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Race report by Hartmut Rose
This year’s 40+ EC was held in Germany from June 27 to July 2 at the WMC Wiesbaden track – a fantastic, technically challenging circuit.

The hosts left a lasting impression with their outstanding attention to the event preparations. In addition to the usual covered paddock for the drivers, a huge tent was also brought in for the German drivers to set up their equipment, with enough trestle tables for everyone to have their own workbench. There were also tents offering first-rate drinks and snacks at reasonable prices. The track had been excellently prepared and was sprayed with a traction compound when necessary, such as after it had rained in the night. The weather was somewhat temperamental, with temperatures dropping from 38 degrees on Tuesday to 14 degrees on Friday but, apart from some rain during one qualifying round, the track stayed dry.

The competition was broken down into the VG 1/8 and VG 1/8 Classic categories, as well as VG 1/10 scale for the first time ever.

1/8 class:

54 drivers took to the stand to battle it out in this class. It was pleasing to see four drivers with XRAY RX8s on the starting grid: Christofer Hedlund (Sweden), Christian Schiff (Austria), and Wilfried Strecker and Reinhard Mehl from Germany.

During free training and the qualifiers, it was clear to see that Andreas Giesa was by far and away the strongest contender. Following the qualifiers, the RX8 drivers were in 7th (Christofer),
11th (Christian), 41st (Reinhard) and 45th position (Wilfried).

Reinhard and Wilfried were knocked out in the last 16 A group round, but Christofer took 3rd place in the A group semi-final and Christian the 6th spot, taking them through to the final.

There were no surprises regarding the winner of the 45-minute final – Andreas Giesa came top of the leader board with a slightly less dominating performance this time but still managing to secure a 3-lap lead over JĂĽrg Nydegger, with Olaf Engelmann just one lap behind.

Christofer bent his front bumper just after the start, which meant it was scraping on the ground and giving the car the tendency to under steer. The bumper was straightened out during the planned pit stop to change the tyres and the car was back in full working order. Christofer then nudged the barrier in the infield, damaging the wheel which was then replaced. With some determined driving, though, he was still able to secure 6th position as the chequered flag went down. Christian had to quit after 17 1/2 minutes, putting him back in 9th place in the overall ranking.

1/10-scale class:

The track is perfect for 1/10-scale cars. It features a long straight with a banked corner and back straight where a powerful engine comes into its own. The technical infield demands a good chassis and lots of traction in the acceleration phase, and the power of the hard curbs to make or break the race for cars of lower quality is not to be underestimated.

In the free training sessions it became obvious that a handful of drivers could potentially take home the title, with lap times from Bernd Hasselbring, Ralf Krause, Koen Geurds (Holland) and Hartmut Rose consistently among the fastest. From Thursday, Andreas Weyhoven also joined the frontrunners and set an impressive pace right from the word go.
What was also impressive was that the majority of the 20 drivers had chosen to use our car, the XRAY NT1.

The qualifiers brought the hotly anticipated battle among the frontrunners:
Bernd Hasselbring won the first qualifier, with Andreas Weyhoven in top spot after the second qualifier, Hartmut Rose led the third and fourth, and Andreas roared back into the lead in the fifth with a best time, putting him at the top of the ranking.

As direct qualification is no longer possible from this year, the pole position is decided over two 20 minute semi-final rounds, which offered some exciting action. The results after the semi final were:

1. Hartmut Rose XRAY NT1
2. Bernd Hasselbring XRAY NT1

3. Ralf Krause
4. Andreas Weyhoven XRAY NT1
5. Christian Schiff XRAY NT1

6. Koen Geurds
7. Horst-Reinhard Ernst XRAY NT1
8. Jochen Katzmayer XRAY NT1
9. Laszlo Kiss-Orban XRAY NT1
10. Peter Scheuerpflug XRAY NT1

It was very pleasing for our team to have eight XRAY NT1s in the final!

The high level of tyre wear meant there were three potential strategies for the 45-minute final:
1.) No pit stops to change the wheels, which would need a softer driving style and eliminate the ability to attack.
2.) Change the right-hand wheels only, which would mean securing a lead over the others without causing too much wear on the left-hand tyres.
3.) Change all four wheels, which would require driving the 45-minute final at full throttle without employing any tactics and with no heed to preserving parts.

Bernd and Ralf decided to go with the first option, Andreas went for the second, and Hartmut the third. This generated some excitement even before the start, with all drivers aware that only the final few minutes would show who had chosen the right strategy.

The final got off to a smooth, accident-free start and the cars tucked in behind one another in the first round like a string of pearls. The first anticipated development came when Hartmut pulled away, while Andreas was forced to squeeze past Ralf and Bernd. A collision lost Ralf several places and Bernd settled into 3rd place. Just before the halfway point, an error by Hartmut at the lap-counting area meant he fell down into 4th position, which wasn’t part of his tactics. Halfway through, Andreas (left-hand side) and Hartmut (both sides) changed their tyres and blasted off back onto the track to try and make up the lost time. Bernd was ahead of Ralf at this stage. While Hartmut delivered increasingly faster lap times (best time: 15.907 sec, the only one to get under the 16-second barrier) and tried to catch back up, Andreas had some minor problems and was unable to get back into the field. With seven minutes to go, Bernd was just ahead of Ralf, and Hartmut was another half lap behind. Three minutes before the finish, Ralf was given a stop-and-go penalty after his tank crew made a mess of things. Ralf came back out onto the track just behind Hartmut, who had almost caught up with Bernd. The drivers gave one big final push and Hartmut and Ralf closed some of the gap to Bernd. The clock was ticking, however, and at the close their performance just wasn’t quite enough to secure any changes at the top of the leader board.

Final results:
1. Bernd Hasselbring XRAY NT1
2. Hartmut Rose XRAY NT1

3. Ralf Krause
4. Laszlo Kiss-Orban XRAY NT1
5. Andreas Weyhoven XRAY NT1
6. Christian Schiff XRAY NT1
7. Jochen Katzmayer XRAY NT1
8. Horst Reinh. Ernst XRAY NT1

9. Koen Geurds
10. Peter Scheuerpflug XRAY NT1

I would like to congratulate my friend and team colleague, Bernd, on winning the title. To have just a two-second gap between the top three after 45 minutes – what a race! It was the most exciting race I have ever been in. Thank you, my friends.

I also have to mention the sportsmanship shown by all participants. Younger drivers could take a leaf out of their book. There were no major accidents and no fouls; it was live and let live. This kind of great model car racing is what it’s all about!

It would also like to thank my team boss, friend and helper, Bertram Kessler, who gave up his weekend to help and who gave me a great boost with his excellent fuel stops, as well as my new friend Kandi, who helped with changing the tyres.