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Several RC magazines around the world have asked us to write a monthly column. With the kind permission we will re-publish the column at our web site too so all of the XRAY fans can read the latest news and behind the scenes information. Enjoy.

Archive:
Column #1 - Behind the Scene Stories

Column #2 - Worlds Flashback

Column #3 - T2'007 Debut

Column #4 - Designing the T2'007

Column #5 - Worldcup Review and NT1 Testing

Column #6 - Developing and Designing the NT1

Column #7 - Developing and Designing the NT1 - Part 2

Column #8 - Back to the Races

Column #9 - XT8 Truggy Development

Column #10 - Touring Car Development

Column #11 - Bling-bling Mentality

Column #12 - Hot Summer Washout

Column #13 - New Electric Touring Car

Column #14 - Off-road Development

Column #15 - My micro love

Column #16 - Back in the Dirt

Column #17 - Worlds Preparations

Column #18 - 808 Tests & Stress


After the new final production XB808 buggy testing at the US Silverstate, and upcoming World Championship track testing in Charlotte I was flying back home relaxed with good feelings. Usually my brain is hyperactive and keeps analyzing everything done… and what is next on my plan. This time, flying home on the long flight I was really relaxed. Why? Because I was satisfied with the final XB808 buggy and the work we had done, and was confident in the great performance of the NT1 – the car I was going to race at the upcoming event. Since cuccessfully finishing the work on the XB808 buggy, I could now fully concentrate on the upcoming touring car races. I was to land back in Europe on Friday and then turn around and leave Sunday for Portugal for the nitro touring car World Championship warm-up… this time to meet my touring car team and to go from “bumps and jumps” to “fast and smooth” but still with the sweet smell of nitro in the air.

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Due to the very dedicated work on the off-road project, I was a bit out of the touring car scene but I knew that the NT1 was doing exceptionally well via the continuous feedback and reports from the nitro touring team. This kept me safe in the knowledge that we would be in very good shape for the 2008 season, with (hopefully) minimal issues to overcome. Despite having the NT1 at the top of the racing market, I still had new ideas and plans to test and compare some new parts. As such, before leaving for the US off-road races I discussed with Martin about having the R&D team prepare a new lightweight XCA clutch of different components so we could to compare, analyze and test different clutch shoes & clutch springs, as well as some different lightweight solid axles and a few other parts. During my time at the US off-road tracks, the R&D team created a couple of designs and so the prototypes for the team were produced downstairs in the production area, heat-treated or hardcoated and ready to go upon my return and turnaround to go to Portugal. Martin packed all my stuff for me – along with the new stuff for the team – so and after returned to factory I checked e-mails, packed up again and flew to Portugal for the Worlds warm-up.

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Arriving at Lisabon (the capital of Portugal) and seeing the track, I knew that this track would be all about engine performance, proper clutch set-up, and SPEED. The track was super fast and long — originally built for 1/8 on-road cars — so it was going to demand a total-performance combo of perfect car and perfect driver to tame it. No compromises. I was very excited and ready to go to work, but unfortunately we had bad luck as the weather forecast was not at all friendly: heavy rain from Monday through Wednesday. The track was still wet on Monday morning but at least we were able to get a bit of track time. I prepared the engine, tires, and car with the same set-up that I had used last year at the European Championship… and went out for two runs. After that the rain came down and there was no more racing. The track got a bit better for a few hours for the next few days, so we always used that time for a bit more testing. First we needed to set up the engines, clutch, gearing, and 2-speed based on the different parts of the track, and after that when the speed of the car and clutch were working well we worked on the car set-up. Unfortunately, the rain started again so there was another delay. After a very long time I had finally had one whole day free and for myself only, so I took my wife and we traveled through the historic city, visiting castles and historical downtown locations, and generally relaxed. Most of the dozens of races I visit during the year I have no time for such traveling as I am at the track the whole day, so this time it was a very nice change. Then on Thursday when the weather got nice, the show started again.

