mike_cradock

Finally the last and most recent installment of Mike Cradock’s enthralling tales of the Worlds is here, the ‘eventful’ 2014 IFMAR Worlds in Sicily! Home to volcanoes, beautiful women, food, wine and one or two mafiosos! It was a Worlds dominated by Ty Tessmann and Mike takes us through them from his perspective.

It was September 2014 and the 1/8th Offroad World Championships were in Messina, Sicily, Italy. I was travelling with Michelle boarding our 4 hour flight from Luton airport to Cantania, followed by a bus trip to the hotel which was right next to the track in Giardini-Naxos.

We had our worries because of Sicily, Mafia etc.. plus we heard the owner of the track was using the locals laws in his favour to muscle the event, but with any travel it’s an adventure and this is where it started!

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We landed, through passport control all ok and didn’t see any men wearing pin stripped suits with violin cases so that was a good start.

We went to collect our bags when i noticed a trail of white powder on the conveyor belt… and I thought, I recognise that… I picked my bag and it was covered in the same powder and I noticed a few others the same. Michelle’s bag came down and was covered in it!

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Michelle had decided that as we were going for 11 days she would take her own washing powder but did not put it in a plastic bag but in a takeaway container, which I think was smashed just after leaving our sight at Luton airport. So we had to go through customs which made the sniffer dog sneeze a bit but we made it through.

We bought our tickets for the bus and I think it was an hour and a half trip to Naxos after 10 stops in what seemed like forever to get out of the town we started going out into the mountains it looked quite tropical and confirmed it by starting to rain, I asked the driver if he could tell me when we came to the Naxos stop as nothing seemed sign posted. He said Si Si and I thought ok and went to sleep leaving Michelle in charge, I woke up it had stopped raining and said ‘are we there yet ?’ and asked the driver again ‘Naxos?’ Showing him my phone just to confirm he just said Si Si again.

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Half hour passed and i  asked again as i thought the driver was as much use as an ash tray on a motor bike and he said Si Si again but this time pointed backwards and stopped the bus so i took it we had to get out here in a very narrow road where i had to open the side of the bus up which was on the drivers side and get our cases out still with powder pouring from them!

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We got to the side of the road and looked around, we were lost. I called my friend Mau and explained where i was – he didn’t know where we were either but he said be careful and don’t speak to anyone, i thought great how am i going to find a hotel like that. A Taxi passed and i was brave enough to wave, he just looked at me and drove on another one came but he stopped and said he knew where the hotel was – we loaded our powdery bags and got in straight away, he ended up trying to sell us a time share and where we could stay instead, but 400 yards down the same road we stopped and said ‘you are here, 10 euro’.  OK I was happy to find hotel…

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 We checked in and Michelle de-powdered all her cloths and knickers and we walked to the track. It started raining again but the heat seemed to be coming from the ground like under floor heating so we were warm.

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THE TRACK

This was an on-road track which had jumps added to it but the surface was like Tarmac with concrete added to it with a small amount of dirt to go with it for good measure! It was a nice lay out which had a nice flow to it but with a nasty double coming towards the drivers stand at a slight angle leading to the straight.

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We met my old friend Mark Pavidis in the AKA cabin which i was told was a lot of money to hire, i asked Mark what the smell was then we noticed the shape of the markings on floor of the cabin… and Mark realised that they were reclaimed toilet cabins with all the plumbing holes left unblocked ha ha! We checked out the Kyosho Cabin and that was the same a bit bigger but still a Bog with more luxurious layout!

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It was very hot there and like I said the heat seemed to be coming from the ground. I was sure it was coming from the Volcano Mt. Etna – visible from the track.

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FUEL GATE

Day 2, we went to the track for check in and practice in the afternoon. We were told before coming you could only get fuel from an approved supplier on the list and all fuel manufactures had to send their fuel to the owner for a small fee and it would be stored safely and distributed to the drivers.

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The owner was stating that the law for this area could only allow 200 litres of nitro in the track area at one time and was stating that on entry to the track you could only bring in full fuel bottle (500ml) per day!!

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Everyone was trying to get their fuel to find that the owner was charging everyone for their own fuel, he said it was a storage charge. Then all hell broke as someone only had the nerve to start their engine up!

The owner went mad and was asking where did get that fuel from and he was not allowed to bring his own fuel to the track but no one was checking –  we were told and warned of that it was going to be very strict.

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The event went into lock down with the owner threatening to cancel the event! Dallas and Carlos talked with him for maybe 2 hours with everyone not knowing if the event was going to take place!

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Carlos came round and said that he wanted some money from each team to pay the owner a storage fee around €2500 in total! But this was not going to happen. So IFMAR and the owner were at stalemate and this went on for another hour or so. Even Alan Dell wanted to pay the money himself so the event would go ahead – Alan loves the sport and is a great ambassador, the best team manager we have had for the UK team.

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Anyway something was resolved 4 hours later and all the drivers turned up to collect their fuel from the storage container which turned out to be a white Mercedes sprinter van (long wheelbase) with about 30,000 ltrs of Nitro fuel packed to the roof. I thought the law was 200ltrs ha ha!

The sprinter had so much fuel on it the ground clearance was about 25mm! A ticking time bomb which if it went up would have been bigger than any eruption from the Volcano that was next to us!

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PRACTICE

This started with a 10 minute session and from the start you could see there was very high grip levels and drivers were already using their second hardest tyre compound! Next practice was ok for the first 5 heats then it got dark because of the delay and drivers were trying to drive round in pitch black conditions with a couple of candles for  flood lights over the back. Most drivers went back to hotel as they could not gain any track knowledge in those conditions!

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Next day we got a phone call from Chris Boots travelling down on his own, he was on the same bus as we were trying to find the track from the airport… He said how long is the bus journey? i said ‘about 90 minutes how long have you been on it ?’ he said about 2 hours, OK look for Naxos.

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Half hour later phone rings again, Hello its Chris, Did you go up a mountain? ‘No’, did you see the sea? No, i think you’ve gone too far Chris! Chris managed to do a whole lap of Sicily and 2 hours later he turned up at the track with the knowledge of the best tour guide for this region of Sicily! He said the driver wasn’t much help and you don’t get that bad service on the Green line back home!

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QUALIFYING

This was good with Tessman dominating it, his car was like no other the way it cornered, landed and accelerated. They said that Ty and his father had set up a track in a parking lot back home and tested everything and developed some tyres specifically for the race. This really showed they had done their homework working together as a great family team.

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I watched them when it rained and they totally changed the car working on it together as one – like a well-oiled machine, great to see!  The rain did disturb them a bit with other drivers hitting the top instead of Ty showing they felt better when the track had less grip.

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Evenings & Antics

With the racing you get a lot of chance to visit lots of restaurants and try local food, a lot of great Pizza to be had. All the Kyosho team went out together with our great team manager Mits (Mitsuo), he’s a great guy and nothing seems to bother him, you never see him get angry or stressed!

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For some reason or another his Japanese team and other Kyosho drivers who know him well try to break this and wind him up or try and get him drunk or angry. We went to a restaurant which was next to another one we sat down and all ordered our food we had the other restaurant owner try and get us to move tables and eat at his place but we said no and had our meal with many drinks and everyone was doing there best to get Mits drunk and play tricks on him etc… after the fun we all got up and went back to hotel…

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Only on our return we said to Mits did you pay the bill? He said oh no i forgot (with us disturbing him this was the case) Being the honourable Japanese gentlemen he is he went back to the restaurant to pay. When he got there he found the 2 mangers fighting one with a bloody nose! We asked what had happened they said one manager had accused the other of taking his customers and eating at his restaurant and that’s why they got up and left without paying! Mits payed and left quickly! poor Mits but funny story.

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Also had a good drink one of the days with my friend Jamie Booth we tried the local Italian brew of Limoncello. Jamie said it tasted like lemsip (a cough/throat syrup) then a bit later he said… not bad! I’m getting the hang of it then said give us another!

Then he said ‘Mick I can’t stand up properly! this was 7 o’clock in the evening at the track! he said i will see you later for a drink? Never saw Jamie till the next afternoon!

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SEMI FINALS

Lee Martin was looking good all week and was in the first semi and was having a good battle with Ryan Maifield now using TLR and David Ronnefalk, all looking good for the final. Then Lee had a cut and then another this killed his chances of the final.

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David with maybe 3 laps to go got a small jump wrong and landed on the infield trying desperately to get back on the track as the marshall couldn’t get to him quickly his engine cut which was a shame for the kyosho driver as he was looking good to improve on his 4th place in the worlds at Argentina 2012!

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The Next semi final I was helping Jerome Aigion which was going to be tough with the likes of Boots and King in it. We started well and was in the 7th place with a few crashes but he was holding his own and we were doing good with the fuel stop strategy.

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Then in the last 5 minutes this semi went into chaos mode we left Jerome out a lap longer as this was the only way we could see him getting a final spot unfortunately he ran out – with the tyre wear and pushing hard he had used up more fuel than we had anticipated just under 7 minutes!

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Next lap Elliott running in the bump up spot for the final just driving off the side of the straight and all the front runners crashing, if we had seen this the lap before we would have bought him in earlier but thats racing. Elliott managed to get going and there was a lot of aggressive driving for the final bump spot with Elliott and Cody having a coming to together and Cody coming off better to make the final!

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I later found out Elliott’s leg gave way with dehydration and nearly lost the transmitter out of his hands, great sportsmanship from Yannick Aigoin as he helped keep Elliott on his feet!

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THE FINAL

So to the Final, Maifield got a great start and started pulling away from Tessmann after his first corner mistake. Cody broke his car on the first lap but got it fixed and was back out there to pick what places he could. Maifield hit the chicane very very hard and 2 laps later the damage showed with a broken steering servo, with this Ty as I have always said went into his robot mode and cooly drove a away with the world championship. Very well deserved.

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A good event but IFMAR need to step up a bit and be in more control of the race and rules as i know you have to have track owners to stage the event and without them you would not have these great events but they must check out better as racers and manufactures spend a lot of money to do these kind of races.

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Again you read all the bad and good things before you go but if you haven’t been there you can’t comment and sway other people from going. We went the because we love the sport and the adventure of meeting new and old friends we have a great sport here so enjoy it and have fun it always works out in the end.

Looking forward to going to Vegas should be a great time and to see all my old friends from past and present. Good luck to everyone taking part look forward to seeing you all and most of all a safe trip to everyone.
 

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