Tuesday, April 22, 2014

BLITZ R18 V2 podium at 1st Dutch Nationals

Team Blitz driver John Ermen took part in First Dutch Nationals held at the beautiful track in Apeldoorn. Below is his race report.

The weather forecast was a bit doubtful for the weekend. On Saturday the weather gods were with us and we could do come practice laps to setup the car and engine. At the end of the day we did the same lap times (13,5) than last year on the Apeldoorn nats. Except then it was 27 – 35 degrees and now it was below 20 degrees and the traction was a little less.

On Sunday it was going to rain and we got only 1 dry qualification. Bevause the temperature was a bit colder than the day before the engine needed some tuning before the start of the race. At the start of the qualification I noticed the engine was a bit rich and we could not make 5 minutes this way. We decided to pit anyway just tom make a good run for qualification. Due to the rich engine we were still able to make 2nd place only 0,5 seconds behind Gunther who had TQ.

The 2nd and 3rd round were wet, so it had no point to run another qualification. The top 10 after 1 round:
no driver laps time
1 Gunther Van Staey 22 5:11.594
2 John Ermen - BLITZ R18 V2 - 22 5:12.000
3 Danny Leewis 22 5:13.558
4 John Lenaers 21 5:07.225
5 Martin Zevenhoven 21 5:09.280
6 arie manten 21 5:11.146
7 Joey Sorber 21 5:14.819
8 Ad Vissenberg 20 5:04.882
9 Marcel Schouten 20 5:08.463
10 Patrick Vannieuwenhuyse 20 5:09.214

Because of the rain the semi finals were also on a wet track. I had the fastest time with the most laps after the semi finals, but due to “wet” regulations the number 1 of the semi A was on pole and the number 1 from semi B was on the 2nd place on the starting grid of the main.

From the start of the final I got a slow start but was able to hold 2nd position. After a couple of laps Gunther was able to take a little gap and I noticed my engine was running again a little rich. So I informed my pit crew trough the board radio. (Since 2014 it is allowed to use non-licensed communication devices in the Dutch Nationals. As we were already using this last year we were used to it and I must say it worked out great this weekend.) As my pit crew was informed they leaned the engine in the 1st pit stop. This allowed Gunther to get even a bigger lead. The engine was still not 100% and also at the 2nd stop the engine needed some tuning. These 2 longer pit stops messed up our pre-defined pit stop strategy. Because of the high tire wear we were planned a 1,5 tire change. This meant we would only change the right tires on the 2nd stop and a complete set on the 4th stop. But because we lost too much time on the engine tuning we decided to risk only 1 complete tire stop. On the 3rd pit stop we needed to make a complete tire change and on this stage of the race Gunther was almost a lap ahead. 2 laps later after I got fresh tires I chunked a rear tire and my pit crew informed me – trough the radio – that there was a tire standing by to replace the chunked one. So another unplanned pit stop was due. But with my engine running 100% and with a fresh set of tires I was able to get back the lap and now I was chasing down Gunther for the lead. After the next fuel stops, Gunther and I were swapping places. After the 2nd last fuel stop Gunther made a big mistake at the end of the straight and I was able to pass and to build up a lead of about half a lap. But due to the fact our pit stop strategy was changed during the race, my tires were wearing too much too make good lap times. Gunther came close fast and I was defending 1st place from corner to corner. With still 30 seconds to go Gunther was able to make a clean pass in the infield due to some understeer on my behalf. Gunther won the race and I finished 2nd with 2 laps in front of REDS team mate Frank Baggen who secured the last podium finish.

Final result of the final:
no Driver Laps Time
1 Gunther Van Staey 121 30:13.841
2 John Ermen - BLITZ R18 V2 - 120 30:00.286
3 Frank Baggen 118 30:10.680
4 Joey Sorber 117 30:06.358
5 John Lenaers 116 30:02.873
6 Patrick Vannieuwenhuyse 114 30:01.351
7 Martin Zevenhoven 114 30:05.404
8 Peter Ende 112 30:13.392
9 Roelof Tooms 108 30:11.594
10 arie manten 0 0:00.000

As I was happy how the whole RC package was performing last weekend, it was too bad we could not execute the pre-defined pit stop strategy. Maybe the outcome had been a different result. Nevertheless I’m happy with the 2nd place. It was a better result than last year’s first race where I almost finished last….

Last but not least I would like to thank my sponsors for the support: Team Xray, REDS Engines, Blitz Bodies, Team Titan, Tornado Fuel, Matrix Tires, FVSS Shop, Futura 2012 and RC Car Color.
Next up is a German West national, let’s see what result we can get there.

Source: Titan R/C

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