- Team Xray XB4 - Nathans Ralls - Charleroi - Jan. 2013 -

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Charleroi Race Report

Well with EIR race fast approaching the decision was made to attend round 4 of the Chaleroi winter series for a good weekends testing and a chance to see old and new friends.
After a nice relaxing Friday evening in Lille with the better half Saturday morning came up fast and we found ourselves trackside with good friends jp and Bart and ready to get to work. By the evening we had the Centro feeling great. Was good to work so closely with Xray driver and good friend Bart Van Echelpole and both of us were very happy with the all new Xray XB4 by the end of the day. For only the second time running the car it definitely shows a lot of pace, even in kit form. As per usual my Hpi Proflux equipment worked faultlessly and the smoothness combined with insane straight line speed helped drop the lap times even further
Sunday as always comes around to quick and the early alarms were soon sounding. The usual quick locals were there and ready to do battle, and with my plan of racing both 2wd and 4wd a long and busy day lay ahead of me
2wd Qualifying and from the off it was going to be a 2 way battle between myself and Wouter Wynen with Nicco very close behind. With all 3 of us in the top heat things proved to be very close all day but I managed to take TQ from Wouter with Nicco close behind
4wd Qualifying would be a little harder, having not been seeded in the top heat, both myself and Jerome Sartel found the unenviable task of trying to qualify and attack a track whilst avoiding others. I know it is a 2 way street and trying to do your own run whilst avoiding a flat out racer coming up behind you is very difficult but never the less it was a hard days racing for both of us during qualification and most runs involved a moment of one sort or another, a 4th overall for myself was the result with local racers, Sebastian Wartelle on tq, Cedric Nickel in second, and new Ralls Racing driver Bart Van Echelpole in 3rd, Jerome Sartel lined up just behind me in 5th meaning that the finals would be very close for all

Finals
With the usual 3 legs to run all was to play for, in 2wd Wouter made his intensions very clear from the start attacking from the off and putting me under a lot of pressure making it very difficult to get in a rhythm, thankfully I managed to gain a couple of foot after a small bobble and was then able to ease out a small lead from this to take the win
Leg 2 was much closer and a small mistake from myself early on allowed Wouter into the lead thankfully a few laps later Wouter made exactly the same mistake and I was back through into a lead I wouldn’t lose.
With the win already in the bag I decided to make some changes to the Centro to try and free the car up a little more and gain some lap times. We fitted the ˝ degree blocks to the car in reverse to reduce the rear toe in and gave it a go. The transformation in the car was immediate and although I lost some stability at the end of the straight under braking the improvement in the car and lap times was immediate and the 3rd leg was taken again in front of Wouter

4wd
Although I knew I had the pace of Sebastian, the thought of getting onto him from 4th on the grid enough to create pressure was going to be a very tall order; this wasn’t helped in leg 1 when I went wide on the first corner letting sartel through. 2 minutes later I finally managed to fight my way back past sartel and set about catching up with the lead three who had broken away whilst we battled. By the 3 minute mark I had caught Bart and cedric who had tangled and I was through and straight after Sebastian. With less than 30 seconds to go I had closed down to within 10 foot of him but just as I was giving up hope of getting closer he bobbled over the large table top spinning out and allowing me through to take the win.
Leg 2 and I was determined not to make the same mistake again at the start. This time I was straight onto the back of Bart and whilst he was trying to find a way past cedric I managed to sneak a way past him and then cedric a few corners later when he crashed, this put me straight onto the back of Sebastian and a great race followed as I applied every ounce of pressure that I possibly could on him. At around the 3 minute mark he again bobbled on the large table top but this time without spinning out, the resulting loss of momentum allowed me to just sneak through into the lead, with Sebastian close behind it was now time for me to soak up the pressure and every piece of pressure I had applied to him was returned. With my driving getting ragged I knew a crash was coming soon and it did…. But thankfully the mistake came from Sebastian.
Leg 3 was a far closer affair, Bart had a great start and I followed him past a crashing Cedric, Bart was then straight onto Sebastian who promptly lost it again on the large table top. (This seemed to be his and many others nemeses over the course of the day) Bart then proceeded to pull a 10 foot gap on myself and held this for about 2 mins until he to crashed across the table top. This let me into a lovely lead so I dropped into cruise mode until I made the same mistake as the rest and binned it on the table top. This gave Bart back the lead who had sartel right on his gearbox. I joined back on the track right behind these 2 and for the last 3 laps we had a great 3 way battle with Bart just taking the win from sartel and myself right behind. The 3rd leg win gave Bart 2nd overall just behind myself and Sebastian in 3rd giving Xray a 1,2,3 and Hpi a 1,2 on the event in 4wd.
As always a massive thank you to my sponsors for all their continued support, HPI, Answer Rc, custom Blitz, Ralls Racing and Custom Grafix.

See you all soon at EIR

Nathan

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