This year’s AOC Shanghai race at the world-famous RCI facility had 118 entries, a huge jump from the 2014 race. A date clash with the first ETS race in Europe prevented more racers from attending, however 22 Team HB racers attended, headed by Team HB driver JJ Wang, designer Haratune from Japan and Chasel Young from HPI China. 15 PRO5 drivers were present, and Team HB drivers finished on the podium in all classes, with the younger 9-15 year old racers showing some awesome potential!
JJ Wang’s race report:
As always, AOC kicks off the season at RCI, my home track in Shanghai. This year the competition was much higher than the previous year. We had two world champions, Hayato Matzusaki from Yokomo and Surikarn C. from VBC. We also had multiple US national champions such as, Rick Howart and Keven Hebert from AE/Reedy, and also Paul Lemieux and Eric Anderson from Xray. We also had Nicholas Lee and Daryl from Singapore, and not forgetting Eric Epp from Protoform attending this race.
Our goal every year is to make this race as fun as possible and because of the real F1 scheduling the Shanghai round the same weekend as the AOC, it makes everything perfect. It was a two-day race, starting from Friday with a control practice and 3 rounds of qualifying. And Saturday with the final qualify in the morning followed by triple mains for everyone. This year we had over 100 entries and saw people from 11 different countries attending the first round of AOC.
During practice my PRO5 was working great and with little adjustments every run the car was ready for qualifying. Once qualifying started the track immediately changed. Because the weather kept on changing from low temperature to high temperature and the humidity also varied throughout the day, qualifying was harder than expected. I had a good first run until I tapped the board and cost me around 2 seconds. Paul was extremely fast and took the first round of qualifying with me in second and Hayato in third. I had a little discussion with Hara-tune to see what we could do to the car so that it fits the condition of the track. When Q2 started my car was good but again I tapped the board, which cost me some time. For this race Scotty decided to use the “rocket round” method, which means out of the 4 rounds of qualifies, he takes the best run. Q3 was later in the afternoon so we called it the “happy hour”. The track was extremely fast but unfortunately I could not get the job done and had to end the day 2nd overall. Saturday morning, the track in Q4 was not expected to be faster than Q3 so it was more of a practice run for the mains in the afternoon. After 4 rounds of qualifying, I ended up 2nd on the grid, with Paul TQing all of the rounds of qualifying.
I had a slow start to A1, my car seemed to have a little more understeer than I expected so Paul was too fast to catch which resulted in me tapping the board and letting Hayato and Keven by. I kind of lost my rhythm and tapped the board once again. A1 was not my race. A2 was a repeat of what happened in A1, though this time I managed to stay with Paul for a few laps, but I tapped the board again, which let Felix Law by. Then I had a great fight with him for 2nd position. Paul was fast all weekend so he got the job done and took the win early. A3 was a showdown because 2nd overall was still up for grabs between Hayato and me. Good thing my driving was better this time round and I managed to bring the car home in one piece and settled for 2nd overall.
Overall I really enjoyed this race, although I was a little disappointed in my driving, I still had tons of fun meeting old friends and making new friends. This was also the first big race outing for the 2015 HB China racing team so it was great to have all my teammates with me. Thanks to Hara-tune and the entire HB family for the support. The PRO5 was amazing all weekend. Last but not least, thanks to Scotty and LiveRC for making this race possible.