Archive for November, 2013

AOC Finale – Yatabe Arena, Japan

November 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Japan to compete in the AOC finale race at the historic Yatabe Arena in Japan. I have always wanted to visit Japan and Yatabe, and the planets aligned earlier this year when Jetstar announced some cheap airfares and the Australian Nationals turned out to be a massive non-event. It worked out great and I didn’t spend any more money than at the Nationals last year!

I travelled to Japan on Wednesday and arrived at the hotel in Tsukuba on Wednesday night, which was also when many people arrived like Scotty Ernst, the Live RC guys, and many of the other travelling competitors. Yatabe Arena had organised a shuttle bus to and from the track each day which made getting around easy.


Arriving at the track I was blown away by the awesome facility! In addition to the main on-road track there is a smaller carpet sport track, a large drift track, a small drift track, a large off-road clay track and a small astroturf off-road track. There is also a fully stocked hobby store, kids play area, and cafe with Japanese chef.

Thursday was my first chance to hit the track and I focussed mainly on getting my power right and finding a base setup as the track layout was being changed that night so everyone would get equal track time on the race layout. Things went pretty well, and I was very impressed with the Ride REX30 LT tyres being used, although the wear was slightly higher than the RE32 LT we used at the Melbourne round.


On Friday we were greeted with the new layout which was about 80% common with the layout from Thursday, but ran in the opposite direction and now with a large on-power sweeper onto the back straight and an on-power fast chicane which was a real test of setup. As the grip climbed I found a setup that was fast and easy to drive so I was feeling good for Saturday.

Saturday morning was an earlier start, and the day began with practice for those who couldn’t attend Friday and a drivers meeting. The event a large with over 170 entries across a range of classes, and the modified field was very impressive including Ronald Volker, Naoto Matsukura, Hayato Matsuzaki, Andy Moore, Shin, Steve Weiss, EJ Evans, Meen V, Chavit S and a host of extremely quick locals. Also in attendance was Yokomo designer and Ronald’s mechanic Umino Yukijiro, HB Designer Toshihiko Hara, my friend and Andy’s mechanic Hiro Kasuya, and Kyosho designer Chikuba. In terms of chassis in use, it was about 80% Yokomo, and 20% everything else with Kyosho, TOP and HB the next most popular. I only saw 4 Tamiyas including my own and 2 Xray.


I was in the 2nd heat of 4 for Q1 and it went quite well with a very safe round netting me 15th overall with 98% consistency. For the next heat I decided to scrub in a second set of new tyres, which turned out to be a mistake as most people ran used tyres which were faster. I still managed another clean run and with some setup changes suggested by Hiro I put in a 21 lap run and regraded to 8th in the B heat. Q3 and Q4 both went to plan as well, and I bettered my time from Q2 by over 7 seconds, however while I had managed 4 top 20 times I still dropped to 22nd overall.


Sunday was to see the 5th and final round of qualifying and I was still a chance of making the B final, with JJ Wang, Hei Fang Wang, Charlee P, and Chavit S all being very close on points. Unfortunately for me 2 laps into Q5 I traction rolled coming onto the straight and the others had excellent runs leaving me 21st and CQ, just in front of Chavit. The finals did not really go to plan, 3rd in C1 and DNF (spur gear) in C2.


Simon on the other hand had an EXCELLENT run, and with strong finishes in Q4 and Q5 he made it into the A main lining up 8th on the grid, awesome! The good thing about being in the C is that I could watch the A without having to marshal, and what a race it was by Simon picking his way through the carnage and finishing 3rd in A1, meanwhile Ronald took an easy win. A2 and Ronald again took the win to seal the overall victory – great work and a super nice guy! A2 was less good for Simon, finishing where he started. A3 went better for Simmo, with another great drive and midfield result meaning he finished 5th overall. An excellent achievement and well deserved.


The other classes were sensational to watch too with A1 of 12th scale being a standout race as well as the cool Japanese GT500 class A1. Check both these races out online, they are definitely worth watching.

With AOC run and done we had a day to see the sights of Tokyo – no where near enough time in hindsight. We made it to a load of hobby stores in Akihabara followed by shopping in Harajuku and Shibuya before heading to the airport for my flight home.

