(Please note, I only have a few photos from this round, I will add them when I've got them off my camera, so do check back)
Sunday 9th January should have seen us all make the trek up to Slough for a round of their winter series, however with the recent wet weather it always looked unlikely. When Adrian emailed to let us know it was off it wasn't a massive surprise. The photos he posted were, the lakes on the track were only surpassed by those in the car park, I think even Jaff's Landy would have struggled! Having planned ahead Tony 'RC' and I had decided another day at TORCH was a suitable alternative so Saturday was spent in the workshop tweaking the Mighty Ansmann and getting the LiPO's charged and ready. One pleasant surprise was that my previously damed pack that I'd disassembled and had resoldered (big thank Dave H, you da man!) charged perfectly and balanced at exactly 4.20V per cell. Looks like I may have saved it, with a little help.
In terms of car set up, I'd not done much since the last race. I rebuilt the shocks with slightly thicker front and thinner rear oil and fitted softer springs on the rear. Ride height was lowered, the front toe set to 0 degrees and camber checked. The main change was to pull the pin on my speedo, as whilst checking the settings during the week I had noticed I had the throttle limit set to only allow 40% of full power. School boy error, should have double checked that earlier.
Having agreed to collect Tony at 8:00 I stuck my head out the door at 7:40 to find the thickest frost I think I've ever seen. No idea what happened there, but the whole world had gone diamond white... hum, early qualies are going to be interesting then! After clearing the car and collecting Tony and his gear we rolled up trackside and set up for the day. Cameron 'Cammers' Taylor rolled in shortly afterwards and set his stall up next to us, at which point a side wager started on which car he'd end the day running having started the last couple of meetings with the Schumacher Cougar, and each time falling back to the X6 Squared when the Cougar gave trouble! Shortly after Dave O'Brien pulled up to pit with us followed swiftly by Jamie Kerr, out with his Durango for the first time. Having received an express delivery from Kifopaint the day before Jamie was rocking full on pro gear, including a branded hoody and matching body shell. Clear having all the gear, did he have any idea? Time and results would tell.
The track layout was unchanged from the previous round, but the track was frosted hard. Clearly grip was going to be at a premium, and with my limited selection of tyres I was on the back foot from the off. General advice seemed to be pink Ballistic Buggy spikes, of which I own precisely no sets. Ah well, out on the trusty Schumacher yellow mini-spikes then, staggers on the front as always. Into round one qualifying, and I can;t believe this is the same car as the week before. It's all over the shop... not quite undrivable but not far off! The results was 7 laps in 5:52, I bit slower than the week before and not the result I hoped for. In truth I must have gone faster than I thought as I was figuring on only 6 laps, but I wasn't happy. The car was a handful and I was over driving it trying to make up for it. The main problem was inconsistent grip, with the back end snapping away at really odd times.
Four wheel drive qualifying went badly for Tony RC, his Durango snapping yet another servo saver arm. Dave ran well to a solid seven lapper, but the boy Kerr was a revelation running a solid 8 lapper to finish just over a second behind Steve B in the fight for TQ of the round. A good showing for the first run of a car, could he keep it up through the next three rounds?
Due to marshaling for Tony whilst he worked on his damaged 'Rango I didn't change much for round 2 qualifying and it showed. I dialled in a degree of front toe out in the hope it would stabalise the car, which it did, but nowhere near enough. The official line is five laps, now I don't want to argue with the computer, and I did make a lot of mistakes, but I'm pretty sure I crossed the line more then five times. Oh well, that round was going to be a dropper, and it was time to get to work on the car for the next one.
In 4wd Dave was again solid with 8 laps, Tony did yet another servo saver and Jamie was again second in the round, all be it slightly further behind Steve B who seems to just keep getting smoother and faster.
For rounds 3 and 4 of qualifying I took a real punt. Realising that my problems seemed to revolve around the rear tyres I decided to try a set of new yellow mini-pins with firm inserts. I figured that the mini spikes were fitted with too soft an insert and were rolling over mid corner causing the snap instability. The use of spikes in the now soaking conditions (the frost having thawed) seemed to raise a few eyebrows, but hey I'm new to this malarkey so I don't know any better. And besides, I don't exactly have too many sets of tyres.
Within half a lap I knew I'd made the right call. The car was so much more consistent, especially in the high speed sweeping center section of the track. Things got even better when I passed Cammers, and then realised he was struggling to keep up. Result! Things looked up even further when the results were posted and I realised I hit my first 8 lapper, which had been my goal going into the day. That result put me forth in the round, not bad for a cheap little Ansmann with an electric-racing noobie on the controls, even if I do say so myself.
Round four was much of the same, with a few other drivers following me onto spikes. This round saw me sixth with another 8 lapper, about a second behind Cammers but pushing him all the way. We had a cracking ding-dong battle for several laps, great clean fun and exactly the kind of RC action I enjoy (yes, I know we were qualifying, but we just couldn't help it!). In the end Cammers finished fifth and I was sixth in qualifying which I was pretty pleased with all things considered.
In 4wd Dave had continued his consistent runs, having found his cup. Tony had finally come good and after borrowing a servo saver from Jamie final got in two half decent qualifiers. Jamie had a bad run in round 3, pulling out with a mechanical, but was back in round four to finish second to Steve again, leaving Steve to TQ, Jamie second, Dave fourth and Tony back in eighth.
Finals were run over a single leg, and in my 2wd A final Cammeron and I had a blast running round together. I could push Cammers hard, but just couldn't quite get the jump on him for fifth. I lost some time on the penultimate lap giving the leaders room to get past which upset my rhythm, although I guess it did the same to Cammers and we crossed the line fifth and six, with me just under a second behind. The final was probably the most fun I've had in RC for some time, being able to push to 100% for a full five minutes against Cameron was a blast. What was more amazing was Cameron running a whole day with the Schumacher, I think the X6 Squared was feeling a little neglected sat on his bench all day.
JK employs an unusal start line tactic in the 4wd A final!
In the 4wd B Tony lead from flag to lights taking a dominant win. In the A final Steve B again dominated, taking the win by around half a lap from Jamie, with Dave coming in fourth. Top marks to young Jamie Kerr, he drove a fantastic race and it's hard to credit that this was his first time out with the 'Rango. Give is some time for him to get it fully sorted to his liking and I think Steve could be facing some stiff competition.
The field for the 4wd A prepare for the off (TQ man Steve Brown out of shot)Click here for a full set of results, courtesy of TORCH.
So a great days racing drew to a close, and Dave, Tony, Cammers and I decided it was time for a bit of car swapping. We spent an enjoyable hour or so playing with each of the 4wd contenders to see what we thought. Me, I still prefer 2wd... but I would like to try the Ansmann Pro4 just to see how that goes.
A big thanks to Steve, Mike and all involved in organising another great, relaxed days racing at TORCH, any disappointment at another weekend without a nitro fix was rapidly erased once racing kicked of. If you haven't been to TORCH yet, I strongly suggest you do, ASAP!