Giardini Naxos World Track, Messina, Sicily, Italy
Well the jet lag and race hangover are slowly going away, so I can write something. This race was pretty crazy even before it got going. Some people were waiting for lost bags at the airport, but we were lucky. After a short delay all our bags showed up and we were on our way. There were still some unanswered questions if we could run our fuel or not, and we had to wait until that got sorted out. In the end thankfully we got to run our own fuel. As far as race track and surface, I thought it was awesome in my opinion. The track had tons of grip and was not breaking apart. Even when it rained, the track held up and drained well. Of course when the base material is concrete you would expect that. The track basically had a coat of brown colored stuff on top and most of it wore away, especially after the wet weather running.
As the race started, we were still making set-up changes even after 5 days of practice! Some people were complaining about the race being too long, but I don’t think so. My pace was improving all the way until finals day. It was pretty obvious the local drivers had better pace, for example I had to work pretty hard to get around the young Italian David Ongaro in the 1/4 final. Not taking anything from David or his great drive, but my car was much better in the semi with better pace. I was tweaking the set-up all the way to the final. The main thing we could not get used to was the ridiculous stiff sway bars we needed to run. I ended up with 2.8mm front and 3.0mm rear sway bars. It’s just hard to trust that it will work and put the car on the track like that to try it. In my opinion, getting the sway bar stiffness right was the biggest part of the battle. With a lot of hard work and talking to my Dad and our team mates, we did get it right on finals day. In the quarter final my car was better, but nothing to write home about. I did win the race but had to work harder than I wanted to. We learned a lot still in the 1/4, and with a couple tests and little tweaks in the semi practice, the car was awesome. It was game on for the semi and final. At this point I was 95% sure I would be in the final.
At the start of the semi, I got into a transfer position pretty quick. I had just passed Wernimont and got back into the transfer position, stopped for fuel, but then rolled over on the back sweeper. The corner marshal ran across the track in the opposite direction and left my car there. After finally getting turned over, the crash would cost me around 12 seconds! I would only have about 10 minutes left in the race to make up the time. With other drivers having mistakes and crashes all over the place I would put my head down and run a clean 10 minutes to get the last auto-transfer spot to the main final. I could not have been happier with the way all my stuff was working and was really looking forward to the main. I thought I had a chance to win again. The long crash was a shame, because it cost me a few positions on the grid going into the final. I probably would have gridded up 5th or so without that long crash. Still I was happy to be in, and with car #9.
Getting ready for the final is always a little crazy. My dad was working hard getting the car ready, and I was mentally getting myself ready for the hard 60 minute final. We only get an hour to work on the car after the semi and its stressful making sure we get everything right. As we headed out to the track for the main final, I had to think about the last 8 years. It felt so good to be going out for my 4th worlds final in a row. I have made the final at every 1/8th Worlds I have attended, and have the 4 race streak going. I know not too many drivers can say that.
At the start of the race, I got pinched off at the start by a car that started late. I moved wide to avoid a crash and as my car moved toward the right side of the track, it disappeared behind the pit lane. I hit the brakes and turned left, but I think the car was airborne after hitting the pipe maybe? Anyway, my car hit the fencing and pipes under the pit lane area and broke the car. I only drove literally 40 feet and my race was over. Two years of preparation, all the work all week to get the car right, my car was improving through the ¼ and semi, and I was out of the race without making the first corner. Nightmare! I was in shock and disbelief as I saw the broken car carried to the pit area. I just couldn’t believe what was happening. At that point I was just sick to my stomach as my Dad worked to get the car fixed. The sick feeling would continue through the night and hang on into my trip home.
In reflecting about what happened, I have to wonder why. I really wish there was some plywood in front of the pit lane area to prevent broken cars. I don’t know if any other cars broke in this area of the track, but it was extremely dangerous on the outside of the track. It was a very high speed section and really crazy with the pit lane structure and fencing underneath. There were banners in front, but behind the banners was the bad stuff.
After all the work everyone put into this race, I really regret not having a chance to compete after getting into the final. We feel strongly that we had a top 3 car for sure, and who knows what might have happened if I could have run the race. I really want to thank everyone who put a huge amount of work into the race. Of course I have to thank Kyosho who always provides the best support you could ever want. Their focus on this race has helped me focus in the right place. Reds Racing Engines.. Marco and Mario Rossi really worked hard leading up to this race and the engines were fantastic. Pro-Line, thanks very much for the hard work and putting the best tire on the track. The new Fugitive tire in X1 compound was clearly the tire to beat. Congratulations to Pro-Line on the World Championship. Everyone at Byron Fuels, thanks very much. There was a lot of hard work behind the scenes nobody knows about. They pressed the issue to get the fuel to the race. Absolute Hobbyz, KO Propo, and Stickit1 Racing all went over and above to get us what we needed for the race. Also Hella Graphics, LiveRC, and OCRC Raceway, thanks very much. Last but not least, thanks to my Dad for the best cars anyone could want. The stuff worked flawless all week. Thanks everyone for all your help!
Lastly, congrats to Ty on the win. He has worked hard and I can’t think of a more deserving Champion. He showed why he is rank #1 by the Top 25 RC ranking system.
Looking forward to Vegas in 2016! Please enjoy the pictures: