WRC Nitrocross, What's that?

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WRC Nitrocross, What's that?

The last week of July something pretty special happened. It was the 60th Anniversary of the FIA World Rally Championships (WRC) Neste Oil Rally in Finland. The Finnish round of the championship series is a special one, and is regarded by most drivers as THE Rally to win. Even if you are a World Champion, to become one of the greats, you HAVE to win in Finland. The roads are narrow and very fast, with a lot of jumps and crests. It is exciting to watch, and probably more exciting to drive.

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Out of the 60 times its now been driven, only 4 drivers outside of Finland and Sweden have won it, and only 4 Swedes, so thats 52 wins for Finns. Talk about home advantage. Enter the phrase, “If you want to win, hire a Finn.” ANYWAY, enough of that, let's get to THE Point. For the 60th Anniversary, the Neste Rally Organisers had a brilliant idea. They decided to organise the WRC Rally in conjunction with the Nitrocross RC Event to be held in the Centre of Jyväskylä. The WRC folks set up the whole WRC show and pits around the RC Race, so there was a steady stream of about 100 000 people in the area during the week end.

The Track

Because this was a one-off event, organised in a market square, the decision was made to use astroturf as the track surface. It made sense as the track wa much easier to build, and there was no dust problem. To make the playing field level, a control tyre was selected, LRP Harakiri was picked, and in my opinion it was good. It wasn't the fastest tyre for astroturf, but it was good to drive, and the same for everyone.





THE Format

The race format was AWESOME, and I really hope that race organisers start using this more, it is so much more fun for the drivers, and also, it becomes audience friendly! As this race had a good amount of spectators, the organisers had come up with a completely new race format. Here is how it goes:

1. First some heat practice rounds, in randomly made heats, 12 cars in each heat.

2. This is followed by timed practice in same heats. The single best lap is used for re-seeding. This could also for example be 3 best consequtive laps. There were 2 rounds of this, but 3 rounds could work also.

3. Drivers are re-seeded according to laptimes, fastest driver number 1 in the last heat, 2nd driver 2nd in the last heat -> slowest driver, last in the first heat.

4. Qualifying begins, first heat has the slowest drivers from timed practice, they line up on the grid like for a main, the heat lasts for a set number of laps, which is calculated to be 5-10minutes. The top 4 drivers move up to a better heat for the second round of qualifying. As its the bottom heat the other 8 drivers remain in the same heat.


The start of a qualifying heat, yes, qualifying!

5. Second heat out on the track is the second slowest drivers after timed practice. Same story but, top 4 move to better heat for next round, middle 4 stay in the same heat, last 4 drop into the slowest heat.

6. So this goes on until the fastest heat after timed practice has run.

7. The heats are re-sorted for round 2. And the same thing happens. There are 6 rounds all in all.

8. All cars have fixed numbers, like in Motocross for example, but to make it easy for the driver or mechanic to know whats going on, there is a special sticker on each car wing, and after each qualifyer, all cars go to technical inspection, and the tech guy writes heat and car number for each car, for the next round.

9. After the last round of qualifying, the heats are re-sorted according to how people finished, and that is then the final qualifying results. Then the race goes on like a normal EFRA or IFMAR event, with double sided finals, top 16 go into semi finals, TQ goes into A, 2nd place into B, 3rd into A, 4th into B etc .Then place 17-32 go into quarter finals etc.

10. The genius thing about this format, is that nearly the whole race is actual RACING, rubbing paint, exciting fights for the win, the bump up spot, or for staying in the same heat. It's just plain BRILLIANT. And at the end of the day, it's still only qualifying, and then you have the normal bump up mains. The only BAD thing about this is, that it wasn't my idea! LOL

So the spectators and racers were happy! Racing action all day long! And to top it all off, Scotty Ernst was there doing his thing.


