Sunday, 17 April 2011

Final results & thoughts IFMAR 2011 1/8 on road World Championships

Robert Pietsch is the new IFMAR world champion of the 1/8 nitro on road class!
Other than a small mishap on his penultimate pit stop where according to Robert, the car’s antenna got in the way of his mechanic’s fuel gun, his race was flawless showing great speed, consistency and control. A true champion’s drive.

3rd Place Dario Balestri
The biggest surprise and most spectacular of the race was Dario Balestri. His pace in the opening 15 minute stint was phenomenal. Choosing a two tyre change strategy it was expected to hold an advantage in outright speed running smaller tyres (and maybe softer) compared to competition but lapping consistently 0.2 sec faster than the 2nd fastest and recording a best lap almost 0.3 sec faster than the field is mighty impressive. In combination with his tyre choice, the power of his motor, the clutch setting and his two speed and chassis set up, his car was absolutely flying. He backed off his good equipment with incredible driving skill and aggressiveness and momentarily it looked like he would smoke the competition, even if he had to do one more tyre stop than the rest.
In the end this crazy pace could not be sustained and past the half way mark of the race his performance dropped to the point he couldn’t capitalize on the two tyre stop.
2nd Place Keisuke Fukuda
Fukuda was the second only driver, after Dario, to manage a sub 16 sec lap time during the A Final. He also managed to maintain a very fast pace and watching him in the Semi I kept wondering whether he will be a serious threat to the championship. He was very fast, very consistent and with pit strategy similar to Robert’s.
1st Place Robert Pietsch
The only way to describe Robert’s performance of this whole event is complete dominance. He was the fastest racer in all free practice, control practice, qualifying and winner of the main final.
He wasn’t the fastest in the main final but that was only due to Dario’s brave super fast pit stop strategy, but what counts the most is the end result and in the end it was his name on top of the time sheets. The first time I saw Robert race was in the 2005 European Championships and he was extremely quick, having qualified 2nd and finishing 2nd overall, beaten only by the winner and top qualifier of the race, Daniele Ielasi. Since then he has improved both in speed and in consistency and reliability. The next time I saw him was in the 2009 WC at Lostallo where he was also dominating the event until the main race itself where he lost out on strategy and some errors. The first sign that he had prepared much better following his disappointment in Lostallo was at the 2010 EC in Italy where he got TQ and won the 45min final from start to finish, in front of Dario and Collari, both of which gave everything they had, but Robert had them covered.
So it is fair to say that he deserves this title and he is currently the best 1/8 onroad driver in the world!
Equipment.- Engines
It is without a doubt that this class is more about power than it is about anything else and Novarossi for one more time out powered the competition. The only manufacturer that came close was a very strong team from Japan running O.S. Engines, who showed great fuel mileage in qualifying and enough power to keep up with Novarossi having Hara and Shimo in the direct top 4 qualifiers but at the main final none of the drives chose to push the mileage to the limit and all pitted before the 5 minute mark, thus loosing immediately the advantage they held in qualifying. Novarossi powered cars would then storm to the top 3 spots leaving O.S in 4th and 5th with Shimo and Hara respectively.
Picco was represented by Ielasi who was very fast but crashed out in his semi and Max Power engines never showed their potential as most top drivers running them had issues with their clutches.
Equipment – Cars
Mugen’s MRX-5 without a doubt is the best car. Robert put all his heart in designing this car and it is performing very well not only in his hands but also in the hands of many other drives as it dominated the Amain field with no less than 5 cars in the final and two in the first two positions. Add to the car’s performance its great quality and great looks and no wonder why the car is the most desirable in the market.

Kyosho was the defending champion and Shimo was the only representative of this great company in the main final with what looked like an almost standard Evolva M3. Collari was running a prototype but he never found a set up he was perfectly comfortable with and in the end couldn’t defend his title. I assume more work will be invested in this prototype before it hits production.

Serpent introduced several updates. Michael Salven and Paolo Morganti showed great pace so the car certainly performed well. I believe the team needs a better package as both drivers had failures at one point or another that were not chassis related.

Motonica had a low key event, loosing their top driver Dario Balestri to Capricorn the company was represented by Walter Salemi, Robin D'hondt and Oscar Cabezas. Out of the three, Salemi looked to be the quickest, but only Robin would make to Amain.

Xray had entered the event with what looked like to be a dream team. Swauger, Burch, Lemieux, Fantini, Dankel, all were contenders for the Amain and all failed to deliver. It is expected for a new team to struggle with a car entering this class for the first time but the results at some races prior to the WC had shown great speed and potential so inevitably the expectations where very high. The car is very nice and Xray is a big name in the racing r/c industry so the introduction of the RX8 can only help this tough class and I am sure the team will learn from its struggles in this race and strike back stronger.

