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.