1/10 NTC World Championship Warm-up Report

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Race Report by Martin Hudy

The 1/10 nitro pre-worlds were held between March 17- 23 in Lisboa, the capital city of Portugal. The race started on Monday with free practice and because of the few participants, the free practice continued until Friday and the race was held on weekend. IFMAR rules were followed because the race was a warm up for the World Championship to be held in August. That meant that the qualifiers were 10 minutes, semi-finals were 30 minutes, and the main final was 1 hour long. The race was attended by 60 drivers and the reason for the low number was probably due to the time when the race was held… March weather being completely different than August weather. Even with the small number of drivers, everyone expected a big race because almost all of the best Euro drivers attended. The race was full of the best Italian 1/10 drivers like 2-time European Champion Dario Ballestri, top nitro racer Daniele Ielasi, 3rd from the last Euros Alessio Mazzeo, and many many more. Team XRAY was represented by their top Euros drivers: Teemu Leino, German Champion Robert Pietsch and Vice-champion Dirk Wischnewsky, top Spanish driver Carlos Peracho, Danish driver Martin Lissau, Niki Duina from Italy, Mark Gilliand from Great Britain, Mickael Brandt from Sweden, and of course Juraj and Martin Hudy. Overall the NT1 was the most popular car in the race, with 20 XRAY machines out of 60 cars.

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The race started on Monday, however the team had little chance to practice because of the rain that started in the afternoon. Although the rain stopped, the super-old asphalt (25 years) dried very slowly and it was already dark out by the time the track was completely dry. Almost the same situation happened on Tuesday. On Wednesday it rained the entire day but finally on Thursday the weather was good and we could start free practice. The track layout was not very difficult since the track is mainly about power, but the cars needed to be very aggressive because most of the corners were 180 degree. I started with my set-up from the last Euros and the car was pushing. It was hard to change the set-up to a more aggressive one because the track had very low traction and a more aggressive car would have even less traction. Because of that the team was focusing on setting up the clutch, gearing, and 2 speed transmission because these settings are very important. The track started to have good traction on Friday and by that time we could focus on car set-up.

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Practice on Friday was held in the heats and there were scheduled 5 runs of practice that took 10 minutes. It was a very good idea because the mechanics could practice refueling for the upcoming qualifiers. My car was already good from the beginning but it needed more steering and corner speed. Because the traction was not as good as last year in Spain, the first change I decided to do was change from the 4mm optional chassis to standard chassis. The car got more traction and only steering was needed. First of all, I decided to use a front diff instead of the solid axle and this change helped a lot because car had more steering into the corner but also more corner speed. I decided to use 80,000 in the front and 60,000 in the rear. Because I wanted to get even more steering, I changed the front steering block and instead of standard one, I tried the 1° kingpin steering block. This change improved the steering again and the car was almost perfect. To make the car even more aggressive I moved the front shocks from the inner to middle position on the shock tower. Because I wanted to have not only an aggressive car but also an easy-to-drive car, I decided to increase rear toe-in to 3° to get more traction. At this time the car was really good and I was ready for Saturday qualifiers.

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QUALIFIERS

The qualifiers started on Saturday morning with 5 rounds but because the rain started in the afternoon only 3 rounds were done. The first round was the fastest because the asphalt was cold and because of that the traction was the highest from the whole day. The first round was won by 2x European Champion Dario Balestri. Robert Pietsch was very fast in the first round and he set the second fastest time. Teemu looked super good in the first round as well and could be very close to a TQ time but he got a stop-and-go penalty for bad refueling which cost him more than 6 seconds… so he finished 3rd only two seconds behind Robert. Martin Lissau also set his best time in the first round and finished 6th. My car was really good but the engine was too rich and I got a stop-and-go penalty as well and because of that I finished 14th. Dirk was super fast in the second round and moved up to 6th place. I finished 12th in the second round right behind Nikki who was 0.03sec faster after 10 minutes. For the third round I decided to make the differentials even softer so I put 60.000 in the front and 40.000 in the rear.

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The steering was better but I did not make faster time because it started to rain a little in the last minute. Juraj’s car looked very good but he was struggling a little with power and finished 20th overall. Carlos was unlucky as well because he was super fast in each qualifier but always run out of the fuel and because of that he finished in the 1/4 final together with Juraj.