Capricorn was the team with the newest car and if I am correct only had two cars in this event, Dario and Apolaro. As Dario demonstrated in qualifying and especially during the final the chassis has great potential so it will be interesting to see how the car performs at this year’s European Championsips.

Shepherd had the Velox ’11 in action at the hands of the company’s owner, Patrick Schafer and 2008 1/10 World Champ Daniele Ielasi. Daniele was very fast during qualifying and said that a lapped car cost him a top 4 position who would have put him directly in the main final. He then lead till a few minutes from the end his semi final until he crashed out (maybe radio problems, not sure)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

DAY 9 - Final Day - IFMAR 2011 1/8 on road World Championships

"Racing kicks off at 10 AM Race 13 and 14, these are the � Finals. 20 minute races.
At 11 AM, the Top 4 Qualifiers get a 60 minute practice session, this runs from 11AM-12PM.
Race 15 (Starts at 1PM) and 16 (Starts at 1:45PM) are the Semi Finals, these are 30 minute races.
3:00 is the official presentation of the drivers.
3:45PM is the start of the A Final.
10:00 = 1/4 Even (Collari's run)followed by 1/4 Odd
11:00 = Top 4 60 minute free practice session
13:00 = 1/2 Even
13:45 = 1/2 Odd
15:45 = Main Final
Regarding by analysis of the strategy options, Bary Baker mentioned on liverc yesterday that he asked the guys who made 5 minute runs in qualifying how they would approach the final and they said they would go safe, pitting at the 4:30 minute mark. If this is the case and Robert and Dario do pit on the 4:00 minute mark and not sooner, it minimizes the advantage of those who are more fuel and tire efficient.
Soon we will all know who was better prepared. have arrived at the track and started reporting with some nice photos and videos.
Below is some of the material they posted
Robert Pietsch's beautifully prepared Novarossi powered MRX-5.

Xray of Mike Swauger

Xray of Ralph Burch

and from

Xray of Paul Lemieux

Hara's mechanic checking the tyres (from YURUGIX)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

DAY 8 - Final Qualifying - IFMAR 2011 1/8 On road World Championships

Final qualifying results:

1) Pietsch, Robert DEU (37/10:12.769 R1)
2) Hara, Atsushi JPN (37/10:13.653 R3)
3) Balestri, Dario ITA (37/10:14.446 R1)
4) Shimo, Takaaki JPN (37/10:15.456 R3)
5) Fukuda, Keisuke JPN (37/10:15.730 R3)
6) Ielasi, Daniele ITA (37/10:15.785 R3)
7) Morganti, Paolo USA (36/10:00.905 R4)
8) Terauchi, Takehiro JPN (36/10:01.206 R1)
9) Romagnoli, Michele ITA (36/10:04.437 R1)
10) Verjak, Meen THA (36/10:04.739 R1)
11) Salemi, Walter ITA (36/10:04.889 R2)
12) Shimazaki, Shinya JPN (36/10:05.307 R1)
13) Salven, Michael DEU (36/10:05.691 R2)
14) Kurzbuch, Simon CHE (36/10:06.193 R3)
15) Vrielijnck, Rick NLD (36/10:06.710 R1)
16) Elias, Flavio BRA (36/10:07.048 R1)
17) Cyrul, Josh USA (36/10:07.384 R2)
18) D'Hondt, Robin BEL (36/10:07.828 R1)
19) Branson, Kyle GBR (36/10:08.063 R3)
20) Dankel, Eric DEU (36/10:08.210 R3)
I think it is fair to say that Collari's week is not going according to plan. Regardless of how much reserve performance he may have, battling from the 1/4 finals to the top will be a tough act. His driving looks solid and composed, it's just that the laptimes are not good enough and runntime for a 5 min run is right on the limit.
Pietsch is without a doubt the fastest driver, consistently toping the time sheets. Watching him is very spectacular.
Similar pace to Robert we have seen from a few other drivers, it's just that they are not as consistant as Robert nor are their fuel stops as lightning fast as Roberts are. He constantly makes 21.100 - 21.500 sec laptimes during fuelstops. For comparison most make 22.000-22.500 sec laptimes during fuelstops.
All of the above info is about qualifying.
The race is quite a different story as other factors come into play and raw speed is not as important anymore. My observations are that the pace Robert Pietsch showed in qualifying cannot be sustained during the race. I am sure he would like to argue this and prove me wrong, as after his dissapointment in Lostallo in 2009 he has learned a few things and should have the long runs sorted out, but I still believe that the drivers driving more conservatively and efficiently hold a strong advantage over those who are flat out.
I will analyze each factor:
Fuel consumption
those who pit every 5 minutes need to make a total of 11 pit stops.
those who pit every 4 minutes need to make a total of 14 pit stops. These additional 3 pitstops will add at least 15 seconds to their total time. 15 seconds is almost a lap.
Tyre wear
The faster you run and the harder you push, the higher tyre wear you have. It's simple law of physics. If Atsushi and Shimo opt to pit only once at the 30' mark, they will hold another substantial advantage over the faster drivers who opt to pit at the 20' and 40' marks. This was also the case in 2009 where Collari extended his lead even further by making only one tyre change.
Without a doubt the most experienced and reliable driver on the field is Collari and that is why, although he has had a dismall qualifying, no one can really bet against him.
Robert Pietsch seems to have gained quite a bit more of experience in long amain finals at this level having won the 45 minute long European championships just a head of Balestri
Dario Balestri is another driver with experience in long main finals, having being crowned twice European champion in 1/10 nitro touring.
Shimo isn't too bad either, having won multiple Japanese National titles and been crowned IFMAR vice World Champion in the past.
Hara is, as you might have easily figured it out by my posts, my favorite. I believe he has such skill and spirit that he will fight for it as if his life depends on it as he has shown in both electric touring and one hour long 1/8 buggy world championship finals.
Stamina VS Track conditions
This is about who will be the least tired during the final.
The top 4 are in a great advantage, enjoying a very relaxed Saturday morning, having plenty of time to prepare their equipment to the highest level possible. The draw back is their lack of track time on the same day, which could become a factor on Saturday afternoon when the final starts.
The remaining 6 drivers will have to bump up from the semi and some might be even coming from the quarter finals. These will certainly be in a great rhythm and have good knowledge of the track conditions but on the other hand they will be very tired after driving all day and working on their cars.
For now we can enjoy the lower finals and tomorrow the big show will resume!

