Monthly Archives: August 2012

ISTC Worlds 2012 – Part 3 – My Race

So for the final part on the IFMAR ISTC Worlds 2012 I will concentrate on my own race and my car. Last because it would be the least interesting really… πŸ™‚

First some background. My original intent was that this years international event for me would be the ETS round in Apeldoorn in the beginning of June. However, plans changed and I got a place for the Worlds so I went to Heemstede instead. Basically I wanted to see the Worlds, and then racing made sense. Of course I could have done both, or done the ETS race and then just went as a spectator for the Worlds, but living so far up north travelling to these races tends to get fairly expenssive so I could not really justify going to 2 in 1 year. I have done 1 race internationally per year since 2000 (with the exception of 2007), perhaps I have done 2 some year (don’t remember), and the race I have enjoyed most through all of these years was the 2010 ETS event at Heemstede, so another reason to go.

Anyway, going into the race I basically saw it more as a chance to see the Worlds, so I did not set any goals for my own racing. I wanted a race without a lot of problems so I could enjoy seeing the best of the best. I knew if I do a really good race I would be maybe 60th, if I do a bad race I would be 100th – makes no difference to me!

Preparation was bad as always during the last couple of years. That’s what working (too much) within the industry and not having any track close by does to your preparation. All my TC racing this summer had been 2 races here in Finland, and then I managed a one-and-a-half-day test a couple of weeks ahead of the race. The 417X had been working well throughout the little running I had done though, much better than the original 417 last summer, and the test session gave me a chance to fine-tune and confirm what I had learned. Β΄

The most interesting thing in that test I tried just before having to leave the track. It was an idea I tried already last year which worked well then, but that I had not run since because it seemed a bit fragile, or more that it put the front belt at a risk. When I tried it again in the test the car was really good producing a lot of grip. However, as I mentioned I just tried this during the last run of the test so no chance to go back to confirm at the test.

This modification was to only attach the upper deck to the front and rear bulkheads, not the centre bulks, much like the new Yokomo BD7. When I made the bits to make this possible last year I simply used some 1mm carbon fibre to make small covers for the layshaft. I then attached these to the moto mount/centre bulkhead holes with TA05 spur gear screws which have super low heads.

These screws are: 51211 3×5 Flat Screw – 5pcs

To raise the upper deck so it did not touch the screw heads I had to run 2mm spacers under the upper deck connectiong to the front and rear bulks. I run the mod this way at the test. The weak point here was that by raising the uppper deck by 2mm the front belt could touch the upper deck close to the centre pulley. When I was impressed by how the car worked with this mod at the test I set about improving the realisation of the idea. I quickly realised that the 0.5mm roll centre spacers would do the job better than the 1mm carbon fibre covers, as I was looking for any good way to lower this part so I could run less spacers under the upper deck. I also ordered some 0.3mm carbon fibre but this did not arrive in time. This would have allowed me run 1mm spacers but with the 0.5mm roll centre spacers I had to run 1.5mm spacers. However, this was already enough to clear the belt. When I cut the roll centre spacers and realised the hole pattern even matched the holes in the bulkheads I knew it was meant to be… πŸ™‚ I also used steel 8mm screws to secure the upper deck now instead of the 6mm alu screws I use normally, since it was only connected by 8 screws now and with 1.5mm spacers underneath.

53932 Aluminum Roll Center Spacer – (0.5mm) 4pcs

So happy with how that turned out I took the mod off my car as I prespared it for the Worlds! Since I had only briefly tested it and was happy with how the ‘standard’ car worked I felt it best to start off with something I knew better. As I prepared the car for the Worlds I replaced a lot of parts, including the lower and upper deck plus many drivetrain parts while I rebuilt the rest. The car really felt like a new car as I went to the race.

Travelling to the race I used my Ogio Rig 9800 bag ( ) for the first time travelling to an international race (had only used it for about a year in Finland so far), and must say that this really is the ultimate bag for traveling with your racing stuff.

Coming to the race there was all the mess to deal with (which you can read in part 1) + the tiredness coming from having the alarn set at 4AM and then 2 flights + the warm weather – all combined making the first day not so enjoyable. Day 2 was better though, and I slowly started to get a feel for the track again. I must say that with the chicane added and racing modified (I did stock at the ETS here in 2010) on the track really made it totally different and difficult in many ways, but it just took some time to get used to. Doing the warmup or testing would have helped a lot here I think.

Once I started to get a feel for the track I started making some changes, trying mainly some things on damping and springs as I felt that the rest was about right. Finally I set for HPI Silver springs, damper caps with a 1mm hole to reduce rebound to the minimum and 500 oil. During the early morning and late evening runs, as well as the last day, it would probably have been good ro run softer oil as the temperature was much lower. I also run the car slightly higher with more droop (not just to compensate for the ride height but more).

I then finally felt it was time to test the upper deck mod described earlier and when I did, the car was really really good. I would even go as far as saying that the car at that moment was the best TC I have ever run. It really felt so good. So I was really happy with my car in the end, both on 1 run used tyres and on new. On 2-run tyres it was not so good anymore, but then not many cars were. As a side note it was also fun to note that the factory TRF cars had almost used the same parts for their idea with the upper deck.

