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OTW Spring Tour 2016

Basel Tell GP

With the rain lashing against the windows and nothing much else to do on Christmas day, it was on to t’internet to book up for what has now become our annual foray into Europe to take in the tethered car meetings at Basel and Kapfenhardt. Although newish recruits we do not help Otto Stroebel’s annual assessment of the average age of FEMA members, but Janis and Laurin Meier have had a major contribution in getting it down to 54 years. Philipp told us at Alexandra Palace that he had built them each a car each based on a Stelling Wilma with elderly sideport Picco motors and here they were, ready for their first ever meeting, lovely to see, and after all, wasn’t the class originally for novices?

Training at Basel for the Tell GP is a relatively relaxed affair with all cars being stopped well before they are up to speed. The new CMB motor in my car did not wait for the brush, coming to a tyre-shredding standstill. In the end, the worst fears were not realised as it was a faulty nut that had let the flywheel jam bringing everything to an abrupt halt, but luckily needing nothing more than a new set of tyres and judicious use of a drilling machine on the nut. The two Wilma cars showed that they were not short on speed but with a tendency to fly around the 180kmh as these basic open wheeled cars were wont to do.

Daniel, Peter and Christoph measuring Raphael Zaugg horsing Heinz and Sylvia Bach timing

Focus of interest in the pits was the electric car of Armin Schenk. This had been built in to a very well made carbon fibre 10cc pan and body but with RC speed control rather than a programmable ESC. Somewhere along the line though the Cs, VPR, KW etc had all got a bit out of kilter so that it was well under half the anticipated speed and did not look like going any faster. Vector have shown they can do it and it is rumoured that a Swedish competitor has got to grips with the calculations and hardware, but it is a way to go before it is a workable and affordable proposition.

 Carbon cars by Michael Schmutz Armin Schenk  Electrical gubbins 

Race day was as perfect as it could get weather wise resulting in most of the winning and fastest runs coming in the morning. Philipp Meier’s 244 in Class 1 looked comfortable until Natalia Bach at 246 and then Sylvia Bach at 247 relegated him to the third step of the podium, luckily without the trauma of last year and the broken cable. Class 2 does seem to be struggling a bit, due we understand to the lack of availability of good 2.5cc engines. Manuel Voggesser did have his 3D printed car there, which is now complete but encased in a carbon skin to improve rigidity, although he reverted to a conventional car to win as the only runner.

Detailed car preparation Janis and Laurin Meier Stelling Wilma car

3B was a contest between the Meier lads with Peter Arlautzki having to boost them each in turn to reach the timing button. Janis’ speed of 174 was not threatened by his brother whose car just went slower and slower. In the second round Laurin did improve a bit, but dad Philipp has work on his hands to keep these two happy. Wonderful to see the two of them taking part, although one suspects they were just as happy with the cars that they had built?

Class 3 was another triumph for the younger generation, with Florian Wanner and Florian Baumann occupying two of the three podium places. The sole entry from GB propped up the rankings but 15kmh faster than ever before, so encouraging, although a lose wheel for the second year running in round 2 caused some head scratching amongst the more experienced mentors. Class 4 was a triumph for Daniel Keichl who was delighted to see the clock go over 300kph with a final 302 bringing rounds of applause and whoops of delight from the assembled crowd. Berthold Kastle and Wolfgang Schmid were the only others to record times in what is believed to be their last season of competition.

Manuel Voggesser & 3d printed car Max Zaugg & Roland Salomon  Wolfgang Schmid's Vega Maserati

Class 5 always gets my attention through the sheer noise and power. Peter Arlautzki put in a phenomenal run at 337kmh, the fastest in Europe this year, to leave the rest struggling. Michael Schmutz can usually be relied upon to produce some magic, but even with two cars and numerous motors to choose from could not get over 330. Christoph Zaugg is setting mid 330s as his target but fell short. In the second round, Walter Roder tweaked the needle to great effect with a 333 for second place, while Otto Stroebel fell short of 330 and fractions behind Christoph. Roland Bendel was back in the country with his all-composite project car, but definitely not happy with the speed, although it is a wonderful piece of engineering. It was also an opportunity to examine the new ‘Stroebel Testa Rosso’ motor, now available with a complete spares back up for this and earlier Picco motors.