Day 7 - Qualifying IFMAR 2011 1/8 On road World Championships

Day 7 now is over and 2 rounds of qualifying have been completed.
Current standings are below:
Bare in mind that in 1/8 onroad qualifying is not based on points but on outright best time for each driver out of 6 attempts (well 4 for this event due to the cancelation of day 1) so this means that today if conditions are better than yesterday the standings may change completely or if the track is worse than yesterday they might remain exactly as they are. In other words, nothing is final yet. 

1) Pietsch, Robert DEU (37/10:12.769 R1)
   2) Balestri, Dario ITA (37/10:14.446 R1)
   3) Hara, Atsushi JPN (37/10:19.342 R1)
   4) Shimo, Takaaki JPN (36/10:00.085 R1)
   5) Ielasi, Daniele ITA (36/10:00.890 R2)
   6) Terauchi, Takehiro JPN (36/10:01.206 R1)
   7) Morganti, Paolo USA (36/10:02.815 R1)
   8) Romagnoli, Michele ITA (36/10:04.437 R1)
   9) Verjak, Meen THA (36/10:04.739 R1)
   10) Salemi, Walter ITA (36/10:04.889 R2)
   11) Shimazaki, Shinya JPN (36/10:05.307 R1)
   12) Salven, Michael DEU (36/10:05.691 R2)
   13) Fukuda, Keisuke JPN (36/10:06.490 R1)
   14) Vrielijnck, Rick NLD (36/10:06.710 R1)
   15) Elias, Flavio BRA (36/10:07.048 R1)
   16) Cyrul, Josh USA (36/10:07.384 R2)
   17) D'Hondt, Robin BEL (36/10:07.828 R1)
   18) Pirani, Andrea ITA (36/10:08.615 R2)
   19) Green, Mark GBR (36/10:09.140 R1)
   20) Branson, Kyle GBR (36/10:10.884 R2)

