BLITZ ARX Wins 3rd Dutch 1/8on-road National
Last weekend was the 3rd Dutch national held in Rucphen, my home track. The weather forecast was good and on Sunday we had perfect weather 23 degrees and no clouds what so ever. A small miracle for Dutch standards….
On Friday we run-in some engines and did some tests with exhausts. The track was not yet at optimal conditions as the feeling with the car was not yet perfect.
On Saturday we focused more on the setup of the car. The lap times were very consistent but not yet fast enough to my liking. We tried some different shock setups which made the car easier and smoother to drive in the corners. Lap times were around 12,8 – 12,7 which were ok for the track conditions at that time.
On Sunday morning the sun was shining and the grip was really good. Because this year the qualifications round were back to “good old” 5 minutes, we tried to make 5 minutes in the first run - which later seemed to be the “rocket round” - on the final lap my engine just had a small hiccup just before the pit entrance and I didn’t hesitated and maneuvered the car straight into the pit. My mechanic was on stand-by with his (fuel)gun and could do a splash and dash to finish the run. It was not the fasted run, but we had the 2nd fastest time of the first.
In the 2nd round we adjusted the engine a little leaner and put in another insert to make the 5 minutes. This run the outside temperature was a bit hotter and the engine leaned a bit to the end of the run, as times were too slow we decided to stop.
In the 3rd round we changed the front anti-roll bar and tried different tires. We also planned a fuel stop at 1 minute so we could see if we can make 4 minutes to decide our pit stop strategy in the final. The car was so much faster in the 3rd round and we could also put 24 laps on the sheets.
After 3 rounds of qualifying:
Pos Competitor Laps Total Time Car/Engine
 Robin D'Hondt 24 05:07.908  Motonica/Picco
 Gunther van Steay 24 05:10.820  Serpent/Xceed
 Steven Cuypers 24 05:11.687  Mugen/Picco
 John Ermen 24 05:12.649  Xray RX8/RB CXr
 Rick Vrielijnck 23 05:04.844  Xray RX8/Picco
 Danny Leewis 23 05:08.803  Serpent/Xceed
 Frank Baggen 23 05:09.795  Serpent/Reds
 John Lenaers 23 05:11.119  Mugen/Top
 Arie Manten 23 05:11.280  Xray RX8/Picco
10   Michiel Renting 23 05:12.669  Sheperd/OS
After the lunch break the semifinals were scheduled. We changed nothing to the setup of the car because I was happy with the feel of the car in the last qualification. At the start of the semifinal Gunther and I immediately pulled away from the rest of the field. As the track was allot hotter than in the last qualification my car was a bit understeered. But Gunthers pace was about exactly the same as mine. We ran 1st and 2nd spot for about half the race when we came into the pit at the same time. My mechanic was a bit faster with refueling and at the end of the pit we had a small come together. We both spun and luckily we both didn’t have any damage and could continue the fight. I was now about couple of tenths down on Gunther when he made a small mistake at the end of the straight en he went wide. I could pass him and because our lap times were about the same we finished 1st and 2nd after 15 minutes. The other semifinal was a great battle for 1st spot, but eventually Robin crossed the finish as the better man followed by Steven with 10 seconds down and Rick with a lap back.
After the semis it was Robin on pole followed by me, Gunther, Steven and Rick taking the top 5 grid spots for the final 30 minute run.
Just before the final I adjusted my setup somewhat because I had understeer and my cornering speed therefor was too low. This seemed to be the right decision as the car worked allot better in final. At the start of the A main my engine was a bit rich and I had a slow start. Gunther took advantage of this and immediately took 2nd spot behind Robin. After the first lap Gunther made a small mistake and I could pass him just before the pit lane. Robin had a fast pace in the beginning and he already had a second lead just after a few laps and he was able to pull away from the field.
After 8 laps I was too eager to take the full throttle sweeper before the straight away and drove over the dirty side of the track which caused me to lose control and hit the grass. After the marshal put my car back on the track I lost allot of time and dropped back in 6th position. I then knew that nothing else had to go wrong or my chances to finish on a podium were done for. From then on I was giving it 110% and not only me, but also my mechanic was doing some really fast refueling which eventually made me to catch up to the rest of the field. Just before halfway and the tire change I was back on 2nd spot after Robin, just in front of Steven and Rick. Robin had a lead for about half a lap but I managed to chase him down and in the last 10 minutes of the race I was so close I had a chance of passing him. Steven ran into some problems with refueling and had 2 flame outs, he dropped back to 4th. Rick was in 3rd spot behind me but was more than a lap down so that wasn’t a threat for me. With something more than 8 minutes to go I was able to push Robin and pass him in the hair pin just after the finish line. But because we were on a different pit strategy Robin took the lead back when I went into the pit for a fuel stop. The announcer said that there were only 5 minutes left to go and Robin came into the pit – for what I thought at the time was his last fuel stop – and his mechanic did a blistering fuel stop and he just got back on the track before I could pass him in the pit lane. I then knew that I still had a fuel stop to go so my only chance then was to pass him to take a big a gap as possible. And after a few laps I again passed Robin in the beginning of the straight on a very tricky pass. I noticed that Robins pace was a bit less due to a richer running engine and I could take a gap of 2 or 3 seconds, but it would never be enough to cover a fuel stop. With some 3 minutes to go my mechanic pulled me in for a “splash and dash” and I joined the race just 2 seconds behind Robin. A couple of laps later, Robin was also called in for a “splash and dash” and got back on the track 1 or 2 seconds behind me. With 2 minutes to go still anything could happen. But right after his fuel stop he made a small mistake at the sweeper at the beginning of the straight away. I then had enough lead to take it easy the last couple of laps to take home the victory of the 3rd Dutch national on my home track.
After the 30 minute final:
Pos  Competitor Laps  Total Time Best Time Car/Engine
 John Ermen 136 30:11.599 12.631 Xray RX8/RB CXr
 Robin D'Hondt 135 30:08.926 12.577 Motonica/Picco
 Rick Vrielijnck 134 30:05.700 12.568 Xray RX8/Picco
 Steven Cuypers 133 30:02.363 12.739 Mugen/Picco
 Gunther van Steay 131 30:09.513 12.494 Serpent/Xceed
 Frank Baggen 130 30:06.930 12.942 Serpent/Reds
 Arie Manten 129 30:08.599 12.938 Xray RX8/Picco
 John Lenaers 126 30:07.805 13.044 Mugen/Top
 Richard Engbersen 115 30:01.767 13.368 Serpent/Xceed
10   Michiel Renting 17 04:07.741 13.001 Sheperd/OS
For me the whole weekend I had the feeling that we were too slow. And If I look back on the fastest lap times I was not the fastest at all. But for the A main – besides the small error in the beginning – my lap times were the most constant over the 30 minute run. Eventually this delivered me the win and it was an existing one!!
Thanks to my dad and Ismail for the fuel stops and tire change. And thanks to my sponsors Xray, RB Products, Tornado Fuel, Matrix Tires, RC Car Colours and Team Titan/Blitz for their trust and backup!
Setup Sheet:
Next Dutch national will be held in Gouda, which is a very tight, small and technical track and by chance is my personal favorite…