Speed run is a fun event even when it’s just for bragging rights. But how does a cash prize of USD$2000 sound? Perhaps an Anniversary Edition version of Rlaarlo’s best buggy? Or maybe just one of every vehicle in the 2022 catalog? If this grabs your attention, wait until you hear what had to be achieved to secure one of these shiny rewards!
Need for Speed
You may have seen Rlaarlo offering this impressive set of prizes for a little competition on their Facebook page in July 2022. For once, this wasn’t just a ‘Like and Share this post’ to have a chance at a random prize. That’s something we’ve all seen from various groups at this point. Much better than that, it was for a good, old-fashioned speed run contest, with some actual sweat-and-tears friendly competition!
The prizes were enticing. So, what was the catch? RC hobbyists had three weeks to modify their Rlaarlo buggies. The goal was to video-record and measure their vehicle’s fastest speed run pass they could manage.
The conditions for that winning high-speed pass were simple enough:
- any of four Rlaarlo or Amoril 1/14 buggies could be used;
- entrants could modify the buggy any way they wished, as long as they retained the original body shell and chassis;
- they must provide a clear GPS speed measure after the run;
- the vehicle must be functional after the run;
- it should be wheel-powered only (no EDF for you enterprising rocket scientists!);
- the pass must be on flat ground; and,
- the pass must be recorded in a single, un-cut video.
Star of the Show
Folks needed a video camera and a GPS unit to measure speed. But the key to this contest was the RC model itself. You could use the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 1/14 4WD brushless buggy (available here) or one of three other similar Rlaarlo and Amoril models. There are many 1/14 RC buggies available these days and on the whole, they’ve been slowly improving. However, the recently-released Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 grabbed our attention as it looked to have the balance of weight, power and durability. This was a balanced feature set that is so rare in ‘cheaper’ RC models. (See our initial review video and our more detailed article here on rc-tnt.com for more about the buggy).
Notably, the 006 features a carbon fibre tub chassis and a compact 2S/3S brushless power system that makes for a lightweight little rocket. This is impressive on its own and our initial review reflected that. However, what later impressed us even further was its sheer durability. We bashed ours far harder than it should ever have been able to handle. Our Durability Test video should be a testament to the rugged nature of the XDKJ-006. It was unbelievably tough and we gave it a rough day at the skate park!
And so it was upon this platform that Rlaarlo proposed a little contest of effort and cunning. Who could modify their XDKJ-006 to be the fastest in a straight line? To make it through Round 1 of the speed run, you needed a pass of at least 100kmph/62mph. The fastest would enter Round 2 and then a final round would test the best of the best.
The idea was simple enough – but just how fast could these little machines really go? Those tiny 1/14 wheels mean big gearing and motor speed would be needed for high-speed runs. And that’s to say nothing of limited chassis space and vehicle stability from a short wheelbase. Would 62mph+ passes even be possible?
Round 1: Warming Up
Round 1 was to close on July 29, just one week into the competition. The entries trickled in as the days counted down. First to make a showing were USA, Canadian and Australian entrants, with buggies running from 12V to 24V systems. Three USA contenders hit hard with impressive speeds even at that early stage:
- 75mph from Eric Woolsey on 4S with a 3200kv motor;
- 76mph from Radlee Plott on just 2S with a 7800kv motor; and,
- 94mph from Michael Koebbe with 3S on a 3200kv motor.
Already, things were getting interesting! The first round concluded on July 30 with 25 entrants clearing the 62mph cut-off speed. At this stage there were hobbyists from USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and the UK with seriously impressive speeds logged on camera.
Round 1 leaders were as follows:
- tied third place holders Daniel Petrak (AUS, 3S) and Eric Woolsey (USA, 3S) had verified speeds of 87mph (140km/h);
- Christopher Barnes (USA, 3S) ran a 95mph (152.9km/h) pass; and,
- with a very safe lead was Michael Koebbe with a blistering pass of 121mph (194.7km/h)!
Round 2: Fight!
There were 25 people cleared through to the second round. Rlaarlo announced that only the fastest ten entrants would qualify for the final round. Clearly, competition was going to be close with such a fierce first round!
The second round gave contenders a week to make their attempts and submit their best video. Again, the entries trickled in over the next few days. It was a close thing, even at this stage of competition. The lower 5 entrants were tightly grouped, separated by just a few miles per hour, posting top speeds of between 96mph and 99mph! The top 5 entrants were split over a wider range, from 101mph and up. Anyone could take it at this stage!
Controversy in the Leaderboard
Video clarity and technical gremlins can hit at unexpected times. They’re challenging and often random in when and how they strike. This is especially the case when you’re pushing the limits with equipment vs physics! At this stage of the contest, Chris Barnes posted several impressive runs but encountered a string of issues from a series of crashes that led to him losing a GPS unit. His list-topping runs were disqualified and the leaderboard was adjusted.
