My goal this year was to reach the semi-finals, because 2 years ago, I missed it by one position after qualifying rounds and failed to advance from the quarters. This year (Huge Racing Track) was perhaps the most difficult track in the world to race on due to its ultra high traction. I knew going into the Worlds the traction would be even higher than pre-world and would be very challenging.
We arrived a day early but could not practice on the IDP days so we went to RC Addict to break in our engines.
When first day of practice started, the traction was similar to pre-world and Ai and I felt pretty good about our setup. However, as the day went on, the traction got funny and our setup started to not work. I cannot explain the changes of the traction, it was just weird and I think those who have raced on this track before would tell you the same, it was completely different from months ago at the warm up races. Anyway… we had to find the right setup.
The weather was typical Thailand, hot and humid and having so many nitro cars indoors did not help the air. But we were lucky to have a convenient pit room close to the track, and sharing it with my teammate Loran Whiting and her Dad was nice. Team USA only had the two of us, I wished there were more drivers from the US.
After the first day of qualifying, I was not in the picture to reach the semi-finals. I struggled a lot with the high grip and did not drive well enough for clean runs. In order to make the semis, I had to really do well on the final qualifying day. I wanted to make the semis really badly and on the final qualifying day, I drove well enough to squeeze into the semis placing 15th overall. When Scotty came into our pit room to tell me the news that I squeezed into the semis, I was just overwhelmed with relief I did it, making it into the semis.
I knew anything was possible once in the semis so I was really keen to do well, and although lining up 7th on my side of the semis, I knew in the 30 minute race, there was plenty of time to move up. Only 3 top drivers get to advance into the finals automatically, so that was my goal.
In the semis, I had a great start and the car felt really good, Ai’s pit stops were perfect and the first 20 minutes, I felt like I was on pace and car was good. However, the last 10 minutes, the track condition changed rapidly and even on smaller tires now, the traction got higher to a point that it was really difficult to keep my car on 4 wheels. In the final minute and a half, I got into a battle with Francesco Tironi thinking it was for the final bump up position as I was informed by my pit crew, but because of the noise, really could not hear exactly what was communicated. But in any case, Tironi passed me when I went wide and then tried to hold me. Thinking I dropped to 4th, I chased hard including an aggressive clean pass and really pressured him forcing him to make a mistake into the straights. It was only after the race we found out that Peter went into the pit for a splash and dash and both Tironi and I were acutually safe. Anyway, finishing 2nd in my semis was a great feeling and knowing I made it into the main final, I felt I had nothing to lose! Watching liveRC youtube video, I think Scotty was more nervous than I was during the minute half battle with Tironi! LOL
My chances to win the Worlds was lost after my first pit stop when I traction rolled into the pits and damaged my car. I was pretty much on pace until then but after the pit stop, my car simply did not drive the same with damages. So my goal was to finish as high as I could and at the end, I finished 5th in the World! Congrats to Alex for his well deserved WC title and much thanks to Team Mugen, Robert and Kris for their support. Also, tremendous team support from Jeff (ROAR) and Team Whiting all week, thank you for being there!
Finally, I want to thank Ai and my Dad, they have been there for me all these years and my result has a lot to do with them being at my side.
So next year, it’s Brazil for 1/8 GP Worlds, I will do my best!
FINAL DAY VIDEO ON YOUTUBE:
To Watch my BATTLE with Tironi and Scotty going crazy on air, you can advance to the 5:08:25 mark (Interview with Scotty follows after race)
(MY CAR IS THE ALL WHITE BODY #7 CAR)