Updated: Nov 21, 2019
So just a day after returning from one of the most grueling events of the season, the Psycho Nitro Blast, I was off across the pond to the UK for the Neobuggy event. This year Ilias decided to be brave and be our driver on the other sided of the road and car and I must say he did a fine job! Only one curb was hit which is pretty good on the narrow hedge lined roads. The track this year was challenging with lots of elevation changes and action everywhere. The surface got a little bumpy and their was tons of lefts and rights and a crossover to boot. The layout was fun but it wasn’t fully planed out I don’t think. There was no where for marshals to be in the middle of the track. And as always the crossover turned out to be dangerous with a few people getting hit, some worse than others. A balance between fun and safety needs to be thought out for sure. What this all meant was there was potential that you could loose half a lap if you crashed in the wrong place at the wrong time so that became paramount to avoid such situations.
The classes at the Neo are just Nitro buggy and Electric buggy. Every year they seem to allow a few more entries making more heats of racing but also making the days longer and the racing less. I remember a few years ago we were doing 10 minute qualifiers and done by 7pm. Now we are down to 5 minute qualifiers and done by 8pm and starting earlier at 7:45am to boot. I do love the time schedule though as you know exactly what time you will be up and it just makes the event feel bigger with the proper rules in place.
I went with basically my Psycho Nitro blast set-ups (which were my silver state set-ups) on the car in hopes that they would continue to work at Neo. But Neo always seems to present unique challenges and cars just feel different on this surface. There were a couple of big jumps with some sharp landings if you didn’t downside just right. The track was also bumpy to an extent and had an uneven stair steps to navigate as well. My shock package wasn’t quite right at the start and it took me until probably the 3rd qualifier to nail it down and start to feel comfortable. I actually opted to go back to the stock pistons of 4×1.9 which gave a good balance of the big jump landings and also the bump and uneven surface handling.
Through qualifying I really worked hard on set-up changes looking to make my car easier to drive as it was a bit nervous and twitch on this track. Here is a list of some of the things I did:
-Moved the front hubs forward
-Front spring all the way up to green instead of my usual Black
-Front diff up to 8K instead of 7K
-Zero bump with about 2* of static toe out in front to try to make less twitchy
-Raised rear camber link on tower to middle outside instead of down and outside. (Stayed middle on hub)
-Lower center diff down to 4K instead of coming in with 7K to give more front wheel drive.
-Heavier front sway bar to 2.4 for the main instead of the 2.3 I had been running.
These changes all helped to make my buggy easier to drive and I was pretty pleased with it by the time the 4th qualifier came around. My first 3 qualifiers were a bit of a struggle though I did manage a 10th and 9th in Q1 and Q3 which I attribute to my growing maturity as a driver. In E-buggy I got a 3rd in Q1 which was my best finish and after that I struggled a bit with my timing and trying to do the quad instead of triple single.
After day one of qualifying the top 15 currently got to do the 10 minute dash for cash in inverted order. Because I was currently 12th I would start 4th on the grid. Within 2 laps all those ahead of me had made mistakes and I inherited the race lead. I was a bit concerned as Tebo, and Maifield who were going fast in qualifying had already made it up to 2nd and 3rd but they and Tessman started making it the bash for cash and just making mistakes all over. I used that advantage to take off into the sunset and win the Dash which was the turning point of my weekend.
The next day first round of Nitro buggy I was able to prove that the Dash wasn’t a fluke and I went out and put in a great run in the B heat to take TQ. No one in the A heat was able to beat my time so that gave me the TQ for the round and coupled with my 9th and 10th put me solidly up into the Semi-finals. It’s a good thing to because in Q5 I would do my warmup laps and then lost all brakes. My throttle servo went out on me before the start and i’m assuming all the 60ft jump landings at PNB didn’t have anything to do with it. haha. At least I was in the Semi’s and it happened before the Semi is all I can say! In ebuggy I struggled a bit still with my timing but was still able to manage to qualify 10th overall after qualifying.
That night we did the Semi-final for E-buggy and boy was it an ugly race for me. I was super nice at the start and if someone behind me pressed the issue I let them go as I just wanted to spread out and stay with the pack. But I got tagged and sent to last and it was a battle from there. People were driving nuts and crashing everywhere and I just put my head down and tried to stay as clean as possible. I picked off a few drivers here and there but I couldn’t understand the announcer and had no clue what position I was in. I just fought back until the end and somehow took the 7th position and seeded last into the A-main final in 15th. At least I made it!