XRAY NT1 & Ralph Burch Win 2010 World Championship
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The 1/10 Nitro Touring Car 2010 World Championship took place the last two weeks of July at the some of the best equipped on-road track at Gulf Coast Raceway in Houston, USA.
The IFMAR World Championship is organized every two years and for Team XRAY this was the second Worlds. The premiere Worlds in 2008 – held in Portugal – was fairly successful with Martin Hudy taking 3rd place on the podium after a very tight battle for the top positions. During the last two years, XRAY development and the racing team have continued their hard work on further development of the car and the first major victories over the last years were three USA National champion titles and European champion titles in different categories. This year the XRAY racing team was prepared to continue its previous success and was poised to capture the most coveted title – World Champion.
Nothing was left to chance. Team XRAY participated at the XRAY Nitro Challenge which was organized two months before the Worlds at the same track with opposite direction racing. All XRAY drivers and customers from Europe and USA had the chance to test at the track, work on their set-up, and learn all about the track: its surface & traction to get ready for the Worlds.
As with all the other racing teams, Team XRAY arranged to have the best-of-the-best driver lineup… and it was nothing short of impressive. Despite several team changeovers early this year Team XRAY has remained fairly stable for this event and in majority was the same as previous years. The ongoing long-term experience and knowledge of the car by the drivers themselves has clearly been a strong advantage. The list of drivers would be too long to list, but here are a few that were representing Team XRAY at the 2010 World Championship:
- Martin Hudy, Team XRAY Slovakia
- Juraj Hudy, Team XRAY Slovakia
- Dirk Wischnewski, Team XRAY Germany
- Alex Hagberg, Team XRAY Sweden
- Teemu Leino, Team XRAY Finland
- Adrian Bernsten, Team XRAY Norway
- Anthony Bruyer, Team XRAY France
- Jerome Renaux, Team XRAY Belgium
- Biago Spataro, Team XRAY Italy
- Francesco Martini, Team XRAY Italy
- Giorgio DeFelici, Team XRAY Italy
- Ralph Burch, Team XRAY USA
- Paul Lemieux, Team XRAY USA
- Yokoyama Shinnosuke, Team XRAY Japan
The World Championship event is usually very long with enough practice so everyone gets enough track time to work not only on the car but also on the engine, clutch and everything else. From Day 1 the XRAY support team was on the scene; RC America had arranged for spare parts availability in the local hobby shop and as usual all XRAY drivers received a free support package loaded with basic suspension spare parts, new XRAY T-shirts and towel, as well as a set of stickers. Support and service has been at the very highest level as expected from XRAY, and thanks to ongoing product development and professional service & support the NT1 was the most popular car at the race.
2010 World Championship statistics:
- XRAY – 39
- Mugen – 23
- Serpent – 23
- Kyosho – 12
- Capricorn – 9
- Shepherd – 6
- KM – 4
- Magic – 3
- Edam – 1
From Thursday~Monday there were 5 days of free practice. Everyone tried to get as much time as possible on the track, and during breaks they all worked on their cars and set-ups. Right from the start the competition level was fairly high and there were not any significant differences amongst the top drivers on the field. However the real racing was on schedule from Tuesday and everyone was already looking forward to real tough racing. On Tuesday after the first half of the groups did their run, the rain gave rest of the drivers the rest of the day off.
There were two qualifier rounds on schedule for Wednesday, along with an early morning race of the upper heats. In the opening first round of qualifiers the big surprise was 17yo Japanese driver Shinnosuke Yokoyama who was the first one to break into 35 laps – despite running out of fuel in the last round – to put him on an early TQ with his XRAY NT1. Dirk Wischnewski was in 2nd provisional position, making it an early double for Team XRAY. Alex Hagberg made a safe run to put him at the top of the field as well, so the opening run was a good start. However, the track and traction changed conditions after the rain and everyone needed to adapt their set-up and do work after each run as the traction built back up.
The second qualifier did not bring about any significant changes and again the rain at the end of the day was the signal that the traction would again be lower for Thursday’s remaining qualifiers. With the two canceled qualifiers the jury decided to add another one but the last one would run from 7PM until midnight, making it very interesting and challenging as the traction was expected to be the highest but on the other hand the artificial lights made it more difficult to see.
The third qualifier round on Thursday brought a couple of changes to the top positions. Though it was still XRAY’s Shinnosuke making 35 laps again, keeping him in TQ position. Dirk and Alex dropped back to 3rd and 6th place respectively while the teammates Ralph Burch and Paul Lemieux had a safe run and broke into the Top 10 at 7th and 8th places, respectively.
2010 World Championship results after 3rd round:
1. Shinnosuke Yokoyama XRAY NT1
2. Takaaki Shimo
3. Dirk Wischnewski XRAY NT1
4. Takehiro Terauchi
5. Robert Pietsch
6. Alexander Hagberg XRAY NT1
7. Ralph Burch XRAY NT1
8. Paul Lemieux XRAY NT1
9. Paolo Morganti
10. Jilles Groskamp
Traction was slowly improving and lap times got faster again. The fourth qualifier run again brought some changes in the top positions, unfortunately for us not in favour of Team XRAY. Alexander Hagberg was running on TQ spot when he broke into 35 laps he run out of fuel in the last round, making it only 34 laps but still improved on his previous result putting Alex on 4th overal position. Shinnosuke experienced problem with a tire which did not allow him to run clearly and this made him to drop to 3rd position from the previous TQ spot. Paul Lemieux was on the rails and would certainly make it into the top unfortunately during refueling mechanic grabbed the car and without knowing that Paul run the super light body which is very soft, the body got crumpled and most of the fuel did not make it into the fuel tank and as such run out of fuel after few laps.
2010 World Championship results after 4th round:
1. Robert Pietsch
2. Takaaki Shimo
3. Shinnosuke Yokoyama XRAY NT1
4. Alexander Hagberg XRAY NT1
5. Tadahiko Sahashi
6. Dirk Wischnewski XRAY NT1
7. Takehiro Terauchi
8. Marc Rheinard 6
9. Ralph Burch XRAY NT1
10. Scott Kimbrow
2010 World Championship video of Qualifiers round #4
The last, fifth run of qualifiers was on schedule from 7PM until midnight, and despite the traction being the highest of all qualifiers, still everyone had respect from racing under the artificial lights. Especially the drivers with glasses had a serious disadvantage as the lights were reflecting in the glasses which made it very difficult to concentrate on their cars. The last round mixed a couple of the important top positions and for many drivers this was their best run… but for some this last run was not successful at all.
Jerome Renaux was on rails in the last run and set the overall third best result when unfortunately his car was disqualified after technical inspection by being 3 grams too light which was likely the result of changing the front bumper. Unfortunately this dropped Renaux down the list to around 40th position. Ralph Burch changed to the new XRAY red clutch shoe was back at top performance again, getting the 5th overal
l best result and after Jerome’s disqualification this put Ralph on 4th spot and going directly into the final. Alex Hagberg was another one who experienced a drop, getting a 5th overall position which meant he would be 1st place on the starting grid in the semi-finals. For the rest of the team it was then only Dirk Wischenwski and Paul Lemieux who made it into the semi-finals, everyone else had to battle it out in the lower sub-finals.
2010 World Championship overall qualification results:
1. Pietsch Robert
2. Shimo Takaaki
3. Yokoyama Shinnosuke – XRAY NT1
4. Burch Ralph – XRAY NT1
5. Hagberg Alexander – XRAY NT1
6. Sahashi Tadahiko
7. Wischnewski Dirk – XRAY NT1
8. Rheinard Marc
9. Terauchi Takehiro
10. Andersson Christer
11. Balestri Dario
12. D’Angelo Giuseppe
13. Kimbrow Scott
14. Ielasi Daniele
15. Lemieux Paul – XRAY NT1
16. Morganti Paolo
17. Salven Michael
18. Swauger Michael
Friday had lower sub-finals on schedule and for some Team XRAY drivers this was the last day but for some it was a bump-up day for the upper finals. Teemu Leino was the unlucky one; after struggling with performance issues in the early days, he was on the bump-up position together with teammate Jerome Renaux when with only a few laps to go a car in front of him spun in a corner after the main straight and Teemu crashed into this car making Jerome (right behind) crash into Teemu and his rear upright ball joint popped off.
Teemu put maximum effort to finish the few last laps and despite having over a lap lead on the car behind him he was still unlucky as the car behind him passed Teemu’s undrivable car in the last corner, thus ending Teemu run at these Worlds. Jerome Renaux luckily bumped up from his 1/8 semi. In the second 1/8 final it was XRAY’s Adrian Bernsten who did not give any chance to anyone and easily won this final with Gerhard Kandelhart (Austria) getting into the bump-up position in the last few laps.
Everyone was looking forward to Sunday’s main finals. With 1/4 and 1/2 finals on schedule, the list of top drivers was getting more and more jammed and bumping up was getting more difficult and more exciting to watch. The first 1/4 final was not a lucky one for Team XRAY. Martin Hudy was on cruise mode to safe run when his steering ball joint popped off after a small touch of the wooden barrier after a pit stop, making it an early end for the former 2008 World Championship podium finisher. Jerome Renaux, who should have had a direct final placement, found his end in this 2010 World championship 1/4 final as well.
On the other hand, the second 1/4 final was a bit more lucky. Adrian Bernsten, who made it from the previous 1/8 final, was at peak performance again to make it an easy bump-up for the semi. Gerhard Kandelhart did his homework again and after some tough battles grabbed the bump-up position and as such secured a start in the semi-final as well.
Everyone expected the semi-finals to be extremely tough. The second semi-final was on schedule after midday when the traction was lower than in the late morning, and as such the first semi-final run had a clear advantage of faster lap times. Faster lap times are important for the semi-finals, as only two best drivers from each semi-final had direct placement into the main final while another 2 faster drivers from any of the two semi-finals could make it into the final. Unfortunately, all XRAY drivers – Dirk, Alex, Paul, Adrian, Gerhard – were all placed in the second, slower semi-final.
The second final was the end for most of the Team XRAY drivers. Alex was in the top when the spring on the fuel tank lid broke after a pit stop and Alex flamed out within a few laps. Paul was on the bump-up position when he experienced a flame out, and despite being quickly restarted he lost a few laps which dropped him down the field to 6th position. Adrian was the other one from Team XRAY who had an engine flameout after making it into a bump-up position, so another XRAY driver was out.
The only driver who had no problems from the beginning and was on an easy cruise during the entire semi-final was Dirk Wischnewski who grabbed a safe bump-up for the main final. Paul Lemieux put in a maximum effort and was setting some of the fastest lap times, but at the end he was only in 3rd position… although still the finishing time was lower than in the previous faster semi-final so despite finishing 3rd it was the end for Paul Lemieux as well at these Worlds.
2010 World Championship final starting order:
1. Robert Pietsch (DE)
2. Takaaki Shimo (JP)
3. Shinnosuke Yokoyama (JP) – XRAY NT1
4. Ralph Burch (US) – XRAY NT1
5. Terauchi Takehiro (JP)
6. Takumi Matsuda (JP)
7. Mike Swauger (US)
8. Dirk Wischnewski (DE) – XRAY NT1
9. Marc Rheinard (DE)
10. Philip Woodbury (AUS)
The main final at the World Championship is 1 hour long and as such not only a perfect car is needed but also a reliable engine and well thought-out tire strategy. The early opening of the main final brought a couple of exciting and thrilling moments after a serious crash of most of the field in the first corner, but fortunately none of the cars were broken and the race continued. Ralph Burch came out of the crash as the most unlucky one, ending up at the very end at 10th position right behind Shinnosuke Yokoyama.
Fortunately, everyone remembered that this was a 1-hour race where still everything could happen: engines would flame out and other technical problems would come into play as well. Despite starting from the very back, Ralph’s NT1 was on rails and was definitely the fastest and best handling car in the field. Ralph started to cruise with no mistakes, carving his way through the crowd to the front. After a few laps, Ralph claimed the lead and he looked very relaxed with his well-handling ballistically-fast car. On the other hand, Dirk’s car seemed to be behaving very strangely in the early minutes, which was discovered later to be because of the tire strategy he’d decided upon.
From the early part of the race, Ralph was at the front and slowly building up his lead. Ralph decided for safe, shorter runs with one extra refueling pit stop. In the middle of the race when it was time for a tire change, fortunately everything went well and he did not experience any engine flame outs so Ralph got back onto the track with a 1 lap lead and no problems. The only driver who did not change tires was Dirk Wischnewski and it was already clear why his car (with large tires) had such a strange behavior in the early part of the race; now that the tire were wearing down where they should be, Dirk benefited from not stopping and got into 2nd position behind Ralph. For a moment this made the double NT1 lead for Team XRAY but it didn’t last long. Dirk was cruising in a safe 2nd position when he experienced some strange electronics problems which caused his car to go out of control. His car needed a restart and then suddenly it all worked again. Unfortunately this restart cost him several laps which he could not recover from.
With only a few minutes left to go, Ralph was still in an easy lead and his mechanic Drew called Ralph in with a few laps to go for one extra safe refueling pit stop. Fortunately this pit stop again went off without a hitch and as such Ralph crossed the finish line with one extra lap as the 2010 World Champion!
2010 World Championship result:
1. Ralph Burch XRAY NT1
2. Takehiro Terauchi
3. Marc Rheinard
4. Shinnosuke Yokoyama XRAY NT1
5. Dirk Wischnewski XRAY NT1
6. Philip Woodbury
7. Takumi Matsuda
8. Takaaki Shimo
9. Mike Swauger
10. Robert Pietsch
Over the years XRAY has won plenty of European, USA and hundreds of international and national races and titles around the world but finally Team XRAY has achieved the most coveted and desired title of World Champion. XRAY would like to thank Ralph and Drew for bringing home the World Champion title… excellent j
ob! Thanks go to RCA for supporting the US team and of course a big “thanks” goes to everyone at XRAY and the racing team at all levels for their very hard work over the past decade. Thanks to go to organizers and all the drivers and competition teams to make this an exciting Worlds event. And of course a big thanks goes to all XRAY fans and customers for their ongoing support… without your help we would not be able to continuously work on making XRAY and its products better.
Thank you all. The World Champion title is all yours.
Trevor “Chilly” Duncan
Online News Editor
Radio Control Car Action
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