It’s that time of year again with the Australian EP on-road nationals being held this weekend, out at Whalan in North West Sydney. Whalan is pretty large, flowing track, although the racing line is tighter than it looks. And whilst you can ride the kerbs a little, going too far results in roof time, usually at pace.. A short video of the track in the configuration we’re running is linked below.
For the first time in a while, there are a large number of drivers attending, just pipping into triple figures… with two full heats of mod too! Whilst this might not sound large to some European and US based friends, it’s a healthy number (given size of the country vs national population), and a far cry from the death knell some have given TC racing over here recently. Anyway, I digress…
So, today was the first offical day, with controlled practise to sort the seeding for tomorrows qualifying. It wasn’t the first day on track mind, with yesterday (Thursday) also being available as a practise day. As seems to be a recent theme with big events, the weather looks like it will play a large part in proceedings. Thanks to some early morning showers, no running was possible until later in the afternoon yesterday, but a decent few hours were then possible before the light started to fade, and the track closed.
Today was a bit different with the intention to get going at 8am, with a couple of hours of open practise, before rolling into a minimum of three controlled practise rounds. However, pesky showers in the early morning put paid to that, with the track not dry enough to get going until around 10. Then the two hours of open (albeit in groups to compensate for speed differentals between classes) practise, followed by the three controlled practises in heats were completed, ending around 5pm. The weather did threaten a couple of times to disrupt play, with some heavy spits of moisture, but thankfully it stayed away long enough to get the program run… Although 20minutes after finishing up a massive downpour hit!
So enough of the sterotypical British-talking-about-the-weather-thing… how did the day go?
Well the Xray (yes, Xray… I really need to complete that post detailing the change..) has been pretty fautless. I did run into a couple of issues yesterday that were electronics based.Firstly, whilst the new Sanwa wireless receivers are great, don’t run them too close to the ESC. I had been suffering from the occasional brown out, that I thought was down to an issue with the LRP Flow I had been using. When I got exactly the same issue with my HW V3 in the car, realised it was something else. Having turned the Rx 90 degrees (so the ariel section now runs along the length of the chassis), no more issues. Lesson learned. The second niggle was my PT had seemed to stop working, but turns out a quick re-wire and it was all good again.
Anyway, performance on track has been good. I’ve stuck pretty close to the base setup I had been working on for a while, but the big changes I made for this weekend were going to the full Hagberg front end setup (Anti-dive and sweep with lower front roll centre), which just seemed to really help the car on the brakes, whilst also giving a bit more front end bite in the longer turns. I also went up on diff oil (from 5K to 7K) in search of more on power steering. And also went back to the kit hexes, which seemed to help keep the car more stable with more corner speed. Other things I’ve played around with have been springs (2.6, 2.7 and 2.5-2.8, which are currently my preferred option) and the centre post. But I keep seem to coming back to the raised deck with no post, from both a feel and speed point of view.
(Another note… always pay close attention to the lower pin inserts and make sure you have them in the correct position… I shall say no more!)
As for who else is fast… I’ll hold my hand up and say I’ve not paid a large amount of attention to 21.5, so I can’t really comment too much. But In stock reigning national champ Alex Illiveski and current NSW champ Damien Zarb (both Xray) seem to be setting the pace. However the times are all very close, with tenths covering positions at the moment.
In mod it’s similar. The usual suspects of Simon Nicholson (Yokomo), Ryan Maker (VBC), and Xray trio of Ari Bakla, Tim Lee and Corey Broadstock, plus Craig McPhee and Jason Dorn (both HB) all look fast. The times are still really close, so it will also make for some great racing tomorrow. My prediction will be it will come down who can best nail the three new tyre runs, with the least mistakes… sounds simple, and a bit obvious, but it’s easier said than done (don’t think anyone escaped the Whalan kerbs today).
Anyway, it’s a 7.30am start tomorrow, and with it being 11pm, and an hour drive in the morning… time to hit the hay. Will attempt a second post tomorrow after the close of play. Fingers crossed we get it all in!