During the day LiveRC had the chance to interview Atsushi Hara and they would read questions posted from viewers on the chat room and ask Hara.
I will point out whatever  I can remember that Hara said:
• Friends and family are fine following the big earthquake, but north east Japan is suffering. They are showing their support with special decals / stickers all the Japanese team have made and wear on their clothes and on their cars
• Only drove for 2 days his Mrx-5 prior to this race
• Reason he chose Mugen is because of his close friend who manufactures tyres, Zac Project
• To make better runtime you actually need to drive harder on the throttle in order to maintain 2nd gear engaged as frequent use of 1st gear eats up fuel
• He runs Protoform P909 ‘Pro-Lite’ bodies 0.025” thick.
• He only sent std lightweight bodies to his painter “BrainSpeedGraphix” so he is not sure if he will use them as the ‘Pro-lite’ bodies do make the car a bit faster, more responsive. If he qualifies in top 4, he will test the std lightweight body 0.030”thick with his popular colors and if it does not affect his laptimes or runtime he will use it in the main final.
• Next time to race 1/8 onroad: in 2 years at the next WC
• Will HB/HPI built a 1/8 onroad car: Cannot say they won’t, but its not in their near future plans. They would really like to though, if they could find the time to develop it.
• He will attend the Ready Race 1/10 EP Touring
• He will attend the next IIC race
• He will not race the new HB CR8 buggy at the NeoBuggy Race and he doesn’t know when it will be available. They still have a few more months of testing to do.
• Favorite class: 1/8 scale buggy
• Reason?: Driver is the biggest factor
• Will race 1/10 nitro touring in the upcoming WC which take place in Asia (Thailand I think.)
• Missing the 2010 1/8 buggy title by less than 2 seconds to Cody King made him feel the opposite to winning in 2008 by the same margin from Truhe. He won it when he was the outsider and Truhe the favorite and he lost it when he was the favorite and Cody the outsider or at least not as hot favorite as himself, Tebo and Mayfield.
In addition to Hara, Masami Hirosaka is also present at this race, as a spectator, enjoying the show. He was interviewed by Barry Baker but being near the front straight the noise made communication difficult so it was not easy to make a good conversation. If I understood correctly he mentioned something about retirement and helping IFMAR but I am not sure.
He did say he is excited by this class and the performance of fellow country man, Atsushi Hara.
So far, watching from I think the most impressive run in qualifying was Dario Balestri’s run in round 1. Not only his Novarossi is ballistic, his car could handle the power, drifting less than what we usually see in 1/8 and being very consistant in every lap. The only reason he lost TQ was due to a slow stop. 

Robert Pietsch is also very impressive, with very quick pit stops and a lot of fun to watch him drive the car by its…

Atsushi is certainly the smoothest of all and that may be playing a part to his great runtime on one tank. His car doesn’t slide a bit and his lines are inch perfect and consistant. His 2nd run was going to be a fast one but he lost time when he overturned trying to lap Fantini.
The rest are yet to put in 37 laps but I am sure this will change this afternoon.
Final note: DO NOT COUNT OUT COLLARI.. I bet he is just thinking whether to nail a good run in the last qualifier and promote himself in the top 4 or make things more exciting and advance to the main final through the semis or even quarter finals like he did in Messina in 2005 when he won one of his 9 titles from 10th spot on the grid.
Qualifying rounds 3 & 4 just started.
Here are the heat lists
Round 3
Round 4 

"Links" 2011 IFMAR 1/8 onroad World Championships

One more summary of all the websites I've found covering this event.
REDRC.NET - Race coverage
REDRC.NET - Gallery
REDRC.NET - Videos (for the time being 1st and 3rd video.. more to come for sure) - Live race coverage - Day report - Gallery - forum, photos and comments - Gallery - Day review - Blog - Mugen Japan Team blog

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

End of Controlled Practice - IFMAR 2011 1/8 on road World Championships

Finally, controlled practice is over and top overall driver for the day is Atsushi Hara driving his O.S. powered Mugen MRX-5.
LiveRC is providing an outstanding coverage of the event with moving camera following the cars on the track as well as Barry Baker reporting with a camera from the pitlane, talking to drives and their mechanics before and after their runs.
Hara said he would try and go again for a one stop 10min run in order to double check he has the mileage to do so in qualifying. He came in 4:40 and then did a 5:20 run with enough spare fuel to run to the pitlane. With a 16.4 average laptime he should be safe coming in at 4:57 tomorrow, so his pit window is quite wide and safe. For anyone running 1/8 onroad cars this should look remarkable as with the current generation engines we barely manage 4:40-4:45 on a tank, at best.
We now have some clear photos of Atsushi's car. I cannot spot anything special or optional other than the Abec35 bearings and the front wheel axles which look different than stock, maybe titianium or aluminum. Intresting to see the choice of Mugen white springs at the back and softer grey springs at the front. Usually it's the other way around, so this might indicate that he has set up his car with plenty of steering, more than others might be comfortable with, and due to his driving style he can take advantage of this characteristic by maintaining high corner speed and being more efficient with the throttle.
Pictures from REDRC.NET

Again, the master of the class, Lamberto Collari has shown absolutely none of his potential yet, circulating around the track slowly, keeping his true pace well hidden from the competition.
We might be in for some great surprises tomorrow.
Either way it will be a very exciting day!