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2004 HPI Challenge World Finals Report

Story by Frank McKinney
Photos by Frank McKinney

Well here we are again, down to the final race of the year for the HPI Challenge series! So far the HPI Challenge World Finals have been held twice in Southern California, then the south of France, then in Japan, Las Vegas and now...Halifax?

Yes, Halifax, in Yorkshire, the site of the Yorkshire R/C Model Car Racing Club and one of the finest radio control car tracks in the United Kingdom! With loads of help from track organizers John, Muriel and Claire Russell, the members of the YRCMCRC, Chris Deakin of Radio Race Car International, sponsorship from Mitsubishi Motors, Stephen Fabray our race director, Stefan Kohler from LRP Electronics and several HPI and Mirage RC Enterprises employees, we were sure this year's HPI Challenge World Finals would be a massive success!

Friday was the first official day of the event, but by Thursday many of the international racers had already started showing up. Several UK racers were already on-site also with their caravans and tents, and they knew they would be settling in for a long weekend of racing action! Although the middle part of the week was dry and only partly cloudy, the weather forecast didn't look great for the weekend – we were promised intermittent showers in the Halifax area, due to its northern location in England and the fact it sits between some low hill ridges. Well – we told the racers to prepare for wet-weather racing, so let's hope they were ready!

Foggy morning to start us off!   Lots and lots of banners as usual

Friday morning the air was misty and wet, but we had to get things rolling to stay on schedule. No time to wait for the track to dry out, there's racing to be done! Well, actually practice, which ran for just a couple of hours. By noon the track was pretty much dry and racers were starting to really get down the proper racing lines through the corners. Although the British racers had been to this track before during the regular HPI Challenge series, none of them were complacent and they all got out to the track to practice. This wasn't going to be a normal HPI Challenge race! 

  The foreign invitational drivers had plenty of pit space  

Soon after the track was closed to open practice we started three rounds of controlled practice. This let the racers get used to running with the people they would be qualifying against, and also let them check out top speeds, runtimes, fuel stops, etc. against the other racers in their class. With the Nitro racers using the handout fuel (16% Tornado Fuel), they also had to tune their engine properly and get everything working just right. Because this was “just practice” not all the racers went out for every round, especially after it started spitting down with rain sometime during the second round! In the final round of practice there were usually just a couple of cars out on the track in each heat, so the other racers passed the time commenting on the interesting lines the cars were taking (usually looping or drifting) and seeing where the standing water was on the track (only in a couple of spots would it be an issue).

The rostrum is nice and tall...   The always popular chow hut!

Finally, after the practice was all completed, it was time for the racers to pack up and head to their tents, hotels or caravans. The early morning and evening routines at a big race like this is always the same – a traffic jam of full-size cars, with racers wearing RC shirts weaving their way between the cars carrying very heavy and large pit bags or boxes! 

The Americans had a tough time dealing with the wet track at first but dealt with it well The international tent - truly international! Now it starts to really rain!


Saturday started off with clear skies and sun peeking through the trees – but would it last? That was the big question on everyone's minds. With plenty of dry track to practice on during the open session on Friday, some racers hadn't bothered to practice during the wet controlled practice rounds. Time would only tell if this gamble would pay off!

The first thing to do was, of course, the Mitsubishi Motors-sponsored Concours Challenge! A nice trophy and new HPI Racing kit was up for grabs to the overall winner. With several Mitsubishi prizes thrown in, a win would be a nice thing to take back home for whoever won!

Check out the line-up!   Quite a variety of cars to choose from

It took several minutes of judging to sort through all the cars and choose the top contenders for the overall prize...

 Ah! Finally some finalists are picked  

With the finalists chosen, now came the REALLY hard part – nitpick someone's pride and joy while they're standing just a couple of yards from you! 

  Hmmmm tough choices...  

In the end, after several minute's deliberation amongst the judges, we had our winner: Patrick Garbi from Germany! His exquisitely detailed Dodge Stratus Aero 2 bodyshell was masked perfectly, airbrushed and detailed to perfection to take the top honours at this year's World Finals Concours Challenge. 

  Concours Winner Patrick Garbi

After a brief photo session with the finalists and a quick run-through of the racing procedures from Mr Stephen Fabray, we were set to start racing within just 15 minutes, starting with the RS4 Electric GTi class. We would go through all the electric classes, then into 5-minute qualifying heats for the Nitro racers, then do it all over again, four more times. 

Yes, that's right, FIVE qualifying heats – we weren't going to listen to any complaints about not enough track time to get in a fast run! (Although, secretly we were hoping the rain would pass us over!)

So now, class-by-class, we have the qualifying highlights for your reading pleasure:

RS4 Electric GTi
With German racers making up half the numbers of this class, it was up to British GTi drivers to uphold the home-field honours. Sebastian Weiss held the top honours throughout most of qualifying, setting the fastest time of the day (FTD) in the first four rounds, but Thorsten Faber came back strong in the very last round to take the top qualifier spot by just half a second! Sebastian was relegated to second position and Erwin Kruse, who had stayed in third position all day, was left in third qualifying position. Thomas Daley, the top British GTi racer, had to be satisfied with fourth position, ahead of Paul Rosenberg and Hollie Ainsworth.


Top racers in RS4 Electric GTi after 5 rounds of qualifying: 
1. Thorsten Faber (GER)
2. Sebastian Weiss (GER)
3. Erwin Kruse (GER)
4. Thomas Daley (UK)
5. Paul Rosenberg (UK)
6. Hollie Ainsworth (UK)


RS4 Electric Sport
Once again, the Germans started off strong in the second electric class – Jochen Janik took the first round by storm, setting the TQ pace by nearly seven seconds over fellow German Sebastian Weiss. 

Ricky Copsey from the UK came back strong in the second round but Jochen upped his performance by keeping the pole position with a time over a lap ahead of Ricky. Krizty Rosenberg of the UK moved up right behind Ricky into third qualifying position. 

In the third round, Frank Weddige from Germany bumped Krizty down a position to sit in third, and it was a mix of nationalities in the top ten: Germans, British, one Hungarian and one American. 


After the fourth round, Frank moved past Ricky's fastest time to get into second, Ricky sat in third and Peter Major from Hungary was in fourth qualifying position.

After the fifth and final round of qualifying, Ricky hadn't been able to nail TQ but did improve his time to get on the same lap as Jochen but nearly five seconds behind. With only these two racers on a 14-lap pace, it was definitely going to be a tight battle in the Finals! Joe Cook was the big mover in the fifth round, getting third position. Frank Weddige went from 2nd after the fourth round to 4th, with Peter Major in fifth.

Top ten racers in RS4 Electric Sport after 5 rounds of qualifying: 
1. Jochen Janik (GER)
2. Ricky Copsey (UK)
3. Joe Cook (UK)
4. Frank Weddige (GER)
5. Peter Major (HUN)
6. Krizty Rosenberg (UK)
7. Sebastian Weiss (GER)
8. Travis Lewis (USA)
9. Ray Cockman (UK)
10. Josh Walford (UK)


RS4 Electric Pro
The Electric Pro class featured the latest HPI electric car, the Pro 4. Nearly every racer in this class ran the highly efficient shaft-drive car, and with a 10-turn motor on this 1/8th scale circuit, let me tell you, these cars were FAST. The drivetrain chosen was a mix of front diff, locked front diff (basically a spool) and one-way. In the wet, a locked diff worked best for most racers but in the dry it was all down to driver preference.

With the action getting hotter every round in the Electric Sport class, we knew that the Electric Pro racers would make things absolutely sizzling! James Hart of the UK started off quick, setting the only 14-lap run of the first round. Joshua Rose and Colin Leslie, also from the UK, were in 2nd and 3rd, but Christian Geis from Germany wanted to move up from 4th on the leaderboard. Balint Rajki out of Hungary was eager to make his mark also, he sat in 5th after the first round. 

After the second round of qualifying Daniel Fallows, another young UK racer, set the FTD with a 16-lap run just half a second faster than James' second qualifier. There were several 16-lap qualifiers run by the fastest racers, and Christian Geis moved up to third position while Joshua moved down to fourth. 

In the third qualifying round James clawed back into the top spot, six and a half seconds ahead of Daniel's fastest time. Daniel stayed in second, Christian stayed in third, but the fourth position was occupied by Scott Morton of the UK, who moved both Joshua and Balint down a position! 

James didn't improve his time in the fourth round of qualifying, but Christian did, moving into the second spot and bumping Daniel down to third. Scott stayed in fourth and the man on the move this round was Austrian Werner Spannbruckner, always a threat at the World Finals! He won at the World Finals in Las Vegas last year and was eager to repeat! 

In the fifth and final round of qualifying the top five racers didn't improve their times, but the positions in the next five shuffled around a little – two more Austrians made the A Final, moving some British racers down out of the big show.


Top ten racers in RS4 Electric Pro after 5 rounds of qualifying: 
1. James Hart (UK)
2. Christian Geis (GER)
3. Daniel Fallows (UK)
4. Scott Morton (UK)
5. Werner Spannbruckner (AUS)
6. Joshua Rose (UK)
7. Christian Strobl (AUS)
8. Balint Rajki (HUN)
9. Werner Puchas (AUS)
10. Darren White (UK)


RS4 Super Electric
The Super Electric class, although not popular in many countries where the HPI Challenge is organized, is popular enough in Germany that 6 of the ten drivers we had in this class were from Germany – there must be something about these massive electric cars! Of the remaining drivers, one was from the UK, one from Hungary and one from Austria, with the last driver being from Germany but living in England – HPI Europe's Marketing Manager, Christoph Lehmler! The best thing about this class was that it was easily the most fun class to race in, according to the laughter coming from the rostrum all weekend. With a handout 17-turn motor, the speeds these cars reached was about as fast as the Electric Sport class, making them quite lively indeed! 

