May Madness @ Tiltyard
I took the 7 hour drive to the 'world famous' Tiltyard this past week for their May Madness season opener event. Homer had just put the finishing touches on this new epic layout with a true 3D feel. It makes for some very difficult marshaling but driving on it is a blast and the onboard looks like motocross racing!
I arrived Friday for some practice and worked to find some good tires. The track has a reasonably difficult surface the is pretty choppy with some random dirt clods or rocks and your suspension has to be on point to absorb the chop. My WRC rides felt pretty good straight away. Throughout the weekend the main things I changed were to try to have less rebound in the shocks to absorb the pitter patter better. I also had to go up in shock oil from my last race with the temps rising. For the mains I also went up in front and rear diff in Nitro to try to smooth it out through the corners with the chop.
Qualifying came on Saturday and I ran AKA SS Zip front and Catapult rear for the first two qualifers and they were very good. The SS seemed to have better grip on this track than the SSLW. For Q3 however they were too soft in nitro. I noticed this because in corners the inside front would 'diff out' where the tire would expand too much and cause erratic corner exit. It was also more tippy all the while the track was getting a bit rougher. So for Ebuggy in Q3 I went with SSLW Zip front and Catapult rear and it was better. Though I felt I could have gone even stiffer. I was able to take the rocket round TQ in both classes with my WRC SBXE and SBX. After quals we had some free track time and we did some more tire testing. We kept the SSLW zips on front but tried some soft double downs on the rear. The double downs kept the rear flatter than the catapults (double downs have flatter profile vs. catapults) and the slightly harder rear seemed to make it easier to drive. If I had some I would have ran SSLW zip front and Soft Catapult rear. The zips were still forgiving enough to run the softer compound and it also afforded a little extra steering.
For the mains though i didn't have the soft rear so I stayed with the SSLW Zip front and Catapult rear. On this track I also had tried some SSLW Enduro rear but the Catapult just had better forward drive and less edgy in the choppy corners. For the 30 minute Nitro final I felt the tires were still a little soft but I didn't have anything harder. So I just drove a bit more cautious especially through the corners. The first 5 minutes I had a fun battle with Austin Woodyard who was driving very well and hard. Knowing it was a long race I was cruising and he got by for a couple laps before lapped traffic got in the way and I squeezed back into the lead. A few laps later he made a mistake and I extended out around a 10 second lead. (Remember, a crash on this track was pretty much a guaranteed 7 second crash due to the difficulty of marshaling). He ended up bowing our shortly thereafter and I found myself with over a lap lead. I kept it on all 4's the rest of the race I finished with a 2 lap victory.
In ebuggy I ran the same set of tires and again they felt a bit soft. The track was at it's most difficult so I worked on making sure my lines were solid. I got a good lead at the start but made a few mistakes where the track bit me but I got some very lucky bounces landing back on my wheels more than once. In the end I was able to come away with the victory in this 10 minute race for a double TQ and Win!
This track is not for the faint of heart. A true test of driver and your patience. There is also a huge dropoff, off the back of the track that goes down probably 30ft to a creek that luckily wasn't flowing because I found myself on the opposite side of it during practice! All in all it's a true test of man and machine and I look forward to going back 2 more times this year for the USRC series event and the FX of Nitro event!