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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

ROAR 1/8 Nitro Off-Road Nationals

This year the ROAR 1/8th Nitro off-road nationals were held in March instead of June. This decision was based on the track location being in Phoenix, Arizona and a determination it probably wouldn't be a lot of fun to race all day long in 110*+ heat. The turnout however wasn't what it has been recently with many possible factors as to why. In the end however most all the top drivers from around the country came to battle it out and crown a new ROAR National Champion.

I had my Kyosho MP10 TKI2 and MP10T all rebuilt and ready for the challenge. As practice got underway the though was to leave the groove dry and allow the track to potentially groove up. I did some set-up changes to try to make the most of that scenario including CVA's instead of Uni's. The track however had other ideas and instead began to break apart. So that night it was decided to use a 'dirt glue' to try to keep the dust down and hold the track together. It seemed to work well and was used each night. The track didn't deteriorate too much more except for some jump faces but overall the rest of the week was pretty consistent and we were able to set-up for some tough rough sections but it didn't change too much more.

Qualifying day number one started really good for me. In the first qualifier I came out of the gate with a 3rd in both classes. In buggy running AKA soft components A side out and in truck running soft gridirons with temperatures in the low 80's. In the second qualifier I would have another clean run in both classes but be a bit conservative in my driving. I would finish 6th in truck and 8th in buggy. Those results though seeded me into the A-main and Semi-final respectively so I could perhaps try some new things on Saturday.

Saturday qualifying didn't see much improvement in my results. I made a couple early mistakes but in my final qualifier of buggy on Saturday I was able to lay down a 6th with a solid run just 2 seconds out of 2nd as the field was very tight. Overall I would end up qualifying 6th in both classes. This would start me 6th in the Truggy A-main and 3rd in the buggy odd semi-final.

Sunday brought the coolest day of the week with temps in the low to mid 70s instead of mid 80's. It also brought with it a full track water before each main and the A-final finishing up under the lights (and no water before it). First up was the truck final and I opted to run soft impacts in this one. My truck was decent and I was part of the 6 truck breakaway and held firm with the lead pack for the first 10 minutes or so. I moved as high as 4th on lap 16 but on my pitstop my engine flamed out with the tank lid open. It just wasn't drawing the fuel needed and I lost about 6 seconds getting re-fired-up. Fortunately my pit guy was on it. Over the next 20 or so minutes I was able to run pretty solid, no mistakes and worked back to 5th until I saw two trucks crashed on the double going away and went to avoid them. But in doing so got into the marshal whose feet flipped me over on my lid. By the time they were able to get to me I flamed out upside down loosing 50 seconds. After that I finished out the race and with the attrition and issues others had as well still managed to finish 7th.

Next was the 30 minute Nitro buggy semi-final and I opted run run Soft component A front B rear. Also I've failed to mention that I was running the same engine in both cars most of the whole weekend. My engine program unfortunately isn't where it should be right now. Between Ohio winter and the busy schedule to start the year and my focus heavily on getting my new cars figured out i've neglected my engine program and unfortunately it showed this weekend. Well the semi things went ok though in that department, but I had a rough start. I got wing high on that back double going away and landed on my lid on the second lap. Then proceeded to mistakenly take out a fellow driver two times which I really felt bad about and I waited for them to get by and drove extra cautious around them for the next little while. I was in last on lap 5 but was able to find my way back to 5th by lap 16. I even got into 4th on lap 31 and held on until lap 46. 4th was the last guaranteed spot into the A-final . On lap 47 though I made a mistake and didn't really do great the remainder of the last 10 laps. I was in 6th on my last lap when fortune fell my way with two guys flaming out which moved me up to 4th and that last position on that last lap. I was blessed for sure in that instance.

We then had 1 hour to prepare our cars for the 1 hour A-main final. My focus was on cleaning up the clutch and new bearings, looking over and checking the tightness of all the screws on the car and gluing up a set of SS components due to the race looking like it would be run at night and figuring they would water before it as they have for every race. Well it turned out they didn't water and the track was a bit dryer than I anticipated. Overall though my car felt pretty decent as the race got underway. I didn't quite feel like I had the pace some of the guys were going but I held my own starting 11th and moved up slowly to 9th by lap 11. I found myself battling for the 9th/10th position until lap 35 when going onto the back straight I flamed out. It's very rare for me to flame without either being upside down or out of gas but this one was just random. I can only really think of rock or with those holes back there maybe hitting the flywheel on a hole. I just don't know but it happened and I lost 50 seconds. Its a bit demoralizing to have that happen pretty early (about 20 minutes in) into a race because you know you now have to let everyone go if they come up on you for the rest of the race and some of the fun of the race is lost. But I kept plugging away and there wasn't much in the way of attrition in this one. In the end I moved up to 10th. Upon examining tires after the event I probably could have gone with SSLW or maybe S. Also perhaps should have been on impacts or zip front and impact rear. I think the zip front would have mellowed out the steering a touch and made the car a little easier to drive. All things to learn, think about, and improve upon for the next one!

Overall it was a good event and I was happy to be in the A-mains. I know there is more there result wise and I know as the year goes on I will be working hard to continue to improve with my program!

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