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Moravian Le Mans Series 2011

16 July 2011

First half season summary

We reported about Moravian Le Mans Series destined for RC models of sports cars 1/10 with electric power. This year the series in its third season made a progress and the top LMP1 class is much better supported than in the last season. Three classes are recognized in the series. LMP1 are prototypes with no special limitations. LMP2 has power of the motors limited to 10.5T, though most of the LMP1 cars do not use quicker engines. Another difference is the body width limited to 200 mm (also most of the existing LMP1 fits this). So the main recognition here is the maximum rear tyre width. The third class is for GT cars - GT bodies and 21.5T motor. A new class LMS-40 was introduced this year based on express wishes of strong group around towns Vsetín and Valmez but these cars are also counted towards LMP2 or GT based on their bodyworks.

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The races are usually run as 4x15 minute events, though the races held in closed building over the winter were shortened to just 4x10 since last year. There are currently 11 races planned for this season, so the series continues in its massive growth after 4 races in 2009 and 7 races last year. Updated old good Can-Am point system is used to count the championship, though decimal points are used for cars finished from eleventh position above to motivate every single driver for the championship. More details about all that is on the official website at www.lemans-serie.cz. Those are the basic technical and practical information about the RC championship and now some reports from the first six races of the season.

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The first race was held in Holešov and it was a joint meeting with Xray Challenge. This brought two specifics. The format was 5 heats of 6 minutes to fit the very full programme and also to cover 30 minute which is a minimum required by the rules to assign full points. For shorter races only half points are given. The second specific was a participation of about dozen of Xray Challenge (XCH) drivers; all counted to LMP1 for the Le Mans Series. XCH leading driver Michal Abrahámek was a clear favourite of the race as none of the LMS regulars could keep in touch with him. Last year MLMS champion, Tomáš Rajdus, finished second three laps behind Abrahámek and also won the LMP2 class. Other MLMS regulars to take on XCH drivers were Maléř (3rd), Roman Krejčí (6th) and Koudelka (10th). The GT class was won by Rostislav Kuš.

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Two races in a new Ostrava hall followed in March and April. The March race was won quite easily by Pavel Rajdus, who debuted in the MLMS in the last race of the 2010 season and won it. He was considered a main contender for the title before the season but he skipped the first Holešov race and we can already reveal that the second Ostrava race was not on his schedule either. Young Tomáš Koudelka was second followed by the LMP2 winner, Tomáš Rajdus, and Krejčí brothers with a pair of Porsche 962 C Turbo models. Pavel Rajdus was driving here his Toyota GT-One he campaigned over the winter but it would be his last start with this car before switching to Mulsanne, which is an RC version of Porsche 911 GT1-98. Most of the top LMP drivers use this bodywork unless mentioned otherwise. Košík won the GT class in his first MLMS start since 2009 and immediately became the main favourite of this class. Luděk Maléř, a top LMP2 driver, had troubles in this race with his black Lola T530 and was classified only 9th overall, though still second in his class.

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The second Ostrava hall race saw a great battle between Roman Krejčí, Tomáš Rajdus, Tomáš Koudelka, Václav Buchta, who finished in this order, and Pavel Karel, who retired in the last heat with his Toyota GT-One. The last driver in the finale group A was Martin Krejčí, who qualified sixth but was more than half a second slower than other five finale group A drivers and on the short track he had to care more about making lapping him easy and thus lost this position in overall standing in favour of two fastest drivers in GT class that raced in finale group B and as the leaders of the group had their way free. Jan Košík beaten last year GT champion Pavel Melicher for the second consecutive time and upset Melicher soon announced his retirement and sold all his cars and equipment. Martin Krejčí was 7th and defended his position ahead of another LMP1 driver, Jiří Adámek, whose Royce RM1 is one of few True Le Mans Challenge cars in LMP1. These TLMC points are destined to cars which are made in accordance with their real pattern.