With regards to the racing itself I was in heat 2. During the practice and CP rounds I would say I was second fastest in my heat with the rest clearly slower. However, as there was no real re-seed done I was stuck in this heat and more than once the big difference in speed would cause problems many times impossible to avoid, so overall a bit frustrating. With heat 2 obviously second on track, and the cancellation of Friday morning practice meaning we were qualifying very early, the track was still damp in places and especially on kerbs. Because of this and the tyre strategy involved I decided to skip round 1 to have a chance on new tyres in Q2. Of course I had a problem in Q2, if this was my own mistake or a problem with a slower car I don’t remember but probably my own mistake πŸ™‚ Round 3 was better but still with 1 really bad lap which lost me a lot of positions. Round 4 I decided to save my new tyres for Q5 and struggled with “old” tyres in the heat of the afternoon when many were on new tyres. Round 5 and I finally got a good run together, on new tyres this time and the car was super. However this run would never be counted as IFMAR cancelled the round when it started to rain halfway through. This meant my new tyres had been thrown away for nothing. Round 6 was the last Q and very wet at the start, and since I was in heat 2 this was when my heat would run. I never run in the wet and since it would go on to dry out there would’ve been no use in running anyway. IFMAR of course decided that this Q in very even conditions πŸ˜‰ … would count.

Anyway, I was happy after that round 5 qualifying even though it would never count, because I had run a car that was the best TC I had ever run, I did a decent run and I enjoyed it very much -> All I came for! I obviously checked and I think I if counted it correctly that run should have placed my 35-45th for the round which would’ve been very decent for me. A lot of would and could but I as I mentioned I had got what I came for at this moment, so I was happy and could now enjoy watching the A finals. Regarding the mess with the cancelled round 5 but counted round 6 all I could do was laugh… πŸ˜€

So that was it for my race.
Overall though I quite quickly at the track felt that it would maybe have been wiser to come to this race just as a spectator for Friday and Saturday, simply because all the mess with the tyres and pre-tech meant that there was too much of a racers life at this race that was not enjoyable. Being in heat 2 it also meant I missed a couple of the the top heat qualifying rounds simply because I had to be in tech for my next race even though it was 20-30 minutes away…

The A-finals were exciting though and it was a lot of fun watching.
After the race I returned to Zandvoort where I was staying during the race. About a 15-20 minute drive away from Heemstede this small town at the coast is the perfect place to to stay during a race as the air by the sea will refresh you every time you return from the track! With my flight leaving Sunday afternoon from Schipol we had some time to spend on Sunday and went for a drive to see a bit more of Holland. After starting with checking out the real racetrack in Zaandvoort we ended up at the RC track in Apeldoorn… πŸ™‚
Something must be wrong… πŸ˜€

Finally some pictures of my car from Red RC and


TRF 2012 WC


ISTC Worlds 2012 – Part 2 – The Racing

As I mentioned in part 1 of my PERSONAL reflections on the 2012 IFMAR ISTC Worlds, this time I was racing myself, opposed to the last Worlds where I was just a mechanic/spectator. This combined with the extremely time-consuming tyre-tech-pre-race-procedures meant that I could not spend as much time observing and thinking about what I saw on track as I did last time. And this means I cannot give as clear of a report on what I saw as then. But I’ll try…

Coming in to the event I, very much like last time, held Ronald VΓΆlker as the favourite for the win. This based on the fact Yokomo has been very serious in their preparation for this Worlds and you could very much sense a hunger both from Ronald and Yokomo. Having seen how the TRF team worked at the last Worlds and knowing how they always raise their game for the most impostant races, I was expecting them to be able to challenge Ronald and Yokomo. However, of the TRF drivers I had a feeling Viktor might surprise and be their strongest card while I expected Jilles to be very consistent on a track which he knows so well. Of the others I also had a feeling Atsushi could be strong with the improved HB car, although for the win I expected Ronald or one of the TRF guys. From the remaining teams Christpher Krapp and the Kyosho seemed a good bet for the A and while Xray certainly have improved and did well at the Warmup I still had the feeling something is missing to really challenge for the win at the Worlds.

As the event got underway that hunger of Ronald and Yokomo was clear to be seen as he was driving perfect lines and finding grip no-one else seemed to find. I seem to remember even saying those words; “Ronald’s got this one in the bag already” after seeing this impressive opening… However, therein lies the danger, because an event is never over until it is over. This has been seen in racing time and time again; a team can start a weekend or a season much faster than anyone, but by the end they’re beaten by someone they did not expect. And perhaps this early domination of the Worlds this year in the end played against Ronald and Yokomo, who knows…

As practice turned to control practice the others got closer and we started to get more facts about speed over 5 minutes, although Yokomo continued to always run 2 cars for Ronald, switching between the cars during the run and therfore keeping their 5 minute pace hidden. At this stage Viktor looked very good with a car working well and his driving loooking just as good. What we had not seen at this stage was how the drivers and cars compared on old tyres. Remember that for qualifying each driver had just 2 sets of tyres for 6 runs, while for the finals just 1 set for 3 runs. So coming into the event you really could gain an advantage by focusing on old tyre pace, and this Jilles had done, in what must be called a very smart move. Why this strategy was not seen more remains somewhat of a mystery.

