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The 2008 New Zealand South Island championships were hosted by the Christchurch Radio Control Car Club over the 24th to 27th of October at their Ruapuna raceway facility. This event, held annually at this venue, is one of the largest racing events on the New Zealand calendar, providing the opportunity for drivers from all over New Zealand to compete at New Zealands premiere on-road model car racing facility, in classes ranging from touring stock and modified, through to 1/10th and 1/8th gas. This report highlights the successful results that XRAY achieved in the 1/10th gas class.

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Qualifying was very intensely contested, and the pace was hot right off the bat. In round one a likely TQ run by local XRAY NT1 driver Mark Harling went astray on the last lap when a lapped car flame out right in front of him. The early TQ honours went to another local XRAY NT1 driver, Craig Lamb.

Changeable track conditions through the day allowed Craig to hold the TQ spot through to the fourth round, when Sam Mears came through to take pole by 0.7 of a second from Craig, with Mark Harling a mere 0.1 of a second further back in 3rd, followed closely by another XRAY team driver, Andrew Webber, in 4th. The top four were covered by only 3.7 seconds.

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The 5th and final round of qualifying was interrupted by rain, leaving the top 7 direct qualifiers for the final as follows:

1.Sam Mears
2.Craig Lamb XRAY NT1
3.Mark Harling XRAY NT1
4.Andrew Webber XRAY NT1
5.Kevin Davey XRAY NT1
6.Andy Ando
7.Ian Rickerby

The overnight rain and hail continued on into the morning, forcing a postponement of the finals to the following day. Clearing conditions later in the afternoon allowed drivers an opportunity to fine tune their cars for the finals. XRAY team drivers Andrew Webber and Mark Harling both found that subtly stiffening the front roll bar, softening the rear, and firming up the front shocks settled down their cars handling for the final, curing the occasional snap oversteer that had been losing them valuable seconds during qualifying.

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Finals day dawned fine, still, and hot. The last 3 positions for the final were determined by the outcome of the 30 minute B final. The drivers to come through were:

Juan Gaspar
Hunter Burt
Grant Forsyth

The main final was to be run over 40 minutes, an increase of 10 minutes from previous years, prompting much discussion over tyre selection and wear rates. 44 rears and 42 fronts seemed to be a popular choice, although no one was confident of whether they would last 40 minutes.

At the start of the final Mark Harling made a blistering start, moving from 3rd to 1st in the space of a couple of corners. The suspension tweaks made the previous day had produced a very stable and easy to drive car, allowing Mark to comfortably run the NT1 at a race winning pace, yet also keep the tyres in good condition for the entire 40 minutes. Sam and Craig both had problems during the final, but had the pace to regain lost ground and hold on to the remaining podium positions, taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. Andrew suffered a couple of mechanical problems and was unable to fully captalise on his undoubted pace.

XRAY NT1 cars filled the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 6th places in the final, which bodes well for the upcoming 2009 New Zealand nationals, scheduled for early February at the same venue.

1.Mark Harling XRAY NT1
2.Sam Mears
3.Craig Lamb XRAY NT1
4.Kevin Davey XRAY NT1
5.Grant Forsyth
6.Andrew Webber XRAY NT1

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