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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.

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Here we go! Summer is here and we have been traveling all around Europe… check out our overbooked racing calendar. We just arrived to Portugal for the 1/8 Off-road European Championship and despite my getting used the dust and jumps again, I have already done one World Championship. Everything was super fast in the last couple of months and even faster in the last weeks that I even did not realize how fast the time flies. Just yesterday I went home after the German 1/10 electric touring and 1/12 World Championship, and today I am already in Portugal and will hit the off-road track tomorrow.

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The Worlds Warm-up was very helpful to gain experience with some of the new parts, but especially to prepare the starting set-up. As this part of Germany is known for regular rainy days in the summer, we used the warm-up to test and run in the rain as well. Despite Alex Hagberg winning the warm-up in the rain race, we still felt that we needed to come back to the track with some new ideas and parts to test prior to the Worlds. Arriving home from the official warm-up, we quickly produced some final modifications of the chassis and top deck and a few other minor parts. At the last possible weekend before the Worlds we traveled with Martin, Teemu Leino and Alex Hagberg back to the track. Arriving at the track, we joined the other competing factory teams who also took advantage of last-minute testing time; such is the racing level at the real Worlds, only the traction was different.

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The part I was most anxious to test was the all-new super-narrow chassis with new special LiPo battery holder; I was also interested in comparing the single steering system (which we have been using successfully since the first T1 platform until today) with the new double steering system. At our factory track we did some very quick tests and comparisons – I had some mixed feelings as did Martin. With these new parts the car was not faster and the lap times were fairly similar but the feeling of the car was different, it was more stable and easier to control in some particular parts of the track but on the other hand we felt we lost a bit of steering. With very clear ideas and a “to do” list to test, we decided to change to harder suspension parts to compensate for the reduced steering. The last back-up idea to resolve the steering issue was to play around with different chassis flex and especially top deck flex.

During the entire practice session we needed to remind ourselves that despite the track having sugar water on it (to have at least some level of traction), we knew that the traction at the Worlds would be completely different. We figured that the majority of what we would find at practice would still need to be adjusted for the high traction at the Worlds – with more than 120 drivers racing and of course the track layout being very different and in the opposite direction. Keeping all this in mind, practice was fairly successful and we were achieving the same lap times as the other competition teams. This gave us our first feeling that our driving was equal (or better), and also gave the second feeling that the new parts seemed to be an improvement. Though usually our first feeling may not be always the best, we decided to keep calm heads and see how things would go at the real race.

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Coming back home we had still 2 weeks left and as such we quickly produced those parts which we found to be improvements for the Worlds so that we had plenty ready for the rest of the team. Martin used the last free weekend to prepare for the nitro touring racing and left for Italy to test and prepare the NT1, run-in some new engines and get ready for the Nitro Touring Worlds in the USA. Coming home from Italy we packaged our stuff. This time we had to skip the 1/12 World Championship as it was the same weekend as Martin’s university graduation; as Alex and Paul Lemieux were racing at the 1/12 Worlds we enjoyed the graduation with a celebration afterwards. After the weekend we drove finally to Germany for the Worlds.

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As with any outdoor racing, the weather plays the most important role and this time the forecast was very good. So our preparation for wet racing was at that moment considered a waste. Well, you never know… sometimes it pays off, sometimes not. With controlled practice on schedule we prepared for the show and the first runs were more or less about adapting to the opposite direction racing and new layout. As such the set-up was altered step-by-step. Everyone had a few runs to compare new parts with the standard car. After a few runs Alex and Zdenko Kunak decided upon the completely standard T3 configuration, while Paul used most of the standard parts along with his own modified chassis.