As we moved into qualifying the pace of the top drivers was close, but in the end of the run of the first qualifier Ronald made the difference to the others, the favourite securing TQ for round 1. When this was repeated in round 2 it again looked like Ronald might still have enough of an edge on the competition to be just that little bit in front needed to control athe event. However, at this stage we must remember the difference between new and old tyres, which was in the scale of 0,7-0,8 seconds per lap in the most extreme cases. Therefore as soon as round 1 was over it was also as much a game of who was on what tyres. Indeed some drivers had even skipped Q1 to save tyres. And when the difference over 5 minutes could easily be up to 10 seconds it’s clear that you had to factor in this and try to play the tactical game as good as you could. And Ronald dominated Q2 with new tyres, which meant he had already used his new tyres at this stage. Over these first 2 rounds again Viktor and Jilles perhaps as expected looked to be the drivers closest to the pace of Ronald, while Atsushi also looked very good on track already at this stage securing second place in Q1.

The big surprise of of Q1 was Loic Jasmin from France, driving beautifully as ever taking a 6th spot with his Yokomo BD7. When he repeated a good run in Q3 to take 9th in that round things suddenly looked good for possibly even a Worlds A-final for Loic! Naoto Matsukura TQ’d round 3 on new tyres ahead of team mate Hayato while Ronald could only finish 6th on used tyres. Atsushi secured another good points score with his TCXX in third, putting him in a great position for a good grid spot. Round 4 in the heat of the afternoon saw the TRF team secure a 1-2 with Jilles ahead of Marc, both on new tyres.

As we got to round 5 and heat 8 the rain started and after a while the round was cancelled while round 6 was announced as a wet round. This already played a big part in wrecking some drivers strategies. When the sixth round also provided very changeable conditions it called for difficult decisions both for drivers and organizers. Result: a whole lot of controversy that you can read about in my previous post. However, since for some unexplainable reason this last round of qualifying would actually count, and results for qualifying would then be counted on a 3 out of 5 basis, the results of this round would prove fairly significant.

As it started to rain before the last heat no-one in that heat posted a result that could help them. In reality, their hands were tied behind their back as laptimes were seconds off the pace set in the heat previous, when it just started to spit in the last minute. This really destroyed the race for some, most noticeably perhaps Yannic who had 2 good scores and just needed 1 more, but then had no chance however well he would have driven the last round. So while it destroyed for some it provided a chance for those in the next to last heat or before. The drivers making the most of this chance were Atsushi, Loic, Andy Moore and Chris Graigner, with the last 3 securing their A-final spot by doing a good result in this last round.

So in a surprise Atsushi secured pole position for the finals for Hot Bodies, after 3 good runs in round 1, 3 and 6. Ronald would line up second which to some extent must have felt like a disappointment. Jilles would line up third in his home event with Marc in 4th and Viktor 5th. The feeling at this moment was that any one of these 5 could win, considering the tyre tactics and close pace.

Luckily on the followig day, Saturday, and the last day of the Worlds, the weather was alright and the championship would be decided on a dry track. In A1 Ronald followed Atsushi for a couple of laps but then IMO tried a move on the straight too dangerous and too early on lap 5. It ended with him airborne on the straight and losing a lot of positions, and since he had pace on Atsushi he could have afforded to wait for a the chance to make a safer pass. Remember this was the first A and with the pace advantage he would surely have been able to find a way past. Instead it was up to Jilles to take the fight to Atsushi after Viktor made an unfortunate mistake after looking good early on. Jilles took a big gamble but one which was obvious he had to take, as they came up to the timing line with time expiring. Anyway, it was a great bit of thinking and driving from Jilles and in the end a move which would secure him the World title.

As a side note on A1 we had 4 cars parking it to save tyres, with Marc, Andy, Naoto and Chris all stopping whithin a few laps. Having only 6 cars choosing to run altough none broken in a Worlds A-final really showed that the tyre rule was flawed. But no more of that in here now.

In A2 Tamiya had Marc starting in fourth on new tyres and with Jilles winnig leg 1 this was a huge chance for the TRF team to secure the best positions going into the last leg. However, Marc had never looked his usual perfect self in Heemstede and unfortunately this great strategy chance was wasted when Marc made a mistake at the chicane on lap 1. This opened the door for Ronald to take the win after Atsushi had a couple of bad laps halfway and lost many positions. Naoto on new tyres quickly worked his way up to position 2 but then held station and keeping any potential threats away from Ronald. With Atsushi only 4th and Jilles opting to save tyres after a mistake it was an open game going into the last and deciding leg.

