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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
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
Column #41 - World Championship Practice
Column #42 - EC indoor, EC 1/12, Silverstate, LRP Masters, Neo
Column #43 - Nationals All Around

Finally the summer is here and after the extremely rainy spring we enjoy the sunshine and the outdoor racing. With the EC and WC races coming in the summer there is a lot of duties, work and projects to be finished so everybody is super busy. Of course the deadline for us does not mean the EC and WC races themselves but usually the warm-up races which are organised a few weeks or months before the official event. In the highly-competitive racing world, going to a EC or WC without practicing at an official (or at least private) warm-up is a professional suicide; none of the top teams take such a huge risk. The last weeks had several of the warm-ups on schedule so here is my short summary.

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EC Off-road Warm-up – Guarda, Portugal
After the Neo race we collected a lot of new experiences and ideas and as such before leaving to Portugal we made some new parts very quickly. We already had some new prototypes on hand which were tested at Neo, so now we had a great opportunity to make back-to-back comparisons. Everything was perfect until the race started. The track feeling was completely opposite to the Neo track. There was no traction and a huge amount of dust. After few runs the corners were extremely bumpy with a lot of dust. Such track conditions of course require a completely different set-up so everybody was wrenching run-after-run looking for optimum adjustment.

Team XRAY local driver Carlos Duraes was the fastest, qualifying 7th with Joseph Quagraine making it to the semi-final as well. Martin had technical problems in the qualifiers which we fixed for the final races, and then he enjoyed the racing and made three bump-ups into the semi-final. Teemu Leino qualified into the quarter final but managed to bump-up to the semi-final and then up to the main final where he finished in 6th place.

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I have tested most of the different parts – especially focused on suspension and shocks – and since I changed the set-up for every run I just could not concentrate on racing and my results matched this. Since this Portuguese track is so special and different and since we would not be able to simulate those conditions anywhere else in nearby area, we decided to stay at the track after the race for some extra practice. This was very helpful and we moved with the set-up again a step further but still I was not completely happy. While traveling home we discussed what we needed to make differently and analyzed this for the entire week.

Coming home I assigned the R&D team to re-design the steering block to incorporate a king-pin which should help to gain more stability in the extremely bumpy tracks. The other point was to gain higher corner speed for which I redesigned a couple of other parts. We managed to make all the new parts for the next off-road race where I was now a bit more happy with the improvement on those areas in which we knew we were lacking. The only problem is that the Guarda track in Portugal is so special that I really do not know if all those improvement parts we made recently will be also beneficial for this particular track but I hope so and just need to wait and see at the EC.

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Czech XRAY Challenge series – Trencin, Slovak Republic
To get a short break from off-road racing we were looking forward the last final race of the very popular Czech XRAY Challenge Series 2009-2010, which was scheduled at our factory home track in Trencin. More than 100 XRAY drivers from Czech Republic arrived and enjoyed our well-prepared track which we sugared to provide sufficient traction. Most of the drivers were so delighted and happy that many of them told me that for them this race is more than a Xmas day… it was a dream come true. Not only was the atmosphere great, but the racing was too. The race was divided into 3 categories: 1/10 nitro, 1/10 electric stock and 1/10 pan cars. Martin and I were the only non-Czech drivers allowed to race as special guests so we could enjoy the fun as well. Martin ran only in the nitro category to have more time to help everyone with their set-up, and technical and set-up questions.

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In the nitro category, Martin dominated the race and I was in 2nd position. In the electric touring the competition was very high and very equal. As I had plenty of new T3 ideas to test, I decided to run in the electric touring category as well. With the upcoming WC warm-up in Germany I had a great opportunity to test some of the latest improvements which were result of the super-fast changing electronics development. As usual, the majority of the new ideas are thrown away as they do not bring anything positive, but there is also usually some small amount of new parts or ideas which seem positive (but then of course they require long term testing all around the world).

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The development of the electronics has again been super fast and LiPo batteries and brushless motors have been already for some time the absolute standard. But these new technologies keep developing further and today we have completely new motors with different magnets & different diameters of armatures which changes the RPM, inertia mass, weights, etc. All this has all direct impact on the dynamics and handling of the car, weight balance, etc. Just moving motor 1mm will have a significant influence on the handling of a modern electric touring car running on rubber tires. As such, the development of electric touring cars is a never-ending process and nearly alchemy. This year with the EC and WC on schedule the development of the electronics and cars will move again a step further and this time (I suppose) be even faster.

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XRAY USA Challenge – Houston, TX, USA
Right after the Czech XRAY Challange we flew to Houston, TX, USA which would host the 1/10 nitro touring World Championship. Since we decided to skip the official WC warm-up several months ago due to completely different track conditions, we decided to organize a private testing. As such, RCAmerica has organized an XRAY USA Challenge. Besides the US team (Ralph Burch & Paul Lemieux) also the strong European team arrived including myself, Martin, Dirk Wischnewski, Alexander Hagberg, Teemu Leino, Jerome Renaux, Biago Spataro and many others. Besides the main event over the weekend, we used almost the entire week prior to the race for private testing and analysis. Despite the weather forecast having storms and showers on schedule, luckily we did not experience any rain and as such we enjoyed plenty of track time, plenty of nitro smell and burning tires, and the Europeans could enjoy the hot weather and sun (since the weather in Europe has recently been nothing but rain).

