Race Report by Tuning Haus:
Welcome to the halfway mark of the season as Round 3 of the So Cal R/C Scale Series presented by Tuning Haus was held at TQ Raceway in Chino, CA on January 16th, 2016. With two rounds completed, this race would demonstrate which drivers could maintain momentum and which drivers found new speed to make a push in the final races toward a top-10 spot at season’s end in March. Now, on to Round 3 qualifying……
Formula 1 cars rolled out for their three minute qualifying run, with the goal being to set five fast (non-consecutive) laps. The times from those laps are then averaged to produce the drivers’ qualifying time. Josh Tran took the initial TQ spot with a time of 10.453 in the first qualifying group, which ultimately placed him second on the starting grid in a tightly packed F1 B group. Repeating his round 2 TQ was Aaron Lane with an amazing top 5 average lap time of 9.973 seconds, a full 0.7 clear of his closest competitor Charles Lightfoot, who qualified P2 with a 10.064 average. Third through sixth was incredibly close with Alex M qualifying third at 10.085, Kevin “Panda” Cole fourth at 10.086, Bill Jeric fifth at 10.0940 and Craig “Cuda” Hammon sixth at 10.0944. Qualifying times that are this closely matched meant some great racing battles were in store during each of the three 15 minute F1 mains.
GT Sedans qualified next and with round 1 top drivers Dave Berger and Tony Tam back for round 3, an interesting qualifying battle was set up. Coming out on top in a bit of a surprise result was JD Ramsey, placing his round 2 woes firmly in the rearview mirror and setting the pace with a 9.618 average. Closely following JD was Dave Berger, who claimed the number two qualifying spot with an average of 9.702 seconds. Jason Laurel showed his round 2 result was no fluke with a number three qualifying spot for R3 with an average of 9.710 just ahead of the Panda’s 9.732 average. A sub-ten second average was required to race with the A group, and Mr. Tamiya USA Fred Medel did just that, rounding out the A group with an average of 9.961.
With qualifying complete, it was time to begin the first round of mains. Every F1 driver runs three mains, 15 minutes each with two mandatory pit stops. GT Sedan features a 10 minute main length with one mandatory pit stop. Each round of mains is scored with a qual points system, whereby a driver who qualifies in the lowest group retains the opportunity to make a fast run and put themselves in the top 10 for the round. At the end of the day, all three runs are totaled for final points. There are no throw outs in our format (all three mains count) so a driver must be fast and finish all three mains in order to achieve a top 10 result.
Group B Formula 1 hit the track led by new (to F1) driver Bob Stellflue, who just barely missed the A group in qualifying but made up for it during the mains. Bob narrowly edged Josh Tran in B1 but with some additional setup changes between races, dominated B2 and B3 to finish an excellent fourth overall, only a few points away from a podium result. Josh battled Tom Kahl for the remaining podium steps by swapping positions often during each main, but in the end Josh was able to parlay his three second-place finishes into a second place within the B group, with Toms’ third-place result in each of his mains earning him the third podium step within the B Group drivers. Fourth through eighth positions were a major shuffle in all three races. It was great to see TQ RC Racing owner Sean Park back racing with us after missing the first two rounds due to illness and also Jae Shin, joining the series for his first time. Sean, Jae and Carlos Ledezma put on a fierce battle for the fourth spot but a mechanical failure in round B2 dropped Sean back allowing Jae to take fourth in group and eleventh overall in his first SoCal RC Scale Series race. Putting in three consistent runs with a fine fourth in B2 would net Carlos fifth in the group with Sean taking sixth. Chuck Howell continued to improve since the first round of the series but mechanical problems dropped him to the back in B3 to take seventh and rounding out the field today would be Matt Sui who had a mechanical issue in B1 and prior commitments that would not allow him to start race B3.
Formula 1 Group A rolled out next and looking to make up for his round 2 disappointment after a mechanical failure saw Aaron Lane dominate Formula 1 during round 3. No one could come close to the Exotek driver as he swept all three rounds, more than a full lap ahead of his nearest competitor and the only driver to set a fast lap of 9.8 in two of three mains, leaving Charles Lightfoot and Bill Jeric to battle for second spot. Charles’ result of 2nd place in A1 and A2 gave him the nod for second place, with Bill earning third overall with two 3rds and a 2nd. Alex M., Craig “Cuda” Hammon and Kevin “Panda” Cole created intense mid pack battles between themselves with Alex being the more consistent to achieve fourth in class and fifth overall. Panda appeared to have his car running well in qualifying only to see the handle go away during the mains, and he struggled to a fifth in class and tie for sixth overall with Josh Tran from the B group. Engine failure for Cuda during A1 dropped him down the final order to an overall result of eighth for the day. The replacement seemed clearly beneficial, evidenced by his 4th place finish in both A2 and A3. Mark Goldwater was another driver who had a great car in the morning only to see the handling go away come race time, and as a result struggled to a tenth place finish for the day. Rounding out the group was Jason Huang; who after severe struggles in his first race was not able to make the start in his final rounds. However, Jason was gracious enough to help with some great images of the GT Sedans and we thank him for his assistance.
