Monthly Archives: March 2014
Departing a bit from the normal Tamiya and TRF theme with this post, but doing this just because usually it’s hard to find info on the HB touring car programme. And as far as I can see this is info not posted anywhere on their official international sites yet.
Shown at the Nürnberg Toy Fair this year was the HB TCXX with upgrade package (had a look at it myself). It seems this is now about to be released and this is an official photo from HPI of the contents.
Here’s a translation from the Japanese press release
Press Release – Parts – HB TCXX Upgrade Pack
To aspire lap speed racer!
#112285 TCXX upgrade pack
HB TCXX driver for is the release of upgrade parts. Utilizing the latest technology to your TCXX
Files and optional parts, upgrade is possible to dash. Embedded in these parts more Aim to reduce lap times.
#112285 TCXX upgrade pack
The parts included:
– DCJ V2 set an overhaul
– One Piece Servo mount to optimize the role by attaching to the chassis center
– Newly designed motor mount to optimize motor height
– Big bore shocks (short version)
– Shock Tower newly designed low mount front and rear
– Main chassis optimized chassis roll
One week ago today I was doing the (C) finals at Circuito Automodelismo El Hornillo in Gran Canaria, a very enjoyable day that was.
Enjoyable being a good word describing well how this race was for me overall. You will have read the complaints from various top drivers about the low grip and all of that but at least for someone who was there to have a good time and enjoy a bit of driving on a nice track in a fine location with good atmosphere I got precicely what I came for.
The decision, or the will, to go to this race came during last years race when I regretted not going. Basically when you live this far up north any good excuse to go somewhere warmer and sunnier during the cold and dark winter will do! So my aim going to Gran Canaria was clear, spend as little time at the race track as possible but try to enjoy it fully. Since if you go all the way (6h flight) for just one week of holiday, to me it would be silly to spend more than 3 of those days at the track.
Said and done, having arrived on the island on Wednesday I only went to the track Friday morning when the race was going to start. In the same spirit I always went away from the track every day as soon as I had finished my racing as to have time to do something else each night. Upon arriving I found a spot to set up my pit and unpacked my stuff. After a while I started wondering why it was so quiet and not much happening but quickly found out the start of Friday would be free practice, which later was extended a couple of times until it was free practice all of Friday. Suited me perfectly! Actually, I now remember we have 1 round of controlled practice at the end of the day in which I was something like 19th in the Pro Stock class.
The last time I had run any RC car was in September, and the TRF418 I would be racing and which is a completely new car from Tamiya, I had never run. Good preparation is key they say! Anyway, after a few runs the car was already decent and I was quite happy. Throughout the race from the second run on Friday until the last on Sunday I always changed something on the car to learn this new car. And towards the end of the race I think considering the low grip the car was quite good. The balance front-to-rear was mostly good right from the start so it was more about keeping the balance while finding more grip and trying to get the car as consistent as possible.
I changed and tried a lot of stuff on the car and most went in the right direction. The few times the car was worse I just went back on what I had changed and tried something else. I will post the full setup in a separate post later but will mention a few things here that worked well.
For the rear diff I settled on 1000 oil, as with the limited power and grip this felt most consistent after I tried and back-to-backed several alternatives. For the front I settled on 1 million. The springs I stayed with HPI Silver throughout the race but I disconnected the roll bars which did increase the roll and grip of the car while maintaining steering. I also tried quite a few changes to the flex of the chassis using the means I had available to me. The best setting for me for this was a cut upper deck (cut front/rear) and a grub screw instead of the normal CS screw through the lower deck for the center mount in front of the motor. These significantly increased the flex in the car and improved grip and consistency. Added to those some suspension block changes etc., that’s how I ened up running the TRF418 in this my first race.
We’ve heard quite a few negative comments on the TRF418 so I did no know what to expect, but then (shockingly) these comments have come from factory drivers and particulary the supposed top driver, while listening to normal racers and customers most seem very happy with the TRF418. And now having run the car and really tried quite a few things with it, I must say I so far side with the normal racers in my verdict. The 418 is a very high quality car with tight tolerances and beautifully finished parts and this quality helps the car and also the enjoyment you get out of racing, at least that’s the case for me because everything fits and looks good, you don’t need to start engineer solutions. The car did not have any bad traits clearly visible once setup. This was for example the case with the first TRF417 version but that was later engineered out with later 417 versions. So I definitely don’t see that 418 lacking compared to its rivals. Sure, there are and will always be some things to fine tune when you do a completely new car but the is no reason to call it “shit”, none whatsoever.
Which brings me onto the subject of the current status of the TRF team and it’s drivers and attitudes. I must say over the last months I have at times become quite irritated, and at the same time shocked by the attitude shown by these paid professionals. How can your top driver with thousands of followers on Facebook consistently write to his followers stuff like “soon I can go home” or “soon finally over” before the race is finished, or stuff like “considering the car we have” in a negative sense or “happy that it’s the last race on carpet with this car” while many Tamiya drivers had at least half their carpet season left with a car which had in many countries just become available to buy. IMO this is completetly unacceptable. For sure, we’re all just humans and you can vent frustrations but while you’re racing as a pro you’re a paid professional.
