It’s all over and now a new 2 years of preparation can commence! This one seemed more important than others in the past, as it just felt like we have been in Worlds preparation for months. Perhaps it’s because of the new parts we have been testing. Or maybe it’s that it was the first time Tekno would be competing in a World Championships. For whatever reason it happened to be, it felt like we had been preparing for a long time, and I think the end result was a positive.
We arrived on Friday to witness some of the pre-race-in drivers competing for the final spots in the event. The track was smooth and pretty easy at this point with organizers full knowing the track would get rough by the end of the event. Over the next 3 days practice would take place with the greatest challenge during that time being the Wind on Sunday and Monday. I would fly out of the gate with the fastest lap time of the entire weekend on my 5th lap on the track. A 33.3 second time that would never again be touched. It was a dialed lap with a full drift at the end of the straight and just perfect corners throughout. As the track got slower and slower throughout the weekend, we ended up being fortunate just to put in 35’s at the end of the event. The final rounds of practice were used to seed the qualifiers with the top 39 fastest over 3 laps comprising the top 3 heats of racing.
Now this year for whatever reason they put the fastest group in races 1,2,3 instead of 16,17,18. This didn’t make sense as on day one, race one had the greenest track. Also you could say race one had the most inexperienced marshall’s from the final heat. Either way by the end of qualifying the top drivers would still make their way to the top of the timesheets and things would work themselves out. Throughout the 6 rounds of qualifying over 3 days of racing competition was fierce and we all battled to get into that coveted sweet 16. Those 16 drivers would be straight into the Semi-Finals which is everyones goal at the start.
In Q1 I would start off with a mediocre run in which I left 8 seconds of mistakes on the track. I would qualify 16th for the round in that one. Q2 would finish the first day of quals and it was my best run of the weekend. I had a little traffic incident near the end of the run but otherwise it was pretty clean and I took 5th for the round. So after day one I was sitting pretty good heading into the next day. Day 2 saw me start out with a mental lapse. I forgot / didn’t charge my receiver pack and thus my battery died about 3 minutes into my run on a really fast pace leading my heat. It was embarrassing and a big oversight for me, but I resolved to come back stronger to finish out the quals. Over the final 3 rounds I put in more solid runs but nothing ever that just felt like a great run. I had a 14th, 10th and 14th in those final 3 runs. Taking best 4 runs out of 6 I would qualify 11th overall and thus directly into the odd semi-final.
Semi’s were up on Saturday afternoon and in the warmup I was feeling good about my chances. My car felt great and everything was running great. We narrowed down the tire compound to AKA Soft Long Wear. The track was becoming much more abrasive than it had been all week as the races were longer and the track was dryer and thus we went with Double Down’s for the tread. Something we knew would last the race and have good tread left at the end. As the semi started I went around with the lead pack and the top 6 or so broke away from the ensuing pack. I was battling with King for much of the first 6 minutes trying to find a way to make a clean pass but the track was tight. Eventually he would make a mistake and I would get by into 5th which was the last guaranteed transfer in spot.
On my first pit stop I made an error though. Usually I pay good attention to the sound of my engine in the pits but this time I didn’t and I gave throttle with the tank open and ended up flaming my buggy out. My pit guys got me fired back up quickly though and I stayed in 5th I believe. I would run pretty solid the rest of the race even starting to catch up to 4th. Phend ran out of gas with just a minute or so to go which promoted me to 4th and I was right behind Tebo. I put in a last minute charge but came up about half a second short of 3rd and thus took a solid 4th which put me into the main. This would be my 3rd consecutive Worlds A-main final which is an awesome accomplishment for me.
We had about 45 minutes to prepare our cars once we got them back before the hour long A-main. I chose to change clutch shoes and bearings. Also to rebuild the center diff and go 25cst lighter on shock oil. I would also go from Soft long wear to regular soft Double Down tires for the final which would be under the lights, starting later than expected at about 6:45pm. It was going to be a challenge for all as the conditions would be slightly different than we had seen all week and the track of course was at it’s roughest. My personal biggest concern was possibly the running at night as my eyes play tricks on me at times when running at night as they occasionally cross at inopportune moments. But I had made the A final and planned to make the most of it. I also really wanted to finish this one as in all 4 of my previous Worlds mains I had always broke out of whatever the highest final I made it to was. So I figured it would be a nice change to finish one for once! 🙂
At the start things were looking OK. I was qualified 7th for the final and thus starting mid pack. I was driving around with this pack unit the landing of the single double double on the right where I got open wheeled by another buggy and sent off the track and into last.
After that it took me a few go arounds to feel like I was finding my groove. I felt like perhaps going down in shock oil wasn’t the right decision and maybe the regular soft had to much grip for me compared to the soft long wear and thus exaggerated the shocks feeling a little soft. When you want to win the Worlds you need everything to go right and I feel like I may have missed on those two set-up decisions. But i’ll never really know and I just did the best I could with what I had on the track at the time. I wasn’t on the pace that the leaders were putting down this go around but I was doing my best for the conditions. I had a couple of good intra race battles and everything ran well for the entire 60 minutes. My pit guys were efficient and quick and I drove the best I could at the time. In the end I would finish 9th in the IFMAR World Championships.
This was a great accomplishment as it was Tekno’s first trip to the IFMAR Worlds and also my first time finishing the Worlds final without issue. I’m very proud of where our team has come in such a short time and there are great things on the horizon. Also I want to again mention the Top 25 RC ranking in which all 12 A-main finalists were in the top 15 coming into the IFMAR Worlds. I think the rankings are pretty accurate and while one race may go some drivers way more than others, I think the overall rankings are pretty spot on for our industry!
2018 Perth Australia, here I come! 😀