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The M18T Pro is a great little car and performs really well without any 'hop ups' which is something quite rare in this scale of racing it seems - at least that's the impression looking around at all the other cars at a National. Whilst the older car might not have been taken that seriously - the M18T Pro easily

Having settings like rear toe-in readily adjustable is nice - but rarely used. What is missing are the 'usual' setup changes that you might want. Wheelbase and camber are two that spring to mind - and are simply non-adjustable - which is a shame.

Race Testing - Chesterfield BRCA Micro National
I went out in practice (the first time I'd had chance to even drive the car) and the car was hard to control - the steering was so sensitive that I had a hard time even keeping the M18T Pro in a straight line! To try and take some steering away I stiffened the front shocks by changing from the kit soft piston to the 2-hole hard piston. I also moved the front dampers to the outer hole on the shock tower.

The Chesterfield track was a combination of polished slippy floor and carpet - with plenty of jumps and 'features'

Round 1: 13 laps -309 seconds
A pretty decent run - the steering was still too sensitive though. I changed to hard piston all round with the kit supplied oil. This felt too hard, the springs felt too soft for the amount of damping so I changed the shock oil to 70wt front and 50wt rear Losi oils. This felt quite nice on the table.

Round 2: 13 laps - 301
The car was better - but yet again still too much steering. To try and calm the steering down some more, I removed the rear anti-roll bar and changed the rear shocks to the outer hole. I just changed the rear shocks to the middle hole on the tower to give the rear some more grip.

Round 3:
Removing the rear anti-roll bar might have helped but changing the rear shock position was a mistake - the rear was suddenly very loose. The poor seeding meant I was starting to lap back markers by lap 2, a few 'collisions' when lapping meant I had a bad run.

Round 4: 14 laps
A couple of mistakes but I'd managed 14 laps at last. The car still wasn't perfect but it was getting better and better. I'd qualified 3RD in the B final which wasn't bad but I was still disappointed to not make the A final.

From 3rd on the grid I got a good start (that makes a change!) and broke away into 2nd place with the leader. I chased hard for a few laps - not trying to catch & pass, just biding my time. I made a mistake and lost some time - still I had it in my mind how nice it would be to at least win my final for the review - which lead to mistake after mistake whilst trying to catch up. In the end I finished well down the order - around 5th.

I was fairly pleased with the M18T Pro by this point - but the lack of another Xray at the meeting left me unsure where else to go with the car to achieve better and more consistent lap times. I'd tried to apply my fairly average knowlege about setting the car up and not really got the car working as well as I'd hoped - so yes, I was pleased AND disapointed with the result.

I didn't see a mediocre National result as a fair way to end the review so I wanted to race again at the next National and see if I could improve. In the meantime I went racing another 4 times in the course of this review! The next four races were local club races - only 5 minutes from where I work and on a Wednesday evening, it was an ideal oportunity to try some things with the car and test its durability.

I won the first couple of meetings - and with near-bald tyres finished 2nd at the third meeting. The fourth meeting was a disaster and I was down in the C final - probably finishing last. The problem was the carpet had degraded to the point that a mere three laps would clog the axles with so much carpet fibres the car was undriveable. This was worse on the Xray than any other car at the meeting - if this was down to the design of the axles or the tyres I was using (pulling up more fibres), I'm not sure, but the main problem was purely down to the carpet itself.

The exposed axles seemed to attract more fluff than some other cars - but the carpet was the main problem as you can tell from this 3-lap example!

I got hold of a few hop-ups for the Xray M18T Pro when I got the car - but chose not to use them right away so I could see how the standard 'pro' car performed. In time for the last in National in the series I decided to put them on to try them out.

The first Hop up I installed were the alloy ball differentials. These are the same basic design as the kit plastic diffs (which work really well) but machined from aluminium instead for the smoothest performance and long life.

Unlike the plastic differentials in the M18T Pro which are well-built (but a little loose) - the alloy option diffs need rebuilding from the packet since Xray haven't used enough lube. With the diffs rebuilt I realised there was a slight 'flaw' in the design. No matter what I did or how tight I made the diffs - they slipped very easily. I noticed it was the rings themselves slipping on the diff halves rather than against the balls.

The alloy differentials are the same basic design as the kit plastic items

The plastic diffs included in the original kit use a 'D' ring which keys to a flat on the plastic diff halves - stopping it from spinning. The alloy diffs use a circlular ring which is able to spin on the diff half. Perhaps there's a trick to stop this happening but I couldn't see anything in the instructions about it so chose to use a small spot of CA glue on the diff halves - effectively gluing the rings to the halves to stop them spinning.

With the rings glued in place - the diffs no longer slipped and I was able to run them a little looser, making them nice and smooth.

The diffs come pre-built but lacked correct lubrication The plastic kit diffs use keyed rings - much better! The alloy diffs are smooth when built correctly

I also installed the option alloy hubs - two left and two right (since the rear uses the same parts as the front). These are nearly identical to the kit plastic hubs - so no difference in terms of handling, but should survive just about any abuse.

Plus they look a bit 'trick' which is never a bad thing.

I swapped the kit plastic shock towers for the optional machined alloy ones. These include new machine screws for mounting to the topdeck and shocks.

The shock towers are anodised black - with a tease of raw alloy along the edges to give them a unique look. The towers are super-overkill for this scale car & super stiff and strong.

Other than the strength - these towers are similar to the kit items but with an extra hole for shock mounting, further in.

The alloy towers have the same holes but with an additional 4th hole further in.
break that - I challenge you!

