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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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It is here... the busiest part of the year. We have 4 Euros on our schedule and it seems that there won’t be many days at “work.“ However, we will still have plenty of work to do and so the tracks and hotels around Europe will be our temporary “homes away from home” for the remainder of the summer. After long and extensive preparations for all the races, the culmination of the summer season is finally here.

2011 summer season schedule:
1/8 On-road Euros – July 25-31 – Luxembourg
1/8 Off-road Euros – August 2-7 – Germany
1/10 Electric Touring – August 11-14 – Austria
1/10 Nitro Touring – August 15-21 – Germany

To be able to do all the races we have actually split them in two parts: the first part of 1/8 on-road and off road is done, and both nitro and electric 1/10 touring still remains on the schedule. Right now we are between these two parts, with the first half over by 2 weeks now. To be able to catch both races on time we have joined them into one trip, first to Luxembourg, then on Sunday travel to Germany for private testing for two days and then travel to the off-road Euros.

We had a recent fresh experience from the warm-up race at the Luxembourg track and we knew what was working and which areas needed improvement. The new conical clutch springs which we tested at the warm-up are a significant improvement in terms of reliability and performance, and it was clear that we needed to arrange these for all XRAY drivers at the EC. After the previous test results, I wanted to check and try different shock mounting positions on both front and rear arms and also test another mounting position for the steering blocks as well as some other minor ideas.

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The weather forecast was not very optimistic but luckily most of the time it was only cloudy and cold. The first two days had free practice on the schedule and as such we were wrenching and testing all day long. The only negative side was that since it rained sometimes, even a few rain drops changed the track conditions so a lot of the testing was very difficult to compare to each other. Despite the new parts we tested had only tiny changes, we find that even a tiny change can still have a significant influence on the handling; in such high competition you fight for tenths or even hundredths of a second. And then whatever changes you make to the set-up, you still need to have a powerful engine with correct clutch setting and the right tires. The basic set-up of the RX8 worked very well right from the start, so we played around with the small details.

Although the team did not pit together but rather followed the countries, we all still worked together on the set-up feedback and always pushed each other further. The European XRAY team was this year represented by Eric Dankel (Germany), John Ermen (Holland), Tobias Hepp (German), Jernej Vuga (Slovenia), Massimo Fantini (Italy), Adrian Berntsen (Norway), Jerome Renaux (Belgium) and others. From the early practice, Eric and Tobias were the fastest from the team (as expected) with John and Adrian continually improving. This category is still relatively new for Martin (with only a few races done) so from the beginning he was adapting to the specific driving style with the solid axle. My personal goal was to finish somewhere around the middle of the list and I always reminded myself that I cannot compete with those young fast guys but rather I am here to focus on for testing, testing and more testing. But even after a long 13 years absence break since I last seriously raced in this category, I was doing surprisingly well.

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The race itself had a very negative edge: like already at the warm-up the main issue was not the race, adrenaline, competition and fun… it was all about the tire additives. Again. Tire additives are forbidden but still plenty of drivers seemed to find a way around that and cheated. The organizers tried to solve the problem with the tire input where the drivers had to turn-in their tires which helped the problem a bit. For the first timed practice when this rule was applied the lap time changes were significant. Unfortunately for the next rounds the tire control was not so regimented and suddenly we could see some drivers improving their lap times by 0.5sec per lap, and it was obvious where the improvement came from. It is very sad that those people are killing a hobby which should be fun and exciting.

Erik and Tobias were fastest in the qualifiers and qualified into the semi-finals, with John, Adrian and Jernej going into the lower finals. Martin had clean runs and cruised very smoothly but not fast enough, so he still needed to adjust from “electric style” racing to the more aggressive “nitro style” racing.