Leg 3 and the champion would be decided. Right after the start Ronald made a costly mistake half-spinning and losing some positions which would make for hard work for the rest of the run. Especially as Jilles was now second and Atsushi leading, and if they finished in these positions one of the would take the overall win. Coming into the chicane on lap 2 Ronald went just a bit wide and Marc directly attacked, resulting in contact. This was an aggressive move by Marc, but Marc went for a gap left by Ronald. It was hard but with Jilles the TRF team’s best card for the win ahead, of course Marc tried to control Ronald at this stage. This left Atsushi and Jilles with a gap to the followers and the race to become World Champion was between these two. Since leg 1 (which Jilles won) had been on new tyres that was always going to be the faster run, and with Jilles now second to Atsushi he knew he just needed to finish there to secure the title as the fastest time would decide the result since they would finish on the same points. Jilles put pressure on Atsushi towards the end but risked nothing and finally followed Hara over the finish line for a very popular win in front of his family and friends.

The emotion was clear to be seen, both from Jilles and Kiyo from Tamiya, and it was hard to not to be affected. The feeling of release and accomplishment was all over and great to see after a race where issues other than racing had taken too big of a role. The action at the track ended with a prize ceremony and as far as the organization of the race this was the highlight. For the first time (that I know of) there was even a throphy for the manufacturer, and national anthems for both Holland (driver) and Japan (constructor) were played. All-in-all it was a full F1 style prize giving – perfect!!

Having delivered this report on the race I will finish off with some reflections on the cars, teams and drivers.

Tamiya just as always raise their game at a World Championship and as we have become used to had many small changes to their car. Showing that this team really works as a team, when their star driver Marc did not look like winning they have the other drivers ready to take that place. Jilles had prepared in a smart way and looked settled and calm during the event and in the end he took a very deserved win. Viktor looked really good during the race, with only his unfortunate habit of sometimes making mistakes late in the run during a few critical runs preventing him from taking the win IMO. Marc as mentioned never looked like winning although he of course was pretty much on the pace while Elliot was unfortunate not to make the A.

That Tamiya now took ISTC title number 5 out of 7 in this most competitive class is amazing, thereby improving the winning rate from 66% to 71%! Just as at the last Worlds it’s good teamwork and good preparation that stand out. We have seen this in other classes before with for example Associated historically known for this in 1/10 offroad. As I see it what makes the difference in their teamwork is a result of lots of small things; communication, the feeling that everyone takes care of each other, knowing that they will always back up their strongest driver when needed and working as a team on track and in the strategies chosen.

The car run this year was the TRF417X with numerous changes, the most obvious ones being the new lower and upper decks. The lower deck is the same material and shape as the original one, but without cutouts under the battery and electronics meaning that in the 2.25mm version it is slightly stiffer. A 2.0mm version was also tested. The upper deck is again the same material and 2.0mm thick, but narrower at the front to move the flex point. It is also connected to the motor mount/middle bulkhead just by the 2 rearward screws. The layshaft was held in place by having a 1mm alu spacer on top of the motor mount/middle bulkhead and since this needed to have the upper deck also 1mm higher 1mm spacers were used connecting the upper deck to the front and rear bulkheads. There were some differences between the cars of each driver though, and on Jilles car he had spacers under the bulkheads instead. The other major new part was the new servo mount just connecting to the chassis in the centre of the car. All the team was also running with the damper tops from the TRF501/502/511/201 cars. Running the dampers in this setup was done because it was felt to give more grip (remember no additive rule) but since this setup use no bladder it meant rebuilds for each run, so nothing you would want for normal cicumstances. Also new on the dampers were new shafts with the latest super-low-friction-coating (black in colour) from Japan. Marc and Jilles run a spool while Viktor and Elliot prefered a gear diff filled with Ride gear diff putty in front. On some cars TRF double-joint driveshafts were used front & rear while on Jilles wiing car only at the front. Looking at some pictures now after the race I’m also wondering if some of the cars, for example on Jilles winning car, also used the softer plastic suspension arms? Something I had thought about before the race but fully forgot about once there πŸ™‚

To finish of this part about TRF we can only note that once again Tamiya Plastic Model Company is on top of the World… πŸ™‚

Yokomo had, as mentioned at the start, prepared very well for this race and it was clear they would not allow a repeat of the disappointment of the last Worlds. Coming to the race with their new BD7 for all teamdrivers Yokomo had as a team spent perhaps the most days testing here before the Worlds. The new car really looks good, definitely to my eyes the most eye-pleasing of the current cars and a very logical development. The car also worked extremely well and seemed to produce the most grip of any of the cars. With the early domination of the event things started to look a bit shakey for Ronald later on in the event, and in the finals you could sense a bit of nerves and see a few too many small mistakes, and ultimately this is what cost the title. This has been seen before in similar high-pressure situations. However, one should never underestimate the pressure Ronald must feel at a race like this, both from Yokomo and LRP who put a lot of effort and resources into winning and most of their hopes lie with Ronald. Perhaps they put too much of their hopes on him and it would be better to spread the effort on more of their drivers? This would surely release some pressure off Ronald as their main (only) hope. With Naoto and Loic joining Ronald, Yokomo still had 3 cars in the A and can be happy with that. To see Loic cap off a great week by securing a 6th overall was for me a personal highlight and I was so happy for him. Loic is one of the drivers I enjoy watching on the track the most, almost always driving really beautiful lines.

