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Engine and electrics out - time for cleaning

After building the car I wanted to make sure it worked before hitting the race track - and of course get a few nice photos in one of my favorite play areas.  The 801XT instantly felt great if a little understeery (is that a word?) but this was more from the fact the front wheels were in the air - some slightly stiffer oil in the centre would help.  After some dirt-flinging action I took the truck home to inspect it and clean it up - expecting to find some loose screws but the 'Anaerobic Gel' seemed to have done it's job and just about everything was still tight. 

The only problem area was one I'd already realised but then forgotten about.  Since I didn't get my wheels until after the truck was completed I never got round to really fully tightening the grub screws which capture the drive pins - and one of these had fallen out.  Luckily the pin only fell out when I took the truck apart but it could easily have done so on the dirt.

Pendle Club Meeting
For the first race I decided to go to the excellent track at Pendle in the North west of England.  It's the same venue that held the final round of the 2008 1/8th scale National series only a couple of weeks prior.  Sadly the weather wasn't looking so great - and by the time we got to the track it was fairly well soaked.  Thankfully things were looking promising for later in the day but the surface had turned from dirt to mud for the early heats.

I got the engine fired up and with a little help from multiple 1/8th national champion Dave Crompton got the engine tuned to perfection.  I went out for a 10 minute practice before racing started and took it easy at first to get used to the track and the 801Xt - it was pretty clear however after only a lap that the truck was pretty well dialled from the box for these conditions.  Some heavier oil in the centre would have helped but things felt really good.

There were a series of jumps and one large triple jump at the top left of the track which needed to be done in one to go fast - I slowly built up my confidence until I was able to clear it, but because of the mud and clogged tyres it wasn't easy - sometimes landing on the face or top of the third jump.  10 minutes into the practice and with the fuel tank mere seconds from empty I took the triple in one and came up short - slamming into the face of the third jump in a gut wrenching fashion. 

Things 'looked' ok but I could only manage a few more feet before it was apparent something was wrong.
The marshall stopped the engine and brought it over - saying the drive shaft had popped out, but on closer inspection it was clear the front suspension arm was broken.  Several offers of tie-wraps to bodge a fix and enable me to race were offered but I decided to save the truck for another day and not risk breaking something more important.

It was a great shame to have to leave but I was really very happy with how the truck had gone on the track - able to turn inside most things and with a few small setup changes I knew it would be back and even better.

Above: breaking a new car with no spares is never a good idea this early in the day!

Stoke Summer Series - Round 6
(summer series - end of October? Eh????!)

Above - the small piston screw came loose and destroyed the lower damper cap

With time running out and the BRCA AGM  on the same day, options for racing were a little limited.  Luckily the all weather Astroturf track in Stoke was running the last round of their summer series so I decided to try it out.
There was rain all night and most of the way there so the track was well and truly soaked with several large puddles.  The wet track didn’t suit the Jconcepts tyres so I borrowed some more aggressive tyres which would work on the soaked track.

I went out for practice and after a very short time realised something wasn’t right.  Bringing the car in after a lap it was clear the rear damper  had fallen apart.  The tiny screw that holds the piston on the shaft had worked loose as it wasn’t threadlocked - not so bad, but the resulting shaft movement caused a lot of damage to the bottom cap.  The little screws are critical and must be thread locked - this wasn’t shown in the manual and I guess I just neglected them which was a big mistake. 
I borrowed some rear Kyosho truggy dampers from another racer to keep me going but left the front TRF dampers unchanged - though I did check to make sure the piston screws were nice and tight.

Round 1
The track was super wet for round one- with only half a lap of practice I wasn’t confident I’d do well but the 801XT was great - able to turn inside most other truggies and just felt very drivable indeed.  I managed a third in round one, just missing out on 2nd after a little crash.

Round 2
The sun was out but it wasn’t really doing much to dry the track out.  I left the truck unchanged apart from raising the rear end slightly - it felt very good - perhaps needing a little stiffer damping but it felt good enough to not bother changing.

After the first round being 3rd over all I was really happy and maybe a bit over confident, with resulting  crashes.  I ended up 6th in round which was ok but I thought I could do better. The one thing that was causing crashes was the brakes.  The aggressive tyres coupled with my inexperience saw most of my crashes come from simply applying too much brake - either in the air or coming into a corner - too hard on the brakes coupled with hitting a bump saw me go over the front end. I dialled in a little more rear brake and a little less front to try and calm things down a little.

Round 3
With only three rounds of qualifying this was the only chance to try and get a better time - this being 'fastest time' qualifying.  I drove more like I had in round one and kept it smooth, rolling some of the trickier jumps and ensuring I didn’t crash.  I managed to go up to 7 laps - the same as the top buggy & truggy drivers which gave me another 3rd in round - 4th overall for the A final.

It really was quite damp - this driver likes his truck enough to want to drown it, I wasn't so cruel and stayed on the less-soaked racing line.

The Final
The  truggy A final was to be 22 minutes and with over half a tank left after 5 minutes in qualifying I could have probably refuelled once but didn’t want to risk it and decided to come in twice.

From the start there was a little ‘rough stuff’ going into the first corner but I managed to stay in 4th through the first half of the lap.  Over the next couple of laps I slowly dropped places for no other reason than I was taking it too cautious.  Coming round to start another lap in front of the drivers stand, the engine suddenly cut  for no reason and I was left helpless in the middle of the track.  By the time my  excellent pit crew had me going again I’d probably lost half a minute or more and was back down to around 9th -  any hope for a win was all over.

With the car back on the track, I heard a shout to ‘go for it’ (actually, a little more explicit than that) from below, so with nothing to lose I started attacking the track a lot harder - I simply didn't care about breaking the truck any longer and just wanted to make some places back.  Going into the corners hard and flicking the 801 round in the wet conditions.  I started taking the jumps in one which was a lot faster and this is where the truck really shone.  Driving the 801XT around the track cautiously doesn’t really show its abilities - its only when pushed and driven hard it starts to show what its capable of - and it genuinely handled superbly.

Over the course of the remainder of the race and pushing the 801XT very hard, I managed to claw back the positions I'd lost earlier in the race from my initially timid driving and the engine cut - finishing 4th, the same as my qualifying position. The Stoke track isn't really my sort of track - I felt a lot more at home on the previous track at Pendle - so it was even more gratifying to have done well.