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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

Wicked Weekend 2023

This past weekend I made the trip to one of my favorite venues the Wicked Weekend, in Gainesville, GA. I really like the venue due to the huge pavilion offering covered racing but with open sides allowing you to feel like you are outside. This year I gauged my tires on the past two years in which they had watered the track quite a bit before and during the event. So I had a lot of SS and SSLW compound. However as is often the case when I plan one way, it's often changed and during practice on Thursday they never watered after practice started. Then just an overnight water on Thursday night and a light watering midday Friday and it was said it would be let dry for the rest of the weekend. We haven't experienced that level of no watering at a RaceTime event yet and so it was something I wasn't quite prepared for tire wise as I had brought minimal S and SLW compounds.

This event offers a split practice schedule where you can choose session 1 or 2 and I chose session one even though I arrived mid morning on Thursday and got to the track and immediately began the session 1 practice about 2 hours after it had begun. I ran as much as I could getting most of my time in Nitro buggy and Ebuggy and a couple runs in nitro truggy. I didn't have time to run my etruggy and was hoping my set-up from Enats would suffice. Overall my tire selection for practice centered around SSLW Components and Diamanté in buggy and the SSLW Diamanté in truggy.

Friday afternoon saw our first round of qualifying and then we would finish with two more rounds on Saturday. The track was dry but with a fine layer of dust on the line the grip still wasn't terribly high and I was sticking with the SSLW Diamanté in truggy and SSLW Component in the buggies. As we got into Saturday especially in the afternoon the grip started to rise and I used SLW Diamanté in truggy and the one set of Soft Diamanté I had for buggy. My qualifying highlights consisted of a P2 in Q2 of Nitro truggy and a P3 in Q3 of Ebuggy and sweeping the TQ's in Etruggy in all 3 rounds. Overall I would qualify 1st in Etruggy, 3rd in Ebuggy and Nitro truggy, and 9th in Nitro buggy.

Mains were on tap on Sunday and the conditions continued to grip up with some rough sections and lots of dust outside the line creating a tricky condition. First up was the 30 minute Nitro Truggy A-main. I was to start 3rd but I could tell already in warmup it was going to be a hard race for me. I was running SLW Diamanté but even they felt too grippy and my set-up was just not prepared for the amount of grip I was facing. Couple that with my engine being a bit lean and running on some and it made for a tricky time. Fortunately I was starting near the front as I had a slow start and did get shuffled back to 9th at one point. However I just did all I could to turn as clean of laps as possible. My truck felt too light in shock oil and the initial steering was too grabby. It was a handful and in the end I was pleased to end up in 6th because the struggle seemed much greater than that. So here is my reminder for next year to bring some MLW tires incase they choose not to water again!

Next was a pair of A1's for the E vehicles. First was truggy and I was waiting all weekend for Kaden to whoop me in the class as he had driven it so well at PNB. But a mistake early put him back in the fray and I was able to turn consistent laps overall to take the A1 victory. In Ebuggy I opted to try the one set of used MLW Diamantés that Will had brung with him. They were decent but my set-up was still a bit grabby and my rear shock oil felt a bit light as it would dump a bit too fast on the outside rear coming out of the higher grip corners. I would do my best to stay with the leaders but I had a couple mistakes that would knock me back a position here and there. In the end I still held on for a 5th, but knew I would need a better finish in A2 to stay top 5 on the podium.

Next we had the 30 minute nitro buggy main. Due to my lack of SLW tires I opted to go off of treads I had used a couple years ago. I did Chainlinks in front and Catapults in the rear. Hoping they would skip over the roughness of the track well. My buggy felt decent in warmup but I was having the rear step out on exit at times as I think the Catapult just had less side bite compared to the tires I had been running. I did have a set of SLW Diamanté ready to go as well and it was planned to possibly switch them in the rear during warmup but I stuck with what I had and it probably all told was a mistake. As the race got underway I quickly realized I also had a midrange lean spot as well that was causing me to slightly overshoot my marks and affecting my throttle control. Truly my pace just wasn't there in this one for one reason or another and I languished in the 9-11 position the entire race until finishing in 9th when it was done. After the A2 I ran later in Ebuggy, I realized I should have run the SLW Diamanté in this one.

Finally we finished up with the final two A2 mains for electric. First was etruggy and Kaden showed up for this one. I made a mistake early as my truck diffed out hard when I got on throttle as my diff oils were too light for the higher grip conditions. I would need to mellow out my throttle finger and adjust my lines. Now I was in pursuit mode for the first time this weekend in this class and it was a fun battle that Kaden and I had. He is probably my favorite person to race with right now as he runs super clean and we have had some great battles this year. About 3/4 into the race he would make a mistake however and I was able to regain the lead with just a couple laps to go. He tried to push hard but it caused more mistakes and I was able to take the A2 victory and thus the win in this class.

The day would end with Ebuggy closing out the night. I ran those SLW Diamanté and had gone up in rear shock oil and my MP10e TKI2 was really solid. Half a lap in Phend made a mistake and I was tasked with chasing down Vandalen. He would make a bobble coming onto the front straight and I was on his bumper and we had a good battle for a number of laps. Then he made a mistake at the end of the straight and I got by into the lead for 2 corners but then landed on the pipe on the top left of the track and let him back by. I then had Mason on my tail with Seth a couple seconds in front. I battled with Fuller for a few until on that same top left over the single he shot further than I and landed on top of me which caused my right rear shock to get knocked off over the nut holding it on and I had to pull it off which was a disappointing end to my night being in such a fun battle.

In total I didn't have as great of results as I would have hoped but it wasn't terrible either. I was able to take the TQ and Victory in Etruggy. Then a 6th in Nitro truggy, 7th in Ebuggy, and 9th in Nitro buggy. I know now to expect even more of the unexpected tire wise so I'll try to pack my bags even fuller next time with more options as we just have to be prepared for absolutely anything.

Set-up Notes:

Main day really saw the grip increase. In buggies I switched to the 10/20 gearing during qualifying in the center diff as I felt the 12/18 gears created too much of a change when transitioning from the grip to dust sections. I also went up on diffs quite a bit mid qualifiers and into the mains to combat the higher grip. Tire wise I was primarily on SSLW until about the 2nd qualifier. Then transitioned to Soft and Soft long wear.

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1 Comment

Eddie Staggs
Eddie Staggs
Aug 03, 2023

I always run a washer or flanged locknut on shocks. Bushings can be pulled over the nut. Small part easily overlooked when doing maintenance.

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