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The summer outdoor part of the series started with a race in Brno Bosonohy, which is located very close to the former start-finish line of the Grand Prix Brno track which was using for car and motorcycle racing until 1986. This race attracted some guest drivers, like Milan Peška, Richard Granát, or Jaromír Sattler but generally the entry was the weakest one this year so far, as for example Zapletal and Tomáš Rajdus with their sons, who were on the entry list, excused from participation for personal family reasons and other few drivers were absent due to illness. Among the 17 present drivers the main favourites were Pavel Rajdus and Krejčí brothers, who with their Porsche 962C Turbo model took first two places on the grid for the first time in the series history. Pavel Rajdus qualified third ahead of Sattler and Košík, the GT leader. Surprisingly slow were experienced XCH drivers Granát and Peška who followed next. The last driver that qualified for the finale group A was local Jiří Groch. It was a surprise as he was running in the LMS-40 class, which is basically a free class with Sorex 40 tyres mandatory on the rear wheels, which makes them outsiders under common conditions, either outside or on the carpet. But this time Groch found the hot surface almost ideal for his well-prepared car and after several laps he improved from the final grid positions attacking leading Roman Krejčí in the first heat. Pavel Rajdus was running third after a battle with Martin Krejčí who was fourth. In the third heat Roman Krejčí challenged technical issues, lost almost 30 laps and Groch found himself in a secure lead. Rajdus and Martin Krejčí were behind the second Sattler in this heat but Sattler was out of contention after the first heat troubles. Many other finale group A drivers experienced troubles here and there so in the end the leading finale B driver Roman Holaň, who also won the group GT, was classified fifth overall behind winning Groch followed by Rajdus, Martin Krejčí and Richard Granát.

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The fifth race in Blansko should have been a highlight of the season, just like last year but two facts decimated it. It was held at the same day as the national off road championship, which took off several LMS regulars, like Tomáš Rajdus or Rostislav Zapletal with their sons so the entry was not that big as the last year. And most notably the weather was really bad. It rained in the morning and some showers spoilt also qualifying sessions which were held in wet anyway. Originally announced two 50-minutes qualifying sessions were extended to three to enable the track suitable for the race. The three sessions were completely open to all drivers all the time to set their fastest lap to make the order for the grids and finale groups. But some driver skipped it at all, some had troubles with their electronics and thus it was possible that the first GT car driven by Košík qualified right behind Romand Krejčí and Pavel Rajdus whose LMP1 ran well in the wet conditions. Even bigger surprise was the fourth place of Petra Vykydalová from the LMP2 class who is rarely mentioned in the results at all though running quite regularly. She circulated around the track for more than 100 laps and the car ran really well. On the other side fifth gridded Martin Krejčí did only several laps in each session as his electronics was switching off for yet known reasons. That was why he could not start the race in time and continuing problems moved behind the top 20 in the overall results despite in some heats he attacked the second position. A guest driver Miloslav Dolanský who drove a wide prototype (235 mm), which is allowed only in LMP1, started from the sixth spot. The rest of the finale group A contenders were GT cars, which are generally better suited for the wet track. One of the hot favourites, Luděk Maléř, who returned to the series after two races off, had also big troubles with his car and qualified in the slowest finale group. However it appeared to be an advantage for the race as despite he had to overtake slower cars he had always drier track than the finale group A drivers. And it was a general problem of the race. The track was drying during entire afternoon, but the organisers made a doubtful decision to run the finale groups in a reverse order than usually, i.e. A, B, C. There was some fear that it may rain again and that should bring an advantage to the finale group A drivers. We were strongly against this idea as the weather forecast looked better than the real situation was and it really did not rain until after the race. Another decision was to make the first heats shorter, 5 minutes only, to keep the track conditions more similar to all finale group contenders and also not letting the cars running on the track which was still mainly wet for too long. Later the heats were prolonged but there was also a chaos when it was announced that an additional heat would be added on the dry track to complete a full 60 minute distance but then called off before the final heat. So the race was only 50 minutes in total and featured many slower finale group C drivers very high in the results. It was slightly corrected by the final 15 minute heat, which was ran almost under standard LMS conditions but still behind Pavel Rajdus, who won the race, and Miloslav Dolanský, the third was Čestmír Doubrava, who was almost a second per lap slower than some much faster drivers behind. Roman Krejčí managed to finish fourth ahead of already mentioned Luděk Maléř, whose final finale performance was a welcome surprise after unlucky morning sessions. Roman Štalmach, the father and leader of LMS-40, next and Petr Goluch with a nice Toyota 88C-V were other examples of drivers gaining from the wrong finale group sorting order. They were followed by the traditional GT winner Jan Košík and several slower LMP1 cars.

