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The Durga seems to be a very strong car. I'd had some worries about the front end - in particular the plastic hinge pin brace, which will take the brunt of any frontal impacts. Though I didn't mean to, I tested this part during the first race test - breaking the suspension arm and bending the beefy 3mm hinge pin. The hinge pin brace didn't have any damage at all.

The belts and pulleys, if assembled correctly and with the correct tension - is long lasting and strong. The same can't be said for the differential balls however, and if you're going to use some serious power in the Durga (or 501X for that matter) it's wise to upgrade to some Kanzen ceramic diff balls. After 2 race meetings my differentials felt fine - though the rear had loosened after the first meeting. A slipper is one of the first things I ordered for the car, and should help protect the drivetrain.

Though I've not experienced it first hand, there are a couple of reports coming back of broken rear shock towers. The break occurs around the wing mounts - there is little material around here. On most cars the rear wing should act almost like a rear bumper - absorbing impacts and protecting the shock tower - that's not always the case of course but generally speaking the rear shock towers aren't subject to direct impacts.

The large rear wing on the Durga should protect the tower well - but I did notice when building the car, that the wing slightly overlaps the top of the shock tower. I noticed it purely because it makes as rather nasty noise when you drop the car - the wing hits the shock tower and vibrates against it.

Two near-identical rear shock tower breaks from different drivers
The wing sits on top of the rear shock towers outer edges - this could be the cause of the breaks.

There's no doubt that the rear shock tower is lacking material strength - but the cause of the breaks shown could be partly due to the wing transfering the impacts directly to the outside edges of the shock tower. In other words - mount the wing further back, or cut the front edge around the tower so it doesn't sit atop the tower - and these breaks might not have happened.

After two races with the Durga I was very happy with it indeed.  The car seems strong and the base setup is an excellent start which I never felt the need to change on the tracks I was racing.  Even with the kit Dampers the car is fast, which surprised me.  I know it won’t be the same on a more challenging / bumpy track, but for this price you can’t have everything - and upgrades will take it further.

Overall I was really excited about reviewing the Durga, and wasn’t disappointed. The ingredients are there to make a really great budget racer – and it performs way-way beyond its price would suggest.
The build is OK – the manual isn’t the clearest in some ways and the lack of individually bagged stages lets it down slightly. The screws are what you’d expect from a basic Tamiya kit – functional, but not suited to repeated re-building or maintenance.   I found pre-tapping the holes on most of the plastic parts to be a wise move - if not essential, which really slowed things down. The rest of the car is so good, and so geared toward racing, that the screws end up letting it down.

The dampers aren’t as bad as I was expecting, and I was able to compete well with them. For club racing they are fine, but for more serious racing some Associated B4 dampers would be a good upgrade until the official hop-up items are released by Tamiya.  The TRF501X dampers fit but aren’t easy to find in the shops as Tamiya have never sold them as a kit.

I didn’t have all the hop-ups that would take the Durga to its limits – so it’s not easy to say just how good the car could be in the right hands.  It’s clearly a very capable car though, even in stock form.
It’s missing some of the tuning options of the TRF 501X, limited Anti-Squat, and the camber links don’t have as many options. On the whole though, the Durga has everything it needs to race competitively and the lack of options could actually make it easier for the novice racer as there’s less to ‘mess up’ in terms of setup.

I didn't get to test the 'sealed' drive train properly - but the car does seem very well sealed against the elements, especially if you cut the bodyshell as per instructions and fit the foam seals around the chassis.
This is of course a huge plus for the club racer - not having to worry about dirt ingress or maintenance.

Its easy to forget this is a budget racer and despite what the car 'lacks' – it’s easily one of the best 4WD buggies around.  A brave statement?  Perhaps – but with the European Championship winning suspension and drive train from the 501X, combined with the well designed & sealed chassis - a few choice hop-ups are all that's stopping the car competing with the absolute best.  Dismiss the Durga at your peril!

We'll be testing the Durga with some choice hop-ups against a TRF-501X later in the year, to see just what difference there is on the track.

Discuss the Tamiya DB01 Durga in the Forum!

Needless to say, I put a lot of effort into this review, so if you like it, let me know, thanks.

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Thanks to Vicky oOple, Paul Rotheram, Dave Allen, Steve Curtis-Rich.

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This review is not helped, endorsed or in any way supported, by Tamiya, or any Tamiya agent world-wide.