Red RC: The X12 seems to be one of Xray’s best-performing platforms with two European and US Championship titles in row. Does this put any pressure on R&D and racing teams?
Alex: Before I was directly involved with R&D, I always thought that the most difficult part of the design process was to find the proper geometry of the car. Now I know that the most difficult challenge for a designer is to face resource limitations and especially The Deadline directly related to the production schedule. In high-competition racing, the customers buy cars for a new season, so missing a release date automatically means less sales which means less resources available for further development of the platform. So my biggest challenge was to find the moment when I had to stop testing and provide the final specs of the car. If there was no deadline, development would be infinite… I would just continue with another & another last small tests here and there.
Olly: Yes of course, you want to continue winning. The X12 is also the back-to-back BRCA champion so I am involved personally and have responsibility to continue the best possible results in UK race series as well. Being not only the champion but also being a serious and dedicated driver, you never rest or get used to winning so it’s something everyone wants to keep achieving. It is very rewarding as you see the development and hard work paying off, not only with the results from the factory drivers but also with customers’ results and satisfaction trackside.
Red RC: The 1/12th scale pan cars have a fairly simple construction, but it is also a long-time developed class. Is there still room for improvement?
Alex: I have raced this class for many years, but the class itself was around for a long time even before I started racing. Yes, the design of the rear wheel drive cars is fairly simple, but in my opinion, every part of the car can be optimized and improved further. Since most of the cars on the market are still fairly “traditional”, there is still room for innovation. New materials and technologies push the limits further, but also the rule changes usually drive development.
Olly: It may look like 1/12th scale hasn’t changed radically over the years, but the devil is in the details. Anything can be improved, and 1/12th cars are no different. I feel with 1/12th scale it’s about making fine adjustments that is the key ingredient rather than one big radical change. The biggest change I have seen over the past few years has been the move to LiPo batteries, and this moved us from T-bar cars to link cars. Apart from this, the cars haven’t changed too much overall. We ourselves have worked on the tiny details, but those which make a real difference at the end.
Red RC: What was your involvement in this project?
Alex: I have been involved as a driver since the release of the first XII car back in 2008. Since then, we have come a long way with our 1/12th platform, and in the last few years a lot of my personal feedback has been directly implemented in the production versions of these cars.
Olly: I work closely with Martin Hudy and Alex. Martin designs, while myself, Alex and US team race, test, and give feedback on parts. Usually we discuss ideas we have tested or feel we need to try, then Martin goes to the drawing board and comes back with a prototype to test. Xray is very efficient in producing new products, which is great for development and being able to test new parts quickly.
Red RC: What is it like to work for Xray?
Alex: Xray has to be considered one of the most professional brands on the market. Not only is the design team and staff very hard working and determined, but the passion shared by the people behind Xray – especially within the Hudy family – is truly inspirational. We treat every project separately and give it the desired attention. It is a mutual symbiosis: Xray pushes us further and we push Xray the same way. So far it has worked great, despite sometimes the amount of work being overwhelming and there being a lot of traveling from event to event. But that is what I love.
Olly: Working with Xray is fantastic. We have built up a good relationship in my first two years, and it’s great to be involved in the latest projects related to the classes I race.
As an example: The front end of a 1/12 car is very important. With the 2014 car it was clear that we needed to improve the rigidity of the front of the car to improve steering consistency and accuracy. I tested the standard front end plus another one on which I made some minor adjustments to reduce any play. On the track, the car drove much more consistently, and it was much easier to tune ride height and set tweak. As such, I provided all my feedback to Martin with suggestions on improvements. Within an extremely short time, Martin was able to adjust the molds appropriately to remove any wobble or ‘play’ and this improvement was turned into mass production for the next production run.
I have never worked with a manufacturer in RC who can react so quickly to changes, and this is part of the reason why Xray is at the top of the sport. Being part of the production process itself brings you a completely different perspective about the perfection & precision that Xray is known for. I am very proud to be part of it.
Red RC: How much do you work in one season on this class?
Alex: Racing in the 1/12th class is fairly limited compared to other classes, as the class is less popular than touring cars for example. But we still consider the X12 an important and enjoyable project. I would say that I spend 20 to 30 percent of my time on X12 matters, whereas the rest of my time is spent with electric touring and nitro cars.oad track which I will now use for summertime testing.
Olly: The 1/12th class is the one that I typically drive during the winter months, which usually starts around October and finishes up in March with the European Championship. Our UK nationals are great events with good tracks and organization. This helps us test and learn at a very high level over the wintertime which is great for car development. Being able to test with 1/12th cars is very dependent on the level of grip a track has during a race event. During a pancar event or race, the track will “rubber in” and the grip gets very high. To replicate this on your own during a test day is impossible unless you have another 100 cars also testing, so testing new parts during a race event gives the most important feedback and gives you the opportunity to compare the parts on track with your competitors.
Red RC: What’s new on the 2016 car?
Alex: The 2016-spec car has exciting bits. First of all, we have an all-new rear pod with lowered CG, and special upper mounts that hold down the rear axle which allows the ride height to be adjusted with shims instead of changing the whole rear axle plastic insert (as on previous cars). The second big thing is the floating servo mount, which allows for all servos on the market to fit the car; it has got a built-in sliding system to center the servo. The floating servo mount also allows the front end to flex more. Some of the other small details that have changed are the width between the side links (again bigger), and there are bigger cut outs in the front of the chassis to give better grip.
Olly: Exactly as Alex mentions, I would say that the final list of changes is only a small portion of what is being tested or thought about during the previous season. This is a typical lifecycle project when we test plenty of things, of which many do not work or make the car even worse or more complicated. We have to be careful to select only the good parts which make some improvement. And of course we need to consider that the cars will be run at all levels including club races, so the changes have to be improvement for everyone and not only for very top level racers.
Red RC: What is your next plan for further development on this platform?
Alex: I want to continue to optimize the important parts of the car, to make the car lighter and stronger, and to make it more user friendly. I am eager to get back to work on the X12 as soon as possible. Until then, stay tuned my fellow racers.
Olly: Once we receive the production version of the 2016 car, I will start my preparation for round 1 of the UK nationals. Every time the car goes on track we make notes of ideas that can be implemented in the next car. I will continue to work on set-up and discuss with Martin and Alex which route we need to go in terms of development. I plan to have one or two days testing before the first round in October.