1 Dario Balestri
2 Robert Pietsch XRAY NT1
3 Giuseppe D angelo
4 Alessio Mazzeo
5 Teemu Leino XRAY NT1
6 Dirk Wischnewski XRAY NT1

7 Walter Salemi
8 Martin Lissau XRAY NT1
9 Michele Romagnoli
10 Roland Strom
11 Niki Duina XRAY NT1
12 Martin Hudy XRAY NT1

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Finals 

The finals started on Sunday and the first on the track from our team was Juraj and Carlos in the 1/4 final B. Juraj was driving very well and thanks to a pipe change he had good power. He was driving the entire time in 2nd place and finished that way. Carlos was very unlucky because he ran out of the fuel in the last lap while in 3rd place and so he finished 4th … effectively ending the race for him. From 1/4 final it was Team XRAY driver Mickael Brandt who bumped up in to the semi-final when he showed super driving skills. Mark Gilliand was unlucky because while he fast in the 1/4 final, his gear broke and his race was over.

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Semi-final B was very unlucky for Team Xray. Dirk… who dominated the semi-final and won start – finish and set the best result in the semi-finals… was disqualified because he changed from standard wheels of a set to narrower wheels BUT he forgot to cut the drive axle. The drive axle was wider than the wheel and he was disqualified, and HIS race was over, too. I was unlucky as well because right from the start I moved into 2nd place behind Dirk. I was driving easy because the distance between me and 3rd (Ileasi) was quite big so what I needed to do was finish the semi-final without mistake. At the 15min mark I went for refueling but some fuel probably got into the receiver, the car got interference when exiting the pit, and I crashed into the wall at full speed. Juraj made some mistakes and finished 4th in the semi-final. Martin Lissau was also very fast and had a good chance to bump up into the final but some technical problems prevented him from making it. In the semi-final A it was Teemu who was able to bump up into the main. Although he was unlucky at the start (when he was crashed and lost 1st place), with error-free driving he was able to win the final. Niki was very unlucky when he made a mistake and his engine flamed out… and so Niki’s race was over. Mickael finished 5th and it was his best result in an international race which made him very happy.

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Main Final 

Everyone knows that a 1-hour final is not about the first 5 minutes and because of that all the drivers started easy. It was Robert who was an early leader when his car was really good at the start. Teemu had bad luck in the final when his front shock came out from the arm at the straightaway and because of that he crashed into the wall almost full speed. Although it was big crash, the car did not break but he lost his 4th position. Teemu tried to close the gap and he came to the pits for refueling very quickly and hit the wall with one wheel and broke the steering block. Robert was leading for almost the entire whole final, but his tire strategy was not good and that caused him to lose his leading position. Robert wanted to change the tires in the middle of the race and because of that he used a small tire diameter. However, his mechanics realized that the tire wear is not high and the difference between drivers was very small they knew that if they go for tire change, it would cost him a lot of time and because of that they decided to not change the tires.

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Because of that his front tires became very small and the car started to push a lot and also he was losing traction. At 15 minutes before the end it was clear that the fight for 1st place would be among Robert, Dario, and Daniele Ileasi. Although Robert was driving without mistake he was losing important tenths of the seconds every lap because of tires. He tried to keep Dario and Daniele behind him as much as possible but with his front tires vanishing away it was impossible. He dropped down to 3rd place and was driving close to Dario and Daniele. All three drivers were showing amazing racing in the last 15 minutes when they were driving close together and were trying to move to the lead. All spectators were amazed how close the race was. They were driving side-by-side but fairly. At the end it was Daniele who took the lead in the last lap by a nice pass on Dario. It was amazing that after 1 hour the difference between Daniele (1st), Dario (2nd), and Robert (3rd) was only 4 seconds.

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Although we had a bad luck in the semi-finals and also in the final with Teemu’s shock and Robert’s tire strategy, we were all happy because the car was working superbly and our team has a huge potential at the upcoming Worlds.

Final Results:
1 Daniele Ielasi
2 Dario Balestri
3 Robert Pietsch XRAY NT1
4 Jacky Mouton
5 Giuseppe D angelo
6 Walter Salemi
7 Roland Strom
8 Oscar Cabezas
9 Alessio Mazzeo
10 Teemu Leino XRAY NT1

Source : XRAY

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