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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Quick tip for TT-01 owners…

Drivetrain feeling rough on your TT-01/TT-01E?

Try loosening the upper screws on the gearbox covers. A quarter-turn at a time.

It’s a bit of a hack to loosen the bevel gear mesh, but it seems to work!

Got a hunch it may be related to the black gears that come up a bit larger than the old white gears.

 

Reflections on the Iconic Cup

Sometimes life challenges you at work.

Sometimes life challenges you in your relationships.

And sometimes, life challenges you in your hobbies…

 

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As the car came off the track at West London

I’ll start with the positives from the 2017 Iconic Cup. I was racing with a great bunch of clubmates; it was great to see so many “scale” RC cars going around the track; and we were blessed with some unseasonably good weather.

But I had SO many problems!

Many years ago, I was (trying) to race a Kyosho Lazer ZX-5 in the North East regional series. I was well out of practice off-road, and the Lazer was not an easy car for the conditions. After getting thoroughly soaked at Batley, I gave up. It wasn’t fun.

I was moments away from giving up on the Iconic Cup on several occasions.

The biggest problem I had was with the drivetrain of my TT-01E. Many years ago I had a normal TT-01 and it caused me no problems whatsoever. This car was different.

It ran perfectly indoors with the 58T spur gear, but when I put the 55T spur gear on for outdoors, the problems began.

First race of the series was at Stafford – a track I have never been to. My first run was good enough for about 6th overall, but the car was slowing towards the end of the run. I spent the rest of the day trying to find some pace again, and realised that I had not located the pin into the 55T spur gear properly which had caused it to melt onto the spacer that is supposed to stop it from sliding off the pin. I repaired it as best I could, but didn’t solve my problems as I had cooked the Sport Tuned motor at the same time. Fortunately a racing buddy had a spare Sport Tuned, and I fitted that to have a bit of power for the final (having slipped down to 11th in the order). It was a fun race with a couple of late challenges making the win from pole feel all the sweeter.

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Torque Tuned is the only motor I have left

Second round was at my “local” track of Cotswold. This is a power track for any class. Naturally, I melted the replacement spur gear and blew another Sport Tuned but chose not to replace it as I was already getting a bit fed up. I ended up last in the A.

For round 3 at Broxtowe, I rebuild the car with a new chassis, a new propellor shaft and input axles, a new spur cover and, naturally, a new spur gear. I tested the car indoors and it passed with flying colours. I even went to the track for Saturday practice as it is a long way from home and I decided to stay overnight.

I melted the spur gear in the first run.

I was about to go home, when another racer offered me his spare car. The generosity of his offer made me reconsider. Instead of taking him up on his offer, I kept running my own, damaged, car. After all, if it had melted and still runs, it isn’t going to get any worse. I had fitted a new motor for the meeting and surprisingly it had more or less survived, and I kept running for the rest of the meeting, ending up with my best result of the season with 6th. It’s a great track for the low-powered cars of the Iconic Cup.

With pretty low morale I turned up at West London with no intention of doing anything to the car. Before the day was out, my third Sport Tuned of the season had died, so I fitted the Torque Tuned that had come with the kit. A chat with a local suggested that the difference between the two motors was not so great, and he was right – I managed to finish 9th.

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The melted spur spacer (2nd time around)

That was the main frustration. I have an idea for a part that my Dad could turn on his lathe that should cure the spur gear issue for good. Of course, that would be outside of the rules as they are written.

I also struggled with tyres and the body – my ancient Sorex 32s just weren’t hooking up consistently; and the Diebels Alt 190E shell (which received many compliments) simply doesn’t handle. I ended up running my tatty HPI Lexus GS (which I bought as a practice shell for my kids).

I haven’t ruled out running the series again next year, but I will have to think carefully about whether I can keep the costs (and the frustrations) to a minimum next time around.

“Scale” racing revisited

Some of the best racing I have done has been with “scale” RC cars, and in particular with the Tamiya Mini.

Unfortunately, the opportunities to do this can be pretty limited. My local club (Bristol Model Car Club) usually has a heat of Minis, but a lot of clubs don’t, and it is rare to find a regional or national series that supports scale racing.

So the Iconic Cup was something I just had to get involved in…

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The series is effectively a time capsule dedicated to the Tamiya Eurocup which last ran circa 2005*. This means that only Tamiya on-road cars from this period are allowed to race.

Unfortunately I don’t own any cars from that era any more. Rather than buy an out-of-production car (and all the spare part issues that could cause), I went for the only car on the permitted list that is still in production – that Tamiya TT-01E.

The TT-02 replaced the TT-01 a few years ago, but for some reason Tamiya have revived the older chassis for their MAN racing trucks, and for this “Diebels Alt” Mercedes 190E which is quite easy to buy on eBay from Germany – mine arrived within a week.

The hop-ups that are permitted are limited in scope, but the rules are not as strict as the old Eurocup. I have all of them! The new purchases are pictured, and I will be choosing some oil dampers from my spares box. I’ll update the blog once the build is completed.

I have owned a TT-01 before, and they are a surprisingly good to drive. Considering the limited power from the Sport Tuned motor, I’m confident that my car will keep pace with the more adjustable chassis in the class. We’ll just have to see whether my driving is up to scratch…

*An honourable mention needs to be made for the Super Production Cup which continued the spirit of the Eurocup for a number of years, and which I entered in 2011 and 2012.