd 6 - 30 January

With the last two rounds of racing at Slough cancelled due to adverse weather conditions (snow and flooding) it was a relief to finally get some racing in at the excellent Berkshire venue. With Slough championship having effectively ruled out truggies, it was out with the Losi 8ight EU to get some quality buggy action in. I have to say I've always found Slough to be a 'buggy' track, but it is a real shame not to see at least one heat of truggies running.

I arrived at the track at about 8 o'clock and pitched up with the rest of the Clanners. Mark Byrne was running his AE RC8B as was Cameron Taylor. Chris Spencer-Smith was running a Kyosho MP9 (and contemplating a JQ), Jamie Kerr was rolling his usual X-Ray and Tony RC and Dave O'Brien were both in the Losi camp with me. Latest additions to the 'team' were Ben Elliot, also running X-Ray and Jordan with a brand new JQ. Gazebo's pitched and pit tables set up, a few of us ventured out for some last minute practice whilst Nora got the kettle on. The arctic conditions made a hot coffee even more tempting than normal!

The Clanners on the road

The track was frozen solid for practice, and rear end grip was almost non-existent regardless of tyre choice or chassis. I was running a new set of red compound Hot Bodies tyres, Khoas on the back and Blocks on the front. This produced a stunning amount of turn-in, but a very loose car on corner exit. Dialing in a lot of negative expo on the throttle helped, but for a very smooth throttle finger was still required, at least by my normal (truggy oriented) standards. Back in the pits a thicker front anti-roll bar was fitted, the theory being taking off a little of the front end grip should help give a more neutral balance to the car.

After the standard drivers briefing from Adrian Svenson it was straight into round one qualifying. Dave was out first and it soon became apparent that the track had changed some what since practice twenty minutes earlier. The previously frozen surface had thawed out, and was now a quagmire that was in many cases quite literally sucking in cars and stopping them dead. I've never seen a track change so much so quickly!

Mark B's new shell. Paint by me, mud by Slough.

When it became obvious what was going on I rushed back to the pit bench to alter the car ready for my third heat run. Raise the ride height, richen the engine to cope with the mud and dowse the car in GT85. I went out with the rest of the field, and I have to admit went pretty well considering. The car stayed relatively clean compared to many others, and the engine was running as well at the end of the run as at the start... the tune seemed pretty spot on for the conditions. 6 laps in 5 some odd isn't going to set the world on fire, but I was steady and made it to the end of the run with a car in one piece and still just about recognisable!

Given the state of most of the cars by this point I got off quite lightly

Marshalling was a nightmare, I'd drawn point four - the bombhole, which was probably the wettest section of the track. Jumping in to pull out cars was tricky with out slipping over, getting back up and out again was almost impossible. The end result was a good belt in the shins by a flying car as I struggled back to my marshaling point. I don't know how many cars finished in heat four, but I suspect not many. The conditions were getting progressively worse and cars were grinding to a halt all over the place.

Some mud (and Dave's car) after round 2 qualifying. Flames not visible...

I elected not to go out in round 2, having pitted for Dave whose car got so bogged down it actually managed to combust it's clutch(!) before eventually giving up the fight and quitting. Marshalling heat four, round 2 was much simpler as only one car went out, everyone else deciding to sit the round out. Chris Spencer-Smith Kyosho clutch faired little better. The shoes disappeared in a pool of aluminum slag, the spring melted and the clutch pins were so deformed a new flywheel will be needed. It was RC carnage all round.

Dave's clutch, post fire. Now that's commitment!

Back in the pits I was contempating running in round 3. Then, disaster... Some how the car had been left on with the transmitter off. Sat like this for an hour and half or so had put a huge strain on the throttle servo and blown the motor. Two lessons to be learned, one - I should always make sure the cars off before killing the transmitter and two - I should really set my fail safe up better. Ah well, at least that sorted my dilemma of whether to run or not. I'd be qualifying based on only one round. Bottom final for me then! A mad thrash then ensued to clean the car and fit a spare servo kindly supplied by Mark to get me back out for the final. Big thanks to both Mark and Tony RC for pitching in.