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Practice started on Thursday in groups so we could not test all the parts we had planned on, so we had to split the parts between the team to get different test results. I was testing the new super-strong and lightweight solid axle. Thanks to exclusive special HUDY Spring Steel™ could we make the walls extremely thin at only 0.5-0.6mm. Considering the extreme power that this tiny solid axle can handle from the engine, the result were very good… no problems with reliability or wear. The rest of the team could continue to use the solid axle and give long-term feedback.

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Most of our set-up and tuning time was spent on clutch and engine-muffler adjustments. First I ran with a standard clutch to get the feeling on the drivability on the track, and then changed to the new lightweight clutch to make side-by-side comparisons. The feeling from the lightweight clutch was very good; the car was easier for me to drive and acceleration of RPMs was very smooth. The negative side effect of the smoother clutch was that the clutch lost a bit of aggression and in certain corners the car lost the speed out of the corner at full throttle. I believe that at small technical tracks this lightweight clutch with smaller diameter and smaller shoes would be outstanding, but for this super-fast track I felt that the standard clutch would definitely be better.

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As such, I reverted back to the standard clutch but with the clutchbell made from Swiss 7075 T6 aluminum (which was additionally hardcoated). The super lightweight clutchbell was really great (it is 3x lighter!) and it improved the dynamics of the car but the reliability was the same as the standard clutch. I was eager to find out what other top drivers would report on this lightweight clutchbell, so I handed them out to the rest of the team for testing and the feedback I got from everybody was same as mine. Working on improving the dynamics, we changed parts on the car for lightweight optional versions, including a lightweight hollow middle shaft and 2-speed shaft, lightweight flywheel, lightweight 2-speed gear carrier, lightweight drive flange, lightweight brake disk adapter, and several other lightweight parts. Just swapping the lightweight parts made a big change in the dynamics of the car and the lap times dropped subsequently. However, after changing to the lightweight parts, the car was under the weight limit so we had to add weights… of course to the bottom of the chassis to get the lowest CG.

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Being well prepared from practice we were looking forward to the qualifiers. The race was very good and team performance was tops. After the qualifiers it was Robert Pietsch (XRAY Germany) who qualified directly into the final. The semi-final was very well represented by the rest of Team XRAY: Teemu Leino (Finland), Dirk Wischnewsky (Germany), Niki Duina (Italy) and Martin Hudy (Slovakia). Myself I qualified into the ?-final together with Carlos Peracho (Spain). I was fairly satisfied with my result but not with my performance. The car was very fast on the straight but under acceleration and in long corners I was not fast enough. So before the start of the ?-final I decided not to make any changes in the engine setting but only changed the muffler and this made a huge improvement in the lower RPM engine performance. Unfortunately the side effect of this change was that after I have fixed the bottom-end performance of the engine the high-RPM performance suffer so I lost RPM at the end of the main straight.

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In the 1/4-final I started from the first position on the grid and at the end of the straight I had to face the push of cars behind me especially from Peracho who was incredibly fast. Despite the non-optimum performance on the straight I was still able to race with no mistakes and in the long run the XRAY foam tires did a great job for me. Since tire wear was minimal, the handling was very consistent and I could easily focus on my racing. During the whole 20min run I made absolutely no mistakes and thanks to this I was able to finish 2nd in the 1/4 -final and bumped into the semi-final. I was really pleased with my result and actually it was not only the crowd but also myself that was surprised that a 50+ guy was able to drive for 20 minutes without mistakes and work his way into the semi-final at the World Championship warm-up. I hope I can repeat my performance at the Worlds, too.

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The first semi-final was well represented by Dirk and Martin and also with myself bumping up from the 1/4-final. Martin got into top and his performance was unbelievable but after his first pit stop the race was over for him. During refueling, fuel got into his receiver and while existing pit lane he lost control of the car and it crashed into a barrier at full speed. Martin’s day was over. I was cruising behind Ielasi for most of the race but lap-by-lap he was slightly pulling away. I was not cruising at my limit, so if I wanted a chance at getting into the final I knew I had to push harder to make my way to the front of the pack. Such was my mistake. While pushing the car I made two small mistakes which cost me a few seconds and at the end of the 30min semi-final those two mistakes and few seconds lost meant that I finished 4th and missed out on a bump up to the final. Maybe if I had not tried pushing so hard and had just kept my relaxed error-free racing I could have just waited for others to make mistakes.