Myself, Martin, Zdenko Hamak and Teemu decided upon the narrower chassis and double steering. It was interesting that in some particular track conditions one configuration was working better than the other and vice-versa. Of course all other factors play significant roles as well and most importantly the tire treatment tricks make a huge difference. This went so far that in some cases drivers preferred not to work on their cars but rather tried to perform alchemy with their tires. The additive you use, the way you apply it, how much and where, the way how and how long you heat it, the way how/where/with-what you wipe it… and many MANY more things have a much higher influence on the handling of the car in some cases than to change something on the car. So sometimes I really have a feeling that we are at the race not to compete driver-against-driver and car-against-car, but rather the tire tricks do all this for you. I do not want to judge whether or not this is good for the sport, but at the end this is racing, these are the rules, and everyone has the same opportunity.

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After practice we had a very good feeling and were ready for the qualifiers. Alex was the fastest from Team XRAY in the qualifiers and out of the 6 rounds Alex finished twice only a few tenths of a second behind TQ. The last qualifier was finally successful for Alex when he was able to TQ the round while showcasing the car’s performance; he was the only driver who achieved 25 laps. With one win and two 2nd places, he was starting in 3rd place for the finals. This time it was really very close to the overall TQ and for sure it would be all different in the finals. But racing is racing and all the “what ifs” go to the side.

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Paul was second fastest from Team XRAY with one 2nd place, one 3rd and one 4th qualifier finish; he ended up gridded 5th for the final. Teemu was not lucky this time in the qualifiers, but still his bad luck could not compare to Martin’s bad luck. During all the qualifiers, Martin had electronics problem in every run… even changing the electronics for every run did not help at all. This is also real racing bad luck experience. Zdenko Hamak has been constantly improving his racing and the Worlds went fairly well for him. In the last two qualifiers he finished in the Top 10. Despite the entire team doing its best, the competition level was still extremely high and to get into the final Top 10 you needed to constantly be at the very top. After the qualifiers we ended up with two in the main final which was a fairly good result considering the extremely high racing level and considering that many of the other factory teams were either not fast nor lucky enough to get at least one car into the main final. So after the qualifiers we were fairly happy and excited for the finals.

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The finals went all wrong for us. Sometimes I want to say “wrong as usual.” All the final runs were very hectic and not in favor of our team. The track is fairly small and the entire starting grid was squeezed on the main straight so the distance between cars was very short and as such all the cars appeared after the start in the first corner one on top of another. Alex, starting from 3rd place, had an extremely difficult situation as all the cars got to top speed on the main straight after the start while the car ahead of him was sliding in all the final runs. So for Alex it was like being between bowling balls; he was involved in two crashes and got two stop-and-go penalties. Paul was unlucky in earning stop-and-go penalties as well.

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All these stop-and-go penalties were (in my opinion) inappropriate, but of course everyone would consider his teammate’s or driver’s stop-and-go as inappropriate  . However, checking the videos from the race it just confirmed my opinion. But anyway, again, this is racing: crashes and stop-and-go penalties are involved, judges do their work, and of course stress, pressure, and the entire smothering atmosphere have their impact as well. In the end, all the pressure was extraordinary and Alex could not concentrate on racing. In the last run when he wanted to be very cautious he got shot off of the track. Despite Paul being the fastest in two finals (with the best lap times) we ended at the back. Sometimes being the fastest is not enough, but rather having good luck helps enormously. Somehow we have been missing good luck in the important moments and important races. Hopefully this vicious cycle breaks soon.

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After the ceremony everyone left to get ready for their next races. Teemu was flying to Portugal to meet us, and Paul and Alex will get ready for the upcoming Nitro Touring Worlds. Now I enjoy the sun in Portugal, getting my mind ready for the nitro racing and especially getting ready for the off-road racing; we will hit the track tomorrow. We will see how this one will go for us and of course I will stay in touch and give you updates in the next column. And the summer has only just begun!


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

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer

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
Column #41 - World Championship Practice
Column #42 - EC indoor, EC 1/12, Silverstate, LRP Masters, Neo
Column #43 - Nationals All Around
Column #44 - Warm Warm-ups, Challenging Challenges