Everyone else went out for round three, and it soon became obvious that the track was coming back round and the conditions were improving. It might actually be possible to run the anticipated 15 minute finals.

Tony 'RC' Scott tries out for the QVC channel!

At the end of qualifying Jordan and I were in the bottom 'F' final, Dave in the 'E', Byrners in the 'D', Tony RC in the 'C' and Clanfield star Jamie 'The Boy' Kerr in the 'A' final. Great driving Jamie. Star of the day though has to be Ben, new to off road racing and with a less than stellar engine he'd managed a run into the 'B' final, and was looking really good out on track. With more track time under his belt I think he'll be giving Jamie a hard time pretty soon.

My final had an eventful start, with me getting knocked to the back at the first chicane. After that it was head down and drive through the field. I managed to get into the flow, and after five minutes of so the car was feeling pretty good. I wound up fifth after 15 minutes, missing the bump spot by one place. Given that Jon 'Bump-up King' Dell went all the way from first in my final to a good finish in the A I don't feel quite so bad!

Dave drove really well in his final, his smooth electric style certainly shows. Sadly his engine was miss-behaving badly and meant he couldn't really show what he could do. I have to admit I missed the D and C finals, but I know Byrners started a bump up run, bumping from the D to C, and then C to B. By the B final I was back to help Dave pit him, and a missed communication resulted in a cut after his stop, probably due to alack of fuel on the way in. It was irrelevant as he lost drive shortly after, his clutch bell shedding it's teeth. Ben had been staring, leading the B, but again a missed call resulted in him running out of fuel on the way into the pits, and the lost time put him out of contention. Better luck next time mate...

Just the A final now, and Jamie Kerr was our last chance of a staring turn. He elected to change tyres before going out, bolting on a set of M2 Calibers. They didn't seem to work, I would suggest the compound was to hard for the cold wet conditions. He was driving well, but didn't seem to be able to get into his usual flow, and was making to many mistakes, eventually finishing outside the top 10. A great days racing and a good final, but he was kicking himself for making that last minute change... lesson learned for next time, as his manger, Mark B was quick to point out!

All in all a great days racing, only let down by breakages and the track conditions. All being well we'll be back on the 20th February for another crack. Here's hoping it's as much fun.

Click here for full results (courtesy of RemoteWorld)

Monday, 24 January 2011

Clanfield Winter Series - Round 4

And finally the crappy British winter relents and we get some nitro action! Having missed the rescheduled round 3 the previous weekend this was my first nitro race of 2011, and also my first in nearly two months. In the mean time the RC8T had been through a complete overhaul, and I had also decided to try some tweaks to the setup to see if I could get the truck more suited to UK style tracks. I've always liked the RC8T as a car, but found it can be a bit 'twitchy' at speed.

I rolled into the Clanfield car park at about 8:15 to quite a shock. Clanfield's been suffering falling numbers for a while now, for a number of reasons. Now with a new club committee in place there was promise of changes and improvements, and based on the number of drivers present yesterday I have to say things are moving in the right direction. I really hope that the club can maintain this momentum as the track's naturally contoured layout is right up there with the best in the country. It also takes an incredible amount of work to maintain as it's an all dirt layout, which is always going to suffer given the harsh weather that comes with the winter. The surface yesterday was certainly starting to suffer, and in truth could do with a good roll, but was certainly good enough to race on, and after all this is off-road! I'm sure the committee will be sorting a roller soon, and the track will be right back up there where it belongs.

Several big name drivers were in attendance, including Jon Hazzlewood with his Nemo Racing/Agama outfit. They rolled up in style with the Nemo support bus, and were joined by recent Bren Ralls, now running Agama after his recent departure from the XRay team. Tommy Chung was running his regular Kyosho, and Marc 'Jaf' Jakka was running the 1/8th Durango buggy.

Rob 'Hollywood' Rasey graced us with his presence to assist Grant Fribbins running JQ Products THE Car. An a shock move local hot-shoe Jon Wolfe had also jumped ship, again from XRay to Agama, so Jamie Kerr had to endure much ribbing through the day as we speculated on his future car choice.

