This Sunday saw team HPI-HB attend the much hyped and anticipated UK Endurance Masters at the stoke astroturf track. With a total of 26 teams in attendance this 6 hour endurance race was going to be tough, a lot of top drivers were there including factory teams.
The track is an all astro affair and some morning frost meant the track was very wet and with half the track in the shade it wasn't going to dry out totally. All the teams were given engines 10 mins before the start of the race and had 10 mins to fit them to their cars. Team HB worked together like clockwork and soon had the HB alloy clutch fitted, thanks to the quick change mount in the D8 it was soon meshed up and ready to hit the track. We knew the D8 would hold together as it has proven faultless all year. Besides if it failed we could always blame it on sloppy as he prepped it :) We decided to speed up battery changes by leaving the battery lid off and using velcro on the HPI hump battery and inside the battery box so making battery changes much speedier and no need to remove the body shell, we figured this would gain us 2-3 laps in total. The car was ready to go and with Rachel and Lisa sharing pitting duties we knew we were in safe hands in the pits, it was now up to the drivers to not let the side down and bring home the win. The race started at 10am on the dot and 3-4 teams went straight onto the track; Team HB opted to spend 2-3 minutes tuning the engine as it was going to be a 6 hour race wanting to make sure it would still be running strong at the end. So we started and were immediately 3 laps down on Team Hobao as they had been running from the beginning but we knew with such a well balanced team and steady smooth driving we could pull this deficit back. The team was given number 26 on the rostrum which meant they were stood at the very left hand side of the huge rostrum which in turn meant they could not see or judge the bottom right hand side of the track. Sometimes it meant being totally blind for 2 corners when the marshall stood up making some intriguing 'team' lines through this section. Sloppy took the first stint on a very wet track and the car looked good, quickly passing cars and slowly moving up through the ranks until we were in 3rd place and driving steadily and consistently. Things were looking good so far and they knew if they kept up this pace they would soon start to close the gap. All the drivers took 20 minutes each on the sticks and we soon had 2nd place. Team Hobao had a problem and we took the lead on a now half dry/half damp track. The team decided to go on full spike tyres which made car a bit twitchy on the dry stuff. Many teams decided to pit for tyres several times, allowing us to stretch our lead even more. Rachel and Lisa were doing a sterling job in the pits getting the car turned around quickly with fresh batteries and fuel and with the team now in a high state of confidence they settled into cruise control, often letting quicker cars through knowing they had such a big lead so they could afford to and it made sense as they did not need to be fighting with anyone. Smart thinking was going to be needed to keep the car in 1 piece with 26 other drivers on the track at the same time. Before they knew it they were half way through the 6 hour race and had a nice lead of 7 laps. John decided he wanted to throw the battery pack out of the car and Rachel had to sprint across the track to get the car and the battery losing a lap but no need to panic, a quick fix and they were soon on thier way again, thanks to the pit crew. The next couple of hours passed without events as each driver had time on the sticks and decided to do 30 min stints now instead of 20, giving more stick time per stint. This allowed the drivers to get used to the car for longer periods of time as the track had dried now and the car was very aggressive on full spikes, patience and smooth driving were the order of the day. Into the last hour and things were looking very good, Team HB had a 9 lap lead over Team Hobao UK and about 20 laps over Team XRAY in 3rd place. The only thing left to do was bring home the car and the win would be HB's. Disaster then struck with the engine cutting on John's stint! Rachel ran and got the car but the engine would not restart for a while, then when it did it cut again as it left the pits. Rachel again had to run for it, a new HPI medium plug was fitted, tickover turned up and we were back out on the track! (The HPI plug #1504 had run for 5 straight hours!! Some teams were blowing plugs every couple of hours or less!!) Losing 4-5 laps with only 40 minutes to go the team knew it was just a case of being kind to the car and engine and the win would be ours! Again they were letting other cars go while maintaining a healthy 5 lap lead over Team Hobao and when the flag fell after 6 hours UK Truggy National Champion Bruce Thompson brought the car across the line for a much worked-for win for team HPI-HB. Team HB had been quietly confident all week that if they kept our noses clean they could win the race, the combination of a solid reliable car and safe driving meant they were not under any pressure worrying about things failing and that's what wins endurance races, not fastest laps :) The Team ran a std D8 Kit (#67301) prepared by Top team driver Graham Alsop, HPI Plazma receiver batteries (#101936), HPI #5 Glow Plugs (#1504) and HB Servos (#67991) on steering and (#67992) on throttle. The team won some prizes for finishing first but since this meeting was to raise funds for charity the whole team decided to auction the car and engine off there and then and give the money back to the organisers of the meeting as a goodwill gesture. Hobao UK did the same, well done guys!! Big thanks to Rachel and Lisa for pitting for team HB, without them the team couldn't have won. Drivers Dave Grunill, Bruce Thompson ,Graham (Sloppy) Alsop, John Holmes, Rachel Merry, Lisa and Sally who was busy tirelessly taking pictures of us all day. Congratulations all from HPI Racing!! Also well done to TKR HB for getting 6th, great job guys!! 1 HPI-HB 469 laps 2 Hobao UK 464 3 Team X-Ray UK 454 4 SMD 416 5 Team DXR 408 6 TKR HB 405 7 JE Spares 396 8 RC Sure-Start 394 9 The Spice Boyz 383 10 Manselton Models 376