International Carpet Challenge - Day 1

So I'm not normally one for writing race reports but the International Carpet Challenge is a special kind of event so I felt compelled t...

So I'm not normally one for writing race reports but the International Carpet Challenge is a special kind of event so I felt compelled to give my personal experiences from day 1.  Hopefully if I do not fall asleep right away after racing I will provide a similar report tomorrow.

We arrived at the venue a little early in order to get our pits set up and check out the track.  There was a problem with the electrics at the venue and practice was delayed whilst they were fixed.  Once practice begun I found I had a fairly slow car but the handling was alright, just a little wild and some tyre squeal.  I discovered the lack of speed was due to the screws in the end of my motor working loose and the timing reducing itself to 0.  For the 2nd practice I had sorted this out but since the grip had come up quite a bit my car had become a handful and the tyres were screaming.

Due to the delay in starting the event the stock class was compressed into 2 heats of 12 drivers.  I had only managed to place 8th in the 2nd heat after my practice times.  Before the first round of qualifying I decided it was worth trying a change of body shell so I replaced my Bitty Design Nardo with a Protoform Mazda Speed 6.  At first I thought this was a bad move as I had very little steering but by increasing my dual rates I found all the steering I needed.  The shell change had done what I needed it to - calm the car down and reduce the chances of grip roll.

Grip roll was an issue that almost everyone suffered from and a challenge I relished.  Fortunately my choice of body shell and current set up was enough that my car would not grip roll.  Sometimes I could see the inside wheels lift a little in the middle of the sweeper but it never rolled.  The only way my car would roll was if I hit one of the curbs exiting either chicane.

After the first round of qualifying I finished 4th in my heat.  Not too bad I thought, since I was holding back and getting used to the way the car was handling now.  Unfortunately my team mate Terry Yarranton had some bad luck during the first race and his AM18-1 on the front of his car had snapped and he had lost one half of the camber/caster link too.  Luckily I had spares to cover him and our team pulled together to get Terry’s car back on the track in time for the next round.

For the 2nd round I felt the car could still do with some calming down so I could push harder and go faster.  I changed my additive from Nosram Carpet to AME MBT.  This had worked but perhaps gave me too much confidence as I hit the curb exiting both chicanes far too many times and my car spent a lot of time either on it’s roof or flying through the air.  Ultimately I only managed 8th in my heat but also picked up a warning from scrutineering since all this action had caused my ride height to drop below the minimum requirement.

So I checked my car fully to ensure it was as good as it could be and would pass scrutineering for the next round.  The only thing that seemed out of place was the ride height but I also noticed that my tyres were parting from the rims.  Since we have a maximum allocation of 2 sets of tyres for the event I did not want to risk ruining a set by glueing them badly or getting glue on the contact surface.  Mark Young kindly glued my tyres for me as he has more experience in doing this than I do, in exchange I bought him a cup of tea.

The third round went much better for me.  I set myself one goal only which was to avoid all the curbs and drive calmly and cleanly.  This worked well as we approached the half way mark I heard the commentator say that I was leading the race.  Since I heard this I became nervous and made some mistakes, also as the race went on I found I had to drive more carefully to keep the car on line.  Eventually I finished 4th.

For the fourth and final round today I decided it was worth trying a thicker diff oil.  So I went from 1500 to  3000 and whilst this worked a treat for the fast corners and sweeper the hairpins became very tricky as if I reduced my speed too much the car would spin out.  After another less than perfect race I finished 8th.

I ended the day happy, although I feel I could have done better I’ve really enjoyed my racing.  I got to meet my team manager Freddy Sudhoff (whom I regularly bombard with emails) which I had been looking forward too, I just wish I could have spent more time talking with him.  The good feeling and team work within our pits really set the mood for everyone, there wasn’t a frown in sight, just plenty of smiles and laughs.

Tomorrow will be another exciting day.  Whilst I don’t think I can improve my qualifying position greatly I look forward to some proper side by side racing in the finals.

The live results for the International Carpet Challenge can be found here: http://rcracingtv.net/ews-live-results/

Live streaming of the finals will be available tomorrow on rcracing.tv
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