October 23rd, 2012
What a wonderful trip I have had on my first ever visit to mainland Europe. I came to this race as a last minute test session for Durango in preparation of the Worlds. Designer Gerd had some new parts for us to try on our prototype buggy and it was very beneficial for me to have the chance to do some testing with the new buggy.
My first impressions of the facility and track were of amazement. The facility is something that I think all World Championships should be held at because weather is not of concern. It’s a huge dome tent with open walls on the sides. Upon setting my car down for my first practice run, I came to realize the track was very slick and some set-up adjustments were going to need to be made. One thing they allow at this racetrack is tire additive. So the local shop had what most people used, so we bought some and began preparing our next runs with tires with additive. By the end of the weekend we had our pre-race tire ritual pretty much set and the results came around good.
In qualifiers there were four with the best two being taken in a qual points type format, but using worlds points (counting down from 200 for each position.) In each of the four qualifiers I led for some or most of the race. But in each round I would make a mistake or two and not really finish where I could have. My best two rounds were the first two in which I finished 4th in each. So I ended up qualifying 6h overall, which put me third on the grid in the even semi-final.
At the start of the semi I kept my cool as p2 crashed at the top right of the track and then I pressured P1. He didn't seem comfortable and ended up crashing as well! I then took the lead and ran with it. It was a 20-minute semi and my car was felling very good. I extended my lead throughout the race and ended up finishing in 1st in my semi. I also put in the fastest time of the two semi’s, just three-seconds ahead of Boots. So for the A-main I would start on pole.
After some theatrical introductions for the A-main put on by the ‘Dirt Crew’ we were on our way for the 45-minute final. Starting on P1 the mindset is easy. Keep the lead and don’t relinquish it! Easier said than done, but that’s what I set out to do. At the tone we were off and I had a good first few corners which are always of grave concern at the start of the main. But I held tight and kept my lead and watched as people tangled and crashed behind me. After the first lap I had built a couple second lead and I was feeling good about it. My car felt absolutely amazing. It is extremely rare for me to really feel like my car is completely dialed but on this day on this track in the A-main I can say my car was dialed. I came around for my first pitstop and I had built a good eight-second lead and came out of pit lane with the lead. This put me at ease for the moment as I worked on continuing to stay clean and put in consistent and fast laps.
For the remainder of the race, as the sun began to set, it became difficult to see my car. My eyes weren’t focusing the greatest and it was a challenge to keep my pace and hit my marks. Somehow though, I was able to keep it going and keep extending my lead in the meantime. In my mind through the whole race for some reason I was thinking about anything but what I was doing. You know, what I was going to have for dinner, how far back is second place, what I’m going to do on my flight home, how testing is going to go tomorrow, things like that. It was a non-stop conversation in my head with my mind wondering, but I also kept interluding to focus on your car. It was a mess but somehow the clean laps just kept clicking off. I think my mind was doing that because they didn’t really announce much. I never knew how much time was left or where anyone was. So instead my mind made up it’s own dialogue. At one point I was starting to recount my pitstops to think about how many I had left to go and I thought I still had one to go even though there was about 10 minutes left in the race. All of a sudden Adam Drake who was standing next to me says good job Ryan and i’m like, “what? it’s over?” I had no clue as I though there was still much more time. Thankfully, though throughout my whole mental process the driving part stayed good and I ran a pretty flawless race. I came away with the win with nearly a lap lead over second place!
I really feel strongly that the package that I am taking to the Worlds this year is going to give me the best possible chance at winning the event. At this race my new Durango was dialed and we spent the entire next day burning a gallon of fuel. My AKA tires were top-notch as they always are as shown by the all AKA podium at this event. My Alpha Plus Ryan Lutz Edition engine was flawless all week and preformed as reliably as it always does for me. My new Futaba radio felt amazing in my hand the entire 45-minute A-main. My Byron Fuel gave me the consistency that I trust in no matter where I go. Overall my entire sponsorship package came together this weekend and with the huge help from Hupo, Gerd, Jorn, and everyone else it was a great weekend and great result for me!
Up next is the R/C Pro Finals in Texas in a little over a weeks time. Five classes on tap yet again!
Posted by Ryan Lutz
2012 Dirt Nitro Challenge Italy
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