We’ve come to the last weekend before Truck. Heat selections are tonight, which means tomorrow the auction is planned to launch tomorrow! Once it’s up, be sure to share it with all the people who might be attending the races.
The orange cones make the chute look like a slalom course, but it looks like the line that most teams use is actually free of potholes. The potholes don’t leave much margin for error though, and the penalty for missing your line is big. The fastest buggies don’t have much margin for error anyway, so this shouldn’t be a big additional complication for their drivers. Chute passes are likely impossible without hitting something, though. Word on the street is that some of the potholes might be getting filled in, more on that later this week.
I unfortunately couldn’t make it to rolls on Saturday while working an event down at Cal U, but thankfully Shafeeq was able to take some notes, and Lou Conley managed to take pictures, so many thanks go out to them for filling in.
|CIA||Icarus, Impulse, Orca|
|SDC||Vice, Bane, Avarice, Malice, Psychosis|
|SigEp||Mamba, Barracuda, Pandora|
|Spirit||Zenith, Kingpin II, Zuke, Haraka, Seraph|
Observations (Saturday Gallery)
- AEPi – In a surprise move (that really isn’t all that surprising at this point), AEPi made it out on a Saturday to get a few rolls in. It was a good choice too since it rained and then snowed all Saturday night.The roll counts haven’t been updated yet so I don’t know
- Apex – Apex has shifted their turns much later and tighter in order to avoid the holes. Apex had some orange wheels on Ember, and it looked to be close to Bissa in speed. Though the Apex driver appears less used to the speed than the Fringe one.
- CIA – CIA’s new buggy wasn’t any faster, and its rear wheels appeared to be tilting noticeably through the turn. We’ve seen this out of other buggies before, and it is usually due to a lack of mechanical strength rather than clever strategy.
- Fringe – Similar to Apex, Fringe has also shifted their turns into the chute to be much later to avoid the holes in the road. Fringe isn’t going that fast, but the un-Fringelike sounds of tortured tires suggests that this new turn strategy has its drawbacks. The new buggy was on both 3 and 4 wheels, but either way much slower than Bissa. It was quieter and less bouncy than I would’ve expected for such tiny wheels, though.
- PiKA – PiKA was doing pass tests for the first couple of rolls. Chimera was always slow, but Banshee got in a last roll that was everything we’d expect from PiKA going into truck weekend.
- SAE – SAE was extremely slow but trouble-free with Rubicon. After losing Lucy’s pushbar last weekend, it looks like she might be out for Raceday as well.
- SDC – SDC’s Malice was fast and controlled, what we’d expect them to be. The driver was consistently tightening the turn sharply at the last cone before the apex and drifting a bit as a result. I can’t tell if that is deliberate, or if having a cone growing rapidly larger in her windshield is throwing her off. The other buggies were more scattered; the Vice and Bane fell victim to the new hazards. Vice straddled a cone (without hitting the pothole it marked). The cone was swept into the wheel and fairing, jamming the wheel and sending the buggy into a slide, until the fairing broke loose, releasing the cone. The driver almost recovered before crashing into the outer haybales. The large amount of loose hay on the road probably didn’t help. Bane missed the cone closest to the apex, but put a wheel into the pothole, causing the wheel & stub to separate from the buggy. The wheel made an attempt at escaping into the ravine, while the buggy spun to a halt without hitting anything. This is the first time I’ve seen them lose a stub (instead of the whole half-axle). There’s only ~3/4″ of stub embedded in the axle, which would explain why their wheels end up tilted after they get sideways.
- SigEp – SigEp was fast with Barracuda, slow with everything else. Their driving isn’t quite up to where it was this time last year, so either they changed drivers or the lack of practice is showing.
- SigNu – SigNu was fast and smooth, but they either skipped the last hour of rolls or I wasn’t paying attention.
- Spirit – Spirit’s new buggy was Fringe-like in its quietness, but not in speed. I don’t know how much credit to give to the giant spring, and how much to the purple tires. It also left a washer behind on one roll, so hopefully that wasn’t part of anything important. Their fastest roll was not very, but in control.
With the 38F temperature, low practice, and state of the roads, it is hard to make predictions. SDC appeared fastest, but SigEp, SigNu, and PiKA a appeared to be holding back from what they are capable of. Those three usually bring a bigger speed increase on Truck Weekend and Raceday than SDC, which is going to be challenging for their drivers this year. Spirit seems a bit behind where they were last year, while CIA and Fringe are well behind their old selves. Fringe is obviously limiting themselves, but I doubt Spirit and CIA are. Apex is the only one to have moved up significantly. SDC is the only one to be in good shape – we’ll know about the other contenders next weekend.
Someone mentioned that last week, the cones were in the potholes, this week, the were ahead of the potholes. I wonder what if anything that had to do with the collisions. The cones might be useful without the potholes – the driver’s big challenge is that they have to aim for a point they can’t see, and the cones provide more reference points. Over the years, some teams have tried to flags in the middle of the road for that purpose.
There’s a lot of gravel on the roads, more so because the city used it as a salt substitute when they ran out. Sweeping the chute far more thouroughly than today is probably the best thing that some teams could do to improve their chances of finishing.