Winternats Friedrichshafen 2010

When the first Winternationals were staged at the expo in Friedrichshafen 6 years ago, none of us really had an idea where this adventure would take us and how this hobby would evolve.

By 2010, the Winternationals have developed into a very traditional event closely followed by racers all over the world that every serious racer in Europe is looking forward to attend.

Old track records fall to the ingenuity and improvement of the racers every year and more and more road racers get drawn into the straightline action.

This year, well-known road racer Markus Reichl from Herrsching, Germany, used his wealth of road-racing experience and his contacts to become the cinderella-story of 2010.

Here is a short review of the on-track action:

30 cars qualified for a 32-car bracket race field, one more than last year, the qualifying order determined by RT.
Claudia Germann led the field (for the second time in her career) with a .512 while most racers tried to avoid a red light, or so it seemed.
Kurt Fink also had a .512 and favored Jürg and Kescha also got in a good position, as well as Jörg Böttcher, Fabio and Thomas.

Though Claudia and Kurt were safe with bye runs, the first round had the usual share of upsets:
Jürg's Santa Claus was not as consistent as expected and was sent back to the box by rookie racer Christof Fessler from Austria, Thomas had his two cars race each other, Alex found a better handle on his cars than on his lights: He was right on his DI twice against Kurt Bilgeri, but couldn't wait for the green, and was only 2 thou off his index against Peter, winning this time.
Kescha's feared Barkas wheelstander surprised his driver with an unexpected gain in performance while his Hook crashed into his opponent and out of the race.
The trend continued in round two, Claudia lost to Jürg, 2009 winner Thomas to Kurt Bilgeri, Alex was exactly on his DI for the third time and lost again, Dani was the only racer to advance both cars to rd. 3.
Quarterfinals: Jürg was back to his usual bracket-racing form and barely held off Kurt B., Dani kept both cars in against Roger and the other Kurt, Jörg fell asleep and thus sent Björn's Porsche into the semis, where Dani finally lost one of his cars, but kept the other to meet Jürg in the final round.
The race for third place went to Austrian Björn Gnant, Dani Singer from Switzerland got his revenge in the main final, though, beating jürg "King of Bracket Racing" Broder for the title.

Dejavu time! It took the same guy (Thomas) with the same car (Studebaker) and exactly the same ET (0.966) to lead qualifying - the first 9 cars ran in the 0.9s, also just like last year.
Alex, Peter and Roger were near the top as expected, but also under lots of pressure from frenchman Daniel Caso, Claudia and Jörg, the amount of glue on the track slowing down some of the racers.

Once again, the upsets came quickly and mercilessly:
Roger tried to rotate the earth but was stopped by two fouls against Fabio, whose uncle Kurt B. had no chance against Claudia and took it (also helped by 2 red-lights), Kurt Fink also redlit twice and lost to Dani Singer's slower 55 Chevy.
The rest of the first round matchups were less dramatic and followed the script (if there is one).
Most racers were still fighting the glue to some extent, but Thomas and Alex were slowly but surely turning on the heat, while Kescha compensated for his slower ETs with good RTs.
Roger, Peter, Daniel and Björn tried, but couldn't keep the pace and were back in the pits after rd. 3.
Alex had over 2 huns on the field (incl. Thomas), but only one car left for the semis, versus Thomas' two, Kescha trying to spoil the fun for both.
Thomas had the automatic win over himself, but Alex unexpectedly lost to Kescha (and to the tree) and then repeated this unfortunate result against Thomas for third place.
Kescha ran out of luck in the finals when Thomas overpowered him and finally got his first-place-finish in PS after losing in the semis last year.

20 cars including 12 slingshots and/or fuel altereds tryed to qualify for a 16-car field, resulting in some time off on Sunday for Roger, Kurt B. and Jürg.
Markus Reichl missed the first two categories with health issues but made up for it in the others, starting with this one: His last-ditch effort of 0.914 pushed everyone else back one notch and made him favorite for the race.
Kescha was the negative surprise, only placing 9th and 10th, misjudging the track but running well over the track speed record on the top end.
Unfortunately for yours truly, any chance of improvement was quickly killed off by a couple of red-lights against Claudia and a very well-running Markus in rd. 1.
Peter, Thomas and Claudia were also plagued by "red-light-itis", leaving Markus, Alex with both cars and Peter to compete in the semis.
There, Alex had an easy win over himself and Markus finally ran out of steam against Peter.
Both finals were rather one-sided - Alex improving once again and winning both, getting the special trophy for the first perfect RT along the way - congrats!

Peter, Kescha, Thomas and Alex (as expected) led qualifying on Saturday, but were once again shuffled by Markus' 0.810 before the race.
Alex and Kescha got the message, replying with personal bests of 0.811 and 0.817 in the first round, but Kescha ran out of shutdown track on that run and then had to reset the record for reassambling a chassis to squeak by Christof's brand-new car.
Markus had a bye in rd. one, but pulled another rabbit out of his hat in his first race, re-setting the track record with a 0.807.
Unfortunately for him, the rabbit's rhythm on the tree was way off, resulting in an upset loss to Thomas.
Kescha's Opel GT was unspectacular, but consistant, while his quicker but ill-handling Prefect also stayed in the race at the expense of Alex' Firebird.
Peter and Thomas joined Kescha in the semis with mixed results: Thomas lost on a holeshot, Peter beat the Prefect with consistency.
Kescha's wounded Ford then didn't offer too much resistance to Thomas for third place, but he tried harder for the big one, beating Peter's 3 bad RTs with 2 good ones.

Top Fuel:
A full 16-car field with the expected qualifying order: Kescha with (once again) a new track record (not backed up this time) of 0.757, followed by Markus, Thomas, Peter and Alex.
What we did not expect was Thomas' early loss to Frenchman Daniel, who used his new raffle-supplied Pro Slot power for an upset and Markus' equally stunning upset loss to Kurt Bilgeri.
For the first time in 3 years, Kescha does not get both cars into the final round, as his new J&S chassied rail is trailered by Thomas in rd. 1.
Daniel bags another upset win against Alex in rd. 2, and is joined in the semis by Kescha, Peter (beat Alex once again) and Thomas (barely getting by Kurt).

Thomas then ends Daniel's march towards Moscow (or Kescha, who is already waiting in the final rd.) with another narrow win.
Peter finally finds his "Superman" form to beat Daniel for third place, while Kescha surprises everyone including himself with two cherries on the tree handing the win to a consistent and steady Thomas.

Qualifying: Alex and Kescha share the first 4 spots, Peter and Markus the next 4 - no surprises here.
Almost all favorites survive the first round, only Peter loses one car to the quickly improving Thomas (with his first Gp20 effort), Markus is the only one to card a 0.7.
Alex keeps both cars for the semis, Markus and Peter keep one each, but Kescha's Nostalgia FCs lack the power of recent years and are both trailered in rd. 2.

No upsets in the semis - Alex beats Peter and loses to Markus - the quickest two cars go to the final round.
Alex then secures third place but has no such luck against Markus in the big one, the man from Germany has the quicker car and also the slightly "better" red-light in the decider.
Congrats to Markus for his first win!

Several new cars join the field and a well-glued track + a new battery charger put a smile on quite a few faces.
Kescha dominates qualifying with a couple of low 0.46 ETs, while Markus and Alexander get new personal bests.
Kescha's second car wakes up big time in rd. 1, Daniel gets an upset win over Alex, last year runner up Thomas struggles despite a rebuilt motor and loses early.
Alex' improvement in rd. 2 is not enough to beat Kescha, Peter has to race himself and Kescha beats a tractionless Alexander while Markus easily gets by Daniel.
Semis: Sudden handling problems keep Kescha's "Russian" from advancing any further, but Markus' 0.48s are not enough to do the same to his other car.
Kescha's weird woes continue in the race for third - the car deslots twice but also runs a 0.46! Markus resets his PB to a 0.471 and is rewarded with a 3rd place finish, but Kescha gets his 3rd Gp7 win in a row with his Corvette against Peter's "Kamikaze".

- Just like last year, the race was smooth and well-organized, thanks to the perfect support of all involved - a huge thank you is due and well-deserved!
- More glue then last year (mea culpa) made the track hard to judge for most and was probably the reason we did not see more track records - I´ll resrain myself a bit next time!
- Being a Winternationals rookie does not automatically make someone an underdog - just look at Markus, Jörg, Daniel, Christof, etc.
- Claudia and Alex were once again tough but fair chief-starters, backed by the merciless time-clock.
- Peter Kouba is the master amongst all master-modelers, winning the concours over and over against some very tough and determined competition.
- Rocket cars can fly, too - maybe wheelie bars should be made mandatory next time?
- It is usually better to test the cars before the race instead of afterwards - Alexander, Peter and co should have run their 0.460s in competition instead of Monday's testing.
- A huge compliment to Markus - thanks for the motivation!
- Despite efforts by Alex, Thomas, Dani and yours truly, no 1-2 finishes by a single driver were recorded this time - the competition is just too tough!
- The "perfect light" trophy should be renamed "Alex Mahl trophy", after him winning it for the 3rd time in a row!

Thanks to all and see you in 2011,