Just thought I would say hi to all the people out there that read these reports. Some are more humorous than others I am sure. In any event, this trip was set to take place in a land far, far away from home. Thailand to be exact for the Thialand International R/C Touring Car Championship 2008.
After a 20 hours plus grueling flight, I finally arrived in the warm, moist climate of Bangkok, Thailand. The first thing you have to do, is figure out how to get from the Airport to the Hotel. Can be a chore sometimes when you can’t understand what people are saying. In any event, the Taxi service will take you almost anywhere, for a small chunk of money. Once arriving at the Hotel, it was elaborate and very nice. I would say one of the nicest RC hotels I have ever stayed at. After checking in I was off to the room to unpack and sort out my gear.
Once I arrived at the track the next morning it would set the stage for what the week of practice/testing and racing would bring. The TITC event has gained popularity over the years and has had many world champions in attendance this year and in the past. So many familiar faces and a few new ones arrived early to try and take home the victory. The unfortunate part is only one man can win. In any event, the track was super nice, one of the best surfaces I have ever raced on. The curbing was smooth and low, driver stand good height and the straight away was really long. The hobby shop is any HPI/HB car owners dream palace. So, if you do not have spares or drive those cars, you might just be S.O.L.
After charging some packs, I went out to run my car and it felt pretty good, but so much ground to make up on the other teams. Pack after pack and day after day. The car was getting better and better. I really started to feel like I was starting to settle on a specific this or that.
After a couple days, Rene Cornella (S400 designer) showed up and began to run as well. We started testing different things in order to cut down on some time and make more headway. As the first qualifiers were closing in, I really felt like my car was getting pretty good. I was testing some proto-type things : with the double jointed front axles, shorter rear drive bones, short front arms, and single o ring shocks, I really felt the car was smooth, consistent and easy to drive.
The only thing, I could ask for was more steering. It is so hard to find, I tried so many things, some of which included overdrive, which for the readers was unsuccessful. You had to run a normal amount of toe, otherwise during the rounds in the heat you would be doing hyper doughnuts coming off the end straight. I found that 3 or 2.5 was your only real choices. As in the past on my carpet car, it seems, for some reason the S400 really likes forward arm sweep in the front. So, I ran 1.5 degrees with them swept forward rather than back. It just makes the car feel smooth, all the while giving the car good steering. I know on other cars this does not work, however, it might have something to do with the plastic material we use. As for those parts, I ran the stock kit parts.
As we ran through the qualifiers I did really well in one round and would have done well in another had I not dumped. I had one top 10 finish and the others in the top 20. The car was really good, but a speedo, that was not getting full speed was really limiting my lap times. I know, I know, its not an excuse really, there was something wrong with it. However, I was still able to run decent lap times, it just looked like I was running 10.5 on the straights. After qualifying was over, I was in the B main. I was not happy with the result simply because I wanted to run in the A main, but based on my situation with the speedo, and not getting my car set up fast enough proved to be a tough task.
On Monday and Tuesday after the event, we went out again to do more testing and try various parts, also from other makes and I really felt like I made some improvements to the car. I tested more on the rear end, and decided that the 4 hole on the rear tower was better than the 5. Just better corner exit steering. I tried many combinations, but that one definitely provided the best lap times, with the HPI silver spring. I also ran the Silver spring on the front, outside hole on the a arm and 3rd hole on tower. On Monday and Tuesday, it was obvious that although my car was slow in the straights, It had more traction than most of the other cars in the corners. With that traction I had good steering, and was super competitive on the 2 practice days. I do not feel that anyone had a better car than I did, especially on Tuesday. Most of the Tamiya drivers were doing Hyper doughnuts in the corners and were having a really difficult time running competitive lap times. So, for the most part, I had most of the pros with the exception of one or two covered on Tuesday. Had I had that set up with a new Speedo and battery, I definitely think top 10 would have been super easy.
Worlds in November 2008, Bangkok, Thailand
At this time, I think the set up is good enough to win in the US. However, I do not think that in 9 months time, when the Worlds be raced on this same track, it will be good enough to make the A final. With many teams working hard to make their cars better and finding new set ups, we have work to do too. We need to gather our guns, prepare the tanks, and set out on a mission to find new set ups and little nick knack tricks that can help us decrease our lap times. At a world class level, its not about tenths of a second, it comes down to those hundredths of a second that add up to those tenths. As a team we need to unite and improve every set up we have. Time is of the essence, we are in the drivers seat as to where we will end up. Good luck in your racing and I wish all of you guys the best.
Serpent, Speed Passion, LRP