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XRAY XB8E ’21 – Kit setup challenge

We built an Xray XB8E ’21, made a video telling you 5 things you need to know and then we stuck it into an E-buggy national championship event the next day. I set myself the challenge – how far could be get on the (almost) Kit Setup

5 things you need to know.

So what’s the obvious thing to do with a brand new E-buggy after its built? Enter it into a National Championship event of course….

Buying locally has proven to have its benefits.

I didn’t have any electrics for the XB8E, so I reached out to my local model shop – RadioControlledShop.ie – to see if they could hook me up, dial me in and hit the launch button. I’d used Hobbywing before in an E-Buggy and a quick look their website showed that new G2 versions of their E-buggy speed controller and motors were now available. I got them on order along with some Intellect 6200mAh shorties, but knew that demand was high worldwide and I might be waiting a while.

Full review of the Hobbywing XR8 G2 coming soon…..

The order was placed a week or so before the first E-buggy National Round for Ireland in 2021 – so I thought at the time that there was no chance of being ready. You can imagine the sense of panic when I got a message the afternoon before the race meeting to say the esc, motor and battery packs had arrived! The midnight oil was burnt as I soldered everything in neatly. Into bed and then up again at 5.30am to get on the road.

BADMCC - home of the Paddy Piston Race
Seriously 3D

RCCAOI E-Buggy Nationals [IE]

The first round of the 2021 Irish National are being held at the infamous BADMCC – home of the Paddy Piston Race. The “seriously 3D” track is probably one of the better ones in Ireland or the UK and offers a truly offroad experience. A mix of cobble-lock, tile, loam, astroturf and timber means that no tyre is totally on point and compromises must be made. The events are small and compact with little time to relax and although there was only 4 heats on the day, there was plenty of talent amongst the competitors.

Not ideal, so just drive to the conditions…..

To add to the night before panic, I realised very late in the evening that the weather was going to be unseasonally cool and that I probably wasn’t going to be able to use my well stocked Proline Buckshot M3 soft compound tires. Instead I was going to need super-soft M4 compound versions, which I didn’t have and wouldn’t be able to get in time. A dig through a long forgotten “odd-bins” box of tyres yield eight new Blockades in the S4 compound – this would have to do. Not ideal, so I’d just have to drive to the grip level available.

***Top Tip*** Proline M3 and M4 compounds are great for tracks in northern Europe. S3 and S4 seem to work better in hotter climates. There are lots of opinions out there about when to use one over the other. My top tip is that if its cool enough that you have your jacket on its M4. If you’re too warm in your jacket and end up taking it off, it’s M3. The cross over point is when the air temperature is about 16 – 18°C.

So, just a little summary incase I’ve lost you;
1. New car with kit setup
2. First race in a year due to Covid and it’s a national event
3. Wrong tyres
4. 4 hours sleep
5. Unpainted bodyshell….. did I not mention that? Yes, no paint available for a one-can wonder either. I managed to get shell of a HB Nitro to fit.

Disaster or delight?

I put the car down into the pitlane for first practice and told myself just to take it easy and not to push too hard. The session started and I could tell straight away that the car wasn’t doing anything too strange and the kit setup wasn’t a million miles away from competitive. It had a ton of bottom end grunt, but that effect was heightened by the fact that I had only driven Nitro in the last two seasons.

As mentioned, the track is very 3D with some huge jumps and plenty of air time. I noticed the car was double bouncing on landing and the rear of the car was not great through the rougher corners. Also the car was shedding too much corner speed at the apex and I was having to punch it too early in the corner to keep the speed up.

Whilst still driving in the practice session I had compiled a list of small changes to make. The rear shock oil was reduced – but the kit oil would have been fine on a normally warm day – the front inner camber link was moved outboard, the shocks were laid down a hole. I know I said I was going to use the kit setup – but the competitor in me wouldn’t keep the promise.

Having made the changes, I went out in practice session 2 and was happy enough. There was still loads of things wrong, don’t for a second think the car was dialed. The tyres, the pistons, the diff oils, the roll centres – ALL WRONG! – but at that point it was just time to drive it. The car was definitely a delight!

Qualifying and minding tyres

I’m not going to drag this out like a Netflix drama – straight in with a second and a third in round. Qualified straight into the main in 3rd. You weren’t expecting that were you?!

But it wasn’t pretty! The S4 Blockade tyres I had were fine in the dry and on line, but once there was a bit of rain they choked and the car became loose.

I’ve got to say the car is really good out of the box. I can’t think of a single reason why anybody from novice to pro would fault it at this stage.

That went well…..

The finals weren’t pretty as the tyres proved to be less and less suitable when rain showers fell, but that’s ok, the day was never meant to be a challenge for overall points and rather just an outing to see what this kit could do when thrown in at the deep end. My final position was 5th – and I’m happy yo take it.

Oh no! You’ve gone over to the dark side….

I was very surprised by some of the jokes and light hearted comments made online and when out racing regarding buying an Xray. There is definitely an underlying sentiment of – “oh you’ve joined the dark side” – which I was not aware of up to then.

We are participating in a very brand active hobby – its almost tribal. Personally, I look at cars for their engineering merit rather than who’s running the company or who the team drivers are. People want to tell you that you are wrong for selecting any brand but the one they have. “It’s just a copy of a…” or “They basically just rebranded a …….” are opinions shot are you with the rapid fire button pressed. I just want to remind everyone that one of the most successful brands across the hobby has admitted in many of their videos to taking other peoples ideas and refining them. Copying good work is nothing new and the Xray is definitely not a same-same knock off from the PRC.

So what now for the XB8E…..

I had a surprisingly good result when only half prepared, so I would like another go. I’ve lots of bookings for RacewayOne this summer, so time is an issue, however if the pandemic restrictions persist, there may be some cancellations and opportunities to try again.

Thanks for taking the time to read – hope it all made sense.