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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
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
Column #31 - Getting into summer season
Column #32 - Heading for the Euros
Column #33 - Testing - Always last minute, always new ideas
Column #34 - European Champion - title celebration
Column #35 - Time to move on
Column #36 - National Heroes
Column #37 - 2010 ready
Column #38 - Decade of Triumph
Column #39 - 2010 Racing Calendar
Column #40 - DHI, ETS & Nürnberg Show

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February started with the annual world’s largest hobby show in Nürnberg. With all of the crisis here and there I expected significantly lower visitor attendance but to my positive surprise the show was much more crowded than in previous years. Does it mean the crisis is over? Or does it mean that despite the crisis people still find time and resources and want to enjoy playing and having fun? Truly I have no solid answer to this question but certainly it was great to see public interest in the hobby (despite the difficult times) remain same or in some areas grow even more.

The Nürnberg show is the trend-setting event and in the days of Internet it is more of a social event, an event of prestige, a time to talk with distributors, dealers and customers. The show is also a time when competitors meet, chat, and have fun face-to-face, as opposed to meeting in the adrenaline-charged atmosphere of race events where there is usually no time for something like that. So the Nürnberg show is still the top event with great attendance… and if you are not there it is like you don’t even exist.

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The year 2009 was – as I mentioned in some of my previous columns from previous years – a shakedown year in the hobby industry. Crisis usually separates the good from the average (and certainly from the bad). This year it was (for some) a surprise that many engine manufacturers did not participate at the show. Some companies were going out of business, there were fewer new companies coming out, and many of the companies that started only a few years ago (especially in the off-road category) simply did not show up. What will happen in the coming months and years nobody knows. However, like everything in the life companies come and go, some will eat up others, and only the best and strongest will survive. What was interesting is that this year the rumors flying around were really of a high caliber, some of which I would not even imagine a year or two ago. Whether those are simply rumors or something else we will see. For us it means nothing different, just do what we have been doing: working on new products, ideas and improvements.

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This year the highlights at our booth were the new X10 Link and XII Link, NT1 and 808 with 2010 spec updates, and the first prototype of the 808E – the electric-powered 1/8 off-road buggy. Both Martin and I were available for the first 3 days to discuss anything that anyone wanted to talk about. For those who didn’t have a chance to come to the event, please remember that you can meet me and Martin at any of the races throughout this racing season and talk about anything you have on your mind.

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I left Nürnberg on Saturday, drove home late at night and on Sunday morning I picked up the already packaged bags and went to the airport to fly to Bangkok for the 1/8 Off-road World Championship Warm-up. I have arrived at the track Monday afternoon so I still managed to run one practice round and then went to the hotel. The number of entries was not as large as the previous Buggy Party in December, but still most of the top drivers were present so we could expect a high competition level. During the first two days everybody had 8 runs with 10 minutes of track time so there was plenty of time for everyone to work on their set-ups, engines and tires… but as usual when the grip increased everything on the car and engine needed to be adjusted. The track was getting better all the time as the mud (with the applied oil) was very stiff and the surface was smooth, but there were some rough parts reinforced with concrete which highly abused the car chassis. The most difficult part was the 5 jump section which the good drivers had to jump as 3+2 jumps.

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On Wednesday there was timed practice on the schedule with the 3 best laps counting to divide the groups, followed by 6 qualifying rounds on Thursday and Friday. From Team XRAY it was Teemu who finished 5th after the qualifiers, with JQ and Surikarn in the top 15. In my group I was not able to get in a clean run. Every run I tried and tested something completely different, so instead of racing I was spending my track time practicing and testing and as such I finished 39th. In the quarter final I shot off the track right after the start and the antenna from my old-school FM receiver tore off while the antenna tube remained in the car so nobody noticed that… they just noticed that my car went out of control anytime it was far away, so after a few tries I had to give up. Not only for me but for many drivers this track was a nightmare for technical and electronics failures.

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At the end there were four XB808 in the semi-finals: Teemu, JQ, Surikarn, and the local driver Champ. JQ unfortunately experienced a similar problem like mine; some of his connectors had a broken wire which could not be seen so his chances disappeared. Teemu and Surikarn ran in the same semi-final so I had to watch for both. Teemu flamed out on the starting grid after the car was laid down for 3seconds. So after a restart Teemu found himself way at the back but he slowly worked his way up to 3rd place. Later on during refueling his engine flamed out again so once again he had to work his way up from last place. Once he was in the front again, the engine flamed yet again. Déj? vu all over again. Fortunately, most of the drivers were experiencing similar problems so at the end Teemu, Surikarn, and Champ bumped up into the main final to represent XRAY.

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The difficult and abusive track clearly tested the reliability of the cars in the long main final. Most of the finalists experienced broken cars, flamed engines, and electronics troubles. Teemu worked his way up the lead and stayed there for more than half of the final, then his engine flamed out and he dropped back in the pack. After an exhaustive fight, Teemu worked his way back into 2nd place, followed by Surikarn in 3rd and Champ in 4th. (Champ drove the entire final slowly but safely and without mistakes.) During the final none of the XRAY cars experienced any technical problems and easily survived the rough track conditions which were killing most of the crowd in the final. At the end 3 XRAY cars were in the top 4 which was a great result that I did not expect. I just hope we did not use up part of our luck for the warm-up, and that we still have lots of luck at the official Worlds later on in November.

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After the stressful day we needed to relax a bit so we were looking forward to the evening party and prize ceremony. The ceremony had some very enjoyable cultural performances, excellent Thai food, and a very relaxing atmosphere.

Despite the race being over we decided to stay for one extra day for private testing. Arriving at the track on Monday we were surprised and fairly disappointed as the entire track was floated with oil and powdered with new clay. This resulted in a “no traction” track condition. Despite this we gave it a try but after few laps the car gained extra weight as the oiled clay stuck to all the drivetrain parts, wheels, etc. so the car weighed at least 1kg extra. These conditions were definitely worse than a muddy track after a heavy rain. So we bid goodbye to the testing and practice scheduled for Monday.

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Because the flight was late at night I still had some time to kill and since it made no sense to run the car I spent the time in the pit, disassembled the entire car and checked for wear and other problems. During the entire week with several hours of runtime on an extremely rough and abusive track, the only part that was damaged was a screw for a shock absorber, the front shock tower was a bit worn, and the bottom of the chassis was seriously scratched (no surprise with all the landings on the concrete). And you can believe me that during the week I put the car through some serious crash tests, especially on the 3+2 jumps where the car had some pretty abusive landings. But everything worked well. I am always very demanding when it comes to reliability and durability, so I can say that I was very satisfied with the reliability and durability of our cars. That is why I sometimes find myself answering the question “What car is that?” with the reply: “It’s not a car, it’s an XRAY.”

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After rebuilding the car, I gathered all my stuff to leave. Packing up my new HUDY Start Box I realized that we had used the starter with LiPo batteries for the entire week without a single recharge. My starter box was used by plenty of drivers so it had several hundreds of starts and during the week it never failed. Even at the end it still looked like new. I was very happy that I have successfully made another nice and stylish product.

Packing up all my stuff I was ready to head to the airport and fly back home. There I have one week “free” to spend working and then I fly to cold Finland for the European Electric Touring Car Indoor Championship. From one race to another.

Thanks to www.neobuggy.net for providing the photos.


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

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer