mike_cradock

Argentina 2012 up next and we’re moving towards more modern times – Buenos Aires hosted in December that year, we were looking forward to going to this as we had a fairly dominant year with Elliott Boots and his Kyosho/Novarossi/AKA package.

But again the rumours started on the so called Unsocial networks, saying it’s dangerous it should never be held there bla bla bla! But the only thing I was worried about was getting through customs with all our racing stuff intact, and not to be charged high $$$ to get it through. As I know this was fact from the drivers I had seen stuck there for 12 hours arguing to get out with their racing gear! We were Lucky in a way that we didn’t attend the warm up race.

IFMAR said that they had it sorted, and we had a piece of photo copied paper basically telling the customs officers that we were racing a WC event, and that by taking this stuff into your country it was of no financial gain to us. I didn’t hold too much hope as customs are of a law to themselves!

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I told Chris Boots to use normal suitcases as they would target the racers, because they knew of them from the warm up a few months back, and not to take his OGIO bag as it was too heavy; you could only get 16kg in the larger bag, the other was smaller could only get in 17kg total weight including the bag. I met Chris and Elliott at Heathrow Terminal 5, with them they had both OGIO bags so I thought “this will be fun!” They put the first bag on, coming up on the scale at 29kg, the second 17kg, the attendant said “£40 please Mr Boots!”. Chris argues the same line I hear every time; LOL you don’t get this with Easy Jet! (he changes this to BA when flying Easy jet) and both bags combined are legal weight of 46kg (23kg per bag)? Yes Mr Boots but its over weight on one bag!  Chris pays this and then has to go to the oversized baggage counter to get it on the plane.

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Next we go through hand luggage checks to find that Chris has left his aftershave in them; 2 bottles 500ml each, (Mandate and Brut or Wild Stallion). So this results in a repeat of the above comments, and the lady said “well you will have to pay for postage to your house, (£40) or I throw them away.”  Chris turns on the old Bootsie charm and ends up getting his hand luggage put in the hold and saved himself £40 so he’s equal again!

Never a boring trip with Chris!

Anyway, after a fairly long flight we arrive in Argentina and the bit I’m most nervous about here is customs! Passport control goes smoothly and now waiting for our bags and watching customs at the same time, we get our bags which all turned up safely, and proceed towards customs.

With their customs you have to put it through an X-ray machine so they can see what’s in it, we went for the smallest queue and we did hear rumours that the right one was the worst for being stopped, so we took the middle and it was a free for all between Elliott, Chris and myself for getting the bags out the other end and getting past customs.

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I saw a guy getting questioned so I grabbed my bag which jumped over the top of Chris’s and just ran straight through with Elliott, Chris got through ok and we waited in the taxi rank watching in case customs followed us.

My Good friend Tim Long got stopped and they asked where his paper work was, he said my friend has it and made out he was going to get it and took his bag with him and never looked back!

We get to the hotel and pay the taxi a different price to what was agreed but were happy to be at the hotel safe. We had the usual big drink in the hotel that night, getting Andy Kramer drunk, I went to bed as I was waiting for the restaurant to be open and ended up sleeping right through until breakfast, I found out 3 things that morning,

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1) Andy Kramer had broken his foot that night in his bedroom!

2) Dave Duggan was sharing a room with me, which is not bad but he has a bad habit, (the same as Mark Pavidis) of using all your shampoo and snores more than I do, but he said its ok as he has a brace to stop him doing it!

3) You couldn’t go anywhere other than the hotel as it’s not safe. You could see the track from hotel, but there was a bridge you had to cross over a freeway which was fenced in- they told us to not cross if someone you didn’t know was following and there was another person at the other side as you could get mugged in the middle!

Apart from that the track looked good and the Holiday Inn hotel was fine!

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Practice: we had a 15 minute practice on first day and got the car checked and stamped up. The track had a funny feeling to it, not the atmosphere you normally get from a WC event but it looked ok and the track as I always say it’s the same for everyone. It had all the normal air con containers for all the teams and sponsors like a little village but just felt a bit misplaced. The main race director had a whistle to control race staff and marshals, next day Tim Long had a whistle, this caused major confusion, even in the hotel!

We said our hellos to everyone, found a pit spot and got the car ready for practice. Elliott went out on first lap at his normal steady pace of flat out to get used to the circuit! After 2 laps he was posting the fastest times, Chris and me looked at each other and said has he been here before??

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Later we went back to hotel for dinner and ordered steak, it was great, had a few beers and then bed.

Next day it had rained heavy, so the track had wood shavings all over, same again with the car but tried some different tyres and topped the practice sheets using some tyres that even Mark Pavidis didn’t think would work- the AKA Moto! I think Mark was worried as he didn’t bring many of these!

Went back to the hotel and dinner for a change and ordered steak again, and the waiter said sorry steaks all gone! What?? this is only our 2nd day and you’re all out? Its a WC event you have 80% of the drivers staying here, with a lot of Americans who like steak and you run out, great forward planning! I also enjoyed reading Neil Cragg’s reports each evening, I think this is where NeilBuggy started.

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Qualifying: Round one Elliott wanted to stay on the Moto tyre but the track had dried out a lot more, so we didn’t have the best of runs but we were feeling confident. After the second round we noticed the track was getting very much like Wakefield surface. We got out the set up sheets and because the Buenos Aires circuit was faster, we did a combination set up between Westmill and Wakefield. We used AKA Ibeam tyres and it was a big improvement. Elliott was happy with the car and that’s the main thing to is keep your driver happy. We knew the weather would be bad in the coming days, so we needed the job to be done now rather than later to make the semi finals.

Elliott was on a good run and catching everybody up so I told him stay where you are and don’t take no chances with traffic, for once he listened and we ended up 10 seconds clear of 2nd qualifier in that round! Best compliment I heard Elliott get was from Ryan Maifield when looking at the times, he said “Are you driving the same track as me?”

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Next round we were on for a good one, unfortunately Elliott just caught a stone and turned over while again 10 seconds in front, the marshal just about saw it, then flipped it back over on to its roof again costing us more time. Because of the bad rain forecast they put on another round that day so that 5 were completed. We managed to TQ this round which left us top of the pile by one point from Robert Battle going into the last round the next day.

That night the Kyosho cabin was broken into and all the parts and T shirts were stolen! They found out who it was and all the parts were returned next day and the driver was excluded from the event!

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We got up and the heavens opened as predicted. I thought it was going to be another race like our Austrian Euro warm up where we would kill all our cars and engines having to race in these wet conditions but, the organisers decided that that was it for the day and Elliott had TQ’d the worlds by 1 point; the best 3 scores from 5.

This didn’t really sink in for me until we got back to the Hotel, it was crazy as this was like a press day in the bar. I was trying to eat, drink,answer text messages and email reports all at the same time. As a man its hard to do 2 things at once! This seemed more hard work than wrenching on the car, but it was a great feeling and wouldn’t change it for the world.

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So we had a few drinks at the bar and all drivers are watching the news on the TV that Buenos Aires is flooding bad with cars being washed away down the streets. It was a crazy day and night. There was talk that the track was made on a flood plain for the city,  if they opened the flood gates the track would be gone and instead of the 3 feet of water it would be 10ft!

We didn’t want this to happen as it would kill the event and make Elliott world champ by time, something we both spoke about and didn’t want to happen!

Anyway back to the drinking and by this time there were a few people drunk, Chris said to me I will have a word just in case any trouble breaks out, by the time Chris got there and came back there was a little scuffle and Ryan Maifield got hit in the eye by somebody’s head moving backwards from a push. I said to Chris I thought you went as peacemaker? He said I don’t know what happened?!!

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It was all ok and everybody was laughing and showing the video of the incident and we all got back to having a good time. Funny thing in the morning Elliott came down in the lift with Ryan Maifield sporting a bump under his eye, Elliott asked him if he saw the scuffle last night? Too funny to watch Maifield’s reaction!

We had a day off as our semi final was next day, Steve Shakespeare had sorted the track layout with Ben Nibblet by doing a video on how he was going to redo the track with a nice new wood floor which would cope with the wet conditions, he put his quote in but it was a little high of 50k? but a must see video!

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I rebuilt Elliott’s car in Chris and Elliott’s room as he said he would help me, this consisted of him cleaning the body and decaling a new wing, then having a catch up on face book on the bed before falling a sleep for an hour.

Just before Chris fell asleep he rang room service and ordered 2 coffee’s plus a cheese & Ham toastie for himself, 30 minutes went by nothing from room service so he calls again, they say they are very busy doing a wedding. Chris explains; I know that because you shut the restaurant down and we couldn’t have a proper dinner, its not good enough!  Chris then fell asleep when he woke up he asked if room service had been, I said no. He called again and said I have been waiting an hour I could have come down ordered it and made it myself in that time! then carried on to say he’s not paying for the room that night as there is no facilities unless it turns up in the next 10 minutes.

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After he put the phone down I told him I had eaten it while he was sleeping and put the tray outside! I didn’t really but when it did turn up it was cold! LOLI came back to my room and Dave Duggan was having a shower and washing his hair again and asked me if i had an adaptor to use, maybe a hair dryer. I lent him mine and said there is something wrong with the pin but it works, about 5 minutes later I hear a scream and the lights in the room dimmed slightly. I went in to see if he was ok and he was holding his finger, he had pulled the adaptor out and the pin was still stuck in socket, he had tried to pull the pin out with his fingers!

That evening we had a nice steak, the restaurant finally had some more in, we’d been eating another style of meat which I think may have been a local delicacy of: bone, fat and gristle cut into squares and fries if you were lucky! That evening was very quiet so we went to bed early, not much sleep that night before the finals day.

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The next day we got up early on finals day with a good breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs and yogurt. Then down to the track over the bridge. I checked the car watched some races checked the car and watched some races. I watched Cody King bump up to the semi finals, we had our practice and everything was great with the car, I replaced the lipo and double checked all the wires from it to the switch! All was fine. We were then ready for the semi final.

Elliott went for a fast start and came into the third corner with the step up way too fast, taking off backwards. I knew he needed to calm down and shouted to him, he made a series of mistakes for the first 2 laps putting him down to 7th place! Then he got into a rhythm and started pulling back to 4th when I noticed as he came down the straight he took the corner a lot wider than normal… Then went over the triple jump and went off the side of the track!

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He shouted down that the battery was dead, I knew it wasn’t and rushed over to retrieve the car… taking the body off I could smell burnt electrics, it was the steering servo! I was totally gutted, why didn’t it go in the practice? Why couldn’t it have been the battery? At least we could have changed it and had a chance to finish the race. I just didn’t know what to do with myself and just didn’t want to go back to the pits and face Elliott and Chris.

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I watched the other semi final and saw Tebo go out with a couple of engine cuts! My instant thought was that this is just getting worse & worse for Kyosho! Cody made it and David Ronnefalk showed some good form. It was nice to be asked by Paul King if I’d like to help pit in the final, which i agreed, this helped me take my mind off the disappointment of our day and was hoping Cody could pull it off again!

The final started and Cody made a few too many mistakes at the beginning and gave himself a huge task to pull off another win. Ty was off and closely followed by Robert, Ty made a few mistakes and Robert took control of the race. Paul and myself did all the pit stops with no hiccups and Cody pulled it back to 7th. David had a great drive to 4th making him Kyosho’s number one driver as he had recently finished 2nd in the Austrian Euro champs so a great season for him. Very well done to Robert, a great drive and he made it look easy but it wasn’t – the heat was hard to stand in for an hour as i felt this in the pit lane and I couldn’t get a drink when I wanted!

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We walked back over the bridge for the last time to the hotel and went to the presentation dinner which was hard to get into. They only gave a ticket to the driver and we thought you could buy a ticket at the door, but no, I went down to the bar and waited then someone kindly gave me a ticket to get in. We took the car with us and went through all the presentation and speeches etc… and wondering where the next worlds would be with rumours that night that it could be Somalia, North Korea!

The top 3 got their trophies and pictures and then we thought; when are they going to give out the TQ trophy? It all finished until someone asked Carlos where is the TQ trophy was and he replied there is not one, or that the club or track do not have to do one!

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I thought great, first time a UK driver TQ’s and there’s no trophy. In all the WC’s i have been to since 1990 there has always been a TQ trophy.

We walked out in disgust, we even had Robert Battle come up and apologise for some reason, he couldn’t believe that there was no trophy, which I thought was great sportsmanship. I know they even had a trophy for the best paint job! We later got an email saying they had a trophy for Elliott but we never replied! so it was a long flight back and on the plane Chris decided to not let the women in front have her seat all the way back when he was trying to eat his dinner, so she and the 2 biggest blokes you could fit into a plane seat had their seats back all the way home so we all had about 7 inches of gap from head rest to our faces all the way home! So in summary not the best WC i have been to as compared to all the past ones just got better!

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This one had a lot of gaps to fill and questions to be asked! Trust me I’m not just saying this because we had a bad result, we had a good one really with Elliott’s second WC and he TQ’d and this put him on the map! But I personally felt sorry for Robert as he had just won the biggest event ever and there was no atmosphere or feeling of celebration at this event.

Hopefully this was a one off or just me getting old, I would never discourage anybody from attending a WC just for the fun, experience and all the great people you meet!

Cheers Mike Cradock.