A few takeaways from my trip:
1. Yatabe Arena is amazing and their hospitality was great
2. There’s nothing like racing on carpet. It’s with regret that I hear AOC Melbourne is going to be on asphalt next year
3. It’s best not to ask what you are eating if you are out with Hiroshi
4. Overseas there are no speeches at presentations. Even Ronald just collected his trophy and went and stood on the podium
5. The lack of Tamiyas was a real worry
6. Canned hot coffee from a vending machine is surprisingly good

And now here are some random shots from around the place

Control tyre additive – the best idea in RC this year


There were stalls by Lee Speed, TOP, Yokomo, and Trion. Yokomo were showing their new BD7 2014 black edition as used by Ronald – a very sexy piece if kit!


Delicious food from Yatabe Arena Cafe


The on-road sport track – I wish we had one of these at home


The drift GP track. They held a huge drift meeting while AOC was on, seriously cool to watch but I think I’ll stick to touring cars


Masami’s trophy room including all his championship winning cars


My wife’s idea of heaven


Japan’s most famous intersection. It wasn’t quite peak hour so not as impressive as in the movies


Categories: Racing News

TRF417 Base Setup – Carpet

November 8, 2013 1 comment

And now for the carpet setup…


I have had very little time to run on carpet but my car was excellent at AOC Melbourne and hopefully it will be again at AOC Yatabe a fortnight from now.

A few changes from the asphalt setup, mostly to take away the bite that carpet gives:

  1. Front shocks more upright – this is track dependent but it improves turn-in and stops the car from bitting mid corner
  2. Lighter oils – as the grip comes up you may need to increase oils but I found 400 best for shocks and 2-3k in the rear diff. For traction roll try harder rear shock oil, 500
  3. Less camber change/higher front RC – again to take away front bite, improve direction change and also increases corner speed
  4. Springs – different springs for carpet. I like the Tamiya springs, but I will test more with Yokomo springs at AOC. For lower grip carpet a softer spring may be better like Tamiya blue front and yellow rear (kit springs)
  5. Wider track width (1mm wheel spacers) – again takes away some bite but also improves stability. This is track and grip dependent too but well worth playing with

Some rebound can also be helpful on carpet – it will again take away some grip particularly mid corner where the risk of traction roll is highest, and it will improve responsiveness even more. The last thing you want on carpet is a lazy car!

Categories: Uncategorized

TRF417 Base Setup – Asphalt

November 7, 2013 2 comments

I often get asked for set up tips, so I’m posting a basic setup that will work in most situations along with some tips to help tune the setup for different tracks. This stuff is my opinion only and based on my experience with Tamiya cars. I’m sure there is lots of other stuff that works but these are my “go to” tips for most track conditions

First the setup…


Now a few caveats… firstly this setup sheet is based on the 417V5 with HL dampers. I use HL dampers all the time because they are easy to build and I don’t find the aeration any faster. I chose the V5 because I use the V5 shock towers and bulkhead heights – I actually use 417X bulkheads shimmed 0.5mm to V5 height.

If you have a 417x and want to run this setup you can either shim all the bulkheads up 0.5mm or add an extra 0.5mm shims to the camber link heights on the bulkheads, so that would make them 4mm and 3.5mm respectively. Shocks positions will be 3 front 5 rear on the X towers. To put this setup on a 417, in addition to bulkhead heights you also need to add an extra 0.5mm on the front camber link due to the older style front kingpins which are 1mm higher than X/V5. The shock positions are different on the 417 towers too, 2 front 3 rear (if I remember correctly)


The first rule is that your car has to be flat (de-tweaked), balanced, and have equal shock lengths and sway bars. Look back at my 417X build to see how to build a perfect car. I use a hudy ultimate setup station for setting camber, toe and tweak, and tamiya droop blocks. You don’t need fancy stuff, toe can be set with verniers (and pythagorus), and camber can be done with a quick camber gauge and setup wheels – I do this when I don’t have time for the setup station. Droop gauge/blocks are a must!

I set droop with everything attached – sway bars, shocks etc – because that’s how the car will run on the track. Refer back to the first rule! This doesn’t work unless you’ve done the hard work in getting your car perfect!

Another important consideration is the size of different rubber touring car tyres. For example, Ride RE32 tyres are about 2mm larger in diameter than the REX34, and Sorex and Team Powers are in-between. You can’t swap between these tyres and keep the same settings. When you put on big tyres and reduce preload to get the same ride height, your camber and droop will increase and your roll centre will lower. When you put small tyres on the opposite will happen. The same goes for when you raise ride height for a bumpy or high speed track, for every 1mm of ride height you need to increase droop by the same amount to get similar handling.

Settings Explained

These are the most common adjustments I make to my car when tuning setup for a different tracks

Arm sweep: changing the FR split block to B will provide more overall steering and make the car steer more “round”. This is best for tracks with sweeping on power corners or corners.

