Event Final Monday April 25, 2011
Finally getting around to recapping my time at this years Neo-Buggy event in England. I didn’t have internet connectivity whilst there and thus wasn’t able to do my usual blog updates. Here is how my week went:
I got in a day early on Wednesday (I had thought practice started on Thursday) but it all worked out for the better as I still had some work to do on my Durango DNX408 buggy. This also allowed me to begin adjusting my sleeping schedule as I was 8 timezones ahead.
Friday finally came about and it was time to go racing! I always look forward to this event as it is the closest thing there is to a World Championships but we get to do it every year. This was my third year attending the Neo-Buggy event and I had made the final the previous two years and so that was my minimal goal for the week. My main goal was to TQ and win as I have been getting very confident in my Durango vehicles!
We had three 7 minute practice heats. They were taking your best 3 consecutive laps from any of the 3 practices to seat you for the qualifiers. My third practice I was able to start getting in a groove as I got my set-up figured out and was able to lay down 3 consecutive laps that would put me #3 overall and into the fast qualification heat.
Up came round one of qualifying. I decided to try to go out on Soft Citiblocks as this is what I ran for my final practice the night prior. The tires were pretty consistent but I think it was the wrong compound. I just seemed to be a little loose all around the track. I made a few mistakes but in the end managed a 9th for the round. Overall I was reasonably happy with this at the time.
Round two was next and this is when things started coming together for me. I switched to SS Gridirons and it was the right decision. The traction was good and the car felt excellent. I ran a pretty good run, making I believe two crashes in the 7 minute heat but finished 3rd for the round. Now I was getting excited about the prospects for the weekend. Everything was feeling good.
Round three would be the final qualifier for Saturday. I ran SS Gridirons again and put in a pretty good run. I believe I still make a mistake or two but I put in some fast laps and came away with TQ for the round! At this point I realized there was a possibility of taking the overall TQ for the weekend and so that is what I set-my goal as.
Round four was up on Sunday morning. A couple of long crashes kept me out of contention on this one but I still had some of the fastest lap-times and still came away with a 3rd for the round.
Coming into round #5 I knew I had to TQ the final two rounds to overtake Tebo for TQ. In round 5 I was able to start off on the right foot. I put in a solid run and was able to get the first 13 lap run of the weekend. The car was getting faster and I was feeling at home. I took the TQ and looked to round number 6 to finish the job.
Round six would be the final qualifier and the last qualification race of the day on Sunday. I knew what had to be done. I got out and ran clean for the first 5 minutes. I built over a 4 second lead over Maifield and was just driving my race, knowing I had to take the win. Then with about two minutes to go I caught up to a group of 5 or 6 cars and I did what I could to get past them but they were slowing my laptimes down by as much as 2 seconds a lap. I came out of the traffic with one lap to go but had sense lost my groove. Myself and Maifield both made it by for the final 13th lap and I had about a 4/10ths lead. However having lost my groove going through the traffic I didn’t put in a steller last lap. It was average at best and I ended up losing by something like 2/10ths of a second and thus missing out on overall TQ.
I still felt quite accomplished. I qualified 2nd overall at what I considered to be the biggest race of 2011, just narrowly missing out on the overall TQ. I was ready for the semi’s and Finals.
First up however was the da$h for ca$h. It was the top 12 qualifiers in inverse order, 10 minute run. I thus started 11th on the grid and had a great start. I navigated a couple of early pileups and came out of it in 3rd place. I was very confident in my car at that point and basically told myself I had this in the bag. However here is where my weekend began it’s dip. I just started making careless mistakes, hitting tubes and crashing on my own. I fell way back and just decided to try to finish strong. Coming around for the last lap I had King a couple corners ahead of me. I wasn’t sure what position it was for but put in a final charge to overtake him across the line. I floored it over the moguls and he saw me coming and pulled trigger as well. I ended up just missing him by 2/10ths. It was quite exciting. I ended up 4th, disappointed in the end result but still ready for the Semi’s and Finals.
Monday was Semi-Final day. I was ready to go and at the start was holding my own. Then on the second lap I went down the straight and up the little mount and there was a huge hole that just flipped my car on it’s lid. I fell back a few spots and so I just put it in ‘make-it-mode’. I just tried to put in some clean laps to get up near the front. I ended up getting up to second and staying there until the end. It wasn’t the semi I had hoped for but it put me into the A-main for the 3rd time in as many years.
The final race of the day was the one we all were waiting for. The A-main. I would be starting 5th on the grid as that is where my overall time in the semi-finals would put me. At the tone I was doing good, moved up to 3rd on the first lap. Then on the second lap got about half track where if i’m not mistaken I rolled it on my own again. Thus putting me to the back of the pack. I worked my way back up but still was just making way to many mistakes. I was pretty disappointed in myself for all of the driving errors I was making, just clipping tubes everywhere it seemed. I didn’t give up though and began working my way back through the pack. I was running 7th with about 9 minutes to go when I went over the back double double and lost throttle response. My throttle servo went out on me thus ending my main.
The positives I’m taking away from this weekend were many. My Durango DNX408 was super dialed all weekend. Setting very fast laptimes and qualifications. My new Alpha Plus A852 engine ran flawless all week. I was getting nearly 10 minutes which for me I will take any day of the week. The engine never gave me one hiccup all week, never even had to tune it after it’s initial tune! I was very pleased. My AKA tires were hooked up. The SS AKA compound was the compound of choice this weekend. To top it all off the best was the team camaraderie of the Durango Team. We worked excellent together all week long and it was such a pleasure to be a part of it all. We are making such great strides in such a short period of time and it’s only a matter of time before those big wins start coming in droves and we become the #1 team to beat!
Until next time,