Following this year’s FEMCA 1/8th Off-Road Championships held in China back in August the Far East Model Car Association held the 2013 1/10th EP Off-Road Champs in Taichung City, Taiwan last weekend. Located on the top of a mountain a lot of effort went into the track that was only built the week before the race. Kudos to the organisers who created a fun and challenging track whose surface had been treated with the famous honey and sugar mixture that was first used in Pattaya, Thailand and than at the FEMCA 1/8th event in Beijing. The treatment made for high traction and tyre wear; as Hara San said: Maximum. The FEMCA race this time attracted racers from all over Asia, including Japan, Korea, Thailand, China and Australia and with host country Taiwan had the most drivers attending, showing that 1/10th Buggy is a rapidly growing class.
The race was run in three classes with 2WD Buggy being the biggest class with more then 50 entries, 4WD followed closely with more then 40 entries. The SC class will also had two heats and although the number may not seem mind-blowing it has to be made clear that 1/10th off-road never had much popularity in Asia but thanks to the FEMCA support things look very bright for the future. The driver field was filled with lots of big names such as Lee Martin from the UK, fresh off his great performance from the recent IFMAR world’s. The race also saw the attendance of Yokomo’s wonder kid Naoto Matsukura, famously know for his multiple 1/12 titles and of cause his heroic pass on Steven Hartson during the recent World Championships in California. Another well known racer from Japan was Shin Adachi with the former Japan national champion showcasing the newest creation from Hot Bodies, the D413, which also brought another guest to the event, the designer and the master mind behind the mind blowing buggy, Torrance Deguzman, we later found out is also not too shabby for his driving. Another big surprise was Atsushi Hara, who made a late appearance on the second day of the event. Although not competing this time round, his presence was a pleasant surprise for his fans around the pit area.
The race started on Friday with one round of controlled practice followed by two rounds of qualifying. Talking to the racers the biggest problem during practice and qualifying was the inconstant traction of the surface with some areas being slippery while other created very high traction. Most of the drivers opted to go for a bar-type tread and without a control tyre the drivers made use of the wide range of manufacturers available such as Pro-Line, JConcepts, AKA and the local brand James Racing.
The first day of qualification saw the usual suspects on top. Naoto and Lee were in a different league all together, with Shin close behind. As Lee was an invited guest not organised within the FEMCA blog, his result would not count towards the championship. On Saturday three more rounds of qualifying were run making it a total of five with the three best to count for the finals. The finals themselves were run in a new “single ladder” system quite similar the bump-up system in nitro racing. After the qualifiers 6-driver finals were set with the lowest final having 10 drivers. The best 4 proceeded to the next final with the A mains also being run with 10 drivers. Maybe this system will be start a trend for 1/10th racing as everyone deserves a second change to move his way up into the A main.
Sunday the finals took place with the best 6 drivers of each class qualifying directly for the A main. The TQ for the SC class went to Frankie Tang from HK with a one lap advantage on the whole field. For 2WD and 4WD, the TQ honour went to Naoto who once again demonstrated that he’s not only a very good on-road racer. Lee was not far behind but some mechanical issues costed him valuable time. In the 2WD class the locals had a lot to cheer about, with Naoto and Adachi claiming the first two places as in 4WD but the 3rd place went to young Yu Kei Tseng from Taiwan.
The 4WD finals had the epic battles to offer everyone was hoping for. Especially the 2nd A-main was a good example. Naoto had to retire early with mechanical issues and Adachi suffered an early miss and stuck in traffic. With Lee leading the race, the 2nd position was up for grabs and now the “second row” drivers saw their change for a top 3 finish. At the end it was Lin from China, normally racing nitro, who grabbed the valuable spot. This second place would later hand him the 3rd place overall as he was tie on points with his competitors. The first place though went to Naoto Matsukura with Shin Adachi in second place.
The SC class may be the smaller class in Asia, but the final did not lack drama. John Watkins from Australia was the surprise winner, with Bo Chin Hsieh and Kuo Shu Tseng both from Taiwan and both taken a round being outperformed by John who took a first and a second place in the finals.
Overall it was great event run by the TRCCA, the Taiwan organiser did a great job and a big thank also goes to FEMCA which was represented by Masami Hirosaka.