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LRP Touring Car Masters
April 6-8 2001, Eppelheim, Germany





The LRP Touring Car Masters this year was the biggest yet, and the quality of the drivers present was higher than ever. This race has been getting better and better and this was definitely the most prestigious touring car race ever in Europe. Masami Hirosaka had been the winner both in 1999 and last year so he was there to defend his title. It would not be easy though. Here's a list of some of the most famous drivers attending this year:

- Atsushi Hara World-Champion Japan HPI 
- Masami Hirosaka World-Champion Japan Yokomo 
- David Spashett World-Champion Great Britain Losi 
- Barry Baker US National Champion USA Yokomo 
- Chris Tosolini US National Champion USA Yokomo 
- Shinnosuke Adachi Japanese Champion Japan Yokomo 
- Yukjiro Umino Japanese Champion Japan HPI 
- Andrew Moore European Champion Great Britain Losi 
- Oscar Jansen European Champion Holland HPI 
- Hubert Hönigl European Champion Austria HPI 
- Jamie Booth European Champion Great Britain HPI 
- Sakke Ahoniemi Worlds Finalist Finland Corally 
- Teemu Leino Worlds Finalist Finland Schumacher 
- Teppo Kauppinen Worlds Finalist Finland Associated 
- Reto König Worlds Finalist Germany HPI 
 
 

The very nice LRP TC Masters track - you can click on each picture




Friday

Free practice was on Friday from 16.00 to 22.00. The track had been changed a little from last year and was very nice to drive on. Definitely the best carpet track I have ever raced on. The only "problem" in free practice was that the grip was very low in the beginning. Once enough cars had run on the track the grip started coming up though. However, if you went of the racing line (which was very narrow) you lost all grip for a lap. So to get a good run you needed to stay on the racing line for 5 minutes. The control tires in this race was the HPI 4435 B15-40 tires like it has been every year. This is not a tire that is commonly used by racers and they are not really high grip tires like the Pit Shimizu and Yokomo tires that most people around the world run on carpet. The wear was very good, but new tires gave quite a clear advantage so if you wanted to be at the top it was new tires for every round. Personally I think that a limit of maximum 2 sets per driver would be a very sensible move. There was also a control tire traction compound that everybody had to use, the LRP Top Traction. Another rule was that you could use no motors with fewer than 12 turns. This was a new rule for this year and I think it worked very well, even though a limit of 10 turns would maybe be better. 

So everybody got about 4 packs of practice on Friday. In my first run I tried to take it easy and learn the track. I started with basically the same setup that I had run in the last race in Finland. In the beginning it was very hard to drive the car with double one-ways on the very dusty track. My first run ended in the "wall" after the straight after maybe 5 minutes. The result was a broken front wishbone and shock cup. Well, at least I did not crash on the third lap like some other drivers ;-) ! So for the rest of the free practice I tried to stay calm and stay off that wall (that would eat many wishbones throughout the weekend!) I made some small changes to my car during practice that improved my car, just small changes to the shock length and tried different bodies. It was hard to say who was fast during practice as it was hard for everyone to get a clean run when there were 14 other cars on the track at the same time. In the end of free practice Masami showed that his car was working well as he had a really good run. So at least Masami was looking good. Also Teemu Leino with his Schumacher and Andreas Myrberg with his TC3 were looking strong.

Saturday

On Saturday the LRP-HPI Challenge drivers had also arrived so now there were even more cars on the track, which made the grip even better. The program for this day was; 1 round of controlled practice in heats of 15 drivers and 3 rounds of qualifying in heats of 10. With 270 drivers (150 in the Masters) at this race the breaks between your heats were very long, almost 4 hours. I had a got pit space from where I could sit and watch the racing so when I was not wrenching or doing something else I could always watch the racing action on the track. First qualifying was already quite late on Saturday but I was reasonably happy afterwards cause I got quite a good run together without any big mistakes. I think I was 40-something and that was after all quite ok in my first heat in my first real international race. Masami was first with Andreas in second and Barry in third. Teemu was going to have  a good run but had a couple of problems with traffic which slowed him down.

The second run was even better for me as I had improved my car a little and the grip had come up. I had quite a clean run, still some small mistakes but I manage to jump up to 38th in the standings. This would prove to be the high point for me in this race... In this round Teemu also got a really good run together which took him to the top with a 3 second lead over Masami and Atsushi.

The crowded pit area

The third qualifying round was the last round on Saturday and the last race finished after 23.00 and I think everybody was quite finished after this. Most of the top drivers managed to improve in this round and Teemu broke the 22 lap barrier with a 22/5.13.3. After him there were 24 drivers on 21 laps with many on exactly the same time. Masami also improved his result to stay second and Andreas jumped up to third again. David was now fourth with Atsushi in fifth with the HPI. My own run did not go the way I would have liked, I was hoping to continue the form from the previous rounds but I did not. One reason was probably that it was quite late and after a long day of racing you get tired. My car was fast though, I did my best laptime in the whole event in this round, 14.6. 

