On-road racing has all the speed and precision racers love and combined with scale realism and you have a recipe for a lot of fun. Presented by Tuning Haus, this series sees Formula 1 and GT Sedans battle it out for top honors in a series that rewards consistency and perseverance. This was the fourth in a series of five with the finale happening in a month.
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Round 4 of the So Cal R/C Scale Series presented by Tuning Haus is in the books and time to review the action. With the round 5 finale up in one month, the picture for the tops spots is taking shape with the overall position still up for grabs with both Formula 1 and GT Sedan classes going down to the last round to determine the winner. Now, on to qualifying for Round 4……
The first group of Formula 1 cars rolled out for a three minute qualifying run to set five best (non-consecutive) lap times which are averaged to produce a qualifying time. With a series-high high 17 Formula 1 entries today, there were plenty of battles to watch. Jeffery Fink returning to Formula 1 racing after a 1+ year absence took the initial TQ spot with a time of 11.102 in the first group. However, the honor of TQ only lasted until the dominating qualifying performance put in by Aaron Lane, his third pole position in a row. The only driver to break into the 10.3 second range, Aaron’s TQ run average of 10.387 would best Bob Stellflue’s second best average of 10.523 with Kevin “Panda” Cole taking third with an average of 10.563. Bob has been steadily improving in only his second race with his new machine and the Panda looks to be finding the handle after early season struggles. The top nine all qualified with sub 11 second runs to set up the three Formula 1 groups for the day.
The GT Sedans took their turn on the track and besting the field was race one winner Dave Berger who found some extra speed overnight to take TQ with his 5 lap average of 10.190 seconds and the only driver to dip into the 10.0 range in qualifying. Fresh from his round three win, JD Ramsey would line up second with an average run of 10.223 with round two winner Kevin Cole taking third with a 10.289 average. Today would see a spirted battle from these three to see who would become the series first sedan repeat winner. Heartbreak of qualifying was Mike Molina, a regular ‘A’ group racer that would only complete four laps in qualifying relegating him to the back of the field for his races today. It did make for some great moments for the fans as Mike had his work cut out to try to claw his way through traffic.
It was now time to start the heat races. Every driver races three 15 minute mains, with two mandatory pit stops for Formula 1 and 10 minutes each main with one mandatory pit stop for the GT Sedans. Each round is scored with a qual points system so a driver from the lowest group has the chance to make a fast run and put themselves in the top 10 for that round. At the end of the day, all three runs are totaled for final points. No throw outs in our format so you must be fast and also reliable in order to achieve a top 10 result for the day.
Group C in Formula 1 would be a battle between Sean Park, Tom Kahl and Doug Rebal for the top spot. Doug has done well this year to lose his nickname “Smoke House” as he has gotten faster and suffered fewer mechanical issues. Sean set the pace by taking the win in C1 but Doug upped the ante with the win in C2. Tom’s solid C1 run was hampered with a power unit failure with 30 seconds left in C2 that was traced to battery issues while running third. So the showdown in C3 came down to Sean and Doug with Tom playing spoiler. Sean would take the C3 win by just 0.2 seconds after a heated 15 minute battle with Tom with Doug a few seconds back in third. This would give Sean the C group win and eleventh overall for the day with Doug taking the second spot and Tom rounding out the C group podium in third. Behind this battle, Jae Shin and Carlos Ledezma battled each other closely during all three mains. How closely you ask? Well, they finished on the same lap every race with Jae besting Carlos in C1 by just over 0.6 seconds and Carlos getting the nod in C2 by a whopping 1.6 seconds. Jae got the better of Carlos in C3 to take fourth in the group with Carlos relegated to fifth.
