Iconic Cup 2019

My rehabilitation as an RC racer continues…

Last winter, I decided to take my RC racing a bit more seriously again. I’d had a few years of racing infrequently with ageing equipment and I wasn’t doing well. Which meant I wasn’t enjoying it enough.

Over the winter I ran Mini at the CWIC series, and came third overall after a slow start and a bad final race meeting. But I was much closer to being on the pace.

With summer approaching, I decided to have another go at the Iconic Cup.

This is a great series with an easy going atmosphere and great looking “vintage” cars. But, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I find the car really difficult to deal with!

Fortunately, I made a big step forward recently in stopping the TT-01E from melting spur gears. So at least I could focus on the driving…

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This is not an example of good driving!

Pre-season

Although the chassis itself had some damage from the last time the spur gear melted, I decided not to change it as it all seemed to run smoothly. I did buy a replacement, just in case.

My main concern was body and tyres. There had been some controversy over the winter about “touring car” body shells, and although I considered the HPI Lexus I was using to be “scale”, it seemed that others may not. The HPI shell was wrecked anyway, so I got hold of a couple of Tamiya shells.  The one that looked the fastest to my eyes was the Lexus RC F which I decided to do in box art. With over 120 stickers…

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The other issue was tyres. I had been running on leftovers from many seasons ago (Sorex 32’s from 2014), and I knew I would need some fresh rubber. I took a punt on the current BRCA control tyre, the Sweep 34.

Round 1 – Mendip

Mendip is just down the road from me, but I had only been there once before. It is a fast track, with some unforgiving boards on the sweeper at the end of the straight and the odd bump and surface change that can catch you out.

I started the day on the old Sorex tyres but the car did not have much rear grip, and then in the first round of qualifying I made a mistake with the ride height which left the car undriveable. Switching to the new Sweep tyres for the second round made a huge difference and I was much closer to the leading cars. Unfortunately the fresh tyre grip didn’t last and the car was tricky again for the rest of qualifying. Reducing steering rates helped but the car was grip rolling a lot more than other cars seemed to be.

I scraped into the A final in 9th place. After a good start I spent most of the final in the top half, but a grip roll towards the end cost me fifth place end I ended up finishing in 6th, right on the bumper of the car in front!

Cotswold club

I wasn’t at all happy with the car at Mendip and took it up to a club meeting at Cotswold to try and get some track time and work through some of the (limited) setup options available.

Cotswold is a big track with a really good surface. I was put in a heat with some modern “Frontie” cars running 21.5 and 17.5 motors and was not far off their pace on the straights, which shows that the Team Powers 17T brushed motor has a decent turn of speed.

Naturally, the car was good from the moment I put it on the track! I made a few small tweaks to the spring rates but basically I had a car with decent rear grip all day long, even with maximum steering rates.

I’d noticed at Mendip that a lot of cars were running optional wing sets, no doubt because their original one was lost or broken. I happened to lose mine during the club meeting, and fitted the Tamiya Racing Wing Set. To be honest it felt pretty similar to the small plastic kit wing.

Nevertheless, I felt like I might have made a breakthrough…

Round 3 – Stafford

As much as I would have loved to make the trip to Carlisle, it’s too far for a one-dayer. Hopefully I will return in the future, because it is a superb track. This meant my next outing was at Stafford.

Circumstances meant that I could actually attend the Saturday practice day for once. I put the car on the track with the settings that worked so well at Costwold – and the tail was sliding all over the place again! But at least I had the opportunity to try some things. Mostly I worked my way through the “box ‘o tyres” that I had at my disposal, and although a very old set of VTEC 27s showed some promise, I decided to stick with the BRCA Sweep’s. Once again, the most effective change I made was reducing the steering rates, and by the end of the day I was setting some of the best laptimes in the class.

Sunday morning came and I definitely felt the benefits. Even though the car was still on the edge in terms of grip, I was able to put together a string of top-3 qualifying runs, and lined up 3rd on the grid. I had a good start and was running 2nd, but frustratingly I made a mistake and tapped the leader towards the end of the first lap. He managed to continue in the lead, but I slipped back to the midfield. Because the whole of the A final grid was very closely matched, I finished 6th again.

Despite my blunder in the final, I was much happier with the car overall.

Round 4 – WLRC

Another one-dayer for me, and after an early start I managed to get on track with enough time for two practice runs. The car felt good, and I could run quite a lot of steering lock to get around the twisty West London infield. But then I cooked the motor. Fortunately, I had a spare V1 from the CWIC series. Dropping down a pinion for safety, I had another run, and once again was setting some of the fastest times in the class on the Sweep 34s. Things were looking good.

Round 1 was 3rd in round, and Round 2 was 6th after an error on the kerb of the last corner put me into the wall. But as the temperature increased, the car was getting worse, and again I had to resort to reducing the steering rates. For Round 3 I tried some radical changes, rebuilding the shocks to a completely different damping and length. It was worse. Round 4 I went even more radical, with a open front diff instead of my usual tight setting. Worse again. Fortunately my banker runs at the start of the day meant I retained 7th on the grid, and I returned to the original setup.

The final turned out to be one of those increasingly rare occasions where I manage to pick my way through the first lap carnage, and I found myself in third with a decent margin. Then the leaders got a bit too involved in door-handling each other and I was second! Unfortunately I just didn’t have the raw pace to stay there, and narrowly held on to 4th at the buzzer, with 5th place right on my bumper.

An enjoyable end to a challenging day.

Round 5 – Broxtowe

This is a really fun track with big elevation changes and unforgiving grass runoffs. It was also the site of my best Iconic result in the past. Going into this round, I was third in the championship (due to consistency rather than pace), but I knew I would need a really strong result to be in with a chance of staying there.

It took most of the practice run to get my eye back in on the track, but it wasn’t enough as I started my first qualifying run with a mistake, and then watched the car roll to a standstill after 4 minutes. I feared the worst, but fortunately I was just a loose pinion gear.

After that, I just couldn’t get a clean run together in qualifying. All completely down to me, but when you have so many fast cars around, every error is costly. There were 12 cars capable of top 10 times – and I was the worst of them, lining up 2nd in the B final.

My plan for the final was to keep it as neat as possible, and hope for a mistake from the driver on pole. Fortunately for me, it came on the third lap, and I was then able to drive my first clean race of the day to take the win, and my first trophy of the series!

Post-season

This is the setup I settled on during the course of the series:

Chassis

  • Tamiya TT-01E

Hop-ups

  • Tamiya alloy motor mount
  • Tamiya adjustable steering links
  • Tamiya aluminium propellor shaft
  • Tamiya TRF shocks
  • Tamiya aluminium wheel hexes

Electrics

  • Team Powers Cup Racer V1 motor
  • Hobbywing 1060 ESC
  • Futaba 2.4GHz radio
  • Futaba low profile servo
  • IP600 LiPo

Gear ratio

  • 25/55 – 27/55 depending on track

Tyres

  • Sweep 34 BRCA

Setup

  • Springs: Tamiya White (F) / Tamiya Blue (R)
  • Oil: 600 (F) / 500 (R)
  • Pistons: 2 hole
  • Limiter: 1x o-ring
  • Diff lubricant: Putty (F) / AW Grease (R)
  • Front toe out: 1 degree
  • Ride height: 6-7mm

I’m pretty sure I have done everything I can with the TT-01E’s setup (and made some changes many times over!). Rear end grip is a challenge, in part because the TT-01 does not have rear toe-in as standard (and the toe-in uprights are not allowed), and in part because the Sweep 34s are probably a little bit hard for this class.

If I race in the Iconic Cup again next year, I’ll probably invest in a wider range of tyres to try and get more mechanical grip. The Lexus body (which lost the front splitter and one of the wing endplates by the end of the season) will have to be retired, because there will be some new body rules as well.

So, not quite a perfect season (7th overall in the end), but plenty of good moments on and off the track.

Now it’s time to pack the TT-01E away and focus on my plans for the indoor season…

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