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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

NEO 2017

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!

Monday morning started us off with the E-buggy A-main final. Now starting dead last on the grid isn’t as terrible of a thing as one might think. It may take me out of contention for the win but at least there is no where to go but up! haha. Anyways I got by a few cars in the first few corners to just get hit one more time and be dead last again in the top left. But after that I was able to chisel my way through the pack which pileups and crashes happening everywhere. About halfway in I was up to 6th or so and then a contender had an issue and I got up 5th. Then I had a battle with 4th for a couple laps near the end as we swapped position 2 or 3 times before he made a mistake and I got into and finished in 4th! Not bad all things considered and I was pretty pleased with that.

Next was the Nitro buggy Semi-final and I was starting 4th on the grid in the Odd semi having qualified 7th overall. Things started off well as I was running in my 4th position with the leaders for the first 3 laps and my car felt great. Then I decided to take the quad instead of triple single and I hit the low spot and shorted it and was upside down in the jump. This knocked me back to last as the marshal had to let everyone by. I wasn’t to concerned as my buggy felt great and I knew I could make up time. I quickly moved back past a couple of crashed vehicles and pileups and worked my way though the field. For the most part I was doing the quad well but I shorted it about 3 more times throughout the run whenever I would hit that low spot in the jump face and just didn’t get the lift. I should have just triple singled it but I was stubborn for that run. I still managed to work up through the pack and into 5th and an automatic transfer spot into the A final. After the second Semi I found out I would be starting 9th on the grid for the A.

The A final was the last race of the day and I was pretty excited by my prospects. My car felt great and I knew I had a shot if I could have a good start. But as mentioned before it is hard to run with others on this track and especially a pack of 5 or more guys at once. I got tangled and sent to the back to start my main in the top left and ended up in the chair! Well it was catchup time now and I put my focus into clean laps and staying out of trouble. I worked through the field and stayed on the lead lap as more and more people fell back with crashes or whatnot. I don’t quite know where I was early mid race but by about the 30 minute mark I had caught up to Maifield for the battle for 4th /5th. But at around the same time I started to make some mistakes as my front tires were starting to go bald. So when I got out in the dust I would push hard and loose time. I also found out after the race that my universal pin that goes in the outdrive had come halfway out was cutting into the arm and bulkhead and that was what was causing my erratic handling for the last 5 minutes or so. I kind of just though I forgot out how drive for a few minutes there! haha. Overall though I had built a big lead over 6th and thus came home in 5th place which was a good result for me!

This race is considered an “indoor Worlds” as most all the top drivers in the World attend. This was also an event that was part of the top25 rankings for R/C and my result helped to promote me to #5 in the world. Just 0.7 tenths out of 3rd! I can’t believe that but it just goes to show that I am getting more consistent and my results have been solid.

I now have about a month before my next travel race. That time will be used to spend some quality time with family and catch up on all my to-do’s. Also some local club racing hopefully as well as the weather is finally getting nicer!

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