Sunday

Sunday started with the last round of qualifying followed by the mains. Many drivers improved in qualifying as the grip was still good. The grip stayed quite consistent for the rest of Sunday.  Teemu improved his result by just a little bit and stayed the only driver with 22 laps. Andreas also improved and was only 0.9 from 22 laps. With this result he got up to second with Masami in third. The top10 qualifying for the A were:

1.  Teemu Leino (Schumacher) 
2.  Andreas Myrberg (AE) 
3.  Masami Hirosaka (Yokomo) 
4.  Atsushi Hara (HPI)
5   Benjamin Gröschl (Losi) 
6.  David Spashett (Losi) 
7.  Steen Graversen (Schumacher)
8.  Reto König (HPI) 
9.  Shinnosuke Adachi (Yokomo)
10. Andrew Moore (Losi) 

Other notable drivers are: 

14.  Barry Baker
23.  Yukijiro Umino
24.  Chris Tosolini
25.  Paul Lemieux
 
 

A-main drivers

What i think is a bit surprising is the results for the American drivers. I don't think many had expected to see them in the B and C mains but I guess this just shows that RC racing is Europe is also very competitive. My own 4th run did not go well. Actually I think I was driving the best I had done all weekend in that round but i just had no grip at all. My lap times were consistent considering how little grip I had. The lack of grip clearly showed in the lap times as the best I did in this round was a 15.0, which was the worst I had done in qualifying. I'm still a bit puzzled as to why I had no grip. The track was in good shape so grip should have been ok. Anyway, I was 62nd after qualifying, placing me in the G main. Not what I would have wanted, but it did not really bother me that much. I was looking forward to watching some great A mains and I knew where my potential was. With good grip in the last run I would most likely have placed in the D main and that I would have been happy with. But there's no point in thinking like that anyway...

Crowd watching the a-main action                                         Barry Baker

So soon the mains got underway and everybody was looking forward to a great set of A mains. A big crowd gathered around the track for all the A mains. The first one started with Teemu getting a good start and pulling away as the other drivers held each other up. Teemu managed top build up a big lead and was never threatened. So it was Teemu taking the win comfortably in front of Atsushi and Masami. Teemu was now looking good for the overall win and if anyone would have a chance they needed to be close to him from the start of the second A. In the second A the other drivers made a cleaner start and was a lot closer to Teemu. Andreas was really close sometimes but Teemu made no mistakes while Andreas made a couple of small ones. So Teemu took the win in this main also and at the same time he took the LRP Touring Car Masters win this year. Well done Teemu! More will follow... 

Hara's Hpi Pro3

Before the last A I run my G main which was nothing special. I got the fastest lap in the main with a 14.7 but the car was now oversteering too much so I made many small mistakes and finished 4th. Also before the last A there was the B main with many good drivers, among them a certain Mr. Barry Baker. Barry made sure the B was worth watching...he had not been very happy after qualifying but now he was having a good time. The action started already before the start of the race with Barry telling the commentator to shut up! This made everybody laugh and there was a real big crowd  for this main as well and it was worth watching. Sascha Falter disappeared in front while Barry had a good battle with Andy Krämer...all fun. Then Barry decided he wanted the fastest lap of the race and decided to cut a corner twice. The result was a stop and go, which he decided to take in the middle of the track, both times just stopping and then continuing racing. At least he got the fastest lap, think it was a 9.8! 

The third main was also fun to watch, the drivers probably inspired by Barry's tactics in the B. Teemu was trying hard in this one, he must have been trying to get the (official) fastest lap. He did not quite get it, he did a 13.9 but was still one tenth from the fastest lap in the race. Andreas was following in second but made a mistake with less than 30 seconds to go and was then caught by the other drivers and fell down the field. Masami was really fast in the end of this main as he chased down Teemu. On the last lap he tried a "do-or-die" move which sent Teemu off the track. Masami then fought with David to the line, narrowly winning the last main. The final standings were:

1. Teemu Leino, Finland, Schumacher Axis2 
2. Masami Hirosaka, Japan, Yokomo MR4TCS
3. Atsushi Hara, Japan, HPI Pro3
4. Benjamin Gröschl, Germany, Losi XXXS
5. Andreas Myrberg, Sweden, Associated TC3
6. David Spashett, Great Britain, Losi XXXS
7. Shinnosuke Adachi, Japan, Yokomo MR4TCS
8. Reto König, Swizerland, HPI Pro3
9. Steen Graversen, Denmark, Schumacher Axis 2
10. Andrew Moore, Great Britain, Losi XXXS
 
 
 
 
 
 

interesting points:

- there was supposed to be a control tire traction with only LRP TopTraction allowed....
- the 12turn motor rule worked well with the top runners motors checked regurarly
- the space in the pit area was very limited!
- no Americans in the top10
- new tires gave a significant advantage
- fastest lap time was 13.8 by Andreas Myrberg
- my best lap time was 14.6...
- first carpet race for the Yokomo MR4TC Special
- first carpet race for the HPI Pro3
- Masami's body looks great, just like Adachi's and Umino's
- the HPI Pro3 is VERY flexy!
- Barry's car sucked, according to himself after qualifying! ;-)
- the new Yokomo chassis is very narrow, looks great!
- most drivers used 12x1 and 12x2 motors
- the new yokomo chassis can be run a lot softer, the team was using yellow springs in the beginning
- all fast drivers used Stratus bodies (Andy's/Yokomo, Protoform, HB, HPI)
- the Airbus A320 is a really nice plane...
- Frankfurt airport is quite big...
- the "only" team with no big-name drivers at the evnent was Team Associated
- most drivers in the A used the LRP quantum speedo which is very small
- David S did not think I would make it from the airport to the track ;-)
- I will do all I can to go next year as well
- somebody wants to pay my trip so I can go to the Reedy race in England?
- Yokomo, why don't you hire me so I can go to all the big races?!?!?
 

Click here for Masami's setup.

For more from the LRP Touring Car Masters 2001, check these sites:

http://www.lrp-electronic.de
http://www.rcworld.ch/tcm01.html  (thanks to rcworld for some of the pictures!)
 
 

See you next year,

kentech
 
 

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