Scotty Ernst together with Max on the left (Racer) and Rex on the right (Mascot)

The Race itself

The race iteslf was a blast. Me and Ari Heinonen battled pretty much every time we were on the track, with last lap and even last corner passes for the win. The track evened out the playing field as it was so smooth and easy to get around. The huge double on the back was great fur stunts and the “flick” as Jeff Emig would say. It was actually a 2-day race, with 2 separate races, and the scores added together to get an overall winner for the event. The first day Ari and I had an epic battle for the win, with F1 style pit lane passing etc but I ended up winning in the end, with a good margin as Ari flamed out once towards the end right as we were battling.



Trying to go inside on Ari.

The second day we again started off the main with great battles, but about halfway Ari again had engine issues, and I won it. So I got the overall too! We got to have our trophy presentation on the stage where the WRC Rally trophy presentation was going to be held, so that was cool!

I also had my test pilots racing THE Car at this event. You see the fact that I can drive this thing doesnt prove anything, because most of the time when a beginner tries my car, they just end up doing donuts. So I had 9-year old Max Mört racing one, and guest star, Matti “Masa” Jokelainen driving a second car. Max had already driven THE Car once, but Matti had never driven it, so once again a good test. They both also bravely took care of the needed crash testing :-D. After some adjustments we were able to get THE Car's to handle well for both of them, and they both put in some great drives! I was really happy about that. Where did they finish? I have no clue. I need a team manager, I am terrible!

Set up talk

Astroturf. What a load of *******. Look, there is a reason they don't race Motocross on concerte. Because it would suck, a lot. Well for this race it made a lot of sense but I'm not a huge fan. 1 race a year is fun, because it's different! How is it different? A lot of traction, and it stays smooth. It was obvious from the first run, that something HAD to be done to THE Set up. So I compiled a short list, for what to do if you ever have the misfortune of having to race on Astroturf:

1. Cut the spikes on your tyres, inside and outside, you can go crazy with this, and cut many rows off.

2. Thick diff oils, I ran 12 500 – 10 000 – 4000, but could probably have gone even thicker.

3. Thicker swaybars, I ran 2.5mm front, 2-8mm rear. Normally I run 2.3 and 2.4 on THE Car.

4. Front shocks, out on front arm, and completely stood up on tower. Gives more stability.

5. Long upper links, calms the car down, so it doesn't spazz out all by itself for no apparent reason.

6. Less toe in, and less front kick up.

7. Drive different, brake before corner, dont try sliding into it like clay, and land straight, no sideways landing eventhough it is cool to do, it only works on dirt.


Real Car set up. How to avoid getting a parking fine.


THE Paparazzis were annoying me all weekend .

WRC Show

Additionally to organising the WRC event in conjunction with the RC -Event, the rally organisers wanted to have a Rally Show, where the top WRC drivers, inlcuding Kimi Räikkönen, Sebastian Loeb, and Petter Solberg, would go head to head, on a RC Special Stage. So a way too small track was built in front of the main stage area, and the WRC drivers raced each other, head to head, the winner of each pair would always progress to the next round. There were about 16 drivers I think, so 1:8th, 1:4 and semi finals, and the A-Main! I was REALLY surprised and impressed by how quickly some of these guys learned to drive. I think the main thing was, they immediately understood THROTTLE CONTROL! Well most of them anyway. Loeb was dialled after about 3 laps and made a perfect corner after the front straight which made mine and Ari's jaws drop, as he had never driven before, at least that's what he said. I think if you race something professionally, you will be able to get the hang of RC pretty quickly. Anyway, main final was between Dani Sordo and Mikko Hirvonen. After a close battle, Sordo won. He would then have to race Petter Solberg. Petter is the Norwegian Champion in electric on-road, from sometime in the 1980s, so he had a clear advantage to the others. And he proved it, as he beat Sordo, so Petter became the WRC RC Champion, and celebrated as if he just won the Rally! Coolness.

Rally Show pics by Arttu Kauranne:


Räikkönen goes inside of Sordo


Loeb was dialled within a few laps.


Solberg celebrates his Victory...


..and raced against his son.

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Friday 30th of July - top three drivers

1. Joseph Quagraine

2. Ari Heinonen

3. Jarno Siltanen

Saturday 31st of July - top three drivers

1. Joseph Quagraine

2. Viljami Kutvonen

3. Arto Heinonen


1st Joseph Quagraine



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