Anti-dive: adding 0.5mm under the FR split block will increase high speed steering, improve braking, and make the car more stable on power at the expense of low speed/exit steering. This is best for high speed tracks with open corners, or tracks with heavy braking

Droop: for bumpy tracks run an extra 0.5mm droop over ride height – e.g. if you raise your ride height 0.5mm to stop scrubbing you should increase droop by 1mm so the car will not be as upset as easily by the bumps. Increasing front droop can improve on power traction but I prefer to increase the rear shock angle or to decrease the diff oil. Increasing rear droop to 4.5mm can improve mid corner steering off power

Diff: I play with the diff a lot. I always start with 3k (kyosho) at a new track. If I have enough on power grip and entry steering then I will go up which will give more on power steering and corner speed. If the car wants to spin when you apply power or is lazy turning in then you can go down. I’ve never had much luck with less than 2k because it feels like it diffs out, but I’m sure on some tracks or in slower classes lighter oil will work

Shock angles: for big tracks I lay the shocks down but for most tracks holes 4/5/6 are where you want to be (2,3,4 on X front tower). Laying the front shocks down will give more mid-exit steering at the expense of entry steering, laying the rears down will give more rotation and high speed steering at the expense of on power grip. If you can’t get on power without the car stepping out then stand up the rear shocks. If you really want to get funky you can flip the front arms and run hole 2 which will soften the spring and give more mid corner bite.

Springs: to be honest, on asphalt, if you aren’t fast with HPI silver you’re doing something wrong. If you can’t get HPIs then Ride Red are basically the same.

Shock oil: like springs 450 works in most situations. For higher grip or higher temps then go up in shock oil, or as grip increases at an event if your car gets worse then normally going up in oil will get it back to where it was. I almost never split the oil front to rear on asphalt, the exception is for tracks with high speed chicanes then sometimes a slightly harder front oil can work well.

Camber links: these are tricky things. First of all I never change the length on the bulkheads. As far as the height goes, normally I don’t touch the rear but I do change the front quite a lot. The rear camber link with 3mm inside and out is near enough to zero camber change, so your camber will stay static at 2deg through the entire roll of the car. The front at 0.5mm/3.5mm is a little camber change, so the front will increase slightly in grip as the car rolls – perfect for that bit of mid corner rotation For more steering you can add more camber gain, so dropping the inside to 3mm. If the car is biting mid corner or has mega steering you can add shims to 4mm. If the car feels stuck or over gripped, on SOME tracks raising the links to 4mm front and rear can make the car faster – I normally find this is a little strange, it feels like double the corner speed but the car is slower to change direction and it wants to “keep turning” on power, and even when you put a lap together it’s rarely faster. Again this is just my experience.

Body: for asphalt I normally use LTC-R mounted 6mm forward (6mm of bumper foam). On layouts with many hairpins or direction changes the Mazdaspeed 6 can be better. I haven’t tried bodies from other brands

Suspension blocks: I’ve put this right down here because it’s the first thing that people change but it should be one of the last. C/C XA/E should work in most situations. For spec classes, less toe can provide more top end, in which case I would go to XA/D. For large tracks a wider car can be faster, so D/D X/E is an option. I almost never run narrow like the last worlds set up, I think that only worked on that track with those tyres and no additive. The one time I used something similar was on tyres that were only good for one run. A narrower rear end can increase rotation in some cases, so C/C XB/D, that can be a bit scary to drive though! Also for a bumpy track less toe is better.

Roll centre: another setting I rarely change, I find 0/0, 0.5/0.5 should work in most situations, or anti-dive as mentioned above. If the grip is high then raising all the blocks 0.5mm can be good, and if you have plenty of steering or the front end feels lazy then just raising the front blocks 0.5mm can also help. For super high grip 0.75 or 1mm of anti-dive is an option

Ackerman: again something I rarely change. You can get more aggressive entry steering by using less shims, or more smooth entry steering and more exit shimming by using more shims. On the RB conversion I use 4mm shims.

Wheelbase: I find this wheelbase setting is pretty good for most tracks. If the car has plenty of steering and is loose on power than a longer front wheelbase will help. If the car lacks corner speed or is “snap rotating” then a longer rear wheelbase can help I normally only go an extra 0.5mm either direction

Sway bars: I’ve never had any luck with changing the front bar! The rear is a more frequent adjustment, I use the 1.3mm to increase stability and the 1.1mm if I need the car to rotate. 1.2mm is still the best for most tracks

That’s enough for tonight, let me know if there are any other settings you would like explained.

Categories: Setups, Tips & Tricks