Michael Schmutz horsing for Otto Stroebel Otto with 'Testa Rosso' motor Horst Denneler
Class 1

Class 2


Class 3B

Sylvia Bach
Philipp Meier    Natalia Bach
Manuel Voggesser Janis Meier, Laurin Meier
Class 3

Class 4

Class 5

Florian Wanner
Florian Baumann    Berthold Kastle
Daniel Keichl
Wolfgang Schmid    Berthold Kastle
Peter Arlautzki
Michael Schmutz   Walter Roder

The Tell GP is a wonderfully friendly and relaxed meeting and set us up perfectly for the drive through the Black Forest, but beware of the dreaded Umleitung signs, especially in mountainous regions.

Kapfenhardt Pfingstrennen 2016
by a roundabout route.

Last year we saw nothing of the Schwarzvald Hochstrasse because of rain and fog, this year it was the Umleitung arrows that took us miles out of our way and into other valleys, very picturesque but not really where we wanted to be. Eventually we were back on the right road, but even this was ‘one way’ as 10km of road was being replaced. Kapfenhardt was its usual tranquil haven although everything, and I do mean everything, had a very liberal coating of yellow pollen, which turned to a paste with early morning dew.

This meeting is one of the major events of the year with competitors from twelve or so nations making their way to the track although there were some notable absences this year due to illness, breakdowns and personal schedules. Oliver and Debbie Monk, along with Steve Turley joined OTW, David Giles and June Heath to make up the GB contingent. The fine weather of the previous week had deserted us and the forecast looked distinctly ‘iffy’ so the track was put into rain configuration with tents and tarpaulins to keep everyone dry, and my goodness, wasn’t it needed on Friday for training. Luckily the track has a roof and a large cover for the horsing area so that everything could continue despite the rain. Happily it relented by the afternoon and that was the last we saw of the wet stuff, even though it got distinctly chilly, especially for those from warmer climes.

Training was largely uneventful but the colder weather was proving troublesome with settings. Oliver Monk came to the conclusion that the motor in his new 2.5cc car needs further work so put that away for the duration. Thanks to Steve Turley and a stroke of inspiration, the reason for my departing wheels was revealed and by courtesy of his toolbox and help from Dieter Hecht and Horst Denneler the gearbox was rebuilt for the competition.

 Giorgio Citterio Gabor Dobrocsi   Dieter Hecht

Race day started on a sombre note as everyone gathered on the track to remember a ‘grand old man’ of the sport, Werner Armand, who had died the previous evening. He is warmly remembered by all who knew him both during his racing days and later sat holding court near the track. Following a brief interlude it was on with the business of the day and Class 1. Philipp Meier had also told us at Ally Pally that it was his aim to be consistently over 250kph with his 1.5cc cars so was disappointed with just 219. The ‘wily old fox of the class’ Lothar Runkehl judged things well with 249 while Natalia Bach was slightly slower than the previous week at 240. Reigning Champion Lembit Vaher failed to get a run, as did seven others in this round.

Lembit also struggled with his 2.5car recording the slowest speed of the round some 80kph slower than Gabor Dobrocsi whose 273 would remain unbeaten. Vladimir Smolnikov was next fastest with Manu Finn a distant third at the end of the first day. Oddly enough, the open wheel class 3B was done and dusted after the first round but with no one able to feel confident as it was tight at the top with the first three separated by less than 2kph. Philipp Meier had been burning the midnight oil on his boy’s cars with Janis’ much more lively at 170 and very flighty but poor Laurin’s still slowed throughout the run. Philipp put it down to the cold weather and engines not running hot enough.

That was it for the morning and time to enjoy the 2-hour mittag’s pause and the superb catering provided by Annette, Sabine, Therese and Lydia who worked like Trojans for three days keeping us fed and watered. As well as a ‘special’ each day there were wursts, beer, wine, schnapps and a most wonderful selection of tortes, mostly comprising chocolate and cream, mmmmm.

Having only one run a day and the long lunch break leaves plenty of time for cleaning, fiddling and pondering, but even more time for chatting and getting an idea of current developments and thinking. Very much centre of attention was a new CNC machined 10cc pan from Linas Adomavicius. Several of his ‘universal’ pans are already in use but here was one that was a direct replacement for the Picco pans that have been cracking. At a fraction under 600 grams it was exceedingly light and a work of art and commensurately expensive but as all the Picco components would fit, including the body, it should find a ready market. We understand that it is also going to be available undrilled for other components and layouts. Another fascinating prospect described by Tonu Sepp is the 3D printing of tuned pipes currently being investigated in Estonia. These are being made in steel initially but with titanium to follow, mind boggling. A piece of more retro technology is the fuel cut off being used by Michael Schmutz, a spring like a pincher peg held up by a disc on a wire as used back in the 40s, simple to make and cheap.

Intricate CNC machining  Picco does fit  Christoph & Peter quiz Tonu

First on in the afternoon was Class 3 and the moment of reckoning to see if everything was going to stay in place on my car and the gearbox not spit its entrails over the track, although both Steve Turley and myself were well down the starting order. At the sharp end, Ukrainian pair Andrii Jakimiv and Andrei Smolnikov led the charge with Augustyn Wegera and Miroslav Horla from Poland close behind. Oliver Monk was the best of the British at 258 while a surprising failure was Jan-Erik Falk who did not record a speed and neither did Steve. Happily, my car came back with all the parts where they should be and just a couple of kph slower than in Basel.

300kph or more is now the target with the 5cc cars but only Tonu Sepp reached this with Thomas Finn and Daniel Keichl 10kph adrift and only Gianni Mattea within touching distance of these. Steve Turley had a solid run at 277 but decided to change motors for the following day. The ‘heavy metal’ of Class 5 finished the day with Peter Arlautzki carrying on from the previous weekend, slightly slower at 334 with Michel Duran just behind and a host of chasers from 330 down to 328 led by Otto Stroebel. Always interesting that some of the cars accelerate seamlessly into the 320s, whilst several of then drone round at 178ish for lap after lap until finally getting ‘over the hump’ and rapidly adding the extra 140kph. The Swedish contingent struggled all day in each class they were running, which is most unusual for the multiple champions.

At the evening gathering we were delighted to share a table with them along with Oliver and Debbie Monk. It was fascinating to listen to Mats Bohlin, Jan-Erik Falk and Nils Bjoerk explaining why their, and other’s, cars were not going and where they felt they had made wrong decisions. Inevitably Brexit and the current situation in our respective countries were discussed at length, interspersed with recollections of food and restaurants visited over the years.

 Mats Bohlin Complex flood-off system Aerodynamic knock-off position

On Sunday each class runs in reverse order and after a string of failures in Class 1 everything was to play for, and how close it all worked out. It was very cold so that hair dryers, blankets and black towels were being used to warm up the cars. Philipp Meier achieved his target 250kph only to be beaten by Andrij Yakimiv just 1kph quicker and Lembit Vaher a further 1kph faster. Volker Besang who is now running Adi Malik’s Kapusikov car did get a run, much to the delight of Adi who was manning the fuel station all weekend.

The 2.5cc class was something of an anti climax as no one troubled Gabor’s first round speed until Gyorgyi Bondor came close at 269 making it a Hungarian one two. In 3B the order remained exactly the same as day one as no one was able to improve on their speeds although the podium was a marked contrast in ages and experience between winner Mika Doering and second place Igor Safianyk. Having started on time and with everyone on the ball, the lunch break was exceedingly leisurely allowing even more time to chat including meeting a couple who had managed to lock their car keys in the boot and were going to have to get a lift back to Italy to pick up a spare set and then drive back the following week.

