Sean Lee's Tamiya TRF420X Race report and Set-up sheet

Having a new car is always an exciting moment, especially when Tamiya announces a brand new competition touring car. With the announcement of the new TRF420X, I was a little sceptical of how much of an improvement the new car would be over my trusty 420, with the motor still being in the same position. Well, after the few track days I’ve had with the new car, I’d have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised with its outstanding performance amongst a field of current era cars.

Due to school commitments, I’m not able to go to the track or work on my cars as much as I’d like to, with the only track time I can get being during races themselves. Fortunately, with the help of my mentor, Joo Kiah Chhua, he was able to hook me up with a freshly built car to debut for the second round of the Urban Touring Series. With basically no experience with the new car, this race was essentially an “arrive and drive” event. I wasn’t expecting major leaps in performance, given that I didn’t have a proper base setup to work from. 

To my surprise, the first few battery packs on the Saturday before the race were very smooth sailing, with the most noteworthy observation being the enhanced driveability of the car despite the setup not yet tuned to my preference. I was able to power out of the corners much earlier than with the previous car, and I was able to rail round the corners with ease, having to use much less brakes as compared to the 420. With a rear motor, you would typically have to drive it much harder as compared to a mid pulley, with a “hard in, hard out” driving approach. However, with the new TRF420X, you have the option to drive it more smoothly, or with aggression, while attaining all the performance you can reasonably extract from it. 

I was also amazed by the increased steering response from the car, given that the 420 was already pretty responsive as it was. This provided a connected feeling between car and driver. With the added benefits of increased corner speed, mid-corner rotation and drive out of the corners, the new car was surely an improvement in all aspects. With only a few hours to prepare myself and the car for the race, I decided to just have fun during the race, and see whether I could capitalise on potential incidents on-track.

The race was a challenging one, with many variables such as varying temperatures and grip levels. In addition, with rain between the qualifiers and the mains, that definitely threw a spanner into the mix. I was mainly focusing on getting the car to be comfortable enough to drive for 5 minutes, making minute changes with the setup throughout the qualifiers. 

Fortunately, I was able to put in a clean run which was good enough for P2 on the grid! But with any form of racing, anything can happen. After the rain had died down, the track was dried and prepared for the mains, and I was a little worried as to how the car would handle the low temperatures and potential damp spots on the track. The first heat went pretty well, with the only hiccup being an incident with a fellow racer in our battle for second, dropping me down to third. 

During the second heat, I decided to throw on my second set of new tyres which I saved for the mains, hoping to capitalise on the extra pace of a fresh set of rubber. Unfortunately, I was unable to do so, with an unexpected spin across the line, dropping me down to an eventual fourth position. 

For the third heat, with Dominic Quek taking the overall win, it was up to me to wrap it up with a win and hope for a spot on the podium. However, during my warm-up lap, I realised that the spin during the second heat was due to a setup imbalance, but it was too late to remedy the situation. Eventually, I could not handle the loose rear end during the third heat, ending up in a half spin during the first few laps, which made me lose a position. The following lap saw my car in a pile-up with a bunch of other cars due to an unfortunate incident with a racer that was behind me, dropping me all the way down the field, with a body-tuck which I carried with me till the end of the race. 

Overall, I finished in 5th position as my final race result.

A week after the race, I decided that a test session was in order to better familiarise myself with the car. It was a great opportunity for me to understand the car and its unique setup variables in terms of flex options, while figuring out what works best for my driving style. 

After spending a day at the track, I ended up with a setup that I felt was much more balanced and raceable in a larger variety of conditions, making my car much easier to drive and allowing me to be more able to extract the raw pace the 420X had.

To sum up, having to race a new car for the race with no prior testing was an interesting experience for me, allowing me to learn more about how I can improve as a driver. Furthermore, it was a pleasant surprise to find out that Tamiya’s new offering was worth the wait, with improvements in almost all aspects of its performance over the previous car, putting it on par with the latest and greatest creations from other brands once more. 

Thank you to my father, Sebastian Lee, for continuously supporting my passion for RC Racing, and to Joo Kiah Chhua, for always aiding me with setup and maintenance. You can check out his Facebook page “Crazy about Racing CarZ” for some insights to the inner workings of the latest RC vehicles, and you might perhaps learn a thing or two about how to better prepare your RC cars through his builds! I would also like to thank Stargek, our local Tamiya distributor, for supporting my RC journey, and to Nicholas Lee for providing some great Dash electronics. I look forward to learning more about the car and continue fighting for a spot on the podium in future races to come.

TRF420 7170965095791128531

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