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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?

Column #30 - Last indoor race of the season

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The summer season usually starts for us with off-road and nitro touring races outdoors and this year it is different. After a very long and exhaustive indoor touring car season I was looking for a bit more of daylight and sunshine, in other words outdoor racing. Racing outside does not only mean daylight and sun but also in many cases a lot of cold, rain, dust, mud and dirt. With the outdoor races you do not have the option to just surrender to the weather conditions.

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The first major outdoor race for us was not so much an outdoor race despite the fact it was one of the largest nitro off-road races – the Neo International in UK. Despite it being an off-road race held at a very large quality track, it was held in a covered hall. This meant there was no rain but it was still a bit cold. The 2009 Neo race featured a high level of competition with almost all of the world’s best drivers which included most of the World’s and European Championship finalists and all the factory teams.

Even with the difficult economy, off-road racing remains a very strong racing class and seems to be expanding more every day. This is confirmed by the highly competitive and professional approach drivers take and you see this in their focus on the smallest details. The off-road market keeps growing and the battle between manufacturers is increasing as well. As we all have seen, there is new company offering an off-road car or truggy almost every week. The competition just gets tighter and stronger. Despite this there still seems to be a few companies that stand out in the racing segment of the off-road market. These manufacturers stand miles ahead of the rest of the crowd because they focus heavily on the investment they put into racing and team. Is it good or bad for the sport? I cannot answer that question and at the moment we just can’t wait to see what will be the short and long term effects.

But what is already obvious is that the professionalism of off-road racing has increased a lot and what used to be trivial on the car set-up has become critical. Just one or two years ago you could hardly find anyone using a set-up system for an off-road wheel balancer or downstop gauges. Even with a slightly non-correct set-up you could still compensate the car with racing skills. I know this from experience because when we have tried to promote the HUDY set-up system and accessories for off-road cars many times we have seen smiles on driver faces and heard comments that a precise set-up is not important because the off-road cars still have too much play and tolerances.

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Nowadays when you walk around the pits at a race, even local races, you find most of the drivers are constantly working on the major parts of the off-road car like the shocks and diffs but also on the smallest details using precision set-up systems, gauges, balancers, and other tools to correct tiny inaccuracies in the set-up.

Set-up sheets are being used more frequently and we know this because we have noticed an increase in the number of online set-up sheets being posted and downloaded from the XRAY’s Virtual Set-up Sheet database for the off-road cars. All-in-all it is fascinating to be part of the big steps that the off-road market has been undergoing in the last few years and we can expect some interesting changes very soon. The first important sign was the demo race of the electric version of the 1/8 buggies at the Neo race. The brushless motors and LiPo batteries have brought a revolution to the 1/10 electric touring cars within the last few years and moved the market and racing in a completely new direction. It will be interesting to see what happens with the electric powered 1/8 off-road cars.

The Neo race’s competition level made for a very exciting race. The most unlucky position to finish in any semi-final is just one place behind the final bump-up position. Unfortunately, Jerome Sartel finished in this spot. Kevin Brunsden had a perfect quarter final and was bumped into the semi as well but did not make it to the main final. The XRAY 808 was one of the top 3 most frequently used cars but unfortunately we were not able to position any 808 in the main final which was crowded with the usual big name drivers you see at the Euros and World’s finals, so nowadays with so many teams it makes it really difficult to make A main final qualification. When you consider the number of XRAY factory drivers versus those for the other teams, we still did a good result and it serves as motivation for future races.

On the other side we gained some new ideas we could apply to more extensive testing for the 808. When we returned home we documented and prioritized them so we could get started. To keep up with the current trends and development there is no room for breaks. To stay ahead of the pack you have to constantly observe, analyze and always look for new ideas.

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Just few weeks after the Neo race there was another major off-road race on the schedule and this time it was really outdoors. The International Czech off-race was unfortunately on the same weekend as the Nitro touring cars European Championship “B” which took place in Austria so it was very tough decision on what to do, where to go and how to arrange everything. The nitro touring car Euros are very important and with majority of the cars entered being XRAY we had to make arrangements to provide our standard high level of service and support to all the XRAY drivers. At the same time we needed to get more track time, testing and focused research on the off-road car. These are the difficult decisions that have to be made since many times the races in different classes are at the same time and either you split the team, focus on priorities or find other solutions. With the two important races set for the same time we decided to split, me with Martin preparing for the off-road race while Mario was on the road to the nitro touring Euros. In this way we could cover both and while remaining in contact with the on- and off- the tracks.