Hot Bodies came to this race in force and well prepared, very much like the other Japanese manufacturers, and it was good to see that they’re back 10/10. Atsushi looked good from the start while Andy also made the A and even Teemu with little testing looked faster than for some time. The new TCXX looks good and will soon be released. The drivers used different chassis’ with Hara using the version with lots of cutouts while other drivers run the version without cutouts. The team had many support personel and thus well supported and some special parts could also be seen on their cars, for example damper shafts and hinge pins with the same new special super-low-friction-coating (black in colour) used by Tamiya. The team also used the unusual damper setup tested by many of the teams this summer with 6 hole pistons and oils in the 1000-2000 range. Atsushi missed out on the win 12 years after his win at the first ISTC Worls, thanks to Jilles gamble at the end of leg 1. He was probably a bit slower than the guys starting right behind him but his accomplishment of fighting for the win should not be underestimated. He used his professionalism, experience and calmness to almost win the Worlds, a result that most everyone must be happy with for this ultimate ambassador of our sport. Just to show what sets him apart from many; he was back testing his TCXX as soon as he returned to Thailand after the Worlds. A true proffessional, much in the same mode as some Fernando Alsonso…

Of the last 2 remaining A final spots Kyosho’s single top driver Christopher Krapp secured one of them. The car looks good with good quality and details and although there were nothing major new he was supported with staff from Japan and on track it looked quite good. What they need is 1 or 2 more top drivers to really make and impact. Schumacher and Chris Graigner also made the A-final, a popular result and a surprise for Chris who has usually not had good results internationally.

Once again Xray missed out with no drivers in the A-final despite Alexander Hagberg being fast almost everywhere this year and Paul Lemieux dominating the warmup. They missed out when the weather caused the problems in round 5 and 6 since they had saved their new tyres for round 5. However, they never had the pace to fight for the win. Xray had produced many new parts for the race with now the same bulkheads front and rear, a new low motor mount, new layshaft mount, short dampers with low damper stays as well as a new central mounted servo mount etc., but again different drivers seemed to use different parts and there was like seen before a feeling of a lack of a concentrated effort.

Associated never had the pace to fight at the front despite some new parts and a good presence. Only smart tactics by Juho allowed the near A-final miss. Marc Fisher with the Serpent did not match my expectations of maybe making the A although it looked quite good at times and Serpent had a strong team present in terms of numbers in their home country. Of the other manufacturers only Awesomatix is worth mentioning. At their first Worlds the end result for this special machine was not as expected with Freddy SΓΌdhoff in 41st the best placed. However it was Viljami Kutvonen who looked best throughout the event and his second place in Q2 thanks to a good tyre strategy surprised many people. Only the mess of round 5 & 6 blocked a better result.

In other equipment not much new was seen. LRP had the new Flow ESC in full use by its team drivers and many positive comments were heard on it. Speed Passion drivers did not run anything new although a new ESC is expected shortly. Reedy and Thunder Power motors have gained in popularity while the same can be said for Hobbywing ESC’s with the new v3 ESC popular. Orion ESC/motor/battery won the Worlds with Jilles but nothing new seen. Overall there were some problems with some batteries being larger than they show, this affecting mostly Thunder Power, which required some emergency action at the track to get them through tech. Overall in batteries it was a mix of many different brands. Some drivers used the new M12 radio from Sanwa with support on hand from Sanwa Japan, just like KO support staff. Some of the latest 4PK Super-R radios from Futaba were also seen as well as they’re outside antenna-less R614FF-E receiver.

So that’s it then, my report on the racing at the 2012 ISTC Worlds.
I will return with the third and last part, about my own race in Heemstede.

For results, pictures and videos from the Worlds, look here:

ISTC Worlds 2012 – Part 1 – The Controversies

I will start off my PERSONAL reflections from the IFMAR ISTC Worlds 2012 with the controversial parts of the race, mainly just to get them out of the way first but also because the race cannot be remembered without these bits.

I also attended the last Worlds in 2010 in Germany, that time not as a driver but as a mechanic and while that race did not go perfectly there was a lot less controvery and issues there. It also has to be said that while everyday we had protests and new issues in Heemstede, a lot of things were very good and in the end the great battles on track took over.

However, this was a very chaotic race so let’s look a bit closer!
My personal opinion is that most of the issues were things that should (have) be(en) sorted before the race.

The first issue brought up at the race was that the track was about 98% the same as at the Warmup while the rules say it needs to be 60% new. Now, if you just use your common sense this was known well in advance and with a permanent (super) track there is only that much you can do, and no protests were heard in advance. So again at the race using common sense you should just shut up and get on with it, then bring it up with IFMAR for the future. What we really want is the Worlds decided on world-class tracks like Heemstede and then it is not ok to require a 60% new track, so this is more of a problem with the rule imo.

The second issue and the main issue for the 2012 Worlds were the new tyre rules. These said no tyre treatment to be allowed and came in response to tyre treatment taking over as a major performance factor more and more. At the last Worlds it was crazy. Banning tyre treatment is something I have hoped for for many years and I fully agreed with the ban, simply because it do not add any value to our sport in any way. However, to implement such a change it really needed to be tested and thought over many times to get it right. So when at the time of the Warmup race I found out tyre warming suddnly would be allowed 5 minutes before the run I already saw problems coming. Because already there the idea of simply collecting the tyres and putting them on your car had gone. Now you would need a mechanic, bring tyre warmers to tech and prefereably with a battery as otherwise the tyres would cool before you got to the track. You would need someone controlling that every heat had the same warming time to create equal opportunities etc etc. You can already see the mess here.

Then there was the issue of numbers of tyres available to each drivers. This changed right up until the event, with the information coming into the event beeing that you could either use as many tyres as you wanted for free practice, or limited to 2 sets (depending on who you listened to). For the 2 control practice rounds you could use 2 sets of tyres, while for 6 rounds of qualifying there would be 2 sets and for the finals 1 set for each driver. Already here you could see that tyre strategy would once again become a major factor.

Then to continue the confusion, when registering at the event on Wednesday you were instructed that you could buy 2 sets of tyres for practice. These tyres were marked for practice. Later you were informed you could also use your own tyres for practice, but they had to be checked and marked. So confusion already and no clear information to drivers what would happen, would the tyres and cars be checked during practice etc etc, and nobody could give you a definite answer.

Practice started and no cars were checked, no tyres were checked, so you could have run anything at this stage and used as much tyre additive as you wanted and warmed the tyres for 40 minuts if you wanted. So what was the point of marking practice tyres??? Still do not know. During the same time as practice started the pre-event inspection of chassis, batteries, bodies and wings were underway. Showing that not only IFMAR and the organizer had not prepared as they should, some batteries were found to be too big, this of major concern to at least 1 major manufacturer who had basically all batteries at the event found too big. To see this (lack of) preparation from one of the main battery sponsors the Worlds top drivers was quite dissappointing. Scrutiny of the cars, bodies and wings was very very tight. This also means that it was very very slow and you could not help but feel that it was all a bit too important for some, kind of a display of power and “I’m important”. Now, rules are rules and should be followed at a Worlds, but some common sense and helpfulness with a positive attitude to help speed up proceedings and make for a positive experience for all racers would be welcome.

While this was still dragging on on Thursday control practice was about to start and now the cars would be checked and the tyre procedure would have to be followed. Again, a lack of information was there and nobody really knew what the exact procedure would be. We were informed that we needed to be at tech to collect tyres 20 minutes before our run. You would then have your battery voltage checked before you were put in line for tyre warming (remember you needed to have tyre warmers, power supply etc with you at this time…), you were allowed to put tyre warmers on at a specific time and then finally allowed onto the track once the previous heat finished. The rest of tech would be done after your heat and finally you could remove the tyres and give them back. As I was in heat 2 all was new but already from the first control practice (and as I mentioned heat 2), there were delays and chaos in the tech tent, so it was obvious that this would not work. Once I got through tech my heat should already have started and after the heat I did not get my car back for something like 20-25 minutes. As the first CP round dragged on there was more delay for each run and soon there were drivers who could just not get though and get there tyres and pre-tech done before their heat and thus no time for warming tyres creating unfair conditions. Bring on more protests! πŸ™‚

Finally towards the middle of the round everything stopped and suddely there had been no cars on track for over 30 minutes. Again, no real information given about what was going on so now the place was going into a state of disbelief. Probably after something like 1 hours we were told that there was going to be no more running until things had been sorted. It also has to be mentioned that drivers here tried to give tips on how to help re-organize the tech area to get the things to flow a bit better but again we saw displays of “power” and “I’m important” from some IFMAR/EFRA staff and no listening to the advice that was tried to be given. Fianlly, tech was re-organized with a clearer marking of different areas, clearer areas of responsibility for staff etc so the procedures were made better and all tech to cars were done before your heat. Why this had not been sorted before the event and when IFMAR created these rules, again, I don’t understand.

So CP1 and CP2 continued and things now worked a bit better, altough still you had to be a long time before your run at tech you at least got it back after your race quickly. How the tech staff from MACH (the organizer) managed to mostly be happy and don’t let frustration get to them during all this mess I dunno… πŸ™‚

It was clear that the scheduled round 1 of qualifying would not be run Thursday since the delay had been something like 2 hours and we were running out of time. Very late that night we were informed that all 6 rounds of qualifying would be run on Friday instead with the round of free practice scheduled Friday morning dropped instead. Also, while we had now done 2 round of timed control practice very few re-seeds were done. This should have been the use of the 2 control rounds with drivers ranked though their 3 best cosequtive laps but as mentioned very few drivers were moved and this again did not help anyone. From a personal point this meant I stayed in heat 2 wich was not optimal and it would have been much better to run in a heat with more equal drivers, which would have been the case had re-seed accoring to CP been used. Starting qual 1 so early on Friday morning after the practice was cancelled would also mean a damp track in places. Hardly equal conditions with the track dry afte a couple of heats, but more of this in a later post when I describe my own race.

