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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.

1/10 Electric Touring Testing – T3
After we returned from the Euros Warm-up, where we tested several new parts, we already had several new ideas in mind. As the concrete track surface at the Euros track is very particular and very sensitive to the weather changes, we had to make some changes which I felt are necessary for that particular track. With new experiences and feedback gained we came back from the EC Warm-up on Tuesday, on Wednesday Martin had designed a new chassis (probably already on the 10th version), on Thursday the chassis was produced and we built at our cars, and Friday we were on the way back to Austria to the EC track to participate at the Austrian Nationals to test the new chassis and new ideas again.

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Luckily we managed to finish the production of the new gear diff and as such still “hot” from production we grabbed the final production of the gear diff as well. Coming to the track we met plenty of factory team drivers from competition teams who had the same plan… to test at the Austrian Nationals and as such the competition level was very high with perfect conditions for testing and comparison. It was surprising that since last week the organizer had changed the track layout and now the track was not so difficult and there were less mistakes and crashes from everyone. As usual after each run I changed the set-up and exchanged the parts and slowly we worked up to the optimal set-up which I believe will be our starting set-up at the EC. The main improvement for this particular track was independent suspension holders which provided more flex and higher traction and steering. The gear diff worked smoothly and very well, and we noticed it generates more traction. Up front we used the gear diff with rubber inside and this really worked well. After a very tough and very competitive race, Martin finished 5th and we were finally satisfied with the performance of the car at this track… we are ready for the EC! It will be a very interesting Euros this year as the track is very sensitive to weather changes so the racing and set-up work will be challenging for sure.

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1/8 On-road testing – RX8
After we came back from Austria on Sunday night we jumped back to work on Monday on the RX8 preparation for the EC Warm-up in Luxembourg. We had only 3 days due to a long trip with almost 1200km waiting for us on Thursday. The last time we really raced was the Worlds in Miami, and the list of ideas to test and try was very long. The main area to test and work on were the flex of the car to gain more traction and steering, and the other area was of course the clutch. After the long whole-day trip we arrived to rainy a Luxembourg but luckily the weather improved and after a delay in the morning we were ready to hit the asphalt. The track layout was very interesting because in a relatively small part of the track the height elevation of the track is a few meters which makes car handling a bit more difficult.

We raced at this track a few years ago at the EC 1/10 electric touring, so we adapted to the track layout fairly quickly despite the racing styles of the 1/8 on-road and 1/10 electric touring being completely different. We worked on the car set-up together with Eric Dankel, John Ermen and Tobias Hepp and together we tested some of the new parts. For some drivers, some of the parts were working better, yet for others it was something different… such is the variety of racing styles between drivers so naturally in the end everyone had a slightly different set-up despite our starting with a common base. Myself I have started with our last set-up from the Miami track and at the start this set-up worked in Luxembourg. For the first run I used our new clutch spring and after I broke in the clutch I fully tightened the clutch and after the run I was finally happy with the clutch – it now works much more consistently and reliably.

For my racing style I set the clutch more aggressively so I loosened the spring by a few tenths of a millimeter until it was to my liking. During the rest of the race, any time I left the pit the clutch engaged perfectly so I was happy that one area on the “to do” list was solved and I could focus on the car. In the qualifiers I had bad luck, as each time it was my turn the track was still wet or at the end of my run it would start to rain. Finally I had a dry run but this time the batteries were gone. In the finals I worked my way to the ? final from the 1/8 final which I won from the last place. I knew that to bump up from the ? final would be extremely difficult. After the start I got through traffic to into 4th place but during the run I could not keep the pressure on the faster drivers and as such I finished 6th. The tempo was too fast and despite my car working very well I was driving too carefully so as to not make any mistakes, but within such a high competition you need to drive error-free but fast as well.

Erik was on rails when he was dominating the semi-finals, but at the end of the run his engine flamed out. Martin, after a difficult race in semi-final when he was facing a lot of traffic, had bumped up into the main final in 10th place but afterwards the organizers recalculated the results and they changed the result for some other driver who got into the main final instead of Martin. It was very strange when technical inspection found a local driver was 60g underweighted but gave him the opportunity to find the “lost” weight. It was very strange decision but as this was just a warm-up we just rose above the situation.

At the end, from the team it would be John Ermen and Patric Hepp who would bump up into the main final. Patric was doing especially well in the early part of the final when he was in 2nd place. Unfortunately the second set of tires seemed not to be working for him and after the tire exchange he struggled with handling and dropped back to a final 4th place. John also had a fairly good start but after engine troubles he fell back into the middle of the pack. Despite our missing the podium by one place I was still fairly satisfied that the all-new RX8 has been working very well and at the same level as the best European drivers. I am fairly satisfied with the current performance, but despite that I could of course imagine some improvements here and there, which of course will be on my task list in the near future.

After the final we stayed at the track for extra practice but after the rain on early Monday morning we decided to pack up our stuff and get started on the long trip back home.

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1/8 Off-road testing - 808
After the last successful tests of the 808 at the EC Warm-up in Germany, we continued our work on this car as well. Meanwhile our small off-road team was extended after young & talented Czech driver Ales Bayer joined our team to help on development and testing of the car. Ales is very dedicated and extremely hard working and is exactly the type of driver we are always looking for to get on board. With his own home track being only 2 hours away from our factory, it makes it a great match for both the factory and Ales. After he built his car and had his first track tests, he phoned me all excited about the performance and handling.

We have packed our stuff and the new parts to test, and drove to Ales’s home track to test and prepare for the upcoming international Astra race which was on schedule the following week. Despite the bit of rain that fell, the track was new and as such all the water got quickly absorbed and we could hit the track after a short while. Despite the traction being low the car worked well at this track. Ales was the fastest of course, and the car handled very well in his hands. In the afternoon his brother Martin Bayer joined the testing and we had some head-to-head tests with very even results. The new prototype parts seem to improve the balance of the car, and I am sure this will again shift the performance a step further.

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Like with the on-road cars I spend now most of the time around the flex of the car to improve traction and steering. However, it is a very demanding circle you get into as to get the optimum mix of chassis flex and suspension flex is nearly alchemy. You cannot simulate any of these in a computer as well as the real thing, as there are innumerable small details which matter and influence things. To find the desired optimal set-up you have to work around the hardness and flex of the front and rear arms, uprights, C-hubs, steering blocks, front and rear braces, chassis and of course there are “external“ factors such as track style, tires, inserts and wheels but also shocks, springs and plenty of other details such as body and wing. So to make all my tests comparable I concentrate always only on one area only because it is impossible to test everything. Of course all the tests have to be with the same suspension geometry, same tires, same diffs, etc.

After around 20 fuel tanks and all the changes I made, the car was finally working with my driving style and I was excited for the next week Astra race for which more than 100 drivers from around the Europe were supposed to come (including Yannick Aigon).

The weather forecast was not the best for the weekend – rainy and cold. To save some time we stayed with Martin on Thursday at work and were on the phone to get updates. After the weather seemed to stabilize and the track was drying out we left for the race. The rest of the day was free practice round which we used for last minute testing and set-up changes. I tested some new prototypes of front and rear braces, but after a few tests I returned to the original ones. Martin and Ales were spending most of the time testing and comparing different tires to adapt to the changed track conditions which was now completely different from last week‘s tests.

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On Saturday we had 6 qualifiers on schedule with the 4 best counting. Yannick was the fastest in all rounds while the fight for 2nd place was very tight (until the last round) between brothers Ales and Martin Bayer. At the end both had the same points but Martin had one faster run which secured him the 2nd qualifying position. From the rest of the team it was Jiri Mara (6th), Tomas Marke (8th) and Martin (10th) who qualified into the main final and had the chance to fight for the main final. Myself I qualified in 22nd place which was to my personal satisfaction; during all the runs the car was very stable, easy to drive, and fast enough. Again these were noticeable improvements which brought some satisfaction to me.

The weather forecast for the finals on Sunday was not looking good. For the entire morning there was rain here and there, but the track dried out a bit and in the afternoon I had my run. The organizer applied sawdust on the wet parts of the track and we could race. I changed the tires for the low pin ones, increased the ride height by +1mm and I was ready to fight. Just after the start the car behaved incredibly. I had the fastest lap times in the ? final - all this without shortening the track . I was only a second slower than Yannick, while he usually beats me up to 3-4 seconds per lap, so I was very satisfied. Till the end of the run it started to rain again and the mud got into the steering so the car got a bit more difficult to handle and I made couple of mistakes which put me into 2nd place but still I managed to bump up into the semi-final. Unfortunately the rain got heavy and the organizer had to cancel the semi-finals, so the final results were settled based on the qualification results.

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Despite the unfinished race I was satisfied with the testing and the overall results of the team. We made a lot of progress on the car in the last period, despite all of them being only small changes in weight balance & distribution, flex, and small geometry changes. The 2011 version of the 808 has been gaining satisfaction from drivers all around the world and with the new changes and improvements I am sure that satisfaction will continue to rise. But there is still a long way to go.

With so many tests and warm-ups in the last few weeks, we are all set for the upcoming next two months full of European Championships in different categories and final races. I am sure the entire team will do their best and showcase to the maximum… but as in any racing you never know what will happen until the very last second. I will be there together with Martin and the XRAY Support Team at all the main events during the summer and I will be more than happy to meet with and talk to anyone about anything you may have on your mind.

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

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer

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
Column #45 - Electric Touring Worlds 2010
Column #46 - Team XRAY - World Champion!!!
Column #47 - Summer Vacation, 30x USA Champion Title
Column #48 - T3 Saga Continues
Column #49 - RX8 – What? How? When?
Column #50 - The Making of the RX8 – Part II
Column #51 - Shake It, Baby, Shake It...
Column #52 - Racing Season ‘11 Full Running
Column #53 - From On-road to Off-road