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)

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