Next up was GT Sedan Group B that would see Rodger Tsai (making his first appearance in the series) battle for the top spot with an ever-improving Ivan Dickson along with series regulars Bensi Lopez and Craig “Cuda” Hammon. In the end, consistency was the deciding factor and two wins and a second gave Ivan the win in Group B and a well-earned sixth overall for the day. Second through fourth in the group would be separated by only two points with the Cuda posting a couple of thirds to take second place for the day in his group. Closely behind was Bensi, whose mechanical woes in B1 dropped him to seventh but a second in B2 and B3 showed he had the speed to lead. Fourth in class was Rodger who took the win in B1 but an eighth in B2 hurt his chances for a class victory, but was able to finish B3 with a third place. Fifth on down was battle for our longest distance racer Erik Denk from Phoenix, Arizona (who has made all three rounds to date) along with Todd Sincock and the father/son duo of Jeremy and Jacob Dee. With three consistent and smooth runs, father Jeremy Dee would take fifth in the group today improving on his round 2 finish. A suspension failure barely one minute into B1 would put Todd on his back heel for the rest of the day but a solid fourth and fifth in B1 and B2 gave him a sixth overall. Jacob would take seventh overall and the persistence award goes to Erik who even after having mechanical issues in B1 and B3 would make repairs to finish each race but not see the checkers in B2. We are all wishing good mojo for Erik in round 4.
The final Race Group saw the GT Sedan A Group drivers take to the track under tricky conditions, making it a challenge to avoid traction rolling. With Dave Berger and Tony Tam competing, it was up to Kevin “Panda” Cole, Tyree Phillips, and Jason Laurel (the fast guys in Round 2) to challenge them alongside JD Ramsey, who after a podium finish in round 1 was looking to make a disappointing result in round 2 his throw out. Five different drivers would finish in the top three positions in the mains, but only two drivers finished each main no worse than 3rd place.
Demonstrating that consistency can triumph over outright speed, JD Ramsey took victory in all three mains to earn maximum points, returning him to contention for the Expert GT Sedan Season Championship. Despite not running the fastest single lap in any main, JD was able to manage track conditions better than anyone to earn a well-deserved overall win, his first in the series. Second place overall with a 2nd place in each main was Dave Berger who is looking to defend his #1 plate from last years’ series. Battling a traction rolling car all day but using consistency (three 4th place finishes) earned Tony “Nemo” Tam the final podium step for the day. Each of Round 3’s podium drivers have banked two podium finishes from three events, making for closely fought points battle in Expert GT Sedan.
Improving on his best ever result last month in Round 2, Jason Laurel improved again with an excellent fourth in class and fourth overall just one point behind Nemo. Jason is knocking on the door for his first podium finish in the series. Suspension failure in A1 set Mike Molina back but a fifth and third in A2 and A3 respectively net him a fifth place overall finish. The Panda was looking to back up his good round 2 results with a third in A1 but an electrical failure in A2 letting all the magic smoke out of his car dropped him to seventh place for the day’s result. Tyree Phillips and Fred Medel were trading spots in each of the three mains with Tyree edging out Fred to tie Kevin for seventh overall with Fred finishing ninth overall in his first A Group appearance this season.
Formula 1: Aaron Lane set fastest race lap at 9.857 in A3 with Charles Lightfoot, Bill Jeric and Kevin Cole setting 9.9 second fast laps. Best run of the day also went to Aaron Lane with an 87 lap 15:09.538 performance in A2 with only Bill Jeric and Charles Lightfoot able to challenge with 85 lap runs.
GT Sedan: Mike Molina would set fastest lap of the day in A2 with a 9.462 lap to Jason Laurel’s 9.471 with Tony Tam and Dave Berger setting 9.5 fast laps. Best run of the day went to JD Ramsey with a run of 61 laps in 10:09.012 in A3 with four drivers going 60 laps today.
Podiums and notable mentions:
Formula 1 saw Aaron Lane dominate and take overall honors and maximum points, earning TQ, wins in all three mains. So dominate was his performance that he was the only driver to qualify with a sub-10 second average, achieve fast lap of 9.8 (in two of his three mains) and travel 86 or 87 laps in each main with his Exotek chassis racer. Continuing his streak of consecutive podiums this season, Charles Lightfoot (XRay) finished second overall. Third was Bill Jeric, who earned his second podium in as many races since switching to his VBC Lightning FX chassis. The top Sportsman drivers were Alex M., Josh Tran and Tom Kahl finishing in fifth, seventh and ninth overall. With two top-eight finishes earned already, Alex will get bumped to the Expert group with one more similar result. The odds makers in Las Vegas are offering 1:1 odds he will do that in the next race baring mechanical issues.
The top three in GT Sedan were JD Ramsey (Yokomo BD-7) taking maximum points with the TQ and all three main wins. The podium would be rounded out by Dave Berger (BD-7) in second and Tony Tam (Awesomatix A800) in third. The top Sportsman driver was Ivan Dickson along with Craig Hammon and Rodger Tsai in sixth, tenth, and twelfth paces overall. Ivan Dickson also now has two top eight finishes and one more in the final two rounds will bump him up to the Expert ranks.
To see the current point standings as well as race results, pictures, videos and race report from each race of the series, please visit our link at TQ RC Racing’s website http://www.tqrcracing.com/scss/
With 3 of 5 rounds complete, some close battles are shaping up, not just for the top three in Expert class but the entire top ten. There are Sportsman drivers in both classes looking to take a top three award in Sportsman in addition to an overall top ten finish! We hope you have enjoyed racing or reading about our series and look forward to you joining us for a new track layout for Round 4 of the SoCal R/C Scale Series presented by Tuning Haus on Saturday February 20th. Can anyone mount a serious challenge to Aaron Lane’s dominating performance in Formula 1? In GT Sedan, the top three drivers from Round 1 also swept the podium in Round 3. Will the Round 2 winners rebound for Round 4 or will a new driver crack the podium. Until our next report, Stay Tuned!