 High-tech tyre cutter New Stelling 5cc motor  A place for everything 

There is never a shortage of wonderfully engineered items lurking in toolboxes such as the tyre cutter (above left) an upmarket version in all respects, relying on micrometer adjustment rather than the digital readouts of some. A star piece of hardware on offer was a brand new and undrilled Stelling 5cc motor, complete with a spare piston and liner. (above centre) For those that thought they had everything was the complex moulding seen above right that has a dedicated space for each part of a stripped motor. Even specific to a particular motor.

Something of a continuing theme with speeds as the top three in Class 3 did not change although a run of 284 for Andrei Smolnikov with his second car saw him leapfrog Andrii Yakimiv with Miroslav Horla still in third place. Both Jan-Erik Falk and Augustyn Wegera were very close but just shy of the podium places. Neither Oliver nor Steve’s cars would run so it was down to my sedentary 236kph to uphold the British honour. This is way off being competitive, but entering all the criteria into Oliver’s spreadsheet revealed that the maximum speed of the car in that configuration was, yes 236kph.

The static results did not materialise in Class 4 although Tonu Sepp maintained his first place. Jan-Erik Falk was just 0.067kph short of 300 to take second and Alberto Adreani nipped into third. Almost every competitor increased their speeds in this round including Daniel Keichl who just beat Annette Besang by 0.4kph at 293 and FEMA secretary Christoph Rabenseifner who broke into the 290s.

Margins are always tight in Class 5 with 7kph covering the top eight places. Horst Denneler had a second run at an almost identical 328, Michael Schmutz improved to 329 and with a great big smile, Christoph Zaugg went over 330 just an agonising 0.12k behind Michel Duran who did not get a run. Otto Stroebel then snuck in 0.57k ahead to leave Peter Arlautzki the winner and a Swiss one two. Mats Bohlin struggled again but has come to the conclusion that new cars are needed. That the 10cc cars are the blue riband class was borne out by the fact that while every other class had around 12 entries, Class 5 had 24.

 Adi Malik and David Giles Adi's Class 1 Kapusikov car  British contingent

The prize giving is an opportunity for the organisers to thank everyone for their help and having been on site for the preceding week, we can appreciate just how much work goes into putting on such a meeting. Annette and Volker Besang organised all the catering and preparation of the track, Horst Denneler, Wolfgang Schmid and Berthold Kastle spent hours strimming and mowing whilst a couple of visitors swept, cleaned and polished. Horsing duty is always tiring, even in the lower temperatures so thanks to all of them, and especially Manu who whipped a very reluctant CMB into life. Hidden away are the timekeepers and secretaries, but surely the most antisocial job is the fuel station. The smoke, fumes and noise are overwhelming, but Adi, Michael and our own David Giles stuck it out resolutely, thanks to you all.

An advert on speedmodelcar indicates the decision that Oliver Monk has come to regarding engines for his 2.5cc car, whereas I have some serious thinking to do to avoid propping up the results. A wonderful trip though including a visit to the incredible Schlumpf Museum in Mulhouse, improved out of all proportion since our previous visit just after it had opened. You can even experience what it is like to roll a car, not a virtual experience but a real one, if your stomach can stand it?

The Winners
All results available on the speedmodelcar website

Class 1

Class 2

Class 3b

Class 3

Lembit Vaher
Andrii Yakimiv   Philipp Meier 
Gabor Dobrocsi
Gyorgyi Bondor  Vladimir Smolnikov
Mika Doering
Igor Safianik  Robert Pastor
Andrei Smolnikov
Andrii Yakimiv  Moroslav Horla
Class 4

Class 5

No 1 Horser

Schwartzvald Wander Pries

Tonu Sepp
Jan-Erik Falk  Alberto Adreani
Peter Arlautzki
Otto Stroebel  Michel Duran
Manu Finn Team Switzerland