Dirt Nitro Challenge 2022
380 Unique drivers racing an average of 2.5 classes each, totaling 972 entires at this years Dirt Nitro Challenge at the Perris Fairgrounds in Southern California. I myself was running my primary 3 classes, nitro buggy and truggy, as well as ebuggy with my fresh Kyosho rides. Record low morning temperatures greeted us the first couple days and some rain on Wednesday morning led to only 1 round of practice (7min) being run with top 2 consecutive laps being used for seeding into the qualifiers Thursday and Friday. I had my game plan set to basically just run AKA Gridiron's the whole week. SSLW during the day and SS at night which kept that portion of my program very easy.
During our one run of practice my cars all felt really solid which led to a good feeling about the rest of the event. I was able to top seed truggy in my Kyosho MP10T, and I would seed 4th and 5th in Nitro and Electric buggy respectively in an absolutely stacked field. Perhaps the deepest field ever as many international top guns were in attendance on top of the already stacked North American contingent.
Thursday brought about a chilly morning but some much needed sunshine and a beginning of warmer temperatures to come. On this day we had Nitro Truggy and E-Buggy qualifying to battle it out in. In Q1 out of the gate I would make a couple small mistakes in truggy but still come away with a 5th and just 1.5 seconds out of TQ as the field was super tight. I had my drop round in Q2 with a longer mistake. In Q3 at nearly midnight I was bundled up and everything was on point. I would throw down a clean run at take the TQ by 0.7 and thus with a 0 and a 5 I would actually seed 2nd overall!
In E-Buggy I would have a top 5 going in Q1 but on the last lap my motor moved and stopped me dead in my tracks so I would need to make Q2 and 3 count. Fortunately I was able to to do just that taking a 4th and 3rd in those two rounds to qualify 4th overall! I was running a really lightweight set-up in my Kyosho MP10e with the new ProTekRC 4800 LiHV shorty low profile packs. This coupled with the Tekin T8i 1950 motor made my buggy the same weight as my nitro buggy and I was able to run the same setup on both.
Friday brought more sunshine and warming temperatures as we got underway with Nitro buggy day. Running only one class on this day made it a little more relaxing and more focus could be put into the class. In Q1 I would have a decent run and again the field was super tight as the track had been 'fixed' up a bit that morning with many ruts patched up. 3rd through 12th was just 3 seconds and I would fit in that mix in 5th for the round. In the second qualifier I had a great start and was running TQ pace for the first 3 laps before shorting the first triple and ending up on my lid. I had another mistake on the next lap in total losing 7 seconds finishing me in 9th for the round. Fortunately for me most all drivers had only 1 good run and my 14 points was enough to seed me 5th overall in the A-main!
Saturday was to be the mains for E-buggy and Nitro truggy. E-buggy would be up first and as is usually the case the first couple laps are a bit of a dogfight trying to hold position. I would loose one position on lap 1 but gain it back on lap two. By lap 5 I would inherit 2nd and set my sights on Ronnefaulk. 4 laps later I got right behind him and he made a mistake on the drop down at the start/finish line. I would get into the lead for 4 laps until he would catch back up to me and in the top right corner I made a mistake over the hip jump (upon review looks like I slid up the face sideways a little too much and caught my left rear on the top and tumbled down the backside. The last 4 laps were spent looking forward to David, but he didn't make a mistake and I would settle for a solid 2nd! Pretty stoked with this result with such little time on the cars. Oh yea, for the main I went with the ProTek 6400 LiHV packs to be sure I made runtime. They are about 110g heavier in total than the 4800's I was running but my Kyosho MP10e still handled very well with them.
Next was the Nitro truggy main which got underway a bit delayed as there was a power outage for a little while. They also didn't water the track nearly as much as they had all week thus far (or would do so on Sunday as well) and so the conditions were drier in many spots especially the top left quadrant of the track. Even though it was around 10 or 11pm the moisture really didn't come up and in the end I realized pretty quickly that I missed my set-up. The grip was higher than it had been and as soon as the race started I found my truck 'diffing out' through a number of corners. This means as I got back on the gas mid corner or so the inside tires would 'balloon' up and it saps energy from the momentum of the vehicle. I was able to have a decent start and hold on to 2nd for 3 laps but it was a slow bleed from there. I would fall back to a steady 4th after the first pitstop, but on my second stop I ran out of gas while being refueled and had to be restarted. My pit guy was on it and I only lost 10 seconds knocking me back to 8th momentarily but after everyone else pitted a second time I was in 5th. I was able to catch back up into 4th on lap 58 but gave it back 3 laps later with a mistake and settled for 5th overall. Still a great result especially considering how much I feel I missed on set-up. Very pleased with the performance I can expect moving forward!
Sunday brought the nicest weather yet with temps into the 70s but our A-main for nitro buggy wouldn't be until after dark at around 9pm. During the A-main warmup my Kyosho TKI2 felt really good. I had gone up a little in diff oils preemptively in leu of what happened in truggy. I was feeling pretty confident after the warmup which was held during the day about 4 hours before our actual A-main. As night fell and it got close to show time I noticed they were watering more and the moisture was hanging around longer. So I quickly dropped my front diff oil back down but in retrospect wish I was able to go back down in center and rear as well. The main started off well as I moved into 4th and then 3rd on lap 3. The pace was extreme taking the wide line around most all the bumps. There were a couple spots though I was really struggling with which were the berm before the triple triple. I would think I found the line I wanted and then the next lap just be all over the place, just missing my line. At the end of the front straight, that right handed sweeper I would be out near the pipe but sometimes not be out quite enough and hit that hole that was there sending me off the track. With some mistakes I fell back to 7th on lap 28 and then some bigger mistake laps knocked me to 10th which is basically where I would reside until lap 61 when I dug my front into the small uphill double single after the triple triple and snapped an arm. My line through that section often saw me doing a very tight whip as the take off was off canter, and that particular lap I didn't get the full whip and landed right front into the dirt sideways and that was that. A disappointing 13th position. However I take solace in early days with the cars and still learning where I need to be for set-ups.
Overall it was a very promising weekend. Two top 5s including a 2nd overall with how stacked the field was. Coming into the event I know I would have been very pleased with that. We have a short turn around before the ROAR Nationals in 2 weeks and i'm excited to get back out there and race my Kyosho's again!