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The WC track is very challenging especially for European drivers, since is has wooden barriers all around with plastic reinforced corners. This track style is unforgiving and even a small touch of the plastic barriers will shoot the car into the opposite wooden barrier. The NT1 has been famous for the highest durability so besides a few broken steering blocks nobody had any major or serious breakage. The track layout has been fairly easy but the wooden barriers make it very dangerous. The WC itself will be demanding with respect to proper engine adjustment and brakes, as speed and hard braking will be the most important aspects. The track has super-fast areas with plenty of 180° hairpin turns and chicanes, and all the time you find your finger on either full gas or full brake.

The entire XRAY Challenge was run in a nice and friendly atmosphere and we were walking around helping the drivers with set-up and any technical questions. With an Open Electric Touring category at this race, Martin also helped the electric drivers, and of course everyone at the race got a promotional support package. An NT1 kit was the main prize of the draw.

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In the race it was Ralph who was clearly the fastest with best knowledge of the track, and he set the TQ. The main final was scheduled (like it will be at the World Championship) for 1 hour with the 10 best drivers in qualifiers being nominated directly into the final with another 2 drivers bumping up from the lower finals. Despite my not being among the fastest drivers I was still able to run the 10-minute qualifier runs without any mistake and as such I also qualified directly into the main final. The qualifiers were easy which I cannot say about the finals where we faced problems which we had not experienced yet. Martin, Teemu and I decided to test the composite diff gears from Capricorn but this was a very bad decision in the end. Teemu broke those composite diff gears in the beginning of the main final, Martin broke them in the middle of the final, and I broke them at the end of the final! This certainly taught us a lesson. Besides the broken Capricorn diff gears I had absolutely no technical problems the entire week and the car in these tough conditions was extremely in reliability and performance.

At the end, Ralph continued with his performance from the qualifiers and won the main final… followed by Dirk and Paul. In the evening everyone joined at the dinner at a local steakhouse where we analyzed the event, all the new experiences and strategies for the upcoming World Championship.

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WC Warm-up – Hannover, Germany
Coming home from USA we had 2 days to work on the most important and urgent matters and Wednesday night we were already again on the road, this time traveling by car to a place near Hannover, Germany. Another WC warm-up was on schedule – this time an electric touring car category – so we had to switch our mindset and adjust our hands. We arrived at the track on Thursday just before the race, while all other teams were already on the track since Monday so of course we already had a huge disadvantage. From the European team it was Alex Hagberg, Teemu Leino and Edbahr. From Czech and Slovak Republic it was Zdenek Hamak and young Zdenko Kunak who were on the track to test for the team.

The track layout was purposefully built for electric touring cars. It was not large like typical European tracks, but it was very technical with fast areas where the car pushed a lot and mixed with short corners where maximum corner speed was required with plenty of steering. From the team it was Alex who improved his set-up run after run, setting the fastest lap times and in the last qualifier he finished 2nd. Considering the very high level of competition this was a very good result. Martin and Teemu were not able to find a set-up for their particular racing styles, and as such after qualifiers finished 2nd and 3rd in the B main with remaining Edbahr and Hamak also making it into the B main. It was obvious that those first days of practice that we missed were working against us.

The weather was not friendly for the main final and there was plenty of rain for all of Sunday. In the B final, Edbarh prepared his car to be waterproof to check the car and electronics in rainy conditions, as well as making it to win one of the B final runs. The weather in this part of Europe is unstable even in summertime so everyone needs to expect that the WC could be run in water as well and as such the best possible preparation would pay off. For the main final, Alex prepared his car for a watery track but unfortunately everyone else gave up and as such Alex ran the final for the win and to practice and test the car in water. The “water set-up” made the car visibly easier to drive with neutral handling and the electronics also survived these extreme conditions.

The entire practice experience was fairly positive, and we found a lot positive things but also noticed some areas in which we were behind the competition; those will need to be fixed urgently. Especially the LiPo chassis (which we have tested very successfully at several races) was not so positive at this particular track and as such we are now back in R&D behind the computers working on completely new and different design ideas. As all other teams have a huge advantage by those extra testing days, some of them even stayed for another week after the WC. We do not want to give up and get left behind. We now have new and refined prototype parts already being produced and are just waiting for a good weather forecast and we will drive back the almost 1000km to Hannover for extra practice of these new parts to be ready for the WC.

Martin has just left for Sweden for the 1/10 nitro touring EC warm-up, and since I was out of office for so long I decided to skip this race and get ready the last parts. When Martin is back from Sweden we will drive to Germany. Back on the road again, enjoying warm Warm-ups and challenging Challenges.

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

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer