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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.

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

Column #24 - In Between the Worlds

Column #25 + Column #26 - Well Developed or Overdeveloped?

Column #27 - Back to The Future

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The Xmas holiday break was great. After all the hard work during the year 2008 I took the first week off to relax and prepare mentally for 2009. The holiday was typical for me. I took the latest prototypes of the new 2009 cars and a bag of wrenches and tools, and anytime I missed the cars I would start wrenching and enjoying doing nothing… nothing but taking in the enjoyment of building the cars and making lists of all my ideas and comments for future analysis.

Once again I was reminiscing about “the old days” when there was no stress from this or that and I enjoyed trimming parts, assembling things, and wrenching on stuff. A great way to cleanse my mind. The 2008 statistics, surveys and feedbacks collected over the last period… as well as production forecasts and schedules… were of course my daily friends but this time without any looming deadlines and pressure the paperwork was much more enjoyable and surprisingly went even faster. So the holiday passed very quickly and after a few days of doing nothing I got back to the racing world. Back to work and back to the life of RC car models.

January is usually a very busy month. First of all it is still the high peak of the indoor season, the month during which we chase around the news for the Nurnberg show, the month when the marketing guys have to work and finish the new year catalog, and the month when we need to finalize all the details on the new projects being scheduled for the spring season. January is not only loaded with work but also the new racing season kicks off usually with a lot of motivation for the new year, and the new season brings also some of the biggest efforts and emotions.

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This January was busy as usual, even a bit more so than usual. First of all, internally we have worked on four new big XRAY projects at the same time as well as finishing plenty of new HUDY products which is by far the largest amount of new stuff we have ever worked on simultaneously. Secondly, in addition to the annual DHI Cup which kicks off the electric touring car season, we had another major and highly competitive race on schedule; the newly-added European Indoor Championship for 1/10 electric touring cars and 1/12 pan cars and the US team headed to the annual US Touring Car Championship.

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The DHI cup was a great season kick-off. The team gained a lot of experience and fine-tuned their T2’009 since the World Championship, racing the rest of the races indoors on carpet to be ready for the upcoming carpet races. With great reports and feedback from the team world wide, we had no worries at all for the DHI Cup and the team used the standard out-of-the-box configuration for the car.

Right from the start we set the pace very high, dominating practice and had Alex and Teemu setting the early lead in the qualifiers. The XRAY drivers in the Stock category put on a great show by placing seven cars in the main final. In the Modified category the competition was increasing round after round, but still Alex was able to keep his lead and at the end achieved the TQ position with Teemu in 3rd place. With the TQ and strong performance I had really great expectations for the finals but the well deserved win and victory once again eluded our grasp. In the finals the winning trophy slipped away though Alex claimed the Vice-champion trophy with Teemu also standing on the podium in the 3rd spot. After a nice showcase in the first days we left home with two podium finishes and big expectations for the upcoming Euros.

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The report from overseas from the US season staring race — nothing less than the US Touring Car Championship — was just as amazing. The T2’009 continues to dominate in the US in all categories. The US team once again proved the unbeatable performance by setting three TQs and collecting four wins in all the different Modified and Brushless categories on foam and rubber tires.

With a fast-approaching deadline for getting the new catalogs to the printer, we had to quick sort out the latest details on the new cars and get Production to produce prototype parts very quickly. To produce steel or aluminum parts is not a problem as it takes only a few hours from design stage to final product… but to produce prototypes from composites is another issue altogether. Actually it is now only a partial problem as there are always solutions where you either mill the parts from nylon or if the prototype is only needed for visual purposes then now there are new technologies which allow us to “print” the prototype samples extremely quickly and with the same visual look like the final product would look from the mould.

These new technologies again move up R&D possibilities a step further and greatly help to reduce production times by giving us the ability to fine tune prototypes much faster. With the upcoming deadlines for the Nurnberg show we have greatly benefited from these new technologies; several composite parts for which the moulds were not ready were replaced by sand-printed prototypes. The catalogs went to the printer on time, while we were already on our way to Italy for the first indoor European Championship.

Due to a postponed connecting flight we missed our luggage so the first practice rounds were really just practice, driving around with a borrowed car. Fortunately the “lost” bags arrived the second day just in time for the first qualifiers. The first-ever indoor Euros was fully loaded and represented by all of Europe’s best drivers and World Champions, so competition was going to be fierce in both classes. From the first practice the T2’009 was on the rails and the team showed some great performances in the qualifiers for both classes. In both touring and pancar classes it was young Swedish XRAY driver Alex Hagberg who set the pace with Teemu, Steven and the European Junior Champion Elliott in the top 10.

Alex was unbeatable in the touring car class where he won 3 out of the 5 qualifying rounds, along with being the only driver to break (two times) the 27-lap record. Unfortunately only the 2 best rounds counted, and since both Alex and Jilles had the same points but Jilles’ last run being slightly faster Jilles claimed the TQ spot with Alex behind him on the starting grid in 2nd place. In the touring class the top 10 field was filled by Teemu, Steven and Elliott making it 4 XRAY cars in the main final, with 15 XRAY cars in the top 30 making it an impressive lineup for XRAY.

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In the 1/12 category Alex had a fabulous qualifier which gave him an early TQ but at the end Hupo and Simo Ahoniemi put in faster runs which dropped Alex to the 3rd qualifying position. With 8 minutes of driving and an incredible 46 laps turned it was an impressive feat for all drivers to keep their focus and nerves on the line and drive lap-by-lap around the corners of the very tight track. Simply incredible. From Team XRAY it was besides Alex also Elliott who reached the top speed of the 1/12 cars and making the 46 laps secured him a start in the A main. Teemu missed the A main final by only a 0.2sec which meant for him BQ, in other words starting in first place in the B final.

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With the very tight track and almost evenly-matched performance of all the drivers I expected the finals to be thrilling. The performance of the top drivers from Europe has been taken to maximum levels and differences are so small that fragments of a second separate a driver in 1st from a driver in 20th place or further. With the highly-powered cars it is not about speed anymore, but rather about incredible reaction times and reflexes. And luck, of course. I knew that the performance of the T2’009 is on pace, I knew that all the XRAY drivers in the finals have the skills and talent to win, so I simply hoped for a bit of good luck.

In the first 1/10 final run, Alex went off the track in the first laps and had to work hard to work his way from last place up to 5th. Elliott was a bit luckier and worked around the traffic from 8th position up to 4th. The win in the first final went to the current World Champion.

The second final was finally a bit more positive for Team XRAY after Alex took an early lead which he was able to keep until the finish, despite being pressured for a few laps by the World Champion. He was able to pull away to a safe distance and cruise to the finish line to win the second final.

Now everything was open for the last final run where four drivers were still battling for the win. I crossed my fingers and hoped for a tiny bit of luck. After the start Alex was cruising in 2nd place with Rheinard putting pressure on him from 3rd place. After some pressure, Rheinard hit the corner and broke his suspension which gave Alex sufficient space for safe cruising. Alex just needed to finish in 2nd place to take home victory and I really hoped for that amount of good luck.

Unfortunately when you expect it least it happens; Alex hit a corner which destabilized his car and on the straight he got in contact with Andy Moore which resulted in his losing the ideal line. Alex went off the track for a few moments which meant he dropped to the back of the pack and working his way back up was nearly impossible. Despite his best efforts, Alex only worked his way back up to 6th place which was not enough even for a podium finish. He finished in an overall 4th position. It was very disappointing to almost have a hand on the trophy, but such is racing… where fragments of a second or a small mistake can cost you a trophy or even a podium finish.

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In the 1/12 class the performance was also there but the competition was also very strong and at the end Alex and Elliott had to be satisfied with 6th and 9th overall positions, respectively. It was still a well-deserved placing for the first Euros with the XII, which gives us a lot of confidence and expectations for future races. What we missed in the A-main finals we claimed in the B finals with Martin winning the 1/10 B-final and Teemu winning the 1/12 B-final so we at least had fun.

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After losing big races like this, it always makes me wonder if we just keep collecting the bad luck, or if we (me and my team) that works so hard does not deserve it, or if this is how it supposed to be… but usually there is no reason behind the facts. Sure it is saddening but on the other hand you always need to keep a calm head and realize that this is racing. This sport is fun and this is how it is and maybe once at some point good luck will turn to our favor. Until that time we just need to continue with the hard work and be ready for the next race… they always come up quickly.

Now I am on the way back home to Slovakia to double check the last-minute production updates on the new projects and then we are ready to leave for Nurnberg to present and release the new 2009 models: NT1, XT8, 808 and the all new 1/10 GT pan car, the X10.

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The 2009 has been kicked off.
I am ready for all the thrills, action, work, racing, excitement, and challenges.

See you around the tracks. Enjoy the ride and ‘til next time.

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer