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RCVoice answers your questions - Why are we still running 5 minute heats?

Posted 16-05-2008 at 10:44 PM by RCVoice
This weeks blog entry is an answer to a question submitted by one of our fans.

1. Why are we still running 5 minutes heats? I mean... 15 years ago cells only had 1700mAh, nowadays cells have more than twice that, but we're still running 5 minutes heats.
Why don't we run 10 or even 15 minutes heats? Looking even further, lipo batteries allow even more run time, so we could run 15 minutes heats with 30 minutes finals with one battery change.

a/ A few years ago, I recall reading an interview with an American pro racer in a magazine, he was asked the question whether he preferred racing back home in the USA where at the time, electric qualifiers and finals were 4 minutes in length, or whether indeed he preferred racing in Europe or at world championships where races were 5 minutes long- his response was this, ďI donít care how long I have... it never feels as though I am out there long enough anyway...Ē.

The thrill of the sweet qualifier, the heat of battle in a tough main or final, the fun of driving your car around and seeing how you do against competitors, its what we all do this for.
And I am sure many of us believe we want to be out there as long as possible, maximising the pleasure from the money we have paid to compete that day, and undoubtedly, as mentioned in this question, new technology means that this is possible. BUT, there are many arguments for maintaining the 5 minute structure in electric buggy racing, and I will look at this from a national event perspective to demonstrate this arguments clearly...

1. Logistics: The average electric off road national day runs from 8am to roughly 6:30pm, Iím talking of the time from the first heat of practice begins, to the last leg of the A is finished. From 6:30pm, it is then necessary for competitors to either get packed away, and take the long drive home, or for them to get back to a hotel, or get some dinner sorted in any way as well as a wash.
In addition, the organisers must pack away the computer gear, get the site sorted as well as getting fed and washed etc. be it Saturday or Sunday.

If qualifiers become tripled in length from where they are now, plus the finals, thatís the length of the day dramatically heightened and the only way to prevent this is to negatively impact upon the entry level or the event structure.

Of course, this is in the national case- it could of course be tried at your regionals or club races, but from a BRCA rule point of view, this is just one reason why it is unlikely to be feasible.

2. The skill of the 5 minute run: OK, ok, so I can hear you shouting at you PC screen ďBUT LONGER QUALIFIERS AND FINALS ARE EMPLOYED IN NITRO RACING!Ē and yes they are, but to me, and Iím sure to many other electric racers, the true art, if you like, of electric racing, is the difficulty of the perfect 5 minute run with a 35mph car.

Letís consider gas racing off road- bigger cars, higher top speeds, engines, noise, pit stops, yeah yeah yeah, but do you know what else? Bigger, more cumbersome machines, with a slower cornering speed than a 1/10th electric car, a wider track and a virtually bullet proof structure.
Consider 1/10th electric off-road... more twitchy, faster lap times, higher average speeds per lap, tighter tracks and, this is the killer, the necessity for accuracy.

Think about it, a 15 minute qualifier in nitro means that you can score well with a quick pit stop, you can afford to make some errors and do well, and thatís with a car that is, in comparison, undoubtedly easier to drive! (yeah... I went there! Though will concede they are still very difficult to drive well of course!).
Transfer this to an electric 15 min run, you could again afford to crash 3, 4 maybe 5 times, as you see in many gas races and still score well in a round... a 5 minute qualifier, 3 to 4 mistakes and you are going to be lucky to get anywhere near the top 25, maybe 30 (again looking at this in national terms).
You must go perfect for 5 mins, as a shorter run time wonít allow you to make up the time youíve lost in a heavy error. In addition the car is more fragile, so you must stay clean, you are driving around a small car that could kick like a mule in a deep rut, not blast through it like it isnít there.

To me, the shorter run time and the extra difficulty of driving a 10th scale off road electric car combined, is the true skill of electric racing and the reward, and this would only be diminished with longer race times.

3. Think of the added costs of tyres: it is often the case in 10th scale off road, that tyre freshness can have a big impact on handling. Tyres of course, are not a cheap commodity, and at times just from a 5 min run, it is difficult to make the tyres last more than 2 races at a time.
With a 15 min qualifier you will undoubtedly, in 10th scale, have no choice but to go new set per run, youíre asking the tyres to do the equivalent of 3 races per round. Without changes being made to the construction/design of 10th scale tyres, the costs are being driven up.

And finally... think of the spectators! The intensity of a 5 min run, the speed the cars circulate at for the 5 mins, the drivers cannot make a heavy mistake, facilitating metronomic precision each lap.
They are not seeing the same car do 40 laps of a small 10th scale track in 15 mins, potentially making 5 errors, still possibly winning. What would look more impressive to you?
Would you not get bored of watching for 15 minutes? No pit stops or flame outs... None of anything that maintains the interest in a 45min gas race- the noise, smells etc.
Would Brian Harris (national commentator) be able to get so excited and talk a racer through their TQ run over 15 mins with the same energy and purpose? I would doubt it, although heíd give it a go!

There are lots of things to be considered... donít get me wrong, your question is valid, and there is the potential to do 15 minute races, however my view is that at this time, there would be no real benefits to electric RC events as a spectacle for racers or spectators.

On the racing scene, the brushless/lipo 15 minutes demo class, as seen in the states, should for the time being remain just that, a demo class.
The longer run times offered by new technology in electric racing, more than anything, should be utilised to the full during your free practice, to help make sure, that your next 5 minute qualifier or final, is as perfect as it can be... speed identifies a racer, consistency defines a racer.

Ďtil the start tone sounds,

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  1. Old
    Valid comments if you compare 5 to 15 minutes. But why not 6 or 7 minutes? 1/12th did 8mins already long time ago, and you also need perfect runs there. Even one extra minute is huge for your concentration, we do it in Belgium and it's great! You could solve tyre wear by only allowing tyres with harder compounds (that would be a good thing for 5mins racing too...).

    But I think indeed the biggest issue is the logistics with big races, time in between heats is long enough already with 5 mins :-) So longer races would mean fewer qualifiers and finals, or less people entering the race...
    Posted 16-05-2008 at 11:54 PM by flipside flipside is offline
  2. Old
    bigred5765's Avatar
    OK lets say 7mins qualis and 10 min finals then
    wheres the regional rep lol
    Posted 17-05-2008 at 12:46 AM by bigred5765 bigred5765 is offline
  3. Old
    niggs98's Avatar
    8 minute 12th racing is the bomb but as said above we would either have to lower the entries by20-30 people or/and only have 3 rounds of qualifiers. either way with the lenth of a national to get more track time others have to lose out as there just arnt enough hours in the day especially if you have a 4 + hour drive home afterwards
    Posted 17-05-2008 at 07:41 AM by niggs98 niggs98 is offline
  4. Old
    Chequered Flag Racing's Avatar
    UK 12th Scale Nationals

    max entries is 80 per day, which gives 4 heats & 1 Final for all

    racing starts by 9:30 & is usually over by 17:30 if no PC problems
    Posted 17-05-2008 at 08:04 AM by Chequered Flag Racing Chequered Flag Racing is offline
  5. Old
    johnnyboy's Avatar
    We run 10 minute A mains (8 min B and 6 minute C on)now with bump ups at our track :P

    10 minute mains are awesome and we were only going through about 2500maH on a brushless/Lipo combo...
    Posted 17-05-2008 at 08:18 PM by johnnyboy johnnyboy is offline
  6. Old
    5 min qualifiers and 10 min lower finals and 15 min A final with bumpups as in nitro racing would be lovely :d
    Posted 18-05-2008 at 02:01 AM by erkan erkan is offline
  7. Old
    albertobdq's Avatar
    So... why do you need more capacity? Worried about tyres? Use controll tyre to limit to only 2-3 set of tyres per event, so drivers decide when to use each and that's all.

    Next stop... tyre change at boxes!

    Get ready for the electric F1 boys
    Posted 18-05-2008 at 01:57 PM by albertobdq albertobdq is offline
  8. Old
    Karl Marsden's Avatar
    what about having more cars in a race, with 2.4G you could still get the amount of racers in a meeting and also run longer heats too. Value for money for me is a must, enjoy it, and you don't mind spending it I always say!

    By making the racing pretty busy on the track, it's not just about BHP and a clear track in front of you, maybe skill becomes even more of a factor??? Just a wild one in the mix
    Posted 19-05-2008 at 10:43 PM by Karl Marsden Karl Marsden is offline
  9. Old
    jimmy's Avatar
    Just sticking two more drivers in per heat & having ten heats of 12, instead of twelve of 10 - would give you more time for the longer runs. Either way I'd like to race a little longer - maybe it can be tried out at one of the big non-National races in coming months.
    Posted 20-05-2008 at 10:02 AM by jimmy jimmy is offline
  10. Old
    Longer runs : Ok. Like Flipside said : we run 6min qualifiers and finals in Belgium and I love it ! We also proved that it has not much influence to the logistics of a race. I would even prefer 8 minutes runs like in 1/12th racing.

    One remark for all the guys asking for 15 min finals with battery change : one thing I love about 1/10th electric races is that you don't need to find a mechanic like you do in nitro races. Just plug in the battery yourself and go racing.
    Posted 20-05-2008 at 11:40 AM by stefke stefke is offline
  11. Old
    SHY's Avatar
    Why not make a flexible system? Set a max. number of registrations. Then adjust the runtimes to the time schedule. The smaller the race the longer the runtimes. Tires/wear is equal for everybody.

    Do not set runtimes that are so long that people will need the newest and most expensive packs. Keep costs down. Nobody should dump.

    And forget about battery change. Believe me, it's frustrating to search for a mechanic at every race The only exception would be a "team endurance race".
    Posted 17-06-2008 at 02:33 PM by SHY SHY is offline

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