So Friday and qualifying got underway and run along quite well, although many people frustrated at this point as all the mess the previous two days had taken quite some energy. Tech was still a pain, having to be there so early for your run and the mess with putting on tyres, tyre warmers etc, but it rolled along quite well in the end. This up until round 5 of qualifying when the next controversy would come up and run until the end of the day, and even the following morning!

As round five neared halfway or a bit over the predicted rain arrived. First up, even though the track was already slippery and slow, no reaction! Like noboday in control was seeing what happened. Then stop. No clear info. Then after some time the info that the round had been cancelled. Now, some people had saved their new tyres for this round and used them, only to see the round cancelled after their run, so in effect one set of new tyres thrown away and nothing you could do about it. So more protests as people had already got into the swing of writing protests at this stage. πŸ™‚ Anyway, the decision would stay and round 5 was cancelled. And really, with weather coming into play there will always be some problems to have equal conditions for all. So tough luck really, that’s what I tought as one of the drivers to have my new set of tyres saved “thrown away” this way. However, it is what happened in round 6 that really takes the price…

At this point I also need to mention the big difference between new and old tyres. The difference was easily 7-8 tenths per lap (!), and with 2 sets for 6 rounds and your 3 best scores counting, this made it very much a tactical game.

So come round 6, the final and deciding round of qualifying, the track is wet and it is declared that you have to use rain tyres. These are controlled as well with each driver allowed 1 set, collected from tech before your run just like the dry tyres. However, the track is quickly drying and after a a few heats the information is corrected, saying the previous info was false, and that you can use both wet and dry tyres! Again, I was in heat 2, full wet and very slippery. A couple of heats later it was much drier and the track much faster. Come the last few heats the track was almost as quick as in full dry conditions and drivers had already for a long time been on dry tyres (the tyres that according to the first info you could not even use). Already there were some protest being written but this will to protest the round awoke among many more drivers once it started to rain just as the last heat was about to start and times were seconds slower than in the next to last heat! Also worth mentioning is that since you had to get your tyres 20-25 minutes before your run, the track was at that stage for some wet, so you obviously got your wet tyres, while by the time you got onto the track the track was dry…

Atthis stage most everyone thought the round would be dropped because of the same reason round 5 was cancelled, equal conditions could not be guaranteed. If round 6 would be dropped qualifying results would be counted on 2 out of 4 rounds of qualifying. If round 6 was counted, results would be based on 3 out of 5. Something which would change the grid positions for a lot of drivers up and down the field.

How round 6 could ever even be considered to be counted with those conditions at a World Championship, hell even at any race, is beyond me and I think most racers. So once the decision came that all protests had been ignored and that the results would stand the state of unbelief was total. Just absolutely crazy and unbelieveable. I have no words….

And why for example could not 1 round of qualifying be re-scheduled for Saturday?

Saturday came and luckily even after a overnight rain the track dried quickly and stayed dry for the remainder of the event, meaning that the new World Champion could be decided in great conditions on a great track.

So, as you will have noticed if you read all the way though here there were a lot of issues at this race, and I definitely have forgot more than one! While the race organization can be blamed for some small operational issues, in broad terms MACH did a good job and have a great facility. The issue(s) lie with IFMAR and EFRA, with their personel and their decision making.

As I mentioned at the start a lot of the issues were such that could have been sorted well in advanced if people would have the foresight and responsibility needed, and listened to the racers. The issue with the track required to be 60% new I see as pretty much a non-issue. This is simply not possible and we want to race on permanent high-class tracks. What can be done is more strict rules on pre-event testing and the use of the track before the event, to control the costs and advantage of those who can afford to test.

Secondly, and this is one main rule issue, is the tyres. As I mentioned I am in favour on no tyre treatment as it is simply stupid that you “have to be a chemist” to get the most from tyres. Simply stupid. So far so good. But then it also needs to be NO TYRE TREATMENT for real; i.e. no warmers either. To cut straight to the point… For this race everything with regards to tyres would have been fine and you would have had a lot of less problems by just having new tyres for each run. So you just collect your new set of tyres, put it on the car and go to the track for your run. After you can keep your tyres, no need to give it back. This way every run everyone would start with the same tyres, no tactics, no games, no drivers choosing not to run to save tyres, just equal conditions and no need for complicated tyre warming procedures to try to have equal conditions. And the tyres work without problems the first run without warming. For sure cost can be seen as an issue here but the extra cost of 6 sets of tyres would be small compared to the Worlds budget for each driver. Secondly, with the tyre only needing to last 1 run, most tyres would cope with that and for sure a tyre sponsor could then have been found which could have sold the tyres at their cost.

If you look at why the event went the way it did, had these issues been sorted things would have been much different. Even as it was, things especially in tech needed to have been super prepared before the race and the info on how it would work clear to the drivers. If even I, sitting at home in Finland, can see once the tyre rules and proceedings are published that this will cause a major demand on tech, this must have been possible to anticipate for IFMAR and the organization. It all just needed a lot of space for tech and clear information right from the start.