The Associated Truggy HQ for the day (plus an Xray interloper)

After setting up the gazebo, and making space for fellow Associated runners Mark 'Byrners' Byrne and Paul 'Berky' Berkinshaw plus X-Ray buggy racer James 'Young-un' Kerr it was out for some practice. Byrners was going well as always, and my set-up seemed OK as well, but I was catching way too many ruts which was tipping the truck. The red compound Hot Bodies tyres were working well however, so they'd be staying on for the day. Back on the pit table some extra negative camber was dialed into the rear to try and alleviate the tendency to flip, and out we went to qualify (or clean the track for the buggy boys if you prefer...).

John Wolfe's new Agama buggy

The round went well, if not stunningly and I ended with a third. OK, but not an 8 lapper. The tipping was better, but the rear end was hopping all over the shop through some of the choppier sections. I was also trying to re-adjust to driving nitro on a large track after weeks of 10th racing. Chatting to Byrners the decision was made to stand up the rear shocks, inside hole on the arm, outer on the tower. That should give a more linear feel, and hopefully calm the hopping.

One of the benefits to the increased turn out was that more heats of qualifying could be run (one truggy, four buggy), so the usual mad thrash was avoided. Set-up changes could be made easily, and there was plenty of time to socialise, wonder around and take photos.

Round two qualifying was considerably better than round one, with me ending second to Byrners and James Tatlow in third. The only downside was that for some reason the BBK software shortened the round to three minutes. The truggy was now feeling pretty good in the tough conditions, and my driving was calming down.

Rob 'Hollywood' Rasey was present to support Fribbers with THE Car 

A little more rear camber was dialled in for round three, and in the round the truck felt awesome. Third again was a fair reward, although I was gutted to be .98 of a second short of scoring 8 laps. Oh well, there's always next time I guess. One thing that was becoming obvious was that the track was evolving massively between rounds, both drying and smoothing out in some sections whilst simultaneously blowing out in others. Line choice was getting critical.

I left the truggy alone for round four, and got another third place, but was 13 seconds slower than round three. The truggy just felt less consistent and planted, plus the driver just made too many mistakes. Oh well, I'd line up third in the final, with Byrners TQ'ing followed by JT. Adam Bailey would be behind, with a hole where Simon Hunter's Kyosho should have been behind that, and Berky coming off the sixth spot.

The start of the final descended into chaos, with neither starter or pit men being able to hear the PA. As a result Lee 'Tortoise' Warren was late starting me, and I was dead last through the first corner. I'd recovered to third by the end of lap one, but didn't have the pace to worry the leaders. I ran a 10 minute strategy to the first stop to check the Alpha S852 was still up for the job (it was), but splashed and dashed three minutes from the end as I had a safe margin from Adam, and at the end of the season point make prizes! Lee did a cracking job and was well on the ball, despite his lack of recent practice(!).

Positions stayed set through the race, with Byrners leaning JT across the line by about 1.5 seconds, me in third two laps down an Adam behind me by a further two laps. Berky went out at mid-race, a high speed meeting between his front offside corner and a solid post proving terminal. Third was about what I expected given the competition, but I'm disappointed not to have run the top two a closer race.

Truggy podium (l-r James Tatlow, Matk Byrne and me)

As I haven't yet mastered driving and photography at the same time, I lent my camera to Lei, Lionel's better half for the truggy final, you can see here photos in the gallery below. She's promised to dress more appropriately next time so she can explore the track more fully.

I didn't get the chance to watch much of the buggy action, as I was distracted my caching up with a few people I hadn't seen for a while, but what I was looked like some class action. In the end Losi driver Rich Barton took the win from Tommy Chung with Jon Wolfe mastering his new ride for third place.

A final buggies (l-r Tommy Chung, Rich Barton and Jon Wolfe)

All in all a cracking days racing, it's great to see Clanfield getting back to where it used to be. Here's hoping it can be maintained. A big thanks to the committee, Chris for running race control, Nora for the endless supply of coffee and everyone who made the day what it was.

Link to full results (courtesy of Clanfield RC Club).