The excitement surrounding ‘Conquer The Carpet’ had been rapidly rising approaching its early February date and when it came time to boogey on the rug not even Snowmageddon2k17 or the Super Bowl could stop over 215 entries from making this the biggest indoor off-road trophy race anyone in the Vancouver scene could remember. The event was a landmark for host Outlaw RC, it is their largest to date, and it was the result of many months hard work by President Chris Mueller and his dedicated crew of volunteers. The race even attracted pro racers Nick Wautlet (AE/WallieBuilds) and Kurt Wenger (Schelle Racing) to make the trip north and see what the buzz was all about!
Like many other locals, I had been eagerly awaiting the chance to race in this event since the day it was announced. I’m certain a lot of us felt like this was our home turf and we could mix it up with the visitors a bit. I am incredibly proud to see my local group of racers taking their program to a more professional level, a group of racers that have been so helpful and welcoming to me. Considering this as a home race I felt really good about my chances leading up to the event, despite really not touching the transmitter since before Christmas. I had my AE B6 2wd modified car in a really good spot and spent a lot of laps practicing with it, I was very confident of being a solid A main consideration. I was also scheduled to make my Outlaw debut with the new Kyosho Lazer ZX6.6 in 4wd modified buggy but unfortunately a last minute problem prevented me from having the replacement parts I needed after the previous weekends events. This forced a quick change back to my old faithful AE B44.3 which was not ideal for preparation but If nothing else it gave me the confidence of a familiar platform to compete with.
Practice began well enough but I was further off the pace than I would have liked. Both cars were mechanically reliable all day with no breaks and Maclan Racing power was right in the wheelhouse for the challenging but fast layout. In my 2wd buggy I rebuilt my rear gear diff as it felt a little weak, sure enough it was almost running on empty. I rebuilt the shocks for both cars after a few runs. I often find this makes a difference after travelling from the higher altitude of the mountains. Both tune ups had positive outcomes.
Make no mistake, fields in all classes were stacked. Modified buggies drew some of the bigger fields with mains right down to at least D in both 2wd and 4wd. Staying clean would be a challenge on the tight indoor confines and with such a wide range of experience sprinkled through the field it would be tough to avoid trouble over all three rounds.
In what can only be described as a repeat of the previous week, I was way too cautious in 2wd qualifying. This is a car I have really built my confidence up with and my first two heats were just not good enough. In Q3 I finally hit stride and took a 7th overall for the round and at least helping secure myself a solid B-main position. Nothing to complain about with the B6, purely nerves from the driver that would see me end Q-day in 12th overall.
4wd qualifying was going quite well considering the last minute change-up. With an 11th in Q1 topped by a sensational 4th overall in Q2 all I needed was a solid Q3 and a spot in the Sunday triple A’s was a real possibility. Things were going perfectly as I was seeded in the fast group and we were all playing nicely. Almost 3 and a half minutes in and sitting in a comfortable top 10 spot, my steering locks hard to the left and my car just shuts down. No warning, no signal, no visible problem. My race was over but even more devastatingly my direct transfer into the A-main was gone. Unsure of the cause and with no reliable way of recreating the circumstances, I had very few options for trouble-shooting. I would have to put this one down to a freak occurrence and hope for the best. I ended up qualifying 9th overall and would start 2nd in Sundays B-main looking for a transfer into the A.
I got to the track on Sunday feeling confident, well rested and with a pep in my step. I had slept off the worries of a less than perfect qualifying day and knew that only a positive attitude would give me a shot at escaping the B-mains.
My AE B6 2wd had been getting better with every run as my confidence returned, but I was a true long-shot from 5th on the grid. I knew a chaotic start was very likely and decided to bide my time. Surprisingly we all snaked away with composure rarely seen and I would be forced to hold my spot. As the minutes ticked by my position pin-balled around the mid-pack but never truly challenged for a transfer spot. I would finish below my starting spot after a late race blowout. Maclan power gave me a shot but I just didn’t have the stones to bring home the bones in early qualifying.
I had surprised myself with how competitive my old AE B44.3 could be and by starting second in the B, this was literally my transfer spot to lose. A clean start would be broken up as we crossed the loop for the first time. BQ Terry Yeo rolled his buggy and gave up the lead to yours truly, also allowing Brian Serneels and Steven Healey through in the same move. The chance I needed had been handed out on a platter and I stormed out to a small but comfortable gap. I actually settled in and felt like I had all the answers. In a flash, almost three minutes in, I stuttered while approaching the loop hairpin. This proved costly as I unfroze and clipped the corner dot, flipping my car on it’s lid and letting Brian and Steve past. Now in third and outside the transfer I had a real fight on my hands. With time running out and Terry Yeo on my tail I slowly chipped away at the leaders and when Brian clipped a lapper with just seconds remaining I still had a legitimate shot. Almost simultaneously and in heartbreaking fashion my car again locked hard left and shut down. I was gutted. Approaching tears on the stand I had 30 seconds to gather my thoughts before it was official, Steve and Brian had deservedly taken the transfers. Never have I been so disappointed after a race. The mechanical issue is one thing but my biggest regret is actually the small bobble that cost me the lead. Composure is so key when you’re out front and I missed yet another opportunity to boost my confidence and take the next step. Who knows though, even if I didn’t give up the lead, the evidence suggests my car may likely still have shut down. After some diagnosis, including an official once over from the techs at Maclan the ESC software was confirmed to be problem free. This was reassuring and narrowed the possibilities a little bit. Moving forward I will be running the MMAX ESC‘s without the optional power switch. This is the easiest place to start with diagnosis and failure of this part would cause a similar problem to what I experienced. (Update, removing the switch has so far resolved the issue!)
While I didn’t achieve the on-track results I was hoping for there were many positives to take from the weekend. Competition like this can only make us all better. Thank you to Outlaw RC for hosting this event and congratulations on it’s success. Thank you to my sponsors Maclan Racing, Hi-Performance Distributors, Kyosho America and GoGo Hobbies for all the support and making these experiences possible.