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The sixth and so far the final MLMS race was held this weekend in Frýdek-Místek. A welcome entry of 27 cars was reduced after Michal Svihel, who was going to make his MLMS debut, was not able to repair his Toyota GT-One LMP2 damaged last weekend during a club race at the same track. But still we had the largest entry of 2WD cars ever seen in a North Moravian RC race. Already qualifying suggested that we have here four very quick and equal drivers that can win the race. Those were Pavel Rajdus, Roman Krejčí, Václav Buchta running his only second MLMS race and for the first time outside with his 2WD car, and Tomáš Koudelka who was a welcome return to the series after two races of hiatus - he was still fourth in the overall standings behind Pavel Rajdus, Roman Krejčí and Tomáš Rajdus, who was again absent this weekend, now due to other working commitments. All four drivers were appearing in the lead during the race and particular heats. Martin Krejčí was next but rather than to challenge the big four, he had to face the opposition of local club drivers, Tomáš Poul, Jiří Veverka and Petr Mudrák. As the race progressed Buchta dropped from pole position and the lead during the heat 3 when his battery did not survive all 15 minutes and had to lap very slowly at the end of the heat. Pavel Rajdus who won heats 2 and 3 took the lead followed by Roman Krejčí, who was handicapped entire race by damaged electronics. After the qualifying he had to switch to his spare controller which was not suitable for his motor. Tomáš Koudelka was now third but he would retire in the final heat to drop to 10 overall. This let Martin Krejčí improve from 5th position he maintained during the entire race to 4th and also jump head of Koudelka to fourth in the overall standings. Top three positions in the race (Rajdus, Krejčí R. and Buchta) did not change. A good fifth positions in the race belonged to debutting Tomáš Poul ahead of the best finale group B driver Rostislav Zapletal, local Petr Mudrák, who struggled in one heat with a slow car, and two fastest GT drivers, Jan Košík and surprisingly quick Rostislav Kuš. Martin Csonková in a car borrowed from Roman Krejčí, and otherwise a girlfriend of Václac Buchta, debuted a 2WD car and won the poorly supported LMP2 class and also ladies classification, while finishing 12th overall. A good race by her standards had also another lady in the field, Lucie Krejčí, who finished second in LMP2 and 20th overall while beating all LMS-40 contenders but class dominating Štalmach.

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With about eleven races planned this year we jumped to the second half of the season. And what the provisional championship position are at the moment? In the overall classification the top four positions are divided between Rajdus & Krejčí brothers like this: 1st Pavel Rajdus 75 points, 2nd Roman Krejčí 65 points, Tomáš Rajdus 42 points and Martin Krejčí 34.11 points. Tomáš Koudelka with 29 points is next followed by Václav Buchta (22 points) and Luděk Maléř, also 22 points. Jan Košík, the fastest GT driver is less than two points behind them. Other positions belong to mainly irregular drivers who made some good results here and there. So far already 58 drivers are classified.

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The LMP1 class is led by Pavel Rajdus, Roman & Martin Krejčí and Tomáš Koudelka. The LMP2 class has Roman Štalmach in the lead, though he is not running a full specification LMP2 car but an old LMS-40 chassis instead. Luděk Maléř with only 3 results is second and to the third position Lucie Krejčí moved after the faster lady Petra Vykydalová skipped the last race and currently lies fourth ahead of Tomáš Rajdus who won the first two races and disappeared from the class. Anybody else in the class is just an occasional entry, often in the limited LMS-40 form, while the last year it was the best supported category. On the other side the GT class looks much stronger this year though Jan Košík in the lead hardly finds any opposition unless technical issues (90 points). Rostislav Kuš (65 points) and Roman Holaň (57 points) are ahead of Jura Hrabec (50 points) mainly due to quite regular participation. Tomáš Jírů with 32 points is fifth, though before the season his ambitions were much higher. The final recognized class, the LMS-40, is more a joke than a serious attempt. It was forced by Roman Štalmach who promised to bring a number of new drivers in the junior class but he is the only driver racing in the class regularly and with 95 points leads the table ahead of the rest, where nobody else shows any signs of participation regularity. Jiří Groch from Brno, who did his two nearest races and won one of them overall, definitely by far the fastest driver of the class is now second (35 points), but is very unlikely to appear again, maybe at Zlín. The third is Fanán Stodola, who was planning more races this season and is likely to improve his 27 points. None of any other drivers made more than a single start. Jan Matyáš is best of them after easily beating Štalmach in the first race at Holešov.

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There are many other classifications, like teams, makes, towns, chassis manufacturers, ladies, juniors or already mentioned TLMC. This had to encourage drivers to build models in accordance with their real patterns of racing cars. This is easily led by Krejci Brother's Porsche 962C's because most of the prototypes in this challenge are not raced regularly (need to say that most of the TLMC prototypes were imported and created by them) and GT cars, which are much easier to buy, cannot take on the quick LMP1 cars unlike last year when Pavel Melicher with a GT Corvette won this classification by a huge margin. The only other quick TLMC prototype this year was prepared by Luděk Maléř (Lola T530) but with only half of the races on his schedule he cannot lay better than third. He is followed by the best GT car - Chevrolet Corvette C6.R prepared by Rostislav Kuš. Roman Holaň's Nissan Skyline GTR is fifth but he switched to BMW M3 GT2 two races ago so any improvement of this Nissan is not likely. Then there are several slower or irregularly raced prototypes, mixed with the sold Melicher's Corvette, which is currently seventh. Sixth is Royce RM1 of Adámek and behind the Corvette we can find prototypes like Mazda MXR-01 (R. Krejčí), Jaguar XJR-14 (Kunz, prepared by Krejčí), Porsche 962C Turbo - again Roman Krejčí but different colour variant raced only in Holešov, Toyota 88C-V (raced by Goluch, prepared by Krejčí), Toyota GT-One (Lucie Krejčí) and Toyota TS-010 (a rent car of Roman Krejčí). Then there are mainly GT cars to fill up the listing of 23 cars, several of which are raced by the same drivers, who just like real models and like to change them.

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Of the other classifications we can mention the team standings were behind the two dominant Tora Team Šenov (Tora = TOmáš RAjdus) and Krejci Krejci Brothers Racing (107 and 73 points respectively), there is still quite surprisingly STS Chvojkovice with 33 points that races only in South Moravian rounds with drivers located near the Zlín - Peška, Granát and Dolanský. We hope to welcome them back in the series for their home race in Zlín in September but it would still not be enough to defend this position even if they won there.

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The constructor championship just shows a complete dominance of Xray chassis built in Slovakia (120 points - six wins). Only other manufacturer seen here in numbers is Tamyia (23.7 points) but the quality is nowhere near the modern pancar chassis. The only non-standard pancar semi-regular is Koudelka with his Team Associated and he gained 29 points to keep Asso second. Dolanský brought his wide old Trinity to second in Blansko and helped the manufacturer to become the last of those that collected more than 10 points in these standings. Unfortunately there is just little support for Corally or Team CRC chassis so that nobody even tries them here.

We bring more reports when the season comes to its final stages.

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