Irish Astro Masters @ Navan Nitro Nuts 1/8 Off Road – March 2020

Saturday & Sunday 7/8th March 2020

  • Car: HB D819
  • Radio: Sanwa M12s
  • Engine: Novarossi Rolling + 9901 strong
  • Fuel: Racing Experience Hotfire
  • Tyres: Schumacher Spirals (silver, non-aggressive, Schumacher medium foam)
  • Oil: XTR – Ronnefalk v2
New shell, painted by Jonny Stroud for this year’s largest event

Practice (Saturday)

From 12-5pm on Saturday, we had open practice. A chance to learn a track we only visit once a year for the Irish National round that’s hosted here and a chance to find tune the car for race day – or at least that’s the idea, unless the weather is different! Which is exactly the case here.

Having arrived at a dry track, with a wet setup, resulted in lots of changes throughout the day on Saturday to even allow the car to feel stable enough to put some laps in without issue.

I made the car harder early on – with 55/45wt oil in the shocks, and gold front spring with yellow on the rear – up a full spring rate all round. Roll bars changed to 2.2/2.6mm front/rear and I trialed a combination of tyres: Schumacher Mini Spikes in yellow were probably as fast as Schumacher Mini Pins in Yellow, though the car felt less nervous with the pins on, but a little harder to control on the short astro (which makes up about 40% of the track, with the rest being long pile astro).

The main aim of Saturday was to test out the new engine, pipe and manifold settings to see if I could stretch to a suitable time to run 1 stop in a 20 minute final and 9 minutes should I be quick enough for the A Main. Despite breaking a front shock on the first times run (doh!) it was apparent after run 2 that I could push almost 12 minutes 😊

On Saturday evening we got a bite to eat at the house we were staying at and then we started into some car prep. I opted to leave the car as it was, but to prep a new set of shocks – 40wt 5×1.5 yellow front and 30wt 5×1.6 blue rear (may have taken me A few hours, but they felt so good!!).

Qualifying (Sunday)

Heat listing 1-4
Heat listing 5-6
Final qualifying after 4 rounds

Final

Final ready – starting P3 in the B Final (20 mins)

Starting P3 in the B Final, which was 20 minutes long. Looking at the field, it looked like it was setup for a closely fought battle, with 2 bump spots up for grabs into the 45 minute A Main.

Paul Myles & David Telford were P1 & P2 respectively, with Sean & Michael D’Arcy, Ryan McCord, Damien Russell, Brian Carrol, Greg Cunningham and Christian Boyles all just behind. It was going to be a tight final!

The plan was to see how things played out, keeping it tight and steady at the start – which mainly went to plan. Holding onto P3 and staying with (within a few corners) the top 2 for the first 6/7 minutes went fairly well. Some chaos behind us after the first few corners perhaps made this easier than it should have been. P1-5 were all relatively close together. With the first pit stops happening at the 7 minute mark, it looked to free up so potential to catch up on P1 & P2, only to make a horrible error in front of the pit lane, which actually left me equally spaced before they pitted, with my pitstop still to come (we planned to one stop if it was close!).

By the time it came to pitting (approx. 9.45) I was some way behind Paul and David, but I actually gave up P3 to Sean D’Arcy and had Michael D’Arcy right on my tail. The three of us battled for several minutes – Sean and I tangling on one occasion as I got too close, but thankfully both unharmed and we proceeded as we were. With 14 mins approaching, I knew I would take P3 back, with Sean and Micahel seemingly on a 2 stop strategy. The plan to one stop worked a treat. As we turned the last corner before the pits, we were all together and as they slipped off for fuel, I made some ground on building a gap.

In the end, that gap was around 19s on Michael, after Sean had some misfortune and flamed out not far from the end of the race – leaving his final position in 7th, an unfair reflection on how well he drove and how close we battled for the majority of the race. Super enjoyable. As the race neared the end, I missed the loop by a few seconds, to prevent me hitting the 29 laps that the top 2 made, but I was happy to have held onto 3rd after a great weekend.

The car was probably the best it had been all weekend come the final. Despite having prep’d for a dry final, before a shower about 15 mins before the start of the race meant I had to change everything back, it worked really well. I ended up on a combo of Yellow front springs with 40wt oil and 5×1.5 pistons and Blue on the rear, with 5x 1.6 pistons and 30wt oil. Everything just worked. I actually left the heavier roll bars on (I didn’t have time to change them) so finished up with 2.2mm front and 2.6mm rear – and oddly, it felt better than the 2.0mm/2.2mm combo I ran all weekend in the wet. Tyre choice ended up so easy – after an hour of thinking about it! Schumacher Spirals in silver compound, glued non-aggressively with medium foam. Setup sheet to follow in due course.

The big result for this weekend was getting 10+ minutes out of the engine – a work in progress over the last few weeks. Thanks to Bradley Baird and Alan Scroggie for the help there over the last few weeks.

A final thanks to Pete at Answer RC for his continued support. Not that far away from a year with the new package and it’s safe to say I’m still loving every minute of it being on the track.

Finished 3rd in the B final after a few well fought battles – an Easter egg for my troubles 😊
B Final results
B Final results including lap times

A huge thank you to the Navan Nitro Nuts crew for not only organising this year’s biggest event, but for how it ran all day – so seamless. Be very sure that my name will be the first one on the list for next year’s event gents.

Well done to Bradley Baird, for a double TQ and win in Nitro and Ebuggy. Shout out to William White (RacewayOne) and Andrew McLean for such a battle they had across the 45 minute A Main – finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. 2 HB Racing cars on the podium. With Dylan McBurney securing 2nd in Ebuggy after a tight race with Alan Thompson over the 10 minute A Final earlier in the day.

Next up – NIMCC Round 10 & 11, then BADMCC’s Dubshed event on the 4/5 April 2020. Looking forward to these.

Pictures

Videos

Courtesy of RacewayOne