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The large international outdoor race in the Czech Republic got the attention of some of the recently successful off-road racers from USA and Europe so the competition was once again at a very high level. The brand new track was incredibly large, difficult and very demanding at the same time. With more track time and preparation, as well as a focus on more details we got the 808 on the rails very quickly. With the race loaded with top names we were able to place 3 XRAY cars in the main final but unfortunately still missed the podium, finishing in 4th place.

We used this race to test some new parts and ideas that focused on further weight optimization, weight distribution improvement. We were looking for some insight for better dynamics as well some new materials for brake systems. Testing revealed some improvements but also some tests actually returned worse results. This is what is most interesting about this job. You will create a theory and expectation on the improvements but during the real world testing you may find the opposite to be true. That is why the development and testing process is a never ending process. Your vision and goals set must be set to a high standard to endure.

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During the event I was on the phone with Mario checking on the progress of the Nitro touring Euros and was fairly happy with our progress. With over 120 drivers from 17 European countries the XRAY NT1 comprised almost half of the starting grid which was an incredible and very satisfying. As usual we assisted the racers with the XRAY service van. It was on the track from Monday to the final main and fully loaded with all the spares and necessary parts. The Austrian XRAY distributor supported the service.

The XRAY support packages were handed out for free and it included some of the most important spares, wear and promotional items. This made all of the XRAY racers very happy. The support team consisted of several factory team drivers and distributors were trying to provide technical service and support to all the drivers. I was very happy with customers’ satisfaction with the parts, service and the technical support. However, I was even happier with the race results.

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After the qualification round we had 3 XRAY cars out of 4 that qualified directly into the final and the lower finals were also represented by a majority of XRAY cars. I was very excited about the TQ and expected, or actually hoped, for a good result in the main finals. I knew from previous experiences that races are races and results can change even at the last second. Therefore even if you have best team, best car and best lap times there are still many factors that can take away everything in a fraction of a second. So we just needed to wait for the final results and hoped for good luck.

In the lower and quarter finals some XRAY drivers enjoyed bump-ups. In the semi-final it was Francesco Martini (Italy), Jerome Renaux (Belgium), Maarten Van Lierop (Netherlands), Benjamin Schumann (Germany) who finished up to the third position in their respective semi-final and were ready to compete in the main final. So there were a total of 7 XRAY cars that were supposed to sit on the starting grid of the main final. In the end the number dropped to 6 as the technical inspection found Maarten’s fuel tank was a bit over the limit so he was disqualified. This is why I always suggest everybody at major races should check their fuel tank capacity before the race. In case of hot weather conditions go the safe route and use the fuel tank inserts to decrease the capacity. After long runs the fuel tank naturally increases its capacity so there is no reason to risk your finish.

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I heard the finals were very thrilling and provided a great result for Team XRAY. The main final was led by Gerhard Kandelhart with his XRAY NT1 for the first part of the final then he was overtaken by his teammate Freddy Sudhoff who held his lead with an NT1 until the finish line. The main fight was for the remaining podium finishes and there was even some controversy due to crashes. Unfortunately Gerhard was involved and it ended his chances for a second place podium finish. Instead he dropped to the fourth position. On the other hand the young Dutch driver Daan Jacobs was able to move onto third place securing two podium finishes for XRAY NT1. With the 6 cars in the main final, 2 podium finishes, TQ and WIN the final results were more than fabulous for the XRAY team and I was very very happy for this result. After winning the 2008 Euros “B” by Dirk Wischnewski with his NT1 I was ecstatic that the team continued the great performance this year as well gaining another very important and major result for the XRAY. Good job and big thanks to all and congratulations to the winners.

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I’m taking a few days in the office because we have to quickly check the current production status, new projects for products development and now prepare for the upcoming off-road European Championship warm-up that will take place this weekend in Austria. The summer season has started and this means we will be on the road again. It will be like this every weekend, at a different race and different track each time. Sometimes it will be asphalt, sometimes it will be dirt, sometimes it will be nitro, sometimes it will be electro, but it will be a lot fun and excitement every time. At the same time there will be some work and stress, but all-in-all this is my life and passion.

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

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer