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! 😀
Worlds preparations are in full swing and it’s all coming down to the home stretch. This years Worlds will be taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada, which for the ROAR block gives us ‘home field advantage’ this year. This years Worlds will take place on the smallest track that I personally have been to for a World Championship in the 1/8th Nitro division. This I think could equate to closer qualifying times and of course the possibility of more traffic, due to the presumed shorter lap times. Also new for this year will be a track that is prepped to blow out vs. previous years where things such as concrete mixture (Italy), or oil (Thailand), were mixed into the dirt to help hold it together. This year they are allowing for the use of water throughout the event to help keep dust down (due to proximity to airport), and also bring us back to ‘more natural off road racing’. The hope for the organizers is that the track will get rough, and that while the layout may seem tame at the beginning, by the end of the event it will have a lot of natural character to navigate.
Of course controversy has followed this stance throughout the year and there is sure to be more to come as the event gets underway. It can be said that no event this entire year held at the track was a true warm-up event for the Worlds. Even the race that was billed as such has many differences compared to what we will see at the Worlds. Part of that all stems back to the track glue used at Silver State this year. Although that was the last time it was applied, it still resurfaced for all future events. It wasn’t until the rebuild for the Worlds that they finally tilled all the dirt up which should remove the track glue and change the characteristics of the dirt. Now the surface should have less of a chance of grooving up than it has at previous events this year. I for one am excited about the prospects of running on a looser, loamier, track surface that should get blown out. That’s the kind of track that can really start to show those who have a combination of best set-up, equipment, mental game, and line choices. Where as many of these smoother surfaces lately truly cater to which tire company has the best tread or compound for the surface. I feel here you will see tires be much less of a factor compared to the skills mentioned above.
Another controversy I can foresee coming out of the event is going to be that water schedule. With human beings watering the track it’s never going to be as consistent as people want. Also you have to factor in time of day, outside temperatures, if the sun is shining or the clouds are out. All of this is going to make the track condition really different from heat to heat and there isn’t going to be a consistent surface for everyone. But at the same time, that’s the same circumstance for everyone. Kind of luck of the draw. I for one will as always be go with the flow, is what it is, lets just race in my mentality. But i’m sure there will be plenty of pit and media chatter about the matter.
Two years ago was near the beginning of the Top 25 RC Ranking system which is the closest thing we have to a ranking system in R/C. As with anything there is a ton of controversy shrouding these standings, but honestly when your trying to rank a worldwide hobby where they only all meet 1 time every 2 years to race it out, I think it does a pretty darn good overall job at ranking our contingent. Here was the rankings heading into the 2014 Worlds in which 6 of the top 10 ranked drivers made the A-final and 11 (out of 12) of the top 16! That’s pretty accurate and impressive that 11 of the top 16 ranked drivers before the Worlds made it into the 12 positions for the A-final.
This year heading into the Worlds I can say looking at the current top 25 rankings that the results could end up being very much the same. In my opinion the favorites heading into the event have to be Maifield, Tessman, and Ronnefalk. I feel they are the most dominant trio of drivers at this time, and they have a great shot at being at or near the top. Some others I feel that will be in the mix heading into the A-final on Saturday will be actually the rest of the drivers in the top 15 or so spots. I really think 10 of your A final positions will be comprised of drivers in the top 15 in the rankings. I think 2 from outside the top 15 will make it in as well. There is a lot of young talent coming out of Europe right now and I think a surprise or two will make it in as well this year. Here is those 2016 rankings heading into the Worlds:
I personally feel I have as good of a shot as ever this year. I may be coming in with a chassis that is getting it’s first taste of Worlds action (Tekno). But rest assured i’ve never been a part of a company where the top brass are so focused and quick to improve and develop their product. We have put in a ton of time perfecting the cars and this Worlds is hopefully really going to show all of that dedication. It would be an amazing honor to put a rookie chassis in the winners circle. This year I feel my preparation package is better than ever. I’ve greatly matured in my driving. I have worked hard on not only my mental game, but also my physical game in recent months. You may be thinking wait, what’s needed physically to drive an R/C car? Well let me tell you having the extra stamina, and confidence in the work you’ve put into yourself can pay dividends on the track as well. I’ve also greatly matured spiritually over the past two years fully giving my life to my Lord Jesus Christ. With him all things are possible, and I know I am going to be able to give it my all, through him, regardless of the outcome!
This event is so hyped up every two years. It’s what we all are waiting for in the most prestigious and competitive class of R/C racing IMO. It also comes down to team work as your pit crew can also make or break you. There is also more variables in nitro racing than any other form. So much can go wrong, but if you want to win, everything has to go right. There can be only one winner, and that person can carry the title of World Champion for 2 years starting on October 8th. Whose lucky day is it going to be? Be sure to tune in the entire week and keep up with all the action! Also be sure to thank the RC Tracks of Las Vegas crew for putting this event together and hopefully making it the best Worlds yet!
This past weekend I helped to put on my first event which was dubbed the LutzRC Hometown Challenge. It was held at my local track Medina R/C Raceway about 10 minutes from home in Ohio. The turnout was a little low as it seemed many of the locals had other plans already for the weekend, but the event did draw some entries from Chicago, Detroit, and New York areas which was pretty cool. For the event all my sponsors chipped in with some great prizes including a Futaba 4PX radio, a Tekin 1900 motor, an Alpha Plus Lutz Worlds edition Engine, and many other items. I also gave away a number of CowRC made LutzRC Magnetic pit mats and part trays. All in all I think everyone enjoyed the raffle as I did something a little different with it. Everyone got a ticket for their entry. Then if you finished 1st or 4th in your qualifying heat you got another ticket. I think most enjoyed that and worked on collecting more tickets!
As far as the racing went I ran my E-buggy and Nitro buggy and was able to TQ and Win all of my races. In the Nitro main I agreed with a couple guys that I would pit my own car so ‘they could have a chance’. It was either that or start 15 minutes late they said for the 30 minute final. haha. So I obliged and got my workout in during the race. I considered it some Worlds conditioning for next week.
All in all I had a great time and it was satisfying hearing the positive feedback on the event and the track. I designed the track and the Johnson family and a couple others did a great job putting all in and I think it ended up being one of the funnest layouts i’ve driven on.
Hopefully this can become an annual event and it can be made bigger in coming years.
Special Thanks to all of my sponsors who donated products to the event:
Futaba, Tekin, Tekno, Alpha Plus, AKA, LutzRC