Another issue is that of information, open-ness and listening to drivers. Now it seems, and this in both IFMAR and EFRA positions, that there are certain persons in certain positions that think they know it all, that they have the power and no one should come and give them advice on what to do. While the reality seems to be that these are persons who have been involved in the sport since the start, in the 70’s and 80’s, have a lot of experience but now are just not conncted with the reality of our sport today, in 2012. Neither are they taking their responsibility, rather just finding the most convenient excuse every time they are challenged or questioned and then later looking for a suitable clause in the rules to legit their excuses.

The problem of (lack of) information was all over this event as well, both before with regards to rules and how these would be implemented and then later at the race with many occations during the 4 days when really nobody know for sure what was happening.

With regards to the drivers at the event I got a feeling that many were already fed up as the event started and were almost looking to find ANY problem to protest and sometimes let this cloud their judgement. However, IFMAR did not make it hard for them to find those things… What could also be seen is that many drivers mainly are interested in their own cause, this displayed clearly when there was not that much talk of protsests with regards to the sixth round of qualifying until it started raing before the last (top) heat. This even as drivers in the early heats had a full wet track to deal with making for the most unequal conditions you could imagine.

However, a deserving champion was crowned and the event was finished of with a very good price giving ceremony at the track ending the week on a high after all this drama. It is clear though that there are serious issues facing the sport and these need to be dealed with responsibly.

So where do we go from here? I find it seriously strange that the manufacturers involved have not already setup an alternative organzation to IFMAR already since the problems have been apparent for a long time. Perhaps this shows the same inability among those as in IFMAR to get together and put things right. But maybe this was the catalyst for this to now happen. For myself though it is easy, just race ETS from now on! πŸ™‚

TRF Defends IFMAR Title

Jilles Groskamp & TRF417X Bring IFMAR Glory to Tamiya!

The MACH Circuit in Heemstede, the Netherlands played host to the seventh biennial IFMAR ISTC World Championships from July 26th-28th. Of course, Tamiya Racing Factory (TRF) was in the thick of the action and when all was said and done, TRF driver Jilles Groskamp and his TRF417X was crowned the champion. Not only was this Tamiya’s third consecutive victory at this prestigious event, it was also brought its total IFMAR touring car title count to five (2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012).

TRF fielded a strong team including 2008 and 2010 IFMAR World Champion Marc Rheinard (Germany), Viktor Wilck (Sweden), Jilles Groskamp (the Netherlands), Elliot Harper (UK), Satoshi Maezumi (Japan), and Akio Sobue (Japan), and the drivers were under the watchful eye of team leader Kiyokazu Suzuki.

The event began chaotically, as the qualifying schedule was changed from one round on Thursday and five rounds on Friday to having all six rounds on Friday. Furthermore, adverse weather eventually cancelled the fifth qualifying round and caused the sixth round to be run on a wet track, which did not enable the drivers to improve earlier times. As a result, Jilles, Marc, and Viktor qualified in 3rd, 4th, and 5th positions respectfully, with Hot Bodies’ Atsushi Hara taking TQ honors ahead of this year’s European Touring Car Series champion Ronald Volker.

Saturday (28th) was the finals, which was a best two point results of three rounds affair. In the first round, Hara was put under pressure by Groskamp and Wilck. With 30 seconds to go, Groskamp took the lead at the final corner only for Hara to regain it during the next lap. As time was running out, Groskamp pulled a stunning move to finish just 0.139 seconds ahead of Hara to win the round.

In the second round, Marc got a great start from fourth place on the grid, but Yokomo’s Volker and Matsukura were on their game and Volker took the round win. Wilck placed 3rd while Hara placed 4th, so as the final round loomed, Groskamp, Wilck, Hara, Volker, and Matsukura were all within reach of the title.

Groskamp and Hara then fought out a dramatic race in the third round, with Rheinard and Wilck keeping Volker’s challenge at bay. Hara eventually finished ahead of Groskamp, which made the two drivers even on points. However Groskamp’s superior times proved to be the decider to allow him to claim an emotional championship title in his native country. Hara (2nd) and Volker (3rd) completed the final podium, while Wilck and Rheinard finished 5th and 10th overall respectively.
In addition, the constructors were recognized for the first time in the event’s history, so Suzuki also mounted the podium to receive the honors on behalf of Tamiya as the Japanese national anthem was played.

TRF has now won three IFMAR ISTC 1/10 Electric Touring Car World Championships in a row and five in total! Thank you very much for your continued support!

IFMAR ISTC Finals Results

Place Driver Car
1 Jilles Groskamp TRF417X
2 Atsushi Hara HB
3 Ronald Volker Yokomo
4 Naoto Matsukura Yokomo
5 Vicktor Wilck TRF417X
6 Loic Jasmin Yokomo
7 Christopher Krapp Kyosho
8 Andy Moore HB
9 Chris Grainger Schumacher
10 Marc Rheinard TRF417X