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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.

Archive: Column #1

The Off-road World Championship ended the long and busy summer season for Team XRAY. The entire team has worked very hard during the last few months testing plenty of new ideas to be well prepared for this most important race. Winning the European Championship and the latest excellent results world wide were giving us great confidence, and we landed at Jakarta with nothing less than 100% preparation and motivation. As there was already a lot written about the race, there is no sense in my mentioning the same details, so I will try to bring some different viewpoints.

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Excellent track
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The Worlds brought plenty of up-and-downs for our team. The XB8 worked perfectly from the first minute we were on track; in fact we topped the 1st day of practice with the fastest runs. In the qualifiers the car worked very well despite some mixed results due to bad luck (broken servos, fuel tubing issues, engine problems, unglued tires, etc.).

But the XB8 was performing very well, with the final result of two XB8s going into the semi-final where Jon won his semi final and Yannick finished 2nd in the other semi-final. I was very happy for the team as we have worked together very professionally and thanks to mutual teamwork we were able to quickly move up. All of the very long preparation, development, and testing was paying off.

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The track was at the end really bumpy
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At the warm-up race we gained a lot of track knowledge so we quickly made several new parts which were then immediately tested around the world in different conditions. The feedback was very positive. As the Worlds track was really different from typical tracks, we focused on small details.

There are so many details we looked at that it is difficult to describe them all, but for example at the warm-up we had sporadic problems where shock pistons were warping after the huge jumps, so we quickly reworked the mould and made pistons without grooves (just plain flat) and added shims so as to have reinforcement both under and above the piston. This has worked great and during the Worlds not a single piston failure!

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XRAY pits
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With very good semi-final results I was excited for the final but still was very nervous as I knew that during the 1-hour race anything can happen and the car that would win was the car that would cross the finish line first. After all, we were not the only team that worked hard before the Worlds, and there were many drivers looking very fast. As the XB8-TQ version has been significantly improved and reinforced in most areas and with the latest very good experiences with very good durability.

I was very confident that our car would survive the entire 1-hour race if the drivers kept calm heads and will drove against the clock instead of each other. As we did not experience any serious breakages during the whole week and the cars worked without any serious failures, I just hoped that this would remain the case for the 1-hour final, too.

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As it turned out, the finals could not have gone worse for us. Jon had engine troubles several times and had to retire from the race early on, so we relied on Yannick to battle the competition. I was very happy to see the XB8 in Yannick's hands was running super fast and after only a few minutes he pulled away from the crowd, by the half-way mark he was leading by more than a lap over most of the field. Since anything during racing –even in the last minute or last lap – I did not make any assumptions or conclusions as I knew that something could still happen and a 1-lap lead does not mean anything.

What I was praying for not to happen of course DID happen at the end. At the 46th minute, his car flipped over and the engine stopped. At that moment I knew it was over and that all our hard preparation disappeared in an instant… such is racing and in life in general. Of course I would be lying if I said that we were not extremely sad and depressed; I was especially sorrowful for Yannick, as he really deserved to finish the last few minutes and cross the finish line as the World Champion.

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Yannick and the famous super-star pitman Christophe seems to like the XB8
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Well, the race is over and there is nothing left to do than continue with the further development, focus on the strategy of providing the best quality products and performance improvements. Maybe in the next two years we will gain a bit more luck… if it’s at all possible to store luck.

All in all, even with the up-and-downs I am very proud of what XRAY has achieved within a very short period of time. Truly this has been the very first World Championship and we were so close to the winning. I am very proud to see that XRAY has been the 3rd most popular brand, right behind two long-term market leaders.

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Part of the XRAY Racing Team at the 2006 Worlds
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In wrap-up, I would like to thank all of our team drivers for their excellent work at the Worlds – I have been very proud to have such great team, the organizers for a truly world-class event, and of course to all other participants for making this event very competitive and exciting. Mostly, many thanks go out to all XRAY customers and fans for their continuous support - enjoy the XRAY ride!

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