During the first round, it was a UK racer, Justin Griffiths, who set the fastest time ahead of LRP Electronic honcho Stefan Kohler. Stefan graciously supplied the motors for all the Super Electric racers for the weekend, but Justin didn't let his gratitude get in the way of going two seconds faster than Stefan in the opening round. Andre Severt from Germany rested in third and Peter Major from Hungary occupied the fourth spot, with Frank Weddige in fifth.

Lined up for action    

In the second round, Stefan really upped the pace with the dry track, setting TQ by going two laps faster than his first attempt and taking Andre with him into second! Austrian Werner Puchas moved way up into third, relegating Justin into fourth, with Christoph Lehmler coming up the ranks into fifth.

The third round really saw the action heat up – Werner and Stefan battled during the whole 5-minute race, with Werner setting the FTD, just 0.4 seconds ahead of Stefan's fastest time! Andre was also moved down to third, while Justin and Christoph stayed in fourth and fifth places, respectively. 

The top racers didn't improve their times during the fourth round of qualifying, although Erwin Kruse moved into fifth, bumping Christoph down one spot. The action heated up quite a bit in the fifth round, however, with Justin and Stefan both improving their fastest times! Who would come out on top? Justin, just over 2 seconds ahead of Stefan and Werner! The gap between Stefan and Werner had to be the smallest between any of the racers – four hundredths of a second, or 0.04!


Top ten racers in RS4 Super Electric after 5 rounds of qualifying: 
1. Justin Griffiths (UK)
2. Stefan Kohler (GER)
3. Werner Puchas (AUS)
4. Andre Severt (GER)
5. Erwin Kruse (GER)
6. Christoph Lehmler (GER)
7. Frank Weddige (GER)
8. Peter Major (HUN)
9. Frieder Klotz (GER)
10. Wolfgang Schick (GER)


RS4 Nitro Stock
The Nitro Stock class is one of my personal favourites: the noise, the smell, the action in the pits, the chaos when a car flames out on the track, it's all very much like I imagine the first European auto races used to be. And here we are, in England, running on a gorgeous track...it's all quite too much sometimes! To top it off, these cars all basically the same – the HPI Nitro RTR 3 – the only differences being the type of bodyshell being used and the skill of the drivers. Everything about these cars are the same: chassis, drivetrain, tyres, engines, two speeds, etc., with very little left for the racers to modify or change. So it really is about skill-on-skill, which is a great thing. 

So anyway, on to the racing! The first round of action in the Nitro Stock class saw only about half of the racers running – either they didn't want to race on a slick track or they weren't ready, we don't really know, but after the first round Balint Rajki and Zoltan Polyak, both from Hungary, occupied the top two positions. American Harry Ananian, or “FastHarry” as he's known online, sat in third, with UK racers Ben Powell and Ray Cockman taking the fourth and fifth positions.

  Anxious pit crew watch their drivers' cars  

In the second round, just about everyone made their qualifier, so now we could see how things would start shaking out. The top five racers after round two were completely new, except for Balint, who was shuffled down to fourth. In the pole position was German Bernd Hasselbring, with Stephen Wright from the UK in second. Stephane Ceccarelli, one of our two French racers, was in third with Balint just behind him, and Peter Stefanski from the UK moving way up to the fifth spot!

Balint moved back into the TQ spot in the third round, pulling off the only 14-lap run so far in this class. UK Nitro Stock Champion David Wright got things sorted out and moved into second position, with Bernd in third, Stephen in fourth and UK racer Jason Dean in fifth. In the fifth round of qualifying, the only racer to improve his time was Peter Stefanski, moving into fifth and bumping Jason down to sixth.

Simon checks his times Members of HPI USA staff visited the World Finals

Top ten racers in RS4 Nitro Stock after 5 rounds of qualifying: 
1. Balint Rajki (HUN)
2. David Wright (UK)
3. Bernd Hasselbring (GER)
4. Stephen Wright (UK)
5. Peter Stefanski (UK)
6. Jason Dean (UK)
7. Stephane Ceccarelli (FRA)
8. Zoltan Polyak (HUN)
9. Harry Ananian (USA)
10. Ben Powell (UK)


RS4 Nitro Modified
Nitro Modified! The Big Boys! Well, not Super Nitro “big”, but “big” in the sense that this class is maybe a little more serious than the other Nitro classes. With foam tyres to worry about, front overdrive calculations to make, bump-stop and rollbar settings to fiddle with, plus the use of any high-zoot HPI engine, this was definitely the contender for the most serious racing class of the weekend! Every racer in this class used an HPI R40 chassis, and although many started the weekend with an HPI Dodge Stratus Aero 2 body, very quickly we could see the very unique Suzuki Escudo Pike's Peak shell make its appearance on the track! We could tell they were quick “buy it and spray it” paintjobs from the fluorescent single-colour schemes! I know of one plucky Austrian who walked the pit area looking for a used Escudo shell to purchase!

Well let's start in with the racing, shall we? For the first round of qualifying a wide array of nationalities occupied the top ten spots: Germans in first and second, an American in third, three UK racers spread throughout the rest, two Hungarians, an Austrian and one of the French racers. Sebastian Kunz was the racer who would score first blood with a 15-lap run – the only other racer to come close was fellow German Patrick Garbi, albeit 5 seconds behind. Racing for team USA, Jimmy Hyunh sat in third spot with Jason Dean from the UK in fourth and Attila Csuzdi from Hungary in fifth. 

Things changed in the second round, but not for Sebastian and Patrick, who still occupied the top two spots. UK racer and HPI Challenge series champion Robin Lucas moved up to third spot, with Austrian Werner Spannbruckner taking fourth and UK HPI Challenge Super Nitro Champion Jake Heard occupying fifth. Nearly half the Nitro Modified field got 15-lap runs this time, but Sebastian and Patrick both got 16-lap runs...

Although Sebastian did not improve his time in the third round, he did stay in the pole position, but Patrick moved to within 0.86 seconds of Sebastian's fastest time. Robin and Werner stayed in their respective qualifying positions, but Jake was bumped out of fifth by Attila.

  Robin Lucas, the UK champion, looked strong  

In the fourth round, finally someone was able to topple Sebastian's fastest time. Who could it be but our plucky Austrian Werner using his just-purchased Escudo shell! His time was over half a second faster than Sebastian's, so Sebastian was moved down to second, Patrick down to third, and Robin was relegated to fifth by Jason Dean who moved into fourth. Just a big old shuffling match!

After the fifth round of qualifying, the top five positions were unchanged as no one improved their qualifying times. 

  Jimmy Hyunh's Hara replica, all the way from Texas  

Top ten racers in RS4 Nitro Modified after 5 rounds of qualifying: 
1. Werner Spannbruckner (AUS)
2. Sebastian Kunz (GER)
3. Patrick Garbi (GER)
4. Jason Dean (UK)
5. Robin Lucas (UK)
6. Attila Csuzdi (HUN)
7. Jake Heard (UK)
8. Jimmy Hyunh (USA)
9. Chris Deakin (UK)
10. Jean Pascale Nicolai (FRA)


RS4 Super Nitro Modified
Super Nitro Modified is my personal favourite Nitro class to race in – the cars are easier to control because of their size, and because of the smaller class size the racing is usually more laid-back and less stressful. 

Well let's get into the racing shall we? With only six racers in this class it looked like it might be an easy win for the British racers, but with defending 2003 HPI Challenge Super Nitro Champion, American Michael Collins, in this class, it probably wasn't going to be as easy as they thought! Luckily for the UK racer Mike had some engine troubles early on in the day and missed his first round of qualifying, so it was Simon Smith taking the pole position after the first qualifying heat. One lap down was 2004 UK HPI Challenge series champion Jake Heard, then Super Nitro regular Peter Spratley, then French racer Jean Pascale Nicolai and another UK Super class racer Vernon Jones. 

Looks at the crowds of people we had watching the races!  

In the second round everyone went quicker, with Vernon pipping Simon for the top spot. Simon moved down to second, a lap behind Vernon, then Jean Pascale and Jake in third and fourth, Peter Spratley moved down to fifth and Mike was still sorting out his engine gremlins.

Just about everyone went faster again in the third round, except for Vernon and Simon. Vernon did stay on top however, with Jean Pascale less than a second behind on his fastest time of the day. Simon was bumped down again to third, with Jake, Peter and Mike rounding out the list.

In the fourth round Mike finally had his engine sorted and blasted to the top of the list with a 15-lap run, one lap better than anyone else had been able to achieve! Everyone else moved down the list but stayed in the same qualifying order. In the fifth round, with light rain coming down once again, no one improved their times so the results from the fourth round stood as they were.

The scrutineers were kept busy TQ Mike Collins from Ohio makes a rare mistake

Top racers in RS4 Super Nitro Modified after 5 rounds of qualifying: 
1. Michael Collins (USA)
2. Vernon Jones (UK)
3. Jean Pascale Nicolai (FRA)
4. Simon Smith (UK)
5. Jake Heard (UK)
6. Peter Spratley (UK)


Staff from the local newspaper and television stations even visited the track to see what all the fuss was about! The result was a LOT of publicity for the event, and Mirage and HPI! Look at the crowds we had during the weekend!


Sunday morning was nice and bright, but with brief bouts of showers overnight the track was quite wet in the morning! A round of practice Finals was scheduled so that racers would be able to sort out any frequency issues before the main events, but with the track wet only a few racers from each final went out for a practice. I guess many of the racers were simply hoping for a dry race! 

Sunday morning - clear and wet! Cool! James leads the Electric Pro racers in the practice A Final
  GOOOOOO! The track was starting to dry out by the time we reached the nitro practice finals.


Well with everything sorted after the practice Finals we couldn't wait for the weather to get better so we had to get stuck into the Finals – starting with RS4 Electric GTi!

RS4 Electric GTi
A Final
First leg
We had our first Finals casualty before the race even started – second qualifier Sebastian Weiss from Germany had his speedo go up in smoke (literally!), apparently some water got into it and he couldn't start the race. Thorsten Faber and Erwin Kruse went on to dominate the race, each one getting 10 laps in and finishing just 2 and a quarter seconds apart. UK GTi class winner Thomas Daley came in third, with Paul Rosenberg and Hollie Ainsworth in fourth and fifth.

The first A Final grid - but where's Sebastian?!  

Second leg
Unfortunately for Sebastian, he again had trouble right at the start of the race and had to watch his chances to win drift away as the seconds counted down to the start of the race. Tough luck but that's racing for you sometimes! Erwin took the win with 12 laps this time, but Thorsten finished on the same lap as well, setting up an exciting third leg to decide who would go home with the championship. Thomas Daley finished third again, wrapping up that position for him in the final points count.

Third leg
Finally, Sebastian was able to get a Finals run in but unfortunately for the points it didn't matter. He did make a difference in the final points however, by taking second he didn't allow Thorsten to get those points and with Erwin took the win for this leg and the overall points win as well!


RS4 Electric GTi A Final results after three legs
1. Erwin Kruse (GER) 2 pts
2. Thorsten Faber (GER) 3 pts
3. Thomas Daley (UK) 6 pts
4. Paul Rosenberg (UK) 8 pts
5. Hollie Ainsworth (UK) 10 pts
6. Sebastian Weiss (GER) 12 pts

RS4 Electric Sport
B Final
First leg
Peter Spratley ran away with a win in the first leg of the final, finishing 2 laps ahead of second place Joshua Chambers and third place Ben Powell. Being the second race, the track was still pretty wet so as in qualifying the previous day the times should drop and lap counts go up in the second and third leg of the Finals!

The grid    

Second leg
Peter had some tough competition in this leg as Csaba Mumer of Hungary took the win, some five seconds ahead of Peter. They were the only two to finish with 12 laps and it would come down to the final race to decide who would win!

Third leg
With the win hanging in the balance, it was up to Peter and Csaba to battle it out for the points lead! So who would take the win in the third leg? Daniel Ainsworth from the UK upset everything by sneaking in a win! Luckily for Peter he came in second, securing the overall points win. Csaba finished third and so secured second. Daniel tied with Csaba on point but with Csaba's win in the second leg Daniel would finish third.

  Tight line!  

RS4 Electric Sport B Final results after three legs
1. Peter Spratley (UK) 3 pts
2. Csaba Mumer (HUN) 4 pts (1 win)
3. Daniel Ainsworth (UK) 4 pts 
4. Joshua Chambers (UK)
5. Ben Powell (UK)
6. Andy Ellis (UK)
7. Andrew Wright (UK)

A Final
First leg
According to the qualifying the race should have been just between Germany's Jochen Janik and UK racer Ricky Copsey, but Jochen pulled out a massive lead over Ricky to take the win whilst Ricky battle with Krizty Rosenberg some 18 seconds behind. 

Second leg
More nail-biting for the British contingent as Ricky took the win for the second leg! Jochen came in second, setting up ANOTHER third leg deciding race! Krizty took third position again, solidifying her place in the top three.

Third leg
Okay, so here we go...this was possibly the closest finish the whole weekend! Ricky and Jochen sped off, leaving the rest of the racers behind and eventually lapping the entire field. Nose to tail the entire race, neither racer making a move and waiting for the other to break concentration...but in the end Jochen finished just 0.17 seconds behind Ricky, giving the British spectators and racers a chance to really cheer for an amazing race and fantastic result.


RS4 Electric Sport A Final results after three legs
1. Ricky Copsey (UK) 2 pts
2. Jochen Janik (GER) 3 pts
3. Krizty Rosenberg (UK) 6 pts
4. Frank Weddige (GER) 8 pts
5. Sebastian Weiss (GER) 10 pts 
6. Travis Lewis (USA) 10 pts 
7. Peter Major (HUN) 12 pts
8. Ray Cockman (UK) 13 pts
9. Josh Walford (UK) 15 pts
10. Joe Cook (UK) 17 pts


Around the Pits 



RS4 Electric Pro 
C Final
First leg
Mirage racer Steve Dyche of the UK led the whole race, driving smoothly and confidently while the rest of the racers battled it out. Steve finished a lap ahead of UK drivers Daniel Mercer and Paul Chick.

Second leg
The win would come down to a flurry of points scoring as none of the top three from the first leg finished in the top three in the second leg! Hungarian Zoltan Bognar took the win, with Chris Brooks and Vernon Jones, both from the UK, coming in second and third.

Third leg
Now we'd really have to go to the points scoring, as the finish for this race was just as jumbled as the first race! Only three racers were able to get in 15-lap runs, and these were the same racers who were up for the win in the C Final. Daniel Mercer took the win some 10 seconds ahead of Zoltan, and just behind him was Steve Dyche! The computer would have to sort this one out!

