I´m back home from NeoX and now a small break is waiting for me until my next race. It has been a busy start to the year, a few trips to the US with some races here in Europe in between that. NeoX was the last race of my first part of the 2015 season and it turned out to be a great race for me in the end after hard work all week long.
Coming with the same car as I ran at my so far only 1/8 race for HB/hpi-racing at the Nitro Challenge, I knew it was fast there and hoped for the same speed at the NeoX. The track was quite slippery which made it very difficult to find the right timing in all the jumps the track had. It looked liked the PL tires had a small advantage in the mornings when the track was a bit damp but the AKA tires getting better towards the afternoon when the temperature went up as well. In practice they took your 3 best consecutive laps out of three practice rounds on Friday. I improved the setup on my car and found myself in 7th after practice. In the evening I didn’t feel very well and got cold with massive headache.
We were going to run qualifying over two days with three rounds on Saturday and two round on Sunday as well as the lower finals. The first day was okay for me but not what I wanted as I was making a bit to many mistakes finishing 7th in Q1, 17th in Q2 and 5th in Q3. My car worked good but I felt it too heavy, especially compared to Ty´s car. It made it difficult to control the car on the very slippery surface. The speed was for sure there, I just needed a bit more consistency out of my driving for day two of qualifying.
Knowing 22 cars goes directly into the semis I much pretty much safe for that already but wanted a good starting position for it to be able to improve for the A-main. Testing a few things to get it a little bit easier to drive which we already made to the nitro car that helped, I hoped for one more good run as they take your 3 best rounds out of 5 for the overall. I didn’t feel like the changes made the car any better, instead even harder to drive, I think because of the EP car being a lot heavier than the nitro. I only managed a 15th for Q4 and 28th for Q5, which was a disaster. However, overall I found myself in 13th and was going to start in 7th in the Semi-A. The semis were going to be run in the evening and I normally have a better race pace when it comes to the finals. Starting in 7th I quickly worked my way up in fourth running behind the leaders. Staying close behind for the whole 10 minutes race without doing any mistakes, it made up for a pretty good starting position for the A-main.
Monday – finals day, first day since Friday I finally felt good again with no more headache. I woke up with a great feeling that it was going to be a good day of racing. The electric A-main was up around noon and I was going to start from 7th. I knew that if I ran the same as I did in the semi final, top three would be possible. After a very bad start where I got taken out by the car behind me and dropped to dead last on the first lap, I worked my way back up to 8th in the end. I couldn’t do better than that as the cars ahead were to far away. Disappointing final where I really felt like I had a great chance on the top 3.
After a disappointing end to the Nitro Challenge in the nitro class, I was ready to take revenge here at the NeoX. Finishing third last year at the same event, this was my goal this time as well. Considering it being the second race with the car I didn’t push myself too much though. Starting out with a setup that worked well ‘over there’ wasn’t the best decision as the NeoX track had completely different conditions compared to what I experienced in the US. After first run on the track we made a complete rebuild and changed pretty much everything on the setup in order to get more traction and rear-end stability. I found my car working pretty good in the end of the day, though I didn’t get my three best laps together and was 17th overall after practice. I knew I had a mistake in those three laps and wasn´t worried about that.
Going into qualifying I didn’t feel very well but was going to do the best I could. The first round was in the morning and the AKA tires weren’t as good as the PL so I was a bit off pace, with some mistakes as well it wasn´t the best start to qualifying for me. I tried to focus on the next round, as I got 26th for the first round. For the second round I got some pills from Adrien, which helped my headache and I could focus on the driving. Some changes made to the car to get it rotate a bit faster around the hairpins around the track, as well as a tire change. Going to the AKA Typo SS which I really like driving when I get the chance, I hope this tire could give me some more traction. Already on the warm up I felt my car was really good and I hoped I could get a great run. I started out very good, about halfway in I got some traffic that didn’t want to let me by and when it finally did, I crashed. Loosing important seconds I finished 11th in the round.
Great improvements for the second round I hoped for one more great round so I could get into the Dash4Cash race that was going to end Saturdays racing. I was starting to get tired as I woke up very early in the morning and could sleep anymore. However I really liked how my car was going around the track in the previous round and knew if I put in a great drive I should be right there. I had a great round with only a small mistake in the beginning but I finished 6th for the round and everything was going in the right direction.
For the Dash4Cash race they count your best 2 rounds out of 3 and top 13 will get a spot in the race. I was 10th after two rounds, and as they also reverse the grid order this meant I would start from 4th. Again I didn’t have a good start, which is very important in such a short race, I was way back from the beginning. However I worked my way up to 4th only to run out of fuel on the last lap. Everyone have to gamble on doing the full 10 minutes otherwise you don’t have any chance on the top spots. Bummer that it happened but better happen now than in the real A-main!
Sunday, and the last two rounds of qualifying on the schedule. I had a 6th place and a 11th to bring with me from the previous rounds so far. I needed one more top 10 and everything should be fine. Again 22 cars straight into the semis and you get a great chance on making it there. First round in the morning and again I new I had to keep the car on the wheels to have a chance on the top as my tires weren’t the best in the mornings. One mistake otherwise a clean run put me in 7th for the round. Now I had three great results and just needed to finish off in a nice way in the last round.
On the warm up going out in the last one, my car felt very good and I knew I had a great chance on the TQ as my tires now worked the best. I started out not only fast but also very consistent. I kept my cool and finished the run the same way I started it, almost a 12 lapper that no one had done in nitro so far. It gave me the TQ for the last round! Overall after qualifying I finished 5th and was going to start 3rd in the Semi-A, behind Ty and Elliott Boots.
Coming into the finals day with TQ run in the last round of qualifying felt really good. I knew my speed was there, only for me to put it together.
Starting with the semi I wanted a good start so that I could stay up front to see how my final pace was against theirs. I had a great start and me, Ty and Elliott were all three running close together for the whole semi final. I finished second behind Ty and was going to start 5th on the grid for the final.
Changing nothing on the setup, only freshening up shocks and diffs for the 45 minute final and then I felt ready! The start was good in the beginning but in the end of the first lap I touched the pipe and my car bounced back out right in front of Dakotah´s car and we were stuck together. Not what I wanted at all, a few cars got by and I found myself back in 10th place or so. I told myself to stay calm and keep my head down and focus on the long race. I knew it would be difficult to reach all the way to the front when I saw Tebo pitting at 12 minutes, but my goal was top 3. I closed the gap in between every pit stop and with about 10 minutes to go me and Ty was very close together on the track battling for 3rd place. I knew I was a little faster as I just closed the gap to him so I was waiting for the right moment to get by him. Cavalieri and Tebo were gone up in front and we had quite a big gap down to 5th place. So it was either Ty or me that would finish third. Towards the end Ty made a few mistake, which gave me some breathing room and I could control my race to the end.
Super happy with a 3rd place already at my second race with the car. Doing it at NeoX as well where all the top drivers goes to and is seen as “The Indoor Worlds” in 1/8 scale racing makes me really happy. So excited for the outdoor season to start here in Europe and I think I will have great success with the car!
The car setup for this race can be found here !