Formula 1 B group took to the track next and this group would have a similar battle at the sharp end of the grid between Alex M, Josh Tran and Mark Goldwater and in the same manner as the C group, one driver’s power unit failure would drop him out of contention. Alex would take the B1 win but after a third in that heat, Mark would take the B2 win. With seconds in the first two runs by Josh, it was up for grabs who would take the group honors that day. Lady Luck left Mark by the wayside with a trail of smoke just 1.5 minutes into the 15 minute race. However, Jeffery Fink, in his first Formula 1 race in over a year with just one week practice on his new machine would make things interesting for Alex and Josh. With less than a minute left, Alex would take the lead back from Jeffery to take the B3 win. Josh would take third in the final race but with our qual point scoring system each round, the two wins by Alex was not enough for an outright group win and Josh and Alex tied for the top spot in the B group and for seventh overall for the day. Marks race 3 woes offset his two good runs and would have to settle for third in the B group today. The second half of the group was a battle between Jeffery, Matt Sui and Chuck Howell until Jeffery stepped it up big time in B3 giving Jeff fourth in the group. The improving Chuck Howell who would have his best qualifying run to start him in twelfth would have mechanical issues in both B2 and B3 dropping him to sixth in the group while Matt would string together a couple of fourths to finish fifth in group.
Formula 1 Group A rolled off as the final F1 group and with everyone expecting it to be an Aaron and Bob show today, the question was who would round out the podium ? As expected, Aaron Lane and Bob Stellflue would take the 1-2 positions in A1 and A2 with Charles Lightfoot and Craig “Cuda” Hammon taking the third spots respectively. However, Bill Jeric and Kevin “Panda” Cole were in close pursuit so third overall was still up for grabs going into A3. With two animals in this group (the Cuda and a Panda), So Cal RC Series announcer Joe Mac decided an animal nickname for Aaron would be fitting and as he was always in the battles and nipping at everyone’s heels, “The Chihuahua” was born. Going into A3, the Chihuahua was looking to sweep and would lead for the first third of the race and only driver to set a 10.3 lap when a front end issue, thought at first to be a bent wing but would end up a front suspension dragging that would drop Aaron off the pace quickly. This would allow Bob to take over the lead and hold it to the end and give him his first overall win of the series in only his second outing. This really shook up the battle for the overall podium and the race with Charles slotting into second and the Panda into third to finish A3. But when the dust settled, the Cuda, Craig Hammon would take second overall honors with a third and two fourths and 291 points for the day, just one point ahead of the final podium spot taken by Charles. Kevin would take fourth overall for the day just two points behind Charles with Bill and Aaron tying for fifth in class and overall another one point back on 287. Extremely close racing with just four points total separating the second thru sixth placed overall drivers.
The GT Sedans would take to the track next with the B group drivers leading off. After his bad qualifying luck, it was expected that Mike Molina would lead the field and he would not disappoint. Starting from last in B1, he made his way to the lead before the four minute mark when Jae Shin pitted and Mike never looked back. Jae was making his first start in GT Sedan this season and did his best to follow Mike to second in B1 and B2. In the second race, Mike had an even better run that would net him fifth overall for that round. However, Mike was not able to make the start for B3 and that would drop him back to ninth overall for the day after looking headed to a possible fifth or sixth overall. Jae would take the win in B3 and first in the B group as well as eight overall for the day. But it was no cake walk for Jae as he had pressure in all three races from Todd Sincock, Doug Rebal and Ivan Dickson. A mechanical failure early in his third race did not help his previous two third place finishes and what looked to be a top ten overall run for the day saw him finish just outside in eleventh overall. Consistent runs and a second in his last race would net Doug third in the group to round out the B group podium. After a strong round 3 result, Ivan Dickson did not seem to have the same pace this round as he battled with Carlos Ledezma and Danny Olivares for most of the races. A third in B3 would net Ivan fifth in his group followed home by Carlos and Danny.
The GT Sedan A drivers lined up with the previous races winners one, two and three led by Dave Berger, JD Ramsey and Kevin “Panda” Cole. Starting fourth would be first time sedan series racer Duy Khuong. Duy is one of the fast guys at TQ in 13.5 and was looking to shake things up. Dave Berger got the early lead but JD Ramsey made a great pass on lap four to take the lead in A1. Dave would take the lead for two laps when JD pitted but JD would take back the lead and not look back. Meanwhile, Duy moved up to second with a late race battle between Duy and the Panda for the spot only to see the Panda make an error trying desperately to pass and this allowed Dave to take advantage for the third place finish. A2 would see Duy make a bad choice switching bodies that put him off pace early allowing Berger to take the top spot followed by the Panda and JD in third. With the day’s top spot up for grabs, Dave would nail it down with the win in A3 followed closely by JD in second and Kevin in third, just how they finished overall for the day. Jason Laurel, Calvin Simmons and Sportsman Rodger Tsai would take up the next battle as they traded spots every race. A fourth in his final race would lift Jason to fourth overall for the day followed by Calvin in fifth just one point behind with Duy and Rodger tying for sixth overall for the day.
