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For the review of the Durga, I took it to the Hot Bodies off road race at the Don Valley stadium.  The Hot Bodies race was a combined electric touring Juniors championship and electric off road 2&4wd classes – with a maximum of 120 drivers split evenly between Touring Juniors and Electric off road.

I got the car on the Friday and raced it on the Sunday - hence the lack of paint.

I’d not had time to paint the body for the Durga – so despite the poor looks the car was getting a bit of attention from people wanting to know what the heck it was.  Comments were quite nice it has to be said.

Despite the lack of paint on the shell, I’d done a thorough job on the rest of the car and electrics install.  I went out in practice on the kit supplied tyres and the car felt like it had too much steering and was hard to drive – rather than change anything I just pulled to the side and put the steering exponential down to -25% to give the steering a smoother feel around the centre, but without taking away any of the steering lock.

This did the trick and after a few laps I was really pleased with how it was going.  Steering was good if I kept off the brakes and let it coast around – putting the brakes on like I would normally do caused the car to push even worse.  I’m used to driving a car with a one way diff fitted and didn’t think the TRF 501X was anything too special until I swapped out the front diff - the Durga was feeling the same but I had to race it like this as I had no other options.

The rear of the car felt a little loose – but in a good way.  Driving around the corners the back felt like it was drifting out a little, which felt great and gave a nice sharp turn.

Round one of qualifying went OK - for a while. Half way through the race and coming out of a corner the power just went.  I let off the throttle so I didn’t damage anthing – I was imagining a drive shaft popping out, or the motor moving.  There was indeed a nasty sound coming from the spur mesh and I was scared the days racing was over already.
It turned out I’d used the wrong washers for the motor screws which had allowed it to move.  Luckily there was no damage to the spur gear, so I just re-meshed the motor.

Round two and I didn’t make any changes to the car but drove a little harder.  The car was good but I was beginning to see the limits of the kit tyres and wasn’t able to put the power down as quickly as the other cars.
Coming out of a corner again I lost power – fearing the motor might have moved again I pulled the car over.  This time it was the pinion that had fallen off!  I’m beginning (!) to sound like a real amateur here.

I’d invested in the Tamiya 48dp pinions, which are listed as options for the TRF 501X.  The pinions are a little longer than most and enable you to get a good mesh on the 501X which has the spur far away from the motor.  The Durga is the opposite – the spur is right next to the motor and the pinion needs turning around so the teeth are closest to the motor.  The length of the pinion means the grub screw is close to the end of the motor shaft – and I didn’t quite realise how close.  I was able to move the pinion inward a couple of mm and put the car back together, again.

For round three I changed from the kit tyres to some Schumacher yellow mini spikes, which are a much more popular choice for indoor racing.  I left the car alone again in terms of setup.
The difference with some ‘proper’ tyres was great, the car had more traction, more steering and generally just felt a lot better all round.  I was still running a relatively tame motor but was putting in laps of 12.7 seconds – compared to 12.1 for the top guys.  And that’s with an absolutely standard car with kit setup!

Mr.Cockerill kindly knocking the hinge pin back into some sort of shape.

There were a few places I still wasn’t happy with the car though.  Coming onto the straight there was a bumpy section which unsettled the car every time leading up to a large jump.  Landing off the large jump the car would bounce slightly and getting on the power quickly also meant the car wheelied and lost control.  I wanted to try better shocks (from the 501X) for the bumps, and a slipper for the wheelies – I couldn’t do anything about a slipper unfortunately, but I took the shocks off my 501X and attached them to the Durga to see if there was much of a difference.

Round four of qualifing and I needed another good run to make the A final.  I was going quicker but misjudged the transponder loop bridge – swiping the front right corner of the car off in a very heavy impact.
I was pretty gutted and it looked terminal. I knew the 501X suspension arms were tough but I wasn’t quite so confident about the front hinge pin brace and shock tower, since I didn’t have a spare!  I needn’t have worried though, I was quite relived that despite the heavy crash only a front suspension arm and a (501X) shock shaft were destroyed. 

The hinge pin had bent when the arm broke but due to the design we were able to hammer the pin until it was nearly straight - or at least straight enough to go into a new suspension arm. The plastic balls that the suspension pivots on mean that even with a bent hinge pin, the suspension moves freely.

The front suspension got a real wallop - the drive shaft popped out and the suspension arm broke in multiple places - bending the hinge pin in the process.

With only one finish in 4 runs it might seem the car was at fault but all three problems were my own fault.  I didn’t qualify well because of the problems and ended up 7th in the B final.  With the poor qualifying I was determined to get a good result in the final. I kept clean over the first couple of laps - eventually working my way up to 2nd place, which is where I eventually finished after some close racing.

For the second time out with the Durga, I went to a Saturday night York club meeting.  I put the Durga back to standard spec – which meant just putting the kit CVA dampers back on.  I know how well the 501X can go around York so I was looking forward to it.  With a regional the next day at Teesside, there weren’t that many racing at York – certainly some of the best drivers were off getting their beauty sleep before the next days serious racing began.

Before I put the car down for practice I noticed the rear differential was loose from the previous outing.  I’m not sure why, but I tightened it up and it felt fine.

I had a brief practice with the car – the track wasn’t up to Yorks usual standard, being a far simpler affair with lap times around 12 seconds and only one small jump.  The jump had a flat landing so wasn’t best suited to the standard ‘Durga’ dampers – the car was would lose a composure more than most cars on the landing, losing factions of a second each lap.

In round one I left the car alone and put in 29 laps – one lap down on Bruce Thompson with his new B44.
For round two I again left the car as standard but tried to keep steady and push a little harder – I was lapping some cars several times during the 6 minute race (10 times for poor Derek Bradby), and it wasn’t always easy to get past cleanly.  I also tried to minimise the bouncing of the car off the jump by applying a little throttle in the air – trying (sometimes in vain) to land on all four wheels (instead of just the front). 
I did 29 laps again but 9 seconds quicker – still not quite on Bruce Thompsons pace but I managed to keep out of trouble for the most part.

The third round was more of the same.  I managed to get the hand of the jump better to keep the car stable on landing.  I went up to 30 laps in the same time as Bruce had put in in the first round with his B44.  Bruce put a one-way diff in his B44 for round 3 and he was happier with the way it drove – putting in 2 more laps than me!
There was no way I could compete with that – the 14x2 was good, but down the straight Bruces’ brushless B44 was a rocket.  But, it was through the corners that Bruce was making the time though – the one way let him turn quicker and accelerate out harder.

I was third on the grid in the final – the only change to the car was to try the 501X shocks again.  Just like the previous outing with the Durga, the track wasn’t really demanding enough to make a huge difference with the 501X shocks, but the car felt a little better and certainly more composed over the jump.
From the start the pole man got tangled up so I was in second – an error from the number 2 car put me up to first, which I held for a while.  Pole man Bruce was back on the pace after his early crash and catching quickly.  I tried to keep Bruce behind for a couple of laps but the pressure was a bit too much and I was in second.  Once passed, I was able to see Bruce slowly disappear  no matter how hard I drove. I ended up second, behind a very good driver with a proven (world championship winning) car.

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