Dirt Nitro Challenge 2023 is in the books and it absolutely was eventful. Coming into the race the forecast looked grim with heavy rain and wind forecast for much of the event. I contemplated cancelling my trip figuring we would only get practice in. But Joey of the Dirt racing announced they would build a backup track under the covered area of the facility and thus the event was on. We did get to do our practice on the big track on Wednesday but sure enough come Thursday the rains began and we moved under the cover to complete the quals and mains.
The first qualifier saw an extra minute of warmup and that would be our first taste of the covered track. We were going from 40+ seconds on the big track to sub 17 seconds on the covered track. Setup concessions and tire selections became paramount to learn and get pace as quickly as possible. With just 2 qualifiers and 1 counting in qual point format it made for some tight battles and intense racing. Having up to 12 cars on the track on a 17 or less second track made for a busy race track and couple that with a quickly deteriorating surface and at times water logged back concrete straight all added to the extreme conditions we were faced with.
I was running all 4 of my Kyosho vehicles at this event and primarily running SS Gridirion 2 tires and an occasional Diamanté thrown in as well. Compounds were ultra soft, super soft and SSLW mixed in. Nitro truggy had some decent runs but a mistake early in Q2 that I had to battle back from left me 7th in that round which put me 11th overall and thus 1st in the B main after missing out on the 10th position by a tiebreaker of 0.5 tenths. Ebuggy I had a solid 5th in q2 which put me 8th overall into the Amain.
Friday saw Nitro buggy and etruggy run and again I left it down to the second qualifier to make something happen in NB. In etruggy I just didn’t quite have pace of some of the other guys. I think I figured it out for the Main but it was too late. I would manage to qualify 9th into the A though. Nitro buggy I was able to put in a reasonably clean Q2 to take 5th again for the round which would qualify me 8th overall into the Amain which I was very pleased with considering the level of competition!
Saturday brought the Nitro Truggy B main first where I had a great start pulling away to a 3 or so second lead a couple of laps in before crashing after the front triple, the marshal had just left to get another car which left me on my lid a long time relinquishing the lead which I wouldn’t contend for again. My truck felt pretty good but a few mistakes just had me sitting mid pack and I finished 5th.
Ebuggy I actually ran clay diamantés and overall I felt I had pretty good pace. Starting 8th in the may-lay on this track kept me from moving up and it took me a few minutes to find a good line around some of the tougher sections. Mid race I was in a groove and was catching Maifield and Ronnefaulk as we battled for the 5-7 positions. But I made a couple mistakes again and would setting for 8th in the end.
Sunday finally brought some dryer weather but so much rain had fallen we were still under the covers for the day. Etruggy main was first and I added 40g of rear weight to my truck which seemed to actually help the onpower steering at the end of the straight and once I found the proper throttle inputs through the bumps I was running pretty well. However my sensor wire was going bad and my car was stalling at times mid corner causing some erratic actions and loosing time. I did the best I could with it and came home in 7th.
Finally it was time for the 45min A main if Nitro buggy. We had 3 Kyoshos in the A main being the most represented brand in the A which was awesome to be a part of. As we got underway however the track was hard! I missed about 3 settings I can look to quickly that I know would have made things better for me. I was trying overdrive all weekend where the front pulls the rear a bit more (43/13 front 42/12 rear) but it seemed like it was really erratic in the corners when hitting ruts and made the rear pretty hard to drive. I also was an hour or so too lean on the bottom end of my engine tune causing me to not be quite as precise as I would have like to have been. Overall I had some good battles for a while in the 8-9 range and often after letting a leader go by I would have pace to keep up with them and often have to wait if they made little bobbles but clearly I was just making bigger mistakes costing me more time. I had a couple tough laps near the end of the race and in the end finish a bit disappointed in 10th.
Positive wise though this was my 4th big main in a row where where everything ran well and no DNFs. I just feel the pace picks up so much come the main and I need to make the right adjustments to be in the mix at the end of the mains. Overall with the depth of competition I am pretty pleased with my results and look forward to continuing to improve as we move forward with the 2023 season.
Tips from the event: One thing I did to my foams was to punch 2 x 4mm holes on either side of the main ribs when the foam is flipped inside out. This softened the foam and also gave a slightly flatter profile. This helped in the bumps and also gave a bit more forward drive.
Set-up sheets notes: (MP10e TKI2 (Ebuggy) same set-up as Nitro buggy except universal for rear center driveshaft. (Waiting on editable set-up sheet for the new TKI2 ebuggy.