The alloy shocks are a big improvement, maybe not huge in terms of performance since they share the same dimensions and pistons - but these are rebuildable at least.

The alloy shocks don't come with any springs and since I wanted to try some different settings I was using RC18T springs which also require RC18 spring cups.

I'm told Xray will have a wider spring range available at some point but there were none harder than the kit springs at the time of writing - hence the RC18T items.

  Two silicone o-rings are seperated by a metal washer. A plastic spacer acts as a rod guide. An alloy cap keeps it all in place. The RC18T springs are shorter and need a lot of spacing to get the correct ride height.

As described above I'd slightly hopped up the car for the final National of the season, Chesterfield - using the choice hop-ups from Xray. These are mostly about strength and durability rather than anything that's going to really transform the car.

I went out in practice and the same twitchy steering was evident - but unlike the previous National, there were now two other Xray M18T Pros in attendance, one being driven by top team driver, Mark Stiles.
I asked Mark some advice after practice - I just had no idea at this point why I couldn't get rid of the twitchy steering. Mark told me that the excess initial (twitchy) steering was coming from the hard shock setup I was using (ok, my fault)- this was transfering the chassis weight quickly, giving fast initial but less mid-corner steering. What I needed was the opposite - in fact, as little initial steering as possible!
Mark advised softening the front shocks and also leaning them inward a little - which would give the car less initial sensitivity but slightly more mid-corner steering.

I was using RC18T Springs - so went from the Gold hard spring to Blue softer (medium) spring on the front. I also moved the front shocks inward 2 holes on the alloy shock tower. The car was totally transformed - it had never felt so good! The car was so much easier to drive it was incredible - a joy to race.

I had 2 runs ruined by electrical problems (of my own causing, but we won't go into that) and lined up 7th in the B final - which I was fairly happy with at this meeting. The car was GOOD but still not quite as stable as I wanted. I was beginning to think this was 'as good as it gets'.
Mark Stiles had been running with a small seperate wing on his car - so in the interlude before the Finals got underway, myself and the other Xray M18T Pro driver made some quick wing mounts for the car to try and see if it made a difference - There's nothing to lose in the final.

Terry Atkinsons wing mount

My rather less visually pleasing attempt

Mark Stiles inspired us with his wing addition - it helped him toward his magnificent 3rd place at his first National with the M18T Pro.

The practice lap before lining up on the grid for the final showed me the true potential of the Xray M18T Pro - throughout the day the car had become better and better, but even with a small add-on wing, the car was transformed. The Xray was so stable and predictable that it brought a huge smile to my face. I set off from 7th and made up a few places before getting shunted and ending up last - this happened again on the second lap, again ending up last. With some more space as the field spread out, I was able to fully explore the new found stability and make the most of it.
I managed to make up the 9 places and win the final, which I was really pleased with. Although I'd been really pleased with the progress the car had made with the setup advice I'd had, it was the small wing that sealed the victory.

The Xray builds nicely - the instructions aren't amazing, purely from the fact there are multiple manuals and add-on sheets which could easily confuse the novice builder (and ok, got me a couple of times).

The staged build is individually bagged, which makes life easy though, and really there's not too much that can go wrong. One aspect I didn't like was the exact measures you got in each stage - maybe I'm fussy but some parts were so small that it was very easy to lose them. Xray do supply an additional little bag with more or less one of every screw and a couple of other small bits, but I couldn't help thinking there should be a few more - especially E-Clips!

The quality of the mouldings is excellent - everything on the car fits together as it should and I barely ever had to do more than weild a screwdriver.

The car was really very strong and after 6 meetings there really wasn't much to note. The final meeting did produce some noise from the rear gearbox - I suspect that's down to the alloy diff not having as tight a mesh as the plastic kit item, there seemed to be some shimming needed but the gears were still in fine condition on inspection. I didn't have any breakages despite some large crashes (club racing was sometimes insane!) - and nothing was worn.
The plastic shocks did leak a little over the course of a few meetings - I didn't get the chance to test the alloy shocks for long enough but after one meeting they seemed to be fine.

The power pack is great - the servo particularly stands out, it was fast and took a lot of abuse. The reversable ESC I tried was good fun but not ideal for racing, at least not for the way I drive. The motor was fast and reliable - it got hot enough to cause some concern particularly on the tight club night tracks, but the addition of the Xray blue alloy heatsink helped.

I was a little put off at first, by the lack of adjustments available. Really you are limited to setting the toe-in and shock positions. Camber, Caster, roll centres, wheelbase, antisquat etc - are all fixed. That said, limiting the setup options isn't always a bad thing as I proved myself by losing my way on the setup and needing advice.
What's there seems to be enough to make the M18T Pro as competitive as the best established cars out there - as Mark Stiles proved by taking his car to 3rd spot on his National debut with the car.

Adding a wing make the small car easy to drive fast and control in the air - maybe it's something Xray should think about making themselves as it's probably the best upgrade for the race track - the rebuildable alloy shocks are another nice addition for the long-term.

After racing 2WD cars at the previous micro National events I really wanted to be competitive again and when I saw the M18T Pro I knew it was the car to try - the M18T Pro didn't disapoint at all. It's probably the most sorted micro racer from the box that you can get - stick a proper wing on it next time and a buggy body and call it the M18B Pro and I think Xray would be onto a real winner!


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Thanks to the help from Xray with this review - without them it wouldn't be possible.

Thanks to Vicky oOple, Zack Barry, Mario Hudy, Tels Shells, Ben Cosgrove, Mark Stiles, Paul Rotheram.

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