RS4 Electric Pro C Final results after three legs
1. Dan Mercer (UK)
2. Zoltan Bognar (HUN)
3. Steve Dyche (UK)
4. Paul Chick (UK)
5. Chris Brooks (UK)
6. Vernon Jones (UK)
7. Simon Barker (UK)
8. Stuart Coglan (UK)
9. Daniel Ainsworth (UK) 

B Final
First leg
The only two racers in this Final to get 13 laps were Austrians Marc Mihala and Wolfgang Meissl, who finished just a few seconds apart. Colin Leslie of the UK came in third.

Second leg
Another mix-up of points as Ben Vincent from the UK and American Todd Bath took second and third. Colin came in third again, securing a podium position for him. It certainly was weird seeing different racers taking the top three spots in many of these races! Maybe it had to do with a wet v. dry setup?

Third leg
The final race saw Ben and Colin set the only 16-lap runs and they finished in qualifying order with Ben winning by just 0.7 seconds ahead of Colin. Wolfgang finished third and was definitely in the hunt for a podium spot with his second place finish in the first leg!


RS4 Electric Pro B Final results after three legs
1. Ben Vincent (UK)
2. Colin Leslie (UK)
3. Wolfgang Meissl (AUS)
4. Todd Bath (USA)
5. Marc Mihala (AUS)
6. Krizty Rosenberg (UK)
7. Richard Binnersly (UK)
8. Travis Lewis (USA)
9. Martin Kruse (GER)
10. Ricky Copsey (UK)

A Final
First leg
UK driver James Hart took control of this race from the pole position, finishing nearly 7 seconds ahead of fellow Briton Joshua Rose. Austrians Werner Puchas and Werner Spannbruckner came in third and fourth, with Hungarian Balint Rajki rounding out the top five.

  First corner! Hold that line

Second leg
Trouble for James meant he couldn't start his race, leaving it to fellow UK racer Dan Fallows to take the win with a huge margin over second place Joshua. Werner Spannbruckner finished third and Werner Puchas came in fourth, so the battle for first and third was wide open! Depending on how the points would get spread out from the third leg, Joshua may have already secured the second spot, but only time would tell. He almost certainly was in the top three!

Gotta make that hairpin apex right!

Third leg
Less grip on the track meant that racers couldn't get all the traction they needed through the turns and went a bit slower in the end. This didn't seem to affect Austrian Christian Strobl, who came out of nowhere (well...7th qualifying position) to take the win. The real battle on the track was between Dan and James, since they had both won one leg each. In the end the difference between winning and losing came down to just under a second, with Dan edging out James for second place and the overall win! What a heart-stopper! James and Dan had been dicing back and forth the entire season with several nose-to-tail finishes deciding race wins, and now it happened again at the World Finals!

Tricky manoeuvre at top speed   G-Ice! Christian Gies floors it

RS4 Electric Pro A Final results after three legs
1. Daniel Fallows (UK) 3 pts
2. Joshua Chambers (UK) 4 pts
3. James Hart (UK) 4 pts
4. Werner Spannbruckner (AUS) 7 pts
5. Werner Puchas (AUS) 7 pts
6. Christian Geis (GER) 11 pts
7. Scott Morton (UK) 11 pts
8. Christian Strobl (AUS) 11 pts
9. Balint Rajki (HUN) 13 pts
10. Darren White (UK) 15 pts


RS4 Super Electric
First leg
The top three racers in this race battled it out for the entire five minutes, showing amazing control and ability to keep things exciting but clean on the track. TQ Justin Griffiths held the lead for a while but gave it up to Stefan Kohler from Germany and then to Austrian Werner Puchas and in the end the order was Werner, Stefan and Justin, with Germans Erwin Kruse and Andre Severt completing the top five.


Second leg
Another exciting Super Electric race as the top three guys took off and never looked back. Stefan, Werner and Justin traded positions on the track with every mistake over the five-minute final but in the end Justin crossed the line just before the final tone to set a 15-lap pace. Stefan and Werner had to settle for second and third, just two tenths of a second apart! Now that's close racing!

Third leg
This race would be the ultimate decision-maker of who would go home a champion and who would just go home. With Justin and Werner already with a win under their belts, they took off from first and third positions on the grid, respectively, with Stefan starting from second. Once again these three battled it out, pushing each other faster and faster and opening up a wide gap between them and the other racers. This time it was Stefan who got the extra lap, making the finish line just before the finishing tone of the race. Werner crossed the line just four tenths ahead of Justin, who'd taken a win with a 15-lap run of his own. So where would these three finish up? Because Werner had a win and a second place finish, that put him tied with Stefan, not Justin, so that automatically put Justin in third and Stefan and Werner would have their tie on points decided by Stefan's 15-lap run. Amazingly close and great fun to watch!

Justin, Stefan and Werner - always very close!    

RS4 Super Electric A Final results after three legs
1. Stefan Kohler (GER) 3 pts
2. Werner Puchas (AUS) 3 pts
3. Justin Griffiths (UK) 4 pts
4. Andre Severt (GER) 8 pts
5. Erwin Kruse (GER) 9 pts
6. Frank Weddige (GER) 13 pts
7. Christoph Lehmler (GER) 13 pts
8. Peter Major (HUM) 13 pts
9. Wolfgang Schick (GER) 18 pts
10. Frieder Klotz (GER) 18 pts


RS4 Nitro Stock
B Final
Just a couple of racers in this one, but it was still fun to watch. Ray Cockman, one of the UK HPI Challenge series regulars, set a time of 24 laps in 10 minutes, beating out fellow Briton Anthony Weeks by a few laps. 

