This past weekend Round #4 of the RC Pro Series was hosted by Thornhill Racing Circuit in Hutto, TX. Since this is now my ‘home track’, I had helped the owner getting the facility ready in the 2 weeks preceding the event and everything looked beautiful at this world class facility. This event was a 3 day event with practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday and all the Mains on Sunday.
Friday practice: During practice I tried out several different tires on both the Tekno NB48 and Tekno EB48.2 and both cars felt really good in all the practice sessions. I did experience ESC issues in the EB48.2 and the ESC would thermal with the indication that the motor was running too hot after about 5-minutes, so I decided to try a different motor, same problem. I also tried different gearing, but the issue continued. Then in my last test session, the ESC suddenly turned off completely and was not coming back on. Thankfully a friend of mine had a brand new ESC that I was able to take over, so I soldered that in place Friday night.
Saturday qualifying: Prior to qualifying, there was some extra time for practice, which allowed me to test the new ESC and everything was working great and the motor temperatures were much better. Qualifying in Open Electric Buggy went reasonably well while running Pro-Line X3 Fugitives during the first 2 rounds, although I made a few mistakes in the first round. I scored a 9th in the first round and a 5th in the second round. The 3rd round was run under the lights and the track had dried up significantly more than I realized and I was struggling a bit with traction still running the X3 Fugitives. The track had gotten a lot slower and although the car felt loose, I still scored a 7th on the round. With taking 2 out of 3, I managed to qualify 6th overall, out of 31 entries in the Open Electric Buggy class. (This was the highest class, no expert or pro division was offered).
My nitro qualifying went a little less smooth. I was driving pretty well during the first qualifier, but ran out of fuel on my final lap, resulting in a 26th on the round. Before the start of the 2nd qualifier, I misjudged the time available before the start during the warm-up and had to hurry back to pit lane to fill up, but unfortunately was too late and lost 12-seconds due to having to make a pit stop. I was driving well, but with the high competition on a very fast track it is hard to make up time and I ended up with a 27th on the round. The 3rd round everything went smoother and I managed to finish with fuel left, putting in my best run with an 18th on the round. Overall this put me in 22nd after qualifying, out of 50 entries. This put me 10th on the grid in the B-Main in Open Nitro Buggy.
Sunday mains: My nitro main was going to be a long 30-minute B-Main fighting some very fast individuals. My start was horrendous, followed by some poor driving for the first 7-minutes until I finally caught my rhythm, but I had fallen back all the way to 14th place. I put my head down and started putting in consistent laps, hitting my marks. By the end of the Main, I had managed to climb all the way back up to 6th place running X2 Blockades.
The Electric Buggy Mains were done in Triple-Main format. For A1, I had decided to stick to the same tire as I had used on Saturday during qualifying (X3 Fugitives), but that was a mistake. Certain parts of the track had gotten really dry and I was not able to put in consistent laps, falling back to 14th. For A2, I switched to X3 Hole Shot 2.0s, with X3 Blockades on stand-by. I tried the tires for 2 laps during warm-up and they felt good, so I decided to stick with the X3 Hole Shots. I had a solid start and was able to battle the full 10-minutes, crossing the line in 7th due to some mistakes in the middle of the race. As the track continued to dry, I decided to switch to X3 Blockades for A3. I had a good start, but a few laps in I made a mistake and the marshall was not paying attention and I lost some crucial time that I could not make up and I finished 9th. With the results, I ended up 8th overall in the Open Electric Buggy class.
Conclusion: Both my Tekno NB48 and EB48.2 were really good all weekend, but I made some costly mistakes.
Pro-Line was absolutely the best tire brand with a wide variety of tires and compounds available.
In the end, the Blockade in either X2 or X3 compound were the tires of choice for most consistency during the Mains. My LutzRC/Alpha engine combined with O’Donnell Speed Blend 25% ran great all weekend and after some very minor needle adjustments, I was able to get solid fuel mileage during the Main. The TrakPower batteries provided a lot of power consistently throughout the 7-minute qualifiers as well as the 10-minute Triple-Mains. The Futaba electronics ensured another glitch free weekend!