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Race report by Ari Bakla
Held in Mildura Victoria, this race was one to look forward to. Entries from all over Australia flowed in over the 200 mark. The Proline Suburbs M3 were the Control Tyres for all classes evening out the field. The track was SUPER GRIPPY, the organizers optiong to lay sugar down on the surface prior to the meeting start, it was awesome.

Here is a rundown of the weekends racing.

Wednesday Free Practice

Starting with my base setup from my club track, the car felt good to drive but seemed to struggle over some of the larger jump sections in terms of height over the jumps as well as how easy it was to clear the jumps. I decided to persevere to try and learn the track and practice jumping the big obstacles that we just don't get at home. Eventually changing to the harder 3 dot springs made the car pop over the jumps nicely and the approach speed was not quite as critical. I also went for a stiffer 1.4mm sway-bar on the front to calm the car while accelerating through the faster corners. At the end of the day, I felt the car was quite good but I was making way too many mistakes.

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Thursday Controlled practice

Starting with the car settings from the previous day, the track offered up a bit more grip due to the extra sugar preparation the night before during their maintenance program. Since there would only by 3 runs today, I tried not to fiddle with the car too much but try and get into a rythm with the track and hopefully stop crashing. By the third round I had managed to run 15 laps in the 6 minutes which was a similar pace to what the front runners were doing. I was also able to make a 23.5 second lap time which while not being outright fast was still competitive. Chris Bozich and Chris Sturdy seemed to be the leading drivers for Team XRAY with both of them getting to grips with the track, tyres and setup.

Saturday 4wd day

Round 1

The track was again sugared overnight by the track crew and this meant there was abundant grip available for racing, however the first few races were affected by low track temps and little residual water from the previous night. Matt Primmer was the fastest XRAY driver in 6th, closely followed by Chris Bozich (7th), Chris Sturdy (8th), Ash Peeler (13th) and Tod Trower (14th). Speaking with Chris Bozich he felt his run was consistent, however the lap times from the practice day had not yet flowed due to the cooler track temps. For me, I drove a terrible race and was leading the crash count early on in 26th place.

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Round 2

In the second round, most of the XRAY drivers found their feet and put in some great drives to take advantage of probably the best conditions of the day. The racing was extremely close and mistakes made the difference in the finishing order. Tod Trower put in one of his best drives to date to show he could mix it with the best now that he was running an XRAY. His run was good enough for 9th in the round. So after 2 rounds it was Chris Sturdy (6th), Matt Primmer (7th), Chris Bozich (8th), Scott Jones moving up (10th), Tod Trower (11th) and Ash Peeler (14th). I was still struggling but made my way up to 20th place with a steady drive but still too many crashes. I had gone back to my regular sway-bar setting (1.2mm front and rear) for this run and also put all of the flex screws in to stiffen up the car. It was very easy to drive but didn't show a fast lap time.

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Round 3

For round 3 the team XRAY drivers all put in solid performances and if it wasn't for a few bobbles they could have been even higher up. The order remained largely the same except Scott Jones was now up to 9th, Ash Peeler had a great run to move up to 11th, Tod was now in 13th and I moved up another place to 19th. I ran the car with the screws out from down the middle of the car and it was back to showing good lap times.

Round 4

Deciding the final places in qualifying, the last round provided some more great results for the XRAY drivers with Chris Bozich topping the XRAY drivers to record 4th for the round only 0.5s off 3rd place. At the end of the round it was Chris Sturdy in 6th, Chris Bozich in 7th, Matt Primmer in 8th and Scott Jones in 10th to give XRAY the largest representation of any manufacturer in the A Finals.

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In the finals, the heat was really on and a lot of drivers had battles throughout the field. 3 finals total were run with the best two runs to count. Josh Pain winning the forst two finals sealed the win and left the third final wide open for anyone as he opted not to run. In the third final, both Chris Sturdy and Chris Bozich were battling for the lead. After a small error from Boz Chris ended up winning the last leg. In the end Chris Sturdy ended up being overall 2nd place from 6th on the grid which was a great effort from the young QLD driver. Chris Bozich, Scott Jones and Matt Primmer also flew the flag high for Team XRAY.

For me, I suffered from some electrical gremlins in the finals so my finishing place in the C final was not very good. The only mechanical issue I had was a failure of the small gears in the rear diff, otherwise the car ran perfectly all week long.

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A-Main Final Placings:
1. Josh Pain
2. Chris Sturdy - XRAY XB4
3. Matt Griffen
4. Glen Bonetti
5. Andrew Gillot
6. Chris Bozich - XRAY XB4
7. Scott Jones - XRAY XB4

8. Ray Munday
9. Matthew Primmer - XRAY XB4
10. Jacob Staines