“It’s called the Nitro ‘Challenge’, not the Nitro ‘Easy’..” - Joey Christensen
No, it’s not called the Nitro Easy.. in fact, I don’t think the word easy was uttered the entire week (except when discussing how easy it would be to knock down the set of 9 jumps in the center of the track). There was a lot of pressure on Joey to change the notorious 9 pack, but in his usual calm confident manner, he stuck to his guns and left it alone. Guess what happened! People figured out how to get through it without crashing. Many of the pro drivers were singling the last 3 bumps if that’s what it took to stay on their wheels. Tip of the cap to Joe Dirt for once again pushing the drivers beyond their limit, and into the realm of “track management.” Cody was able to do triple, triple, double, single most of the buggy main and not crash (much).
The track was quite difficult because there was a lot of track jammed into the Fear Farm 1/8 scale track real estate. I heard someone say it was like Palm Desert and Thunder Alley joined together, and I have to agree. Very busy and it would take a lot of good driving to negotiate the many narrow lanes with 45+ second lap times. On top of the complexity was the limited practice, and changing track conditions, making it in fact a real challenge. The track was quite loose Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with the grip coming up at night. What you end up with is a real test of man, machine, and knowledge.
During qualifying the track was quite loose, so much so that we started doing things to the cars for more grip. We used softer springs and lightened the center diff fluid in both cars. This was working because Cody’s pace was improving. In buggy Cody’s points were 13-6-3, which placed him 6th on the grid for the buggy final. 3 points the final round of buggy was a nice way to wrap up qualifying. Truggy was more of a mixed bag, with 5-4-6, which placed him 5th on the truggy grid.. We still felt like the truck was getting easier to drive. The e-buggy was ok, and his points were 9-5-23, which put him 9th on the grid for the final.
The e-buggy final was a nice surprise, because we didn’t have very big expectations. Cody turned down the initial power on his ESC before the main, and it was better. I think the problem with the 1/8 electric stuff is too much bottom power. Cody moved forward from 9th on the grid, and after racing for 8 minutes, finished 4th. The guys were only able to do 12 laps in 8 minutes, so the entire thing came down to a 12 lap dash. The new Team Orion ESC and motors did great all week, with Cody’s team mate David Ronnefalk winning with the Kyosho MP9 and new Orion ESC and motor.
As I mentioned before, the track was extremely loose earlier in the week, and even for the A main warm-up on Saturday it was still very loose. The traction really came up by the time the Truggy main came along, and frankly it threw us off. With our loose track set-up, Cody just had way too much traction in the rear, and not enough drive to get out of the corners. I give the other guys credit if they figured out the traction before the race. Cody deserves a lot of credit for driving hard even with a slightly wrong set-up. He drove into 2nd place and was able to maintain that comfortably until the first pit stop, but then a corner marshal rolled Mike Truhe’s truck right in front of Cody on the front straight and Cody just t-boned the Serpent truck full speed. I’m surprised they weren’t both broken with the severity of the impact. After the collision, Cody had some issues with his brakes. It was hard to get the truck going again after using the brakes because the linkage got mashed in the collision. After this it was just a battle for 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Racing for 45 minutes, it becomes apparent when you are a couple tenths off the pace. If we could do it over again, we would thicken the center diff oil and increase the anti squat to 3 degrees. Cody just had too much grip for the high traction conditions, and could not get out of the corners with the lighter center diff fluid. He was really giving up time to the other guys with a bunch of front wheel spin. Cody ended up 6th in the end.
For the buggy final we anticipated more grip, but still got surprised a bit. We did plan for traction because we learned something from the truggy race, but still there was too much traction. Not making excuses, just learning from it. Also we were attached to our previous set-up and felt confident in that, but if we could do it over again, we would reduce the rear toe-in, crank in -3 camber, and mount a set of big blox tires to try in warm-up. We ran them on this track before and they were really good. I’m kicking myself for not trying them. David Ronnefalk had slightly less rear toe in on his car, and that seems like it was the right thing to do. This would loosen the car up a bit and provide more straight line speed. Adrien Bertin was pitting with David all week and he is really good with the chassis settings, so that probably helped those guys.
Cody had a problem early in the race, but it was totally unavoidable. Right from the tone, the car behind was pressing from the right side and contacted Cody’s car 10 meters into the race. I’m not sure what it is about the start of some of these races, but it would be good if the drivers relax a little. You can’t win a 45 minute race in the first corner. Cody was trying to avoid the car to the right and behind him and hit a slower car in front which sent him to the back right away. To me that’s just bad luck. We feel pretty good about Cody’s pace on the track considering the chassis settings could have been better. Cody just had too much traction and was on edge a lot. He bested Ty’s fast lap, which tells me we had a chance for a better result. Cody also fought off a hard charging Ryan Cavalieri, which is no easy task. Those guys were determined to do well with their new car, and it’s tough to beat them when they are hungry like that. After battling for 45 minutes, Cody ended up 5th.
We had very good fuel economy at this event. We were literally on a 12:50 per tank fuel consumption pace the last round of buggy qualifying, and we were looking forward to stop at 11:15 in the main. Since the traction was higher Saturday and Sunday night, our fuel economy went down to 11:20 pace so we had to dial it back to 10 minute stops. We will continue working with Reds and I’m sure we can get back up to 12+ minutes per tank.
It was sad to see Cody’s team mate David Ronnefalk struggle with a couple flame outs when his pace was very good. It would have been nice to see him race the entire final, but overall the Kyosho cars looked good out there. We were really happy with our tires in all 3 classes, running M3 Proline Blockades in all 3 finals.
We have to be proud of decent showings in all 3 classes, but a little disappointed finishing 4th, 5th, and 6th. We’ve been talking about Cody getting close so many times, and we came up short this time. Of course we want to win, so we will just regroup and get ready for the next one. We feel good across the board about all Cody’s equipment, so we just have to have all the stars line up and we will close the deal. It felt really good we went through all 3 mains with no issues, because the last two years we had something go wrong. So I guess I can keep my job one more month..
Congratulations to Ty Tessman on his impressive double win, and Proline for winning Buggy and Truggy! Also David Ronnefalk, Kyosho and Orion on the E-buggy win!
Thanks for reading. Please enjoy the gallery and video..