With 2WD over at the Worlds in Yatabe Arena, I thought it’d be good if I shared some of my own thoughts on what has taken place so far.
Of course, the headlines were dominated by the magical story of Spencer Rivkin, who took Team Associated to yet another title. But the manufacturer development war that played out has given us a Worlds like no other, with speculation and drama hovering over a backdrop which has already generated controversy.
Team Associated - Naturally, it’s only fair to start with the story of the World Champions. Running the B5M platform, they seemed a slightly unlikely choice for potential success, even with their star-studded lineup. What made this crop of cars so dominant is of course the lay-down transmission first introduced to the car by Redworkshop. RedRC reported that the A team were using a prototype factory gearbox, whereas the rest of the team were using a Redworkshop gearbox - it sounded feasible in theory. However, after a little bit of digging around, I managed to grab a little bit of information from an AE driver that blows the theory apart completely. In passing comment about which of the two gearboxes were being used, they were unable to tell me anything at all. Considering the Red gearbox was openly photographed and discussed, and the factory prototype can’t be massively different, the unassuming presence has quickly spiraled into suspicious secrecy - there is definitely more than meets the eye underneath the shell of the Worlds-spec B5M. Team Associated put the work in - it truly payed off.
In terms of driver performances aside from Rivkin, Cavalieri put in a completely respectable performance, whilst British hopeful Neil Cragg’s return to form was hindered slightly by the pressure of having to remain mistake-free.
Kyosho - Jared Tebo sported the RZ6, a RudeBits DB2-esque shaft-drive car, which vaulted him well into a class of his own throughout the entire week. Planted, consistent, blindingly fast - one would be forgiven for believing he had the entire event wrapped up. In the end, the pressure would get to Tebo much like it got to Cragg - except it kicked in far more suddenly and dramatically. A1 was under control from start to finish, but the uncharacteristic A2 error sparked a chain of errors in A3, which ultimately threw the superstar of the event firmly into second place. Elliot Boots was running another new Kyosho, which seemed to work very well in the high grip conditions - the manufacturer came in with high hopes, which they may have fallen short on, but the cars have proven that they have the pace. There’s not a great deal that can be said - the team was very open, they turned up and put in solid results.
Yokomo - Flick the switch, turn to the other end of the spectrum - Yokomo’s performance at their home track was not only a shock, but nothing short of staggeringly poor. Having taken the Warm-Up so convincingly, the EOS-winning YZ-2 appeared to be unsettled just a little too much by the Japanese 5 Spice. That wasn’t their only trouble - they simply appeared to be outclassed by everyone around them. There was no particular area they had to focus on, instead just having a complete lack of rhythm, which flummoxed each and every driver in equal measure. Lee Martin pulled a stunning result in the end to scrape into the A, and upheld the pride of Japan by salvaging something from so little.
Serpent - The real car of controversy in 2WD. Serpent opted to run not only a converted 4WD, but a converted 4WD from another manufacturer - the Durango DEX410v4 affectionately christened “Serango”. There were very clearly good motives for Gerd to supply both Hupo and Joern with this car, but they are motives I will refrain from commenting on or analysing too deeply. In terms of actual Serpent designs, Billy Easton showed off the new Spyder SRX-2 MH, another lay-down gearbox chassis which carries over the majority of parts from the MM chassis. The car improved in pace throughout the event, as you would expect it to do so - Serpent’s expansion is certainly coming on leaps and bounds.
TLR - The racing branch of Losi weren’t feeling confident about their chances on the astroturf of Yatabe arena, and they had every to be so nervous. Everything appeared to be against them. However, recent top signing Ryan Maifield was keen to shake the transition gremlins off his back, and it’s safe to say he did so in style. Sixth overall may not be stunning, but it was far beyond what they were realistically expecting - the lay-down 22 chassis clearly with less track time than the other solutions being run. Add to that the lack of experience on astroturf, and the niggles which have been nagging the whole team, such a finish was wholly unexpected. It’s a credit to the experience of the entire team, and really makes one wonder what was possible if TLR and Maifield had bedded in sooner than they did.
It’s interesting to evaluate the effect of Rivkin’s success on Maifield’s mindset, however. LiveRC’s coverage in the Pro-Line studio brought up a very intriguing point regarding their relationship - is Rivkin’s immediate success at Maifield’s old team, which was only brought about because Ryan decided to take him on as a young driver, going to spur him on to bring TLR to the top - or will he begin to doubt his career move?
Schumacher - I’ve had mixed feelings so far on what the team managed to achieve in 2WD. In the end, I’ll buck the trend slightly - I think that their vast setup knowledge for such conditions should’ve pushed them higher than where they eventually landed. Ninth overall in the world is a superb feat, but I can’t help but feel that the raw pace was missing. There were no real complaints about the KF2 Mid from Michal Orlowski other than slight inconsistencies in landings, so one can only assume that what they produced was their outright pace. A solid effort, but no real updates to try and push for a much higher result, something that I wholly believe was on the cards. A slight missed opportunity.
Hot Bodies - One can only describe the pace of the D216 so far as, quite simply, appalling. The HB team is vastly experienced, with a line up of drivers and designers who are at the forefront of RC racing. Granted, it is a car designed primarily for dirt - but both the EOS and Worlds appearances with the final pre-production car have yielded shocking results. The innovation is clearly evident in the bizarre chassis, and the idea seems to make perfect sense - however, unless Hot Bodies quickly work on optimising the layout for extreme high grip conditions, the car will continue to struggle.
Of course, there were other manufacturers in attendance, but these seven were the ones who caused the biggest stir. A special mention must go to Team C, as Craig Collinson brought the manufacturer to the forefront of the event - the British circuit experience certainly played into his hands, and he was able to deliver a solid performance throughout. Young Malin Karlsen also lit up the timesheets in her new XRAY XB2, proving that she has the pace to threaten the upper echelon of the international rankings.
4WD kicks off shortly - expect the order to shuffle once more. Kyosho appeared to be the early pacesetters, but Rivkin’s momentum could carry AE to yet another title - whilst Yokomo, XRAY and Schumacher start the squabble behind.
Photo credit to www.redrc.net.