It was generally agreed that Rlaarlo made the best call they could with the available information. Unfortunately, some fallout would be unavoidable as other competitors found themselves bumped off the leaderboard during this controversial exchange. Such problems and decisions are tough for all involved and can lead to high emotion in the midst of competition. Cool heads prevailed with the only reasonable ruling from Rlaarlo in order to maintain a level playing field. The show continued.
We wish Chris Barnes and the other affected competitors the very best for next time. All affected have our sympathy for a rough run this time. Good sportsmanship and supportive voices are what sets clubs and groups apart from others and to date we’ve found the Rlaarlo Facebook group to be generally very positive and supportive. This is something we could all use more of!
Round 2 Speed Run Finalists
With Barnes’ 118mph entry (USA, 4S) disqualified, the top three contenders posted their best runs for Round 2:
- 3rd – Eric Woolsey with 114mph (183.5kmph), on 3S power with a Castle MM X 6S system;
- 2nd – Michael Koebbe with 121mph (194.7kmph), on 3S power with a Castle MM X 8S system; and
- 1st – Connor Matthes with 128mph (206km/h), running on 5S power also with a Castle MM.
Problems in rear-view mirror, the contest continued to its final round…
Hold My Beer!
The first three entries submitted to the final round were from USA contenders:
- Radlee Plott (4S, Castle MM X) with 104mph (167.4kmph);
- Eric Woolsey (4S, Castle MM X 6S) with 122mph (196.3kmph); and,
- Connor Matthes (5S, Castle MM) with an eye-watering 130mph (209.2kmph)!
Later that day, USA entrant Michael Koebbe disrupted second place with a 126mph (202.8kmph) run on 3S power with an XLX2 system.
By August 15, as the final hour closed out the contest, Eric Woolsey retained his third position on the leaderboard. Michael Koebbe upped the ante with his XLX2 system, jumping from 3S to 4S power. He delivered a 130mph pass (209.2kmph), drawing equal with Matthes’ pass from just a few days prior.
Pulling out all stops, Connor Matthes made a final blazing pass on the same 5S-powered MM X 8S system with the winning entry of 131mph, or 210.8kmph! Here’s his video from that final run:
Speed Run Aftermath
Congratulations and support flowed in from many on the groups Facebook page on Matthes’ well-deserved win. Special mention must go to the next place-holders who managed such impressive speeds. This is a buggy that we have tested ourselves with a top speed of 50mph (81kmph) on 3S power in stock form.
The difference between stock 3S speeds and even the ‘slowest’ finalist was huge. David Grima (AUS) made a 94mph pass (151.3kmph) – that’s already nearly twice as fast as stock speed! One entrant made his personal best of 70.2mph immediately after being partially run over by a truck. That was with a damaged wheel! It was still 20mph faster than a stock 006 that hasn’t been run over. Crazy!
Suggestions were floated about maybe putting an expenditure limit on future speed runs to help level the field some more. Others had ideas around event timing with seasons in different hemispheres and competition time-frames. All said, the contest was an entertaining event that brought people’s skill and perseverance into the limelight and good humour was expressed across the page. What a fun way to spend some time tinkering with such an impressive little buggy!
Rlaarlo released a speed run highlights video you can watch on Facebook here.
Rlaarlo have been building on momentum from this and other fun events hosted over 2022. New models are reportedly in development. (We’re excited about a brushless 1/12 model that’s apparently coming soon. More details on rc-tnt.com as soon as we have them!) Parts availability for current models has been consistent and timely. Future events are in the works, they’ve reported on their Facebook page.
A note on the company as a whole: our XDKJ-006 had a rare electrical issue after some use that was swiftly rectified by Rlaarlo. We’ve been only impressed with dealing with the company, who even prior to our initial review video were accepting of our standard terms that we would not make a draft available to them before publication and that we would publish test outcomes, even if they were unfavorable. It’s this admirable attitude that prompted us to write this speed run contest debrief; the company has been reasonable, fair and simply a pleasure to deal with from our first contact. We’re looking forward to seeing what they do next!
Where to Get One
Lastly, our detailed review article of the XDKJ-006 can be found here on rc-tnt.com and our video series starts with the review. The XDKJ-006 is easy to recommend and we are pleased to so closely follow the company’s journey.
Affiliate Links and Integrity
We were provided with our XDKJ-006 by Rlaarlo at no cost for purposes of review. As always, we maintain the right to publish our test results without influence or edit from the manufacturer. This competition debrief is entirely the work of rc-tnt.com and has had no affiliation or marketing influence from Rlaarlo or its staff, beyond an initial request to consider writing it. We have not received compensation for writing this article. Having such fair treatment from the company, it’s been a pleasure to produce the videos and articles we’ve done so far and we look forward to seeing what Rlaarlo produces next. Oh yes, we are anticipating what future contests may entail, too! This one has been a hoot!
-Craig Veness, rc-tnt.com
Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