Myself as usual was collecting the bad luck. In one run the batteries died, in the other ones either it rained or the track was slippery right after the rain. When I finally had chances for good runs I ruined my chances with a wrong fuel stop experiment. With my papa-style racing I was saving a lot of fuel and whereas everyone was struggling to reach 5 minutes I could easily make it to 6.5 minutes and as such we decided that I would take a fuel pit stop in the last minute. When this would work I could make the 20 minutes final run with just 2 stops and save 1 extra pit stop. When there was one minute to go my mechanic called me into the pit and on the way to the pit I run out of fuel. There went my chances for my best qualifying result. As such I had to satisfy myself with the 80th qualifying position out of 120 drivers. Finally I realized that probably the reason why I could not survive the 6.5 minute run was the change in the rear suspension arms which generated more traction which allowed me to pull the trigger more aggressively and as such the fuel consumption went up. Well, you learn all the time from your own mistakes.

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With all the tire controversy the organizers found a “sort-of” solution which helped our drivers to improve suddenly from one day to another by 0.5 sec. Why? Because organizers tried to minimize the additive cheating by “sugar watering” the track to give more traction for those drivers who did not use additives. Suddenly our lap times improved significantly and we had plenty of traction which we were missing the days before, while at the same time many drivers suddenly started traction rolling as their “prepared“ tires combined with the extra sugar track traction provided too much traction and their cars started to roll over. So at the end, the hundreds of a second we tried to chase with set-up we gained 10-fold just by changing the track condition.

In the final my RX8 was super easy to drive and it seemed it would not let me make mistakes, which suited me very well of course. From my first sub-final I bumped up easily and I was confident for my next run. After the start I made my way to the front and my performance was there for good result until the car I passed sent me off the track in the next corner. That guy got a stop-and-go penalty but it didn’t equal my destroyed chances for a bump-up as it took ages until the marshal put me back on the track with a broken tire. I did my best and even with the broken tire – which made the car super difficult to drive – I was able to slowly work my way back to the front. Finally I was in 4th place when the same guy sent me off the track for a second time, again he got a drive-through penalty for himself but a go-home result for myself. At the end my final position was in the middle pack so my personal mission was accomplished, despite being able to fight for a higher final. My lap times were not amazing but were extremely consistent.

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At the end it was Erik who made it to the main final and was fast enough to hunt for the podium. In the warm-up runs his car worked flawlessly but just after the start he got hit by car from behind and suddenly his car was not performing at all. At the pit stop his mechanics checked the car and found nothing so we thought it was a broken tire. After a few minutes Erik decided for a tire change but still the car was difficult to drive. So after another pit stop and more detailed inspection the mechanics found out that the shock collar popped off from the ball joint and as such the shock spring was not working correctly. At races like the main final of the Euros there was no more chance for a good result and despite Erik turning some of the fastest lap times the gap was huge to catch up. Towards the end of the race Erik’s engine broke like a few other drivers, and as such he got a final 8th position.

The biggest surprise of the event was at the end by Martin and Adrian, both of them who were new to this class. After a soft result in qualifiers, Martin bumped from his 1/8 final into the 1/4 final and then to the 1/2 final with very clean, consistent and finally more aggressive runs. The semi-final run was the difficult one, as to go from the very back to the front is very demanding and with a lot of traffic after the start he was losing almost a lap on the leader. He put in a very clean and mistake-free run and was slowling working his way to the front, but at the end finished just behind the bump-up position making it an overall 12th position with Adrian also finishing in the semi-final. Considering that this was just the third 1/8 on-road race for Martin, he nicely challenged some of Europe’s best drivers. Both of them earned recognition from the rest of the team and I am very happy that – like in the other categories – we put together a team of very good drivers who are nice people at the same time and we enjoy the racing and fun.

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Today we pack our stuff for the 1/10 electric touring EC following with the nitro touring EC, and as such I am a bit hurried as there is still plenty of last minute duties to do. I will see what happens during the rest of the summer and will try to get more insights of some of these other races in the next column.


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
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
Column #54 - Testing and Once Again… Testing