Iconic Cup 2019 Round 1: Mendip Race report

The Iconic cup has proved to be a popular series with us retro Tamiya racers and is now in its fourth year. For the uninitiated the Ico...

The Iconic cup has proved to be a popular series with us retro Tamiya racers and is now in its fourth year. For the uninitiated the Iconic cup allows most Tamiya onroad cars built before 2005 to be raced in a wide range of classes.
  • Stock: Back to basics. It is open to either TT01/E or TL01 chassis. No hop-ups other than bearings, oil shocks and alloy propshafts.
  • SuperStock: This allows a wide range of vintage chassis from the TA01 up to the TA04 and TB02 shaft car. Hop-ups are still limited as per-stock but these chassis are more inherently adjustable so they are separated out from the stock class chassis.
  • GT: This Class allows any hop-up including carbon chassis etc, alongside opening up the available chassis to include the ‘Pro’ and ‘R’ versions along with the TBevo’s (Up to TBevo3) and TRF chassis up to the TRF415ms.
  • Front wheel drive: Basically FF01 or FF02 chassis cars, more open with hop-ups.
  • M-chassis: A popular class with both FWD (M01 / M03) and RWD (M02 / M04) chassis.
  • F1: Anything goes as long as it is a F102 or F103 chassis.
I already had my TRF415ms ready from racing in the Iconic before, although I was unable to make any of the race events in 2018 due to a lot going on in my private life. However I just brushed it down and looked forward to catching up with friends and some gentle racing fun.

Saturday Practice.

Storm Anna had been ravaging the South east, however it looked like the weather had taken a turn for the better and no rain was forecast from the Saturday afternoon. I had family errands to do before setting off but despite the traffic slowing me down I arrived at the Mendip raceway with around 30 mins of timed practice available.

I haven’t raced around Mendip before and I was impressed with the layout and the size of the track. I had heard some rumours about the surface but they were unjustified as the actual track surface was well maintained and smooth. The actual circuit was very large and wide compared to many of the UK outdoor tracks and there were a few interesting bumps to learn, especially in some of the braking zones.
Fellow RC racer Andy Travis had been keeping a space in the pit area for me. As readers of this site know, Andy has had a lot of success racing in various classes in the Iconic cup, and this year he has decided to race a TBevo3 in the GT class.. So we will be racing against each other to see who is fastest.. (I’m not convinced it’s going to be a hard question to answer).

Mendip is Andy's local track and he had already been tweaking his car and setting the time to beat in practice. His best lap on the windy Saturday was 20.46s. I popped my TRF415 on the track and set out to learn the track layout.
Andy's TB Evolution 3 was the quickest car on the day.
The track is large and fast with a large sweeper into and out of the main straight, at the end of the straight you really need to pick your braking spot, otherwise you can smash your chassis into ‘The Wall of champions’ ready to stop you in an instant.

As it was so large, it was very easy to drive around the track, however finding the right lines was quite difficult. I was rekindling myself with the TRF415 after a long break, and also trying to find out where to brake I knew it was going to be hard to post a competitive time.

Depressingly the car felt odd, it was great for the first few laps but it started to feel unstable and unpredictable. I had a hunch that something was wrong as the TRF415 was always very dependable and easy to drive. However I just pumped in the laps and tried to learn the track.

My best lap was 22.8 seconds, massively off the pace of Andy, disappointed I decided to take a look at the chassis and see why the car felt so difficult. It didn’t take long to see the issue, the pulley had come away on the main spur and the car was essentially running as FWD most of the time. I had no idea why this had happened, so I put it down to just one of those things and pushed it back onto its mount and packed up as practice was over.

Saturday night..

I wouldn’t normally mention the night, but thanks to a spectacular cock up with booking a hotel (Wrong weekend.. ahem) and a romantic notion of having a few drinks by a campfire with some racing buddies I decided to camp for the first time in about 20 years.

After struggling to set up a tent whilst the remnants of storm Anna tried to blow it away, I managed to set up home base and have a few drinks. Not enough drinks as it transpired as the alcohol couldn’t drown out the constant flapping of the tent and the freezing cold temperatures literally giving me the shivvers.. It was a looooooooonnnnnnng night with no sleep.. Great!


As I didn’t sleep I was obviously early at the track, ready to practice in the morning. I popped the TRF415 onto the track and took it out. The car felt great, however again after a few laps the handling started to feel funky. I headed off into the pits and the pulley had come loose again.
Lots of maintenance in the pits, ball diffs.. remember them? ;)
I had packed loads of spares, but I didn’t have a spare pulley, so in the end I had to do a bodge fix. If anyone remembers the earlier TRF cars they will recall that the bulkheads were all one piece. Great for alignment, terrible for easy maintenance. I set about trying to make a fix. I will not lie, I was almost ready to pack it all in before doing the first round. I was cold… very very cold, the wind was still very strong and I had a banging head thanks to the sleepless night. Luckily I was pitting with Andy and Brendan and they provided moral support, a hot cup of tea and I managed to make a trackside fix with 10mins before the first round.

Now I had fixed the pulley the TRF415 was much more consistent.  I decided to use round one as a practice session as I still had both the handling dynamics of the chassis and the track to learn. At the end of the 5 minutes I had got into 20 second lap times and had finished in fourth place. I felt much better about my pace and I could see that I was close to my long time club rival Brendan, although Andy and Mark Bristow were ahead of us track newcomers.
Andy and Mark Bristow had lots of battles at the front
Still very much in learning mode I made no changes to the chassis other than the gearing as I my FDR was way too low. The second round was good for my confidence, as the car felt very easy to drive and I could see that most of the speed was to come from learning the best line on the track.

For the third heat I played around with the gearing again and went to a higher FDR. I was getting more consistent as I started to learn the track. Braking later into some of the faster corners and also exploring how much throttle I could apply around the corners until the TRF415 would start scrubbing off the steering. I managed another third, close to my regular racing rival Brendan but still some seconds away from Andy and Mark who were having their own battle up front.

In the final qualifying round I went up another tooth on the pinion. Over the first three rounds I had not had any issues with the handling of the TRF415, it just felt so easy and neutral to drive. I knew that the most obvious way to gain the lap-time to Andy and Mark was to still gain a better line into the main straight and at the end of the main straight on the double apex corner. Unfortunately for me I had gone a little to high on the FDR this time and the car was too bogged down on the throttle coming out of the slower corners on the track. I managed to still hold onto third until literally 20 seconds to go when I lost a bit of time trying to get past a back marker. It was only a second or two but we were so close and Brendan managed to get the third spot with a race time that was just 0.15 seconds better than mine.. That’s close racing :)

The Final

For the final I went down a couple of teeth to provide me with a little more speed out of the corners and lined up in fourth position on the grid. The start went well and everyone managed to keep out of trouble so I set off trying to reel in Brendan.
The racing was really close but I could see that I had a slight edge in speed as I drove up to catch him. I spent ages running in his slipstream and lap after lap I tried to see where I would have an opportunity to overtake. I could see that I was sharper into the corner at the end of the straight, but as we were so closely matched with speed (We were even running the same motors as well as chassis). I knew I could only make a move if he made a mistake.
Brendan and myself both ran the same chassis and motors and had close races all day
With 30 seconds to go it happened, the gap appeared and I stuck my nose in, we raced side by side all around the corner, both giving each other adequate space. Out of the corner we were side by side, I was now ahead but not by a full car length as we approached the next corner. My line was compromised but I was not going to give up track position. We collided into the corner, I was fine but Brendan rolled onto his roof. I slowed down and held back for him to catch up so we could resume the battle. Again we were neck and neck but I was unable to pass him as we crossed the line just 0.2 seconds behind.

A great race and and exciting final, Well done to fellow RCRacer Andy Travis on taking the win.. at least one of us got a trophy :)

Despite not winning, I had a fantastic weekend. 80 or so Tamiya drivers enjoying some good racing and looking at each others cars. From my personal point of view I was happy that I had managed to shave another 0.3 sec of my best lap in the final, and I was not disappointed with ending up in fourth as it was such an entertaining race…

However when Round 2 comes around, I aim to at least go one place higher, and maybe more importantly, get a proper nights sleep beforehand :)

Additional pics from John Weston.
Racing 2131761434190641184

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