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But of course hindsight is 20/20 AFTER the race, and we all know what we SHOULD have done. Time and results being unchangable, I accepted the errors of my decisions and moved on. After the brief sadness pass, it dawned on me the an overall 13th position at the World Championship warm-up was really not too bad for a senior driver; actually most would call it unbelievable. So while I embraced this happiness for myself, I was very unhappy for the bad luck that Dirk endured. After Martin had to retire from the race it was Dirk who dominated the semi-final and won it with style… but then the technical inspection cut that elation short when they ruled that his wheel nuts were protruding 0.5mm too far and he was disqualified. That was really pity as Dirk was performing really well and he worked very hard, thoroughly deserving his place in the final. But rules are (uncompromising) rules and it was an object lesson for everybody – check and double-check your car!

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In the second semi-final it was Teemu running his unbeatable NT1 and he easily won his semi-final. This meant he and Robert Pietsch were going to represent Team XRAY in the final. We did not make any significant changes on the car for the final run as everything worked really well during the week. After the start of the final, Balestri made a mistake and Robert took over the lead and cruised at the top for 45 minutes. In these long runs, tire strategy plays an important role; Robert decided to start with smaller diameter tires and change them in the madle of the race. Ielasi, Balestri, and Teemu decided on an opposite strategy – not to change the tires at all and start with a larger tire diameter. In the middle of the race, Robert’s mechanic checked his tires and the wear was not as much as expected. With that in mind, they decided that Robert would not change tires either. However, starting with smaller diameter tires brought problems at the end of the race.

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With only 15 minutes remaining, the car started to lose steering and traction as the tires were too small. After 45 minutes of leading, Robert lost his leading position when Balestri and Ielasi passed him. For the remainder of the final all three of them cruised together and after 1 hour of racing all three of them finished within 4 seconds! Wow... that is what I call world-class racing! It was just a shame that Robert’s tire strategy backfired a bit as a change might have made a big difference for him. But then again, after the race everybody knows what they SHOULD have done. In the end after such an exciting race, we had Robert with his NT1 on the podium in 3rd place. Teemu was very fast as well but after a crash his shock detached and after he crashed and he had to have his car fixed, losing his chances for a top position.

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I was very happy and proud to have Robert on the podium. I was happy with my result and beating out so many top drivers, but I was especially satisfied and happy about the car’s performance and the performance of the new parts. The weather certainly had an effect on track traction, and rest assured that traction at the Worlds will surely be different as well. But we now have a very solid and sound knowledge and experience base and we are eagerly looking forward to the Worlds. Hopefully we have finished with our run of bad luck and will only have good luck at the Worlds.

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Coming home late Monday night I had only a few days to work on the internal projects and Martin had to catch up on his school work. On Thursday of the same week we had to pack up our electric touring car parts and leave at 3:00AM for Germany (900km away) for one of the largest indoor touring car races, the LRP Masters. It would take another column to write about all the work, effort, testing, ups-and-downs we experienced at the LRP Masters, so instead you can see a short report at the XRAY Web site. At the end we put 4 cars into the A final in the Modified class but somehow again we were not able to get good final results. And this is how it goes year-after-year at the LRP Masters… no good luck in the Modified class. Fortunately, good luck has been on our side for the past few years in the Stock classes where also this year XRAY drivers won both Stock and Super Stock class… making it a double win for XRAY T2’008 and Team XRAY.


With the first 3 months of 2008 having been out of the factory at nitro and electric touring car races, I finally have almost the entire month of April to be race-free and as such I can work on new projects. You should see the pile of work on my desk, the hundreds of e-mails to answer, the dozens of new parts and projects I have to check up on, the challenges with getting some new machines and technologies in-house, the organization need to get my R&D team ready for the next projects, and of course the daily workload on top of that! At the end of April I have the XRAY Nordic Off-road Challenge and afterwards the Off-road European Championship warm-up in Greece. “A busy year” you think? Actually, it’s probably the busiest year ever with so many race. And I love it.

Enjoy the ride and ‘til next time.


Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
Chief designer XRAY