Jan the 23rd saw the top drivers from around Australia converge at Melbourne for the running of the 2009 Victorian Nitro State Championships. This was almost a re-run of the recent Nationals with most of the Nationals A Finals drivers being present. Qualifying started mid Friday after-noon with the usual names setting the fast times. All trying to TQ and guarantee a place in the A-Main.
After our abysmal engine troubles at the recent Nationals we decided to go with the “Slowly slowly catches the monkey” approach and used the initial Qualifying heats to tune Ryan’s Max Power SL3 motor in to the very hot conditions.
The Lilydale track could best be described as Technical, not to mention a little bumpy in places. Grip was low to start with but came up as the week-end progressed. Having raced at this track before, we already had a good basic set-up and this held us in good stead for the initial Qualifiers. After 4 heats Ryan Maker was positioned well in 4th whilst Ben, his 12 year old younger brother, in only his second drive in Nitro Tourers was doing a fantastic job to qualify in 8th.
With 5 heats having been run on the Friday/Sat we were hopeful of an even better run for the 6th and final Qualifying heat on the Sun Morning. For the final Qualifier we decided to change over to a 150K front diff and long front blue springs on the front as well as the rear to give us a little better entry-mid corner steering, especially through the bumpy sections. This proved to be the magic combination with the car rotating well and now steering great through the fast mid-field 180.
The car was so good that Ryan was on par for a thirty-five lapper and challenging for over-all third when disaster struck and the engine quit at the end of the strait!
This was dumb founding to me as the Max had been as reliable as a Swiss watch all week-end! All I can put it down to is the fact that the weather cooled of on the Sunday morning and his idle speed should have been a little higher perhaps. Oh well we keep on learning!!! Young Ben had been pushed back to 10 places after his camber link screw came undone. What was that I just said about learning!!
So after 6 full rounds of qualifying we had Ryan up in 4th place and Ben holding on to a very credible 10th position. An awesome effort considering the little guy was running a 4 year old second hand motor!!
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Ryan was guaranteed an A Main place with his top 4 finish, but Ben would have to run the dreaded Semi to see if he could hold on to his place in the final.
With Ben running the same set-up as Ryan his car was weapon through-out the semi with him easily holding the lead for the first 6 minutes. Then tragedy struck with his exhaust spring breaking. As I didn’t have a spare handy, Ryan raced over to his pit table and grabbed one off his dis-assembled car, but by the time we got him back on the track he had lost too much time and could only manage 6th. This wasn’t enough to bump him up to the Final so sadly his race meet was over.
For the A Final and Ryan’s car we decided to replace the 40,000 Rear diff oil with 60,000 to give us even more steering as Ryan felt that some cars were still able to drive in side him. Especially through the fast, on-power sweepers. Also as the grip had come up we felt this would also help with quicker acceleration out of the slow corners. We thought about this a lot, not being sure whether to make the change or not, but in the end decided to go for it, as this was kit set-up after all.
Out to warm up we went and as soon as we put the car on the track we new we had made a BIG mistake! The car had gone from being virtually dialled to now wanting to spin as soon as Ryan would put the power down . A flying stop into pit lane and all I could think of with only 30 seconds to the start of the race was to increase his rear toe in. Luckily I had the right Ball Driver at hand and I quickly turned in the Susp Balls a 1/4 turn on each side. That was all I had time for as the Race Director called all cars to the line.
The Tone went and all cars got a clean start. Ryan held position well and we settled into a cruise. The car was extremely slippery On-Power and Ryan had to be very gentle on the throttle out of every corner. Despite this he was driving great lines as well as extremely smoothly and gradually he moved up to third and then second place after the ten minute mark. Then disaster struck again with the motor quitting rounding the hair-pin onto the front strait! Luckily this was close to the pits and the motor restarted immediately and I used the time in pit lane to refuel the car and try and gain some good out of the mis-fortune.
Ryan now though would be in a battle to the finish with 3rd place, Ash Seward only seconds behind. Ryan held the pressure well however and managed to hold out to finish Second for the event.
So another State Title finished and another first for XRAY gaining its first podium finish at these State Titles. We learned a lot and look forward to NSW State Titles at Easter.
Big thanks to XRAY For such a Brilliant Car, the NT1.
We did not have a single car part failure the entire race meet and this testament speaks volumes for the quality of this great car!
Now all I have to do is master the art of tuning these noisy little beasts and you never know what might happen!
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1st Steven Jovanovic 2nd Ryan Maker XRAY NT1
3rd Ash Seward
4th Andrew Senche 5th Tim Gaukroger XRAY NT1