TA06 race writeup. Warning! Loooong
I’ve run the shop’s TA06 Pro for a few races now. In the very beginning we received feedback that the car handles great, has good punch and acceleration, but driveline drag affects top speed. Others weren’t fond of it’s unconventional design.
Gear used on TA06 Pro: Spektrum DX3R radio with 3100 DSM2 receiver, KO Propo BLZ350 ESC, Tekin Redline 17.5 motor, Futaba 9551 servo, Fantom (ThunderPower) 5000mah 2S Lipo, Tamiya 350R Ebbro body, 500k fluid in front diff and stock 900 in the rear, HPI X-Pattern tires… and loose nut behind the wheel (you’ll see).
The first race I entered the TA06 in was our parking lot race on January 15. Our parking lot track is about 45x70 feet and usually very technical and sometimes slick with some of San Gabriel’s finest parking lot dust (hence the X-Patterns). Because of this, I thought that straight line speed on the straightaway wasn’t going to be a huge disadvantage. It was the good acceleration in the infield that was going to be a real asset. During my first qualifier I noticed that the car handled the infield great, rotated well and had good punch. Straightaway speed seemed a little slower than the competition, however. I started in the back of the pack and was able to finish second or third, working my way up traffic but unable to catch the leader.
For the second qualifier, I geared up two teeth and the straight line speed improved somewhat but was still a little off pace. In this run, however, the acceleration of the car really shone, as I started in the front of the pack this time and was able to get away cleanly without getting involved in any first turn shenanigans. As in the first qualifier, the car handled great and the infield was no problem. Even the heavy nature (~1500 grams w/body) of the car provided to be an asset when bumping and grinding (gently, of course!) through back traffic. It was with this run I set TQ! Wow, not bad considering this was the first time the car had seen any competition and was not really set up in any way. (I had to run the shop too!)
For the main, again I was able to get a clean start and tried to duplicate the second qualifier, but the slight disadvantage in straightline speed caught up to me as the guy who qualified behind me was able to catch and pass me on the straight after a lap or two of valiantly trying to hold him off. I was able to finish second though. Not bad for it’s first outing. Here’s the funny part. After the race, I was showing a customer some EPA settings on my radio and that’s when I discovered (and remembered) that I had set the throttle EPA to 56% to demo the car earlier in the week for a customer to test drive! The customer hadn’t ever driven a 4WD touring car before so I turned it down to let him try it and not destroy it. After the demo I completely forgot to turn the EPA back up to 100%! D’oh!! While 56% sounds really low, it probably felt closer to 70-80%, as the car is using the new-ish KO Propo BLZ 350 speed control, which has you set the throttle end points with the trigger every time you turn the car on, similar to the old LRP Ai speedos. After realizing the (rookie) mistake, I turned the EPA back up to 100% and the car was it’s normal fast self again. It also seemed to be a little looser in the turns and slightly harder to drive. (hey, maybe slow *IS* fast! Nahh…) Either way, a silly mistake cost me the win, but taught me to remember to put my settings back after demos!
Fast forward to the first TCS race of the year at Tamiya’s Aliso Viejo track on January 22. Prior to this year, I had usually run my TA05 IFS-R in GT2, the silver can sedan class. Usually there was really good competition in that class as it was very popular - and as a result, usually a Japan trip winning class. Heavy hitters always show up for the Japan trip classes. For someone who almost never practices at the track (I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been there solely to practice) and routinely uses the first qualifier as practice+shakedown runs, I think I did pretty well at Nationals. I qualified 9th in the A main and after triple mains, finished there as well. A lot of our customers were surprised to see me in the A, as was I, haha.
This year, the silver can class (GT3) is reserved for intermediate level drivers who graduated from the Novice Spec TT01 class. All “sportsman” level drivers (here, sportsman is one level higher than intermediate) were required to at least run in GT2, which is the 17.5 non-timing brushless/tub car class. Leading up to the race a lot of our customers asked me if I was running TCS. A sample conversation:
“Are you running TCS?”
“Are you running your IFS-R?”
“Because I want to! Plus, I wanna see how it does…alright??”
Ok, TCS time. TCS is always a chaotic time for me because we (SpeedtechRC) have been the on-site hobby shop the past several races now. This means the night before, we have to pack up ALL of our relevant Tamiya on-road parts, accessories, electronics, oils, tire sauces, etc. etc…Anything we think the participants will need, we try to bring. Racers always expect us to be there right when the gate opens (6:45am) which isn’t really that easy considering our shop is about an hour away! Then, when we get there, we are busy setting up the makeshift shop and trying our best to help the racers find their parts, all while doing the normal racer things like setting up our pits, charging our cars, etc. and this time in the freezing cold. Most of the time, I am so busy doing these things, I miss my only opportunity to practice!
So here I am, with a car that has never been on the track before with no practice, entering a (sorta) big race. I also had to change the body to a 2005 NSX since the Ebbro body wasn’t legal under the rules (for GT2 only). Also changed were the tires to the premounted B3s per the rules. Car was 1497 grams, 97 grams over the 1400 gram limit. Heavy girl. I’m pretty sure my competitors were mostly around the minimum. Anyways, after the tech inspection and waiting for the previous heat to finish, I put the car down and walk up to the driver’s stand to take practice laps. Going around the sweeper, I heard the dreaded body chatter caused by the body sitting too low. I quickly ran down to raise the body up. By this time, the race was about to start, and I didn’t want to be *that guy,* so I did what I thought was enough and got back up to the stand just in time for the start of the race. As the starting horn sounded, we were off into turn 1, the sweeper. The body was STILL too low (but not as bad as before). While the speed of the car was good, the body hitting the ground ever so slightly was able to make the car loose in the tight corners and 2/3 of the way through the long sweeper, which caused some fishtails and some mild hooks. The green and cold track didn’t help either. At any rate, not good. I was able to finish around middle of the pack, but knew I would have to step it up in the next (and final) qualifier.