A Final
The 20-minute A Final race turned out to be a bit chaotic for the racers but very entertaining for everyone that was watching! Pole man Balint Rajki of Hungary started off strong until a tangle with a backmarker forced him off the track and into the pit area. He was able to rejoin several laps down but meanwhile UK Challenge Champion David Wright from second position took the lead and never let go! It's a shame Balint had to pull off just over halfway through the race, as his lap times were very similar to David and it would have been a great battle! Twenty minutes after the start David crossed the finish line one last time to take the win, wrapping up a dream season of racing for him! Stephen Wright from the UK and German Bernd Hasselbring battled it out until the end but Stephen was able to take second by around 4 seconds. Bernd took third and Zoltan Polyak from Hungary took fourth, with British racer Peter Stefanski taking fifth!

Get ready Zip it around the bend!  

RS4 Nitro Stock A Final after 20 minutes
1. David Wright (UK)
2. Stephen Wright (UK)
3. Bernd Hasselbring (GER)
4. Zoltan Polyak (HUN)
5. Peter Stefanski (UK)
6. Stephane Ceccarelli (FRA)
7. Harry Ananian (USA)
8. Ben Powell (UK)
9. Balint Rajki (HUN)
10. Jason Dean (UK)


RS4 Nitro Modified
B Final
The 10-minute B Final started with just 2 cars out of the 3 racing, and in the end it was down to just one car running. The winner was Hungarian Tamas Jobbagy, with British racer Michael Creasey taking second and Tom Pearson from the UK in third.

A Final
This Final was the only race that we had a real glitch in. It all started when some of the racers' mechanics started their cars late in the pit area and ran across the track to put their car properly on the grid. The only problem was that the race had already started! TQ man Werner Spannbruckner clipped the heel of the mechanic who was rushing to get across the track using the wrong route (cutting across the track), breaking his car. 

The first grid  

The race was immediately stopped and postponed to the end of the racing schedule and all the other races continued as normal. The driver whose mechanic broke Werner's car was penalized by having to start at the back of the line at the next restart. Sounds fine, right? Well, the clouds had started to gather by the end of the race schedule so...would there be rain? Or would it stay dry? 

Anxious eyes were cast on the heavens. The clouds got thick literally as the racers were walking to the pit area to prep their cars. Come to the start of the 30-minute race, not only had heavy mist started to fall, but Werner's car wasn't ready to go – his pit crew was just starting up his car and he was forced to start from pit lane and wait until all the other cars had crossed the starting line. Two cars had already pulled into the pit area to change tyres from foams to rubber, and on the next lap Werner was the only one running on the track, trying to get in some clear track time. Would his tactic work? 

  Oooh so close! Tyre changes!
  Look at all the drivers watching their pit crews change tyres Still changing tyres...
STILL changing tyres, how long does it take?! And finally the first cars leave the pits with rubber tyres!  

Eventually Werner did pull in but many laps down as the other cars had rubber tyres on by that time and were getting loads of grip in the corners, while the foams simply slid around. The man on the move was Jake Heard, who had started in 7th position but had ripped off some fast lap times to move into 2nd overall. In first was Jason Dean, steadily pulling away from much of the field. Maybe Jason had set his car up for rubber tyres, we don't know, but by the end of the race they finished two laps ahead of TQ racer Werner and fellow fast guy Sebastian Kunz! Jake finished second just one lap down from Jason – maybe the British team was sharing setup secrets?

  Too many fluorescent Escudo bodies!  
  All in a nice line down the straight  

RS4 Nitro Modified A Final after 30 minutes
1. Jason Dean (UK)
2. Jake Heard (UK)
3. Sebastian Kunz (GER)
4. Werner Spannbruckner (AUS)
5. Patrick Garbi (GER)
6. Jimmy Hyunh (USA)
7. Attila Csuzdi (HUN)
8. Jean Pascale Nicolai (FRA)
9. Chris Deakin (UK)
10. Robin Lucas (UK)


Around the Pits 

More crowds! Must have read the paper :) The techie crew Just trying to keep the water out...
  The handout fuel and transponders  


RS4 Super Nitro Modified
A Final
The final race for the Super Nitro Modified class was another jumbled result, with racers moving up and down the standings during the 30 minute run! Third place qualifier Jean Pascale Nicolai had to start from pit lane and eventually got onto the track many laps behind the racing pack. TQ Mike Collins had troubles with his engine starting at about the halfway point, and with all the cars running 21- to 22-second laps it just wouldn't do to have a slower car on the track!

