2018 SIGP in Xiamen, China
Updated: Mar 7, 2019
This past week I travel across the pacific to Xiamen, China, which is just inside of Taiwan on the Chinese eastern coast. This was the same venue that held the 2017 IFMAR Worlds for 1/10th EP however the layout was reconstructed to full size and felt good sized in the 33-35 second a lap range. Upon arrival on Thursday early AM (Around 2am to the hotel), I expected a relaxing Thursday to get acclimated. But I found out that there was practice if the rain held off. Supposedly there had been open practice since maybe Sunday and some had been there since then, although Wednesday was rained out. Well we arrived to the track shortly after 7am on Thursday and I got my car ready and glued up a set of tires and got a battery pack in with my ebuggy. I prepared my Nitro after that but the rains came and washed away the rest of the day. We went out and had a nice dinner and I got to try some new foods (which was a daily theme!)
Friday morning brought nicer weather and 3 rounds of controlled practice were on tap and they would take your fastest 3 consecutive laps from any of the rounds to seed into the qualifiers on Saturday. I was pretty set on sticking with AKA Impacts in SSLW compound throughout the day, though I did try some double downs as well to compare. The grip was a bit inconsistent to start as they had originally sugar watered the track but the rains took some of it away. Also on Friday there were some wetter sections of the track and then drier. So you would be a bit loose in the dry then hit a wet patch and have a bit higher grip. The track had some natural bumps in it from the rolling process I assume, nothing extreme by any means but you could really see the suspension work on the front straight for instance. I watched my teammate Jonathan Yeung’s car go down the straight and saw how awesome it soaked up the bumps and just in general how good his car looked on the track. I went over to them after the run to investigate.
Turns out they had been doing a lot of testing at home on rougher tracks and had come up with a pretty unique set-up to what I had been driving. I decided to go with it and spent the entire time between rounds copying their set-up to give it a try. It was extremely soft on the bench. It felt probably 200-300 cst lighter than anything I would ever run. But I wanted to give it a try and I was pretty surprised. While it was really soft with (4×1.9 + 4×1.4) pistons (They actually had 4×2.0 vs. the 1.9 I went with even) It surprisingly stayed very level and while it did transfer a lot of weight to the rear and squatted, it was still able to hold it’s direction and not dump/loop out in corner exits. Now as the grip started to come up through qualifying and into the main this set-up got to soft for me and I elected to go back to my standard shock set-up for the main though I primarily kept their geometries of the rest of the set-up. Overall I think their set-up is something I absolutely want to try more on looser and bumpier track, though I think I would need some revisions for medium grip and for sure for higher. But still it was fun to try something new and be successful with it. In the end of practice I was able to be the top seed into qualifications in both Nitro and E-buggy.
Qualifying day was met with the warmest temperatures of the week at around 78*F for a high. The track began to dry out more and started looser perhaps but got a slight groove in sections by the end of the day. Some jump faces also began to get some holes which made lining up for jumps more important. In Q1 of Nitro buggy I went out and put in a clean run that I was pleased with and thought would be able to hold up through qualifying. They were doing rocket round for some reason and so I was pretty secure in my Q1 time. For Q2 and Q3 I tried some other set-up changes as I felt I needed to keep thickening up my set-up with the grip coming up a little. I made a number of mistakes in my runs and wasn’t able to win out any of the final 2 runs but my Q1 time held up for the overall TQ. In E-buggy it was just pretty good all weekend. I copied a lot of the geometry changes from the Young’s set-up but left my standard 7-7-5 diffs and my 4×1.9 shock package on. I was able to take the front double double jump section as a triple single which may have got me .2-.5 second a lap when done cleanly as well. In the end I would TQ each run and take the overall TQ in Ebuggy as well.
Sunday was main days and being TQ in nitro buggy allowed me to be the only one to seed into the A-main directly with the rest of the field needing to navigate the ladder format. This put all of my racing at the end of the day which included triple E-buggy mains, a 10 minute solo practice session for Nitro and the 1 hour Nitro buggy final. One thing they had which was nice overall was they provided marshals from the factory to take care of those duties all weekend. So we didn’t have to marshal which was a blessing for main day for sure. The downside was they weren’t the best marshals and so not crashing was pretty paramount.