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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

Wicked Weekend 2017

This past weekend the Tekno team descended upon Gainesville, GA just an hour outside of Atlanta for the Wicked Weekend. For Joe and I we were finally able to fly to a race with no layover which was a nice change of pace. The format for this years event was also unique as you had the option to practice all day on Thursday OR you could run for 3 hours Thursday night and then 5 hours Friday morning. We opted to fly in on Thursday to arrive at the track around 6pm on Thursday. We practiced our e-buggy for 3 hours and then went to bed to get back to the track by 7am for our 5 hours of Friday morning practice. At around 1pm on Friday we went thorough the first qualifier to complete Friday. This was an awesome format in my eyes as it made it a lot more relaxed and not quite as long of days for the 600+ entries!

I chose to run my regular 3 classes at this event. The competition was strong with most of the South East’s finest as well as Joe and I descending down from Ohio. On Friday evening after the first round of qualifiers I started off a little slow. I had some mistakes in my runs and I don’t think I had a grasp yet on the tires I wanted to run. I also got attacked by bugs in my Nitro buggy qualifier and I lost my cool as I had one on my face, hand, and neck at nearly all the same time. I made some mistakes as that was happening but still managed a 3rd for the round. In truggy I took a 2nd and E-buggy a disappointing 4th.

Saturday was comprised of two more qualifiers, the first being another 5 minute run and the latter being a 7 minute run. The day started off much better as I was able to take TQ in truggy and also in E-buggy before settling for another 3rd in Nitro buggy. The final 7 minute qualifier gave me a chance to have a solid qualifying result. In Truggy I ran a near flawless run and got the extra lap and earned the overall TQ! In e-buggy it was between Joe and I. He had a clean run and I made a 3 second crash on the 2nd lap. But I was a little faster and I was able to whittle down the gap to just a couple tenths by the final lap. Joe would put in his fastest lap of the with a 32.2, but I was able to do the same with my own 31.8 and thus I TQ’d by .2 tenths and took the overall TQ. Nitro buggy was the final race of the evening and I had a great run going and was on a TQ run. But Cole simply had a little more speed than I did and he got around me on the clock and I settled for 2nd for the round.

Sunday was mains day and we had triple A-mains on tap for E-buggy and 30 minute affairs for the Nitro classes. First up was A1 of E-buggy and I was running Soft Long Wear Impacts. The conditions were pretty tough as the track had lots of grip in the line but there was also a lot of dust especially if you missed the line at all. Also a couple of the roller jumps were starting to get rough and sending cars in weird ways. Anyways I made a mistake on lap 4 after leading out and fell to 3rd. Then Joe and Cole were battling for the lead as I inched closer as they fought over position. Cole made a mistake promoting me to 2nd where I would tail 2 seconds or less behind Joe for the remainder of the race until the last lap. I shorted a jump in the center and crashed in no mans land and sat upside down for 9 seconds. This allowed Cole past and me to finish 3rd.

Next was the Truggy main and I was starting on pole. I did what I always try to do in truggy when on pole and that’s to keep the start clean and just work on pulling away. The start for me was good and Cole and I had a breakaway from the pack and worked up a large lead. About halfway through the race with a few second lead over Cole he would run out of gas on the second stop giving me over a lap lead on the field. I would continue to cruise around the track. I ran Soft long wear Impacts on the front and Gridirons on the rear (aptly named GridPacts). My Tekno NT48.3 was on point as it often is and I was able to come away with a 1.5 lap win. What was crazy is that out of 16 cars to start the final, only 8 crossed the line and only 6 didn’t have a major issue. Only maybe 3 had no issues at all! The attrition was real which was wild to notice.

Next was E-buggy A2 and wow oh wow was it a rough one for me. I went wide in one of the first corners allowing Joe to get by. Then he tubed it and I got collected and got the worst of it as he set off again in the lead. I was caught in the fray and got absolutely beat up for the next couple laps. My front body clip even got knocked off and I ran with a semi-alligator for a good 8 minutes. It was simply a brutal race from start to finish and I could only muster a 4th. If theres a takeaway from that one it’s to mention to all the up coming racers that they need to calm down on the first couple laps and try to drive clean and stay with the lead pack. By blowing everyone up around you for one position you ruin your chances at being close at the end.

It was now time for Nitro buggy and I opted for a unique tire combination for this one. The track was tricky condition wise as mentioned before so I wanted to take some twitchiness out of the front end. So I went with Soft Long Wear Zips in the front and Soft Long Wear Impacts in the rear. The Tekno buggy seems to like impacts in the rear as they catch a bit less than say the gridiron does. At the start I was in 3rd but quickly moved into 2nd when Joe got off track. Now it was time to track down Ogden. He was off to a fast start however and I soon found myself about 5 seconds back. During the 2nd pit stop things got a bit crazy as multiple cars were in pit lane and I got tangled up and fuel got spilled a little and my engine went really rich and I lost brakes for a few corners. Also upon pit exit I got crashed upside down and lost more time. So now I found myself about 12 seconds back but still in a solid 2nd position. I put my head down and started to click off some clean consistent laps but in the back of my head knowing my fuel mileage was going to be close due to it going a bit rich after that last stop and this high speed track.

During the next 7 minutes I was able to whittle down the lead to 5 seconds and then upon a mistake by Ogden less than 1 second. I was coming around and it wasn’t my in lap yet but I felt my engine going lean and so I opted to make a pit stop one lap early. This would require me to run slightly longer on the last stop so I adjusted my driving a little to compensate. It was to no avail though. I worked up to about a 2-3 second lead and felt comfortable but with a couple of laps to go I ran out of gas in the middle of the track. It was right in between a big jump and it took a minute for my pit guy to retrieve the car. By the time I got back on the track I was down to 3rd and put in an effort to catch up to 2nd who was just about  a second ahead of me on the last lap. In the end I would salvage the podium position in 3rd.

Last race of the evening was the E-Buggy A3. I wanted a little retribution for the way A1 and A2 went and I chose the same tire combo as Nitro buggy. I would pull away from the very start and not look back. I drove hard and really pushed my car. I had fun really seeing how hard I could push and utilizing a lot of inputs on the throttle and brake side of things. Along with my 2 warmup laps I even dumped my battery at the end of the run with a lap to go and had to take it super easy. Came away with the A3 win though and thus 2nd overall for a Tekno 1-2.

Overall I was hoping for just a little bit better but another three podiums with a 1-2-3 and two TQ’s isn’t to bad for a weekends work. My podium consistency has been amazing this year and even with adversity i’m still able to generally get some decent results.

Next up this weekend I have my LutzRC Hometown shootout. I’ve been out there helping to build the track and looking forward to making it a fun event!

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