Gridding up And they're off!  
What a view, huh?   The finish line chicane

Meanwhile, one of his tyres had come apart, making him run even slower and letting UK Challenge Champion Jake Heard get by first, then eventually all of the other cars. Jake pulled out quite a lead on everyone, running off a string of sub-21 second laps in succession to help him pull away from Peter Spratley and Vernon Jones. In the end, Jake did the same as David Wright in Nitro Stock to seal his UK Challenge Series Championship with a World Final win! 

The sweeper at the end of the straight    
Passing on the final hairpin   Massive timing board
Jake Heard leads the pack Looks like Daytona almost!  

RS4 Super Nitro Modified A Final after 30 minutes
1. Jake Heard (UK)
2. Peter Spratley (UK)
3. Vernon Jones (UK)
4. Simon Smith (UK)
5. Michael Collins (USA)
6. Jean Pascale Nicolai (FRA)


So there you have it! Final results from the final weekend of the 2004 HPI Challenge worldwide racing series.

The prizes! Greg announces the names, the rest of us handed out the prizes

But it's not over yet! Oh, no! A massive trophy ceremony was organized after the results were confirmed by race control, and the results of every Final were read out by Mirage UK's Marketing Manager Greg Hill. The top ten racers in each class received a cool silver-plated tray as a trophy, and the winners of each of the B and C Final races received similar trophies. 

Electric Sport GTi top 3 Electric Sport top 3 Super Electric top 3
Electric Pro top 3 Nitro Stock top 3 Nitro Modified top 3
Jason enjoys his moment in the spotlight Vinnie proposed to his missus (finally!) ...she accepted :) Super Nitro top 3
Stefan Kohler donated his kit to the youngest racer at the track: 10-year old Miss Hollie Ainsworth! Kit prize winners Wa-hey! the big winners of the weekend were all the British racers

Naturally group pictures of every nation's racers were taken – no one wanted to be left out! 

The MASSIVE British team The Austrians! Team Hungary decked out in great-looking race gear
The French racers Team USA The German racing team

After thanking the HPI Challenge series and World Final sponsors : HPI Racing, Mirage R/C Enterprises, LRP Electronic, Mitsubishi Motors, Radio Race Car International magazine and the Yorkshire R/C Model Car Racing Club, plus the individuals without which the event would never have taken place: John, Muriel and Claire Russell, Stephen Fabray and all the club organizers throughout the year, the HPI and Mirage crew bid all the racers a fond farewell. Until next year, at least! 

Officially, there was still one more event to take place. Unfortunately we couldn't bring everyone we wanted to have along because of work and school commitments, so as usual the Monday day-long VIP Tour took place with mostly international drivers and their friends along for the trip. In the past we have organized trips to medieval French castles, sunny Southern California beaches, the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas, ancient Shinto shrines in Japan, but we've never taken the group to a theme park! This year's trip took in a jaunt to the famous Blackpool Pleasure Beach and shopping along the beaches of Blackpool, plus a trip to Old Trafford Shopping Centre in Manchester. 

It didn't start off so well, with me forgetting when I'd ordered the bus – oops! Oh well, contacting the bus company and sorting things out gave everyone time to order breakfast at a nearby pub. Having a full English breakfast was a new thing for many of the trip-goers, and definitely filled in the time waiting for the bus. 

Soon enough the bus arrived, we crowded on and then a quick trip to Blackpool, where the thrill rides awaited! Well...sort of. With the blustery winds and occasional spatters of light rain, most of the bigger rides were closed. Unfortunate, but one can only blame the weather, such as it is along the western coast of England. That didn't stop many of the racers on the tour from hitting most of the rides that were open, plus there was go-kart racing to be done! 

    I wanna go on that one!
Guess who this is?   Low tide
A view from the beach of one of the huge piers    
    Christian tries the merry-go-round

A stop at the onsite Burger King wasn't to be missed for lunch and a couple of hours after that we were back on the bus for the trip into Manchester.

We tried to schedule the bus trip so that the racers who'd flown in could use the VIP Tour to take advantage of a stop at Manchester airport, but as it was we only dropped off one racer there – Christian Geis, who made a good showing in Electric Pro as usual. After that, we took the rest of the group to the Old Trafford shopping mall for a quick look ‘round for some shopping opportunities. I made my customary stops at the big book stores looking for sales – of course!

Man U fans, perk up! All you Wanderers fans, here's your shot

After shopping at Old Trafford, we took a detour past the actual Old Trafford ground, home of the vaunted Manchester United football club. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you can't deny their success. As I described to the American racers on the tour – Man U is like the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees and LA Lakers combined into one team. 

Once out of Manchester and back to Halifax, we made our final goodbyes (again) to all the racers that have come to be familiar faces (the Werners from Austria, Balint and his father from Hungary, the rest know who they are!) and all the new faces we'd come to be familiar with over the weekend.

Hopefully our international HPI Challenge visitors made a few new friends and acquaintances. From my point of view it was a little sad to see the American racers not do so well, but the home crowd had plenty to cheer for with the British racers taking 5 of the 7 trophies home to put on their mantels! 

So, once again, until next year's series, we hope you all had a great time during the race and at the World Finals. Have a good winter racing season and we'll see you next year!
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