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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

Column #19 - Excited for the Worlds?

Column #20 - Statistics, Expenses Sheets, Production Analysis, Calculations…

Column #21 + Column #22 - Euros + Euros + Worlds

Column #23 - The Busiest Season Ever

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One of the most anticipated races, the 1/8 Off-road World Championship, is over and it went exactly as I expected… not exactly like I wanted or wished, just exactly like I expected.

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The middle of September was the week when all factory teams from around the world flew into Charlotte, USA for a very competitive race, probably the most competitive race ever. Instead of the traditional 150ish drivers there were nearly 250 drivers at this race, making it one of the largest races ever. And with over 30 different car brands in the market it was expected to be a tough race between teams. Of course everybody wanted to showcase their car and team, and at least get into the final. Quite naturally the strongest teams wished to stand on the podium steps.

My realistic expectation was to get 1 car into the final and if we had good racing luck we might even have good chances of getting onto the podium. But at the same time I was realistic and knew that no matter how good your drivers were or how great your cars were, there were dozens of other factors out of your control which could and would influence the result; no matter how well prepared and good you are, you still need good luck.

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I fondly remembered the last off-road World Championship in Indonesia two years ago, when we had the best driver and best-performing car leading by over a lap for almost 50 minutes of the final. I also not-so-fondly remember the engine stoppage that shattered our hopes in the blink of an eye. The 2008 Off-road Worlds were at the end no different. Why? I have no idea. We all did our very best, had great performance and results, but were missing good luck when we needed it.

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With two practices and warm-ups prior the Worlds we did a lot of testing, comparisons and set-up experiences which enabled us to gain a lot of knowledge and understanding about the specifics of this track and surface… hopefully allowing us to be as well prepared as possible for the actual Worlds. Back at the factory we made a couple of new improvements to parts which were sent to team drivers for further testing. We worked a lot around different weight balances but at the end we returned to the standard car. As such most of the special parts were simply new lightweight option parts which greatly helped to reduce the weight of the car.

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Being well prepared for the Worlds, we were sadly welcomed by heavy rain so the first practices were skipped due to heavy mud on the track. As soon as the mud dried a bit all the drivers jumped onto the track and the show started. From the very beginning Josh Wheeler was at the very top with his XB808, winning some qualification rounds but most importantly Josh had extremely fast and consistent lap times. Wheeler and Joseph held their XB808 buggies at the semi-final positions as well. The rest of the team — including Jerome Sartel, Jon Hazlewood, Ryan Lopez, Leon McIntosh and others — were closely behind in quarter finals, so generally I was fairly happy after the qualifications when at the end Josh qualified 3rd.

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After the great satisfaction of the performance of the car and results of team in qualifiers, the disappointment came in the finals. First Jerome bumped from quarter into semi final but then with Jon went out of the race. When Ryan was doing really well and could easily bump up until a problem with a suspension screw happened… the sort of thing that has never happened before and as usual happens when you expect it the least.

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After very little success in the lower finals, I was looking forward the semi-final and was really very nervous. I knew that Josh could easily bump up into the final as both he and his buggy’s performance were at the top. But again I knew that we needed just a little bit of luck. Josh was immediately super fast and at the top until his front tire exploded and he had to go to the pits for a change. Surprisingly, despite having a broken tire with a flailing insert, Josh was still faster than the other drivers and even though he lost a lot of time in the pit stop to fix the tire he was still in a bump-up position once he hit the track again. At this point I was hoping and praying that this would be the only bad luck that fate had in store for us, and hoped that Josh would just cruise and finish the semi-final to secure his final starting grid position. Well, it seems that it was not meant to be as after a short time another rear tire exploded!

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At this moment I knew this was the end… all the hard work, dedication, energy and efforts spent & invested by everyone over the last two years expired within a second. But such is the nature of the beast we call racing, and this is what you have to live with being an RC car designer & manufacturer. There is always only one driver and one car that can win, so maybe one day we will get the luck we wish for. But until that time we continue the work hard both on and off the track.

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The 2008 Off-road Worlds was the second World Championship this year for Team XRAY, the previous one, the 1/10 Nitro touring World Championship, with Martin on podium and 4 XRAY cars in the final was more successful than this one but there is still the last World Championship on schedule – the 1/10 Electric touring car World Championship in Thailand in November. For that race I have really high expectations. At the warm-up at the TITC race back in February the car was working really well with Teemu Leino winning the race. Meanwhile we have had a lot of great progress with further testing and development, and we are heading tomorrow for another private testing at the Worlds track to test the new developments and to get ready for the Worlds. But again even having great expectations based on perfect performance and recent results, I still need to be realistic that there are many factors that could and would influence the results. Again conditions could be completely different, so anything probably can and will happen and as such we will have to be prepared to take things on one by one and wring out maximum results. We’ll see...

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Ah…and actually I just realized that the originally scheduled three World Championships this year are not the end of Worlds for us. What’s that you say? The racetrack in Thailand will host not only the 1/10 Touring Car Worlds but at the same even there will also be the 1/12 On-road Worlds. As you may have guessed it, Team XRAY will participate and race at the 1/12 Worlds with the first prototype of the all-new XRAY 1/12 on-road car. The 1/12 car — code named XII — has been on the R&D schedule for several years already but there were always other higher priority projects that took precedence and so the 1/12 project was always postponed. With the 2008 Worlds on schedule it was the ultimate deadline until which we decided that we would simply have to finish the project and get the prototypes for the team. As with any other brand new projects we had to face several very difficult decisions. The most difficult dilemma was deciding on which concept to choose. The design of 1/12 cars coming forward during the past few years were coming through highly-detailed development and evolution, and as such there was very little left to come up with. So we chose to follow well-proven concepts and cover them with XRAY’s superb attention to detail and quality.

After some frantic work in the prototype department we got the first XII in hand. We’re now ready to pack up and fly to Thailand for private testing to check if some last minute changes and improvements to the T2’009 and XII will be needed for the upcoming Worlds in a few weeks. I am really excited and look forward to the last two Worlds of this season. Maybe with a bit of more luck this time, maybe not. We will see, but as usual we will do our best.

Enjoy the ride and ‘til the next time.


Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
Chief designer XRAY