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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

Column #28 - 2009 Kick-off

Column #29 - Crazy what?

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The 2009 indoor season continued in March with another large and important race – the LRP masters. As usual, the field was loaded and represented by all the factory teams. Just like last year we did not expect an easy fight so we continued to prepare even after the great success we experienced early in the year at the DHI and European Indoor Championship where we grabbed few podium places and titles. To finish the 2008/2009 indoor season with some nice wins at LRP masters, one of the largest and most competitive indoor races, would be really satisfying after the hard work the whole team put in during the last months. It would definitely lift the team’s spirit for the upcoming outdoor summer season. As such we were very focused in the last couple of weeks of testing and preparing some new ideas.

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Given the great handling and performance of the T2’009 platform we only needed to concentrate on the tiny details. There are few areas I still see room for improvement, specifically the roll centers, motor position and maybe the drive train ratios which of course are directly related with the racing category and track conditions. We have made a couple of different roll center holders to move the upper links more inside the shock towers with expectation that the car will gain more stability in the high traction conditions. After we made a few prototypes and tested them at our factory indoor tracks our theory was confirmed. Besides the better stability the longer linkages provide improved steering and handling into the corners. Definitely a great additional option part for particularly high traction tracks so we quickly produced a few more sets for the rest of the team.

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The car handles differently when throttle is on and off. I want to minimize this as much as possible so I was convinced we needed to look into the drive train. The 20T central pulley has been proven to work most effectively so I decided to stick with it and focus on the diff pulleys. We already had the 38T pulleys which were used together with 16T pulleys so the fastest solution was to use those 38T pulleys but they required new belts to fit them along with the central 20T pulleys. We pushed hard and were able to get our hands on the new belts and could do some in-house testing. The result was as expected, the handling was more linear and equal between on and off-power and the car felt more consistent. With these newly tested and confirmed parts, we were looking forward the LRP masters race.

In the last few weeks we had to spend much more time and energy on finalizing the production of the new 2009 specs for the NT1 as well of the 808, so once again the stress was building to produce all the parts at the last minute in order to get the new kits to waiting customers for the spring season. Just a week before leaving for the race we were able to finish the 2009 specs for the XT8 kit. We were able to get all three new cars to our customers on time. This made me very happy but I was also exhausted and looking forward to some weekend racing. Just before our departure, Martin was finishing the instruction manual for the new X10 project so it could go to printer and he finished it just in time for us to jump in the car at 3AM on Friday and drive 900km to Germany.

Once we arrived at the track in Germany we noticed the track layout had changed since the last year and it was much faster with more open spaces. The faster track layout was going to be a challenge and we expected all lap times to be much closer. From the first practice rounds it was clear the competition level would be even higher this year. All the top drivers pretty much race at the same level so it is the only differences are found in the small details and luck.

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The team meetings and feedback from the drivers enabled the team to find the best set-up and adjust it according to the changing conditions. The stock racing team was working very effectively the whole weekend which returned into incredible results. In the very competitive qualifiers the XRAY team was able to place 4 cars in the A main final in the modified class and the German XRAY team, supported by German distributor SMI, dominated the stock category by qualifying 8 cars into the A main. In both categories the XRAY cars had the largest representation with team work and morale high as always.

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In the modified category we had Freddy, Teemu, Elliott and Dirk on the starting grid in the A main final. Alex experienced a bit of bad luck so he has the first position in the B main. Alex turned in great performances in the previous two races. In both the DHI and European Championship he took the vice-champion title but this time was only able to gain the less desired BQ place. Even after finishing in the top 10 in each qualifier and this shows just how close the racing was. In the main finals the differences between the drivers are miniscule and opportunities to move up from the middle of the field up to the top were almost impossible. This was the case for our team which moved in the middle of the field and had no chance to get to the podium. So despite having the most cars in the main final we were not able to grab a podium finish.

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What slipped through our hands in the modified class we were able to grab in the stock class. With XRAY cars making up 8 of the 11 qualified cars in the A main final, there were high expectations for a podium finish. The final races in the stock category were a pleasure to watch for me. The cars worked well and at the end all three podiums finishes went to the XRAY team - a great job for the German team.

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During this race I was able to test our new parts and ideas. It was crucial to get a real testing data at high grip conditions like this race track offered. This information would be compared with the low and medium traction data I already had. I was fairly happy with the new parts but as traction improved on the track, the cars were getting faster and faster so the car with the 4.5 brushless motor was already faster than me. With that said, I am already looking forward to outdoor asphalt racing where the cars push more naturally and my reaction speed is still good enough :o)

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The indoor touring car season is over. The 2008/2009 season was definitely one of the most competitive but also one of the most successful with wins in US Touring Nationals, US Snowbirds, European Junior title and Vice-champion title with hundreds of podium finishes and wins at the national and regional races around the world for the Team XRAY. The competition bar has again moved slightly higher but I am very happy that the whole XRAY racing and R&D team continued hard work both on and off the track. The hard work is obviously paying off since we see XRAY customers representing the majority of cars in races lately. This only provides more motivation to me and our team to continue the work. We are now ready to head into the outdoor summer season so the race thrills continue on in the next few months.

My factory team and I will get a short break from touring car racing. However it will not last long since there is a lot of work waiting in the world of off-road racing. This week we pack up our off-road stuff and fly to England for the Neo race. The busy racing months are coming.

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

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer