Musings from May, and an evo..

May was a busy busy month… and not a hugely successful from a results perspective. To be honest, the past period of races haven’t been great really.

Tamworth Cup – April 18th-20th

Starting off (and not technically in may), over the Easter weekend, I made a (very) last minute decision to travel from Toowoomba down to Tamworth for the 10th Annual Tamworth Cup, which also incorporates a bit of a State of Origin competition between Queensland and New South Wales.

So, Friday morning at a bright and early 4:45am, I jumped in the car and drove the 500kms south… Not a bad journey at all really, quite scenic (once the sun came up), and made it there in a little under five and half hours, so plenty of time for practise.

I hadn’t been to Tamworth before, so spent pretty much all of friday learning the track, and trying to get both cars balanced. The Tamworth track is quite tight and twisty, with a fair few bumps in it, and also quite narrow. All quite a different challenge to what I’m used to.The track requires a real point and shoot approach, with a number of heavy braking and acceleration areas, so good braking stability, and ability to get through the middle of the corner were a must.

The main changes I made on the Mi5 were to go to a Speed6 shell (the LTC making the rear too unstable under braking), and more upright on the shocks. FX2 seemed to be the way forward additive wise, the track surface not really liking the oily style goop. However, I always would seem to swing from too much, to not enough steering, never getting truly happy with the balance. That left work to do on the Saturday in qualifying, which is not ideal!

The SP-1 was proving just as troublesome, couldn’t quite nail getting steering vs stability right, although switching back and forth between the two (very different) driving styles wasn’t helping either, as it was taking a few minutes to get in the groove each time… an omen for the rest of the weekend! Thankfully, pitting with mates made it very entertaining in the pits, and the evening was a good opportunity to relax, even having to put up with Hogs Breath steaks as no where else was open!

Saturday, qualifying! Given the time thats past since then… I really can’t remember what exactly, just that the first two rounds weren’t too bad, and then went down hill… for whatever reason, just couldn’t get “in the zone” all day. Was a tough one, with quite a few very frustrating moments. I’m not too proud to admit… that sucked, and really did think about giving up for the weekend! Still stuck with it, aided by remote and on site advice, and manged to get the Mi5 working much better by the end of the day. Raising the rear lower suspension balls helped massively to stop the rear of the car stepping out in the middle of the long infield banked turned. Driver was still making too many errors, but ended on a more positive note at least. The SP-1 had much better pace, changing the rear side springs to the hardest I had in the box keeping big corner speed, whilst still being stable. A little off the fastest guys, and having issues with traffic, but certainly podium contention.. just same issue as the TC in needing to string a full run together proving the biggest bug bare!

For sunday, one round of qualifying, followed by three leg finals. For the tourer, I then made a big mistake. Instead of sticking with the tyres I had run all weekend, I decided to take a big swing, and try a brand new set of Sorex’s… which whilst quick, completely changed the feel of the car, and took me by suprise. Still, decided to stick with them for the rest of the day. The first finals came and went, and I think I was second in one of the F1 finals, whilst didn’t complete a single TC one.. which included destroying a left and right rear arm in two seperate legs… pretty bad day really.

Still, the Tamworth crew put on a really good event, very well run considering the small number of members, and off track was thankfully entertaining to provide some relief.

EC – Mi5 – Tamworth Cup – Final Mi5 Setup… what I should have run in the end!

EC – SP-1 Tamworth – Finals setup, fast, and needed new boots!

The long drive home (thankfully on the monday after racing!) helped to provide some time for reflection, and highlighted a few things I would plan to do differently for the next event. First up, two classes were two too many… In a compressed schedule (especially when trying to learn a new track), trying to get two cars up to speed is just too much hard work, never really having time to sit back and think about changes, and whats going on. Second thing was preparation… having decided very late to go, this left little time to get stuff planned and sorted, and get the car prepared. Most of my other problems stemmed from these two ‘issues’, such as not getting my head round the track properly, managing event expectations, and simply paying attention to advice… from that I vowed to not make these mistakes again.

New South Wales State Titles – May 23rd-25th

And leading on from that, the next big meeting on the calendar was the New South Wales state titles at the end of May. Straight away, I only entered the Modified touring class. This was pretty easy to make, as flying to the event meant needing to take minimum stuff. Secondly, I made sure that the TC was properly prepared, including fully strip down, researching general track settings, and making a solid list of items to test on the Friday. One final night of practice at the Logan track (trying out the kit 2.5mm chassis, didn’t like it), and I was ready!

Again another early start, flying down early doors from Brisbane to Sydney, leaving home at 4am, and arriving  just after 9:30am… and straight to the track for a full day of practise.

SMA was also another first visit, so first two runs on the list were just sighters, with the exception of trying different shells. Unsuprisingly, LTC-R was prefered. The first few runs seemed to show that the car was seemingly lacking grip, although the balance was pretty good. Was also overpowered, so had a few things to work on. Ran though all my list of test things, and seemingly wasn’t able to improve the car.. more than I would like behind on pace, and struggling to find a rhythm. First set of new practise tyres, and similar behaviour… which was strange. Stuck with it, making more changes, before deciding to through the second set of new tyres at the car.. and at the same time reverting to my tried and tested tyre prep routine of Wurth + additive (in this MG v2), rather than the Buggy Grip cleaner I had been using.

Straight away, much improved. On reflection now, this is where the weekend went awry, as finding that out I should have reverted to my standard setup, and worked from there. As it was, I kept the setup I had on upto that point, and worked from there… mistake #1.

Anyway, whilst part of the issues had been solved, I was able to start focusing on trying to sort out the balance. Overall the car was safe to drive, but slow, and struggling to get through the middle of the corner. Braking also seemed a bit of an issue. Ended the day not really making progress, sitting around 1s off the fastest times. Again leaving more work to do on the Saturday in qualifying.

After some rather nice home cooked Pizza (thanks Tyson), and a short sleep, Saturday would present four rounds of qualifying, with a reseed after round two. Somewhat unfortuantly, I was in the top heat in the first two rounds, and frankly my pace wasn’t good enough. Two cleanish runs, but trying to keep out the way of the likely winners meant getting in the groove a real struggle. Made a small improvement to the car, but still just seemed to be unable to get through the turns as quickly. A fair bit of that was lines, and consistency of them (off line being really dirty, and having a snowball effect), but also being slow through the middle of the tighter stuff also hurting getting on the power out of the exit.

Thankfully, the resort ended up with me dropping to the first mod heat, so the jumping out the way issue was now gone. Even so, still wasn’t right, so used the final two qualifiers to try out some more changes. Ended up pulling off in one run, as mistakes (both on the track and on the pit table) made it pointless to carry on, so saved the tyres for later. By the end of the day, I was sitting in 12th, and with a very outside chance of making the A. I also discovered a bit of a diff oil issue… whereby my Xceed oil 3K felt a fair bit heavier than one filled with MuchMore 5K. Something to note as a reference, and as a result, have switched fully over to MuchMore oils again!

Sunday was to be the final two qualifiers, and finals. Finally started to make some progress. Overnight had a long sit down and think about what was needed, and how to achieve it. The main change was to go to the shortest possible rear link, with the aim to improve the rotation of the car. I also leant the shocks in one hole all round, and raised the roll centre. Not entirely sure that doing the shocks and roll centre was the right move, but the car was improved. A little more stable, but with improved rotation. Pace improved, but not enough to trouble the A. Still 2nd in the B was on target for the weekend.

However, it all went pear shaped in the finals… going for a “all in or bust approach” I decided to lean the shocks as far in as possible, as well as narrowing . Big error. Whilst it was ok for the first minute, taking the lead for a short while, but once the goop started to wear off the tyres, it proved very inconsistent and hard to drive, lacking corner speed. My frustation got the better of me, and I ended up pulling off after my third mistake, not wanting to wreck anyone else’s race. And so ended my second straight disappointing meeting… Although as Craig McPhee put it to me succinctly during the weekend, “Everyone fails the first time at SMA”.. no truer word it seems!

Despite all that, and knowing that I wasn’t flying back until the next day, had a couple of runs after the finals were done, whilst waiting for the trophy presentation. Put the shocks back up a hole all round, and left everything as else as it was. Straight up, car was best it felt all weekend (typical). Part way through the run, ducked into the pits, pulled out the forward top deck brace, and went straight back out. Improved further still… dammit! Lapping on track with the guy who finished 4th overall, now was a lot lot closer on pace, spending a number of laps following his wheel tracks, double Dammit!! C’est le vie… Not a great result, but ended on a slightly positive note.

EC – SMA – NSW States 2014 – After race practise setup.. if only *sigh*

Hindsight is a wonderful thing…

So looking back over those two events.. it’s been tough. I’m a competitive sod, and certainly don’t feel that either of the two events I performed to my best, in effect letting the side down. In reality, some of that is probably (mostly?!?) psychological, as I was on to achieve my aims at SMA before taking the chance with the setup. But, I did make the big error of cocking up the tyre prep, and should have reacted sooner to that, as well as re-trying my base setup once reverting to the usual prep. Working without a team has proved tough as well, being the only Schumacher mod driver at both events meant having to watch other cars, and trying to relate to the Schu. In particular, stuff like shock positions need a bit of thought, as mounting the shock under the arm (rather than in the centre) means that the shock needs to be more upright to achieve the same effect as, say, a Yokomo.

Not that I’m complaining about the cars, as honestly, as the Mi5 has taken everything I’ve thrown at it, and always reacted to changes, be they good or bad, making it easy to tell if something worked or not.

Still, poor meetings have sucked a bit of enthusiasm for the hobby at the moment.. although the last topic for this post has helped rebuild it…

Mi5evo – new car thirlls!

Last week Schumacher announced the release of the Mi5evo, the next racer to come out of the UK stable. Don’t be fooled by the name, it is pretty much a brand new car, with only really some of the drivetrain parts carrying over from the Mi5. Overall, it pretty much meets what I’ve been told, of lighter, lower and stiffer.

Has a lot of nice details on it, particularly liking the more conventional camber link mounts, the new shock tops (ball joints, YES!), and the even easier diff access.

Now, I won’t go into full detail just yet, but my car is due to arrive on tuesday next week, so keep an eye on this blog for an Mi5evo specific post later..

And thats a wrap… phew!