By the second qualifier, the weather and track had warmed considerably. This time I made sure that the body did not touch the ground. I also put an extra .5mm spacer in the belt tensioner to move the washer away from the belt. Ah, the TA06 was magical to drive that round. No more hooks and fishtailing. The car did what my limited talents told it to do. At one point I had an opportunity to pass the car ahead of me on the *outside* of the straight and sweeper but decided against it, due to the sometimes hairy 180 degree turn right after. The announcer told us the top three cars were on better than TQ pace and I was car three! I was excited..umm..maybe too excited. I caught up to the car in the second position but every time I got close, my nerves got the best of me and I made little mistakes here and there. I finished third in that qualifier, but with a pretty respectable time. I was happy, and people began to take note that the TA06 might not be so bad after all. (I was racing against 90% TA05 variants, maybe a rogue TB03, don’t know)
Once the mains were announced, my heart sunk when I learned that I had missed the A-main by ONE position. Uggggg! Being “BQ” is ok, but the thought of, “if I had done just a *little* bit better...I could’ve made it. I was comforted by the fact that I was in the front and would simply have to run for my life the whole race. The gear diff/gearbox setup of the TA06 gave me confidence that if I didn’t fall asleep at the start, I should have a decent getaway from the get go. After charging the car and making sure my camber settings etc. were all equal, it was time for the main event. I was pretty nervous. I’ve raced plenty of times, but still get butterflies when it’s a larger event and I have pressure to stay in front. The guy in second, third and fourth positions were all drivers I’ve battled before and are pretty decent drivers. I’m pretty well matched with the guy who was in second but I’d say he’d beat me oh, maybe 3 out of 5 times. He’s a veteran racer with good racing manners, and we have a friendly rapport (he is a customer too!) so I had a fair amount of faith he wouldn’t blast me in the turn two 180.
As the horn sounded, the direct drive characteristic of the TA06’s rear gearbox did exactly what it was supposed to and launched the car off to a healthy lead. So healthy, that I don’t think the cars behind me could t-bone me in the infamous 180 even if they wanted to! (ok maybe, but that kind of speed in that corner would have been an obvious attempt at a Chinese take-out. Get it? Oh, never mind.) Through the infield I could feel my lead growing as the TA06’s combination of smooth handling and acceleration made it easy to get away slowly and steadily. I could only hope that the cars behind me would battle and slow each other down and let me get away, and they did…for a little bit. I could tell cars two and three were pretty close to each other while the rest of the field acted like, well, the rest of the field. About a third of the way into the 5 minute race, I came upon every race leader’s nightmare – back traffic. I’m not one to really talk on the stand or to tell people, “hey I’m the leader and coming up on you” and stuff like that because I find it distracting to the other drivers. As I started my way through the back markers, making sure I could pass cleanly, I could feel my lead diminishing. A 3-4 second lead became 2-3. I was really nervous by this time and wished the race would end sooner than later! I eventually came up on the car who was in seventh position and could tell he didn’t know I was the leader as he proceeded to race me and hold me up for about six laps! My lead was just about gone. By this time, all the guys who were in the GT2 A-main were lined up and watching the race. Some of them were kind enough to let the other drivers know which car was the leader and eventually, almost at the end, the car in front of me “let” me by. One thing I like about back traffic though, is that the same guys can hold up the guys chasing you after you’ve gotten by them, and I prayed for this to happen. No luck. By the last lap, the TA06’s tires had started getting greasy, and I was driving very conservatively, being careful not to make a mistake that would cost me the race. I gingerly went wide around the last chicane before the straight, staying far, far away from the berms with the second place car in hot pursuit, but not quite close enough. I finished ahead by just 0.472 seconds! Phew!! TA06 wins! (ahem, the B main…but who cares haha) Great result by a car that had never seen that track before the first qualifier!
Truth be told, the TA06 has a very funky design. The drive train doesn’t seem to be quite as free or efficient as the TA05’s. However, the unique (for modern TC) rear gearbox setup seems to give the car really nice acceleration out of corners (and starts!) and the narrow chassis design (very prevalent in modern TC designs now) and centralized weight distribution seem to contribute to its nice handling. I tend to save my plastic tub cars for the parking lot races and double deck carbon cars for the prepped asphalt tracks, but would dare to say the TA06 could conceivably hold it’s own against the purpose built double deck cars. It would be at a weight disadvantage for sure, but that can be remedied by lighter weight components and the new “shorty lipos” that have come out on the market. I can’t honestly say that I think the TA06 is *every bit* as good as a double deck carbon TC, but it’s not supposed to be. Having said that, however, in the hands of the right driver, it could put up a hell of a fight and even win! I’m in favor of a little more weight when it comes to bumping around in slower, tighter parking lot tracks like ours though. I have confidence that I’ll come out on top if my ‘big girl’ tangles with a lighter car, heh heh.
All in all, a couple of good races for a pretty darn fun car.
That’ll do Pig, that’ll do.