Saturday, 24 May 2014

National Championship 2014 Race 1 / I need a f****** break for once..

About a week ago we had our first Nats race at the amazing track Xtreme Speedways in the Island of Crete, near the city of Heraklion.

The amount of work, effort and money that have been invested at this track by owner George Andreadakis is just amazing considering the small activity in r/c racing cars in Crete.

I arrived on Saturday morning with the ferry that departed from Piraeus port on Friday night. 

A total of 5 guys traveled together and we went for breakfast and then to the track.
Saturday was all about free practice, getting used to the track where we last drove in September 2013 and then starting to try different additives and set up choices.

Contrary to 2013, this year we have a control tyre (SWEEP EXP 30 EVO + AQUA EXP insert) which was my choice being the chairman of the TC class in our Federation. I was happy to see that there was plenty of grip with limited wear and zero failures. In fact by the end of the day the lap record was shattered by great rival and 3 time National Champion Nick Geo (Xray/Orca) by half a second.since last year.

My pace on Saturday was not very promising but that didn't worry me much as I knew that race day is complete different story. I knew I had a very consistent car that was very sharp and fast so all I had to do was avoid any small mistakes.

Sunday was race time. I was very relaxed and for once it was nice to know I wasn't one of the favorites based on Saturday's times. Then qualifying started.

In my first run I felt the track was not fast enough and after a small error I aborted the run to save the tyres.
On my second run I got the 2nd best time. On my 3rd run, still running same tyres, I improved even better and was now seriously in contention for overall TQ.

In the end, after adding the best two runs out of 5 I lost overall TQ to local driver and track owner George (Xray/LRP) by just 0.8 of a second. That is after a total of 10 minutes and 36 laps, less than a second separated us.

The car felt great and I super confident that my pace on used tyres was much better than competition's.
The top 3 was completed by Nick Geo, around 5 sec further back.

Finals were now up next.
Amain Nr. 1.
Warm up laps and car feels awesome. Race director call for cars to sit on the grid and then asks drivers to step back on the rostrum so that each one of them takes a spot on where to drive from based on the priority of their qual position. Once this process was completed a different driver was sitting to my right side which would soon prove to be a very crucial change.
The race starts, I get a great launch off the grid and just sneak 1st place but as my head turns right my view is completely blocked. 

The change of driver's position on the rostrum meant that the guy on my right was now blocking 1/3 of my view of the track as he was holding his transmitter right in my view point.
Every time I was reaching the end of the straight and then the infield I could not see, I was missing my breaking points and hitting the curves.

I started loosing places like a free falling bomb. My frustration was great and by the end of the race I barely managed to finish 5th with many exits off the track.

Amain Nr. 2
I tried to stay cool and regroup. Warm up laps felt again good although I sensed a small loss of accuracy and had to trim my steering back to center.
The race started and half way through my first lap the car started feeling weird. I felt the balance was off and could not hit my marks. Around lap 3 the car started to spin out at the exit of the corners so two laps later I aborted the run.
That was it. Run Nr. 2 DNF, Race done. Championship is over. I felt numb at that time, not much frustration, just watched the remaining of the race and then walked down to pick up my car.

In the pits I had a quick look to maybe locate what the problem was but couldn't find much. Car looked perfect so I just suspected that my set of tyres for the finals was just bad.

Amain Nr. 3
I start my warm up laps and then the real problem is revealed. The car just shoots straight with zero steering, then steering is suddenly back and spins off. I pull it out of the track and do not even make the starting grid.
Run Nr.3 DNF.
Reason: Broken servo.

Still feeling numb by the bad luck that strikes me once again, I watch the final Amain and then congratulate the winners.
It was another case of 'what if', a case of bad luck for which I am totally fed up with.
I like to believe that we make our own luck, and to one extend that really is the case, but there are occasions where things happen that are just not in our power to control. When the occurrence of such unfortunate incidents is repetitive then it starts to kill your mood and the pleasure you get out of your hobby is decreasing rapidly.

The race was won by the track owner George Andreadakis (Xray/LRP) who together with Nick Geo (Xray/Orca) had shown great pace all through the weekend, so congratulations to both of them for getting the two top spots. Third place was by another local races Terzis who together with the Yokomo distributor as his mechanic managed to improve a lot throughout the weekend and by the time the Amains started they also had great pace to challenge for the win, actually winning Amain Nr.3.

So Race 1 is in the books. I have now zero chance for the Championship but I will still try to do well in future races. It makes no sense to me to give up and I am looking forward to some great battles with Nick, Michalis, George, Panagiotis, Dimitris and who ever may challenge for a win at round 2.

Contrary to my luck, I am delighted that the race run smoothly without any problems, nor delays. Race Director Argi did a great job keeping an order of procedures and track owner George Andreadakis had everything covered, from great food on site to beautiful winners and commemorative trophies.

Now if only my equipment stays in one piece and does not fail on me again it would be great.

Luck beats skill every time.