That’s one side of it, what we can expect from pro racers and their attitude. The second side is of course, how can a company like Tamiya accept these things? I mean, if you hire some top drivers for a racing team to go around the world representing your company and products, you must demand a lot of them as well, not least a decent amount of work ethics! Anyway, I feel the current sitation is someting they have been on their way to arriving at for some time, and at least for me it has for some years been clear that Tamiya need to take more control of their team and the drivers. And if this does not suit the current drivers, replace them! There is of course this talk and the comments we have heard many times of lack of support from Japan, and for sure there is an element of that in this situation. But at the same time they should not just compare themselves to Yokomo who sends and entourage around the world almost every week supporting their drivers. It’s very much Yokomo which is the abnormality here. Just look at the Xray drivers at the Gran Canaria ETS race, no one from the factory there but the drivers worked hard throughout the week with a positive attitude and in the end had the best handling cars and won all three classes!
So whatever, in any form of racing, the way out from a dip will always require a lot of hard work, and you need to start working hard yourself first before you start demanding more from someone else. It’s the only way! Of course it’s a lot more convenient to find excuses, but if you actually really want to succeed again you need to work hard at it…
Anyway, personally I think it will be fascinating to see if Tamiya and TRF team will again manage to raise their level as they usually have coming up to the Worlds, or if we will see the current state continue. Never has there been more need collectively raising their level than this year I think…
Ok, rant over, let’s continue reporting on the race.
Saturday was qualifying day with 5 round and your 2 best counting. One slight negative of the race and one reason for the changed schedule on Friday was the different wheels to be used. In the Pro Stock class we were to use the Ride tyres with new wheels, made out of a different material and shape. Since I had the previous version with me and did not have any ambitions for a great result I used those for practice and then started to use the new version only in qualifying. Of course silly if you are going after a reslut but in my situation this time I thought it best to use up what I had first. So in the beginning of qually I had to get used to the slight difference in tyres but it was no big deal, they were just a bit slower which menat I have to work a bit if I wanted top 20 speed again. In all of qualifying I was quite consistent with my reults getting 129, 131, 137, 132 and 130 points, of which the 18th place in round 3 was the best placing. Round 3 meant old tyres in the mid-day heat, conditions which usually mean I’m highest in results for some reason. These results put me overall 24th and a 4th on the the C final starting grid.
The biggest surprise for me during the race was that until the finals I had just crashed once over 2 days on a track new to me…surely a personal best!
Of course in the finals we had some crashes as we were fighting, but at the same time most of it was very enjoyable. And that’s where the race ended! 25th I think was my overall finish after some last lap drama in the last final.
The TRF factory cars (factory drivers always have more than 1 car at these races) had some different upper and lower decks in a few different versions but nothing special seen. The Serpent cars were running aluminium lower decks while one was also seen at times on a Yokomo. As can be seen from the Red RC gallery a Pro Stock Tamiya driver also had an aluminium chassis for his 418. Most drivers (including me) used the LTC-R body while some used the new Mazda 6 GX and a few the old Mazdaspeed 6. Overall, especially in the finals the Xray cars looked best on track, and in the Pro Stock A2 and A3 finals we got to witness some great racing for the win.
Finally, another small rant, this time towards Red RC which I must say IMO have moved in the wrong way with their race reporting. Positive development means constantly improving but in the case of their reporting from such races I (together with many I know it must be said) feel the development have gone the opposite way. Just go back some years and you will see. My biggest complaint is that there is a huge lack of focus on the cars and equipment, with VERY few chassis shots from any ETS race nowadays. Since this is is what a large part of the audience want to see (since they are racers themseleves) it seems difficult to understand that this gets worse and worse. Yes, there are some nice “chassis focus” parts but this is just a few per race while usually for maybe 70% of the brands there is not one single picture of a car. For sure there will be manufacturers hesitant to have pictures of development parts, but if this is respected too much it’s not healthy for anyone anymore…the medias job is to show these things to the public. I could go on but I feel it’s best to stop this rant here…I guess my point is clear.
The track was one that I did not expect I would like a lot layout-wise ahead of the race but my perception of this changed during the race as I really started liking the variety of corners on the track. Of course it was unfortunate with the low grip but for Pro Stock it was ok. And the best setup cars and drivers made mod look ok at times too, although I understand it will have been frustrating to race mod with such low grip. But the great atmosphere and location made up for that for me at least. I’m very happy that I decided to go and I fully enjoyed my race.
What it actually was that made it so low grip I’m a bit confused with and so it seemed most were. The surface felt a bit like smooth sandpaper (if that makes sense) and this could be seen in that a lot of rubber was coming of the tyres. The track was not dirty as it was mostly rubber inside the cars but perhaps the surface was just somehow too new. Who knows, probably the future will show. Another tricky element was the wind which made consistency hard to acheive.
Anyway, the low grip and conditions were just a small part of this race. The major point is that it was race I truly enjoyed and now I just wait for the chance to be able to run outdoors here at home!
My A-Paint LTC-R car at the race
Start of one of my C-finals