Formula 1: Aaron Lane set fastest race lap at 10.320 in round 3 with the Chihuahua hitting 10.3 in all three rounds with Kevin Cole and Bod Stellflue next up with 10.4 laps. The Panda and Bob going 10.4 in two rounds with a best of 10.405 in round 1 for the Panda and Bob going 10.436 also in round 1. Best run of the day also went to Aaron Lane with an 83 lap runs in A1 and A2 with his best at 83 laps 15:03.067 in round 2 with Bob Stellflue the only driver close with 82 lap runs.
GT Sedan: JD Ramsey would set fastest lap of the day in round 3 with a 10.153 lap that nipped Kevin Cole’s 10.165 and Dave Berger’s 10.192 fast laps also in round 3. Calvin Simmons and Duy Khuong achieved 10.2’s. Best run of the day was laid down in round 3 by Dave Berger with 58 laps in 10:09.182, the only driver today going 58 laps. JD and the Panda would go 57 laps in all three of their runs with Duy Khuong the only other driver to hit 57 laps with is A1 effort.
Podiums and notable mentions:
The top three today in Formula 1 would see Bob Stellflue put in three clean runs to take the top step on the podium with his machine with Craig “Cuda” Hammon in second with his X-Ray and Charles Lightfoot also in an X-Ray rounding out the podium in third. As dominate as Aaron Lane was today, a mechanical issue on the front of his car in A3 would drop the Chihuahua to a tie for fifth overall today. Our top Sportsman drivers today would be Alex M., Josh Tran and Jeffery Fink taking seventh, eight and tenth overall. With his third top eight finish today, Alex has been bumped up to the Expert group and sits in sixth overall in the season standings. Going into the round 5 finals, Josh Tran brings along two top eight finishes. Will Josh get bumped up to Expert in the finals?
The top three in GT Sedan today was our previous three winners with Dave Berger becoming the first two round winner in GT Sedan and taking the top spot with his Yokomo BD-7 2016. JD Ramsey would take second spot with his ARC and the final spot filled by Kevin Cole with his Tamiya 419. Top Sportsman today was Rodger Tsai, the only Sportsman to make it into the A group with the experts followed in second by Jae Shin making his first sedan appearance this season and running both Sedan and F1 today with Doug Rebal rounding out the Sportsman podium with the three of them finishing seventh, eight and tenth overall.
To see the current point standings as well as race results, pictures, videos and race report from each race of the series, please visit our link at TQ RC Racing’s website http://www.tqrcracing.com/scss/
With only one round left, the Formula 1 overall class is up for grabs still with the top four drivers, Aaron Lane, Craig Hammon, Bill Jeric and Charles Lightfoot all with a mathematical chance to win the overall series title. As we have seen now with Aaron having mechanical issues in two rounds preventing him from walking away with the championship trophy, all is still to play for these four drivers. In Sportsman Formula 1, Josh Tran and Tom Slick has wrapped up the top two Sportsman spots and are sitting in the top 10 overall. Keep in mind that a top eight finish in the final could put Josh up to the Expert group and move Tom to the top spot. Matt Sui is currently sitting third but only seven points behind is Carlos Ledezma so Matt will have to bring his game to the finals. On the GT Sedan side, the podium has been locked up by our top three from today with Dave Berger’s win today moving him up to the top spot. However, a strong second from JD Ramsey today puts him only one point behind going into the final round. Sitting third is Kevin Cole but these top three all have a mathematical shot at the series win so you can bet they will be leaving nothing in the tank when they finish their final race in round 5. In Sportsman, Ivan Dickson have the top two spots wrapped up are sitting eighth and ninth overall but like Josh, Ivan also has two top eight finishes so he also risks being bumped up to the Expert group in the final round. Rodger Tsai is sitting third but will need another great run like today to fend off the challenge for the final season Sportsman podium spot from Craig Hammon and Carlos Ledezma. The round five finale is less than a month away on 12-March so until then, STAY TUNED…