Started typing this up last week after we got back from Japan for the Tokyo 3D event. Just wanted to share my experiences with everyone. It's easy for me to tell my stories to people in the shop, but not as easy to retell them online to people. This is my personal experience with the current Japan Cup Tokyo 3D layout. I don’t claim to be the best at Mini4WD or the guru at all, I’m a hobbyist like many of you but prefer to construct and build my cars around the theories and data I’ve personally gathered. Ever since going to Tokyo 1D in June to race I’ve had a bit of a fire under my butt to get a car much more dialed in this time. My previous Tokyo 1D experience was me going to Force Labo the night before the race and beating my head against the wall trying to get my car to complete even 5 laps. I barely completed 4 laps that night and gave up. The next day at the race, I coursed out after the first digital dragons back. Prior to that race I haven’t seen any type of Digital Turn brake that is now prevalent in all cars now for JC (Japan Cup). The rear arm was also something new that developed slowly over the passed few months. For the Tokyo 3D layout I believed that the arm wasn’t necessary due to the position of the Digital Zone being before the slope up. Racer’s constructed this rear stabilization arm to contact the slope wall only, and no anywhere else on the track. It sits higher then the track wall (between 53mm-60mm) Height limit regulations for min4wd is 70mm Once coming up to the slope the cars tended to tip and fly out there. I opted against the meta chassis this time and reverted back to my favorite FMAR Chassis. Gathering data from other racers allowed me to figure out what was going to be the best setting, but I wouldn’t be able to confirm them until I practiced a little at Force Labo the night before. In the front of my car I opted for a long popsicle sliding damper, designed between myself and Chris Lee Designs we were able to bang a few sets out on the CNC before I left to Japan. Due to how many digital turns there were in the Digital Zone having a full sliding damper would actually maintain too much speed and many racers went with an independent sliding damper. In my case the left side slid independently while the right side was solid. The reason for it being solid is that the Digital turn brake would be positioned on this side. For rollers I ran 12-13mm doubles with a 11mm stabilizer I trimmed myself for the left side. On the right I had to make a separate arm to rotate the roller position further back for the 8-9mm roller. Just to the left and front of the 8-9mm roller many racers used some sort of fixed roller that would only engage when the 8-9mm roller was jammed into the digital corner. Being on the right side this would slow your car down just right before the digital dragons back. With our own personal experience with the Digital Dragons backs, racers could not place enough brake anywhere on the car to slow them down for this section. IF you did place a lot of brake, you’d slam into the Rising Phantom Lane Changer and get stuck. Too much brake would also cause you to grip the kicker flap too much and launch your car. My chassis height from the ground was around 1.75mm. I made custom flat cut low friction tires to achieve this. The Rising Phantom Changer was also another tricky one, of the racers that went with us on this trip two got stuck in it and didn’t complete the lane changer. I was aware of this being a problem and before going to Japan opted for full tread low frictions all around instead of the normal offset pattern many racers use. I also opted for a HD3 with 3.7:1 gear ratio, many MS racers are running Hyper Dashes and 4:1 gear ratio. Anything higher would either be too much speed or not enough torque to overcome the lane changer. My rear stay was similar to my front, one side was locked and the other side slid independently. I went with the standard 19mm plastic ringed rollers, but instead of worry about an underguard or having to adapt an anchor system to my FMAR I used counter sunk screws for the roller screws and have the double stacked 1.5mm carbon a beveled edge. With the new FRP brake piece, front AT systems seem to be the future for Mini4WD and I opted for a front mounted body damper and a Neo Falcon body. Brakewise I ran some 3mm blue in the front taped over and 1mm pink in the rear initially. With my car completed we hopped on a plane for Japan, landing at 5AM we would check our baggage at a train coin locker and first proceed to Hachioji to get Mr. Enomoto’s blessing before proceeding to Force Labo later that night. We weren’t the only ones to visit Mr. Enomoto that day, racers from China were already there chatting with him. I ran into Riko from China as well, we had a lengthy discussion of the way Mini4WD is evolving stateside and in China since he’s been running his down 5-lane wood track Labo for about a year now. It wasn’t until we were really chatting with Mr. Enomoto and asking him to look at our cars before I gained some very valuable information. He was very concerned with my car being too low for the lane changer and advised that I check whether all 4 wheels would touch in the lane changer in his ‘secret tuning base’. He allowed the 4 of us to sit down and use his 3 lane version replica track of the 5-lane layout we’d be racing on tomorrow. This allowed us to physically check if our cars would complete the lane changer and also roll it on the banked lane changer to insure that our brakes would not drag too much. It was here that I made another critical decision and opted to remove all my brake so that it wouldn’t drag in the lane changer. Force Labo tuning experience. The first half hour of my tuning at Force Labo was quite frustrating actually, some testing at Dxn with the three lane my car stayed in and the digital turn brake worked excellent. First run at Force Labo my car flew out at the first turn before the Digital Corner even… a lot of head scratching and swearing I figured out that a lower part of my carbon on the right side of my stay was contacting and causing positive angle on my roller and launching it. This just goes to show you that testing on 3 lane and 5 lane are completely different animals. The speed for 5 lane is exponentially greater. Once that was fixed I was able to get some real testing in. Batterywise I already knew in my head I wasn’t going to be using light weight batteries. I felt that you needed the extra low center weight to keep the car more stable. I opted to use only PowerChamps and started with fully charged ones and adjusted my Digital Turn brake accordingly. After another hour or so I was able to get my car to consistently do 5 laps numerous times, not one to push my luck I dialed in my ‘safe’ battery voltage and my ‘push’ battery voltage. Safe being 1.55v and pushing being a brand new pair of PowerChamps at 1.63v. My digital turn brake ended up just being a small diameter carbon wheel cut down with black 2mm thick brake applied and contoured. It turned out to be too aggressive so I ended up applying Tamiya Tape over it each time I ran. When I went with brand new batteries I would apply two pieces of Tamiya Tape over the brake. With my confidence in my tune I packed up my stuff and just hung out at Force Labo to take in the environment. It was very intense, as the night progress a lot of racers kept coming in to get a few hours of last minute tuning in before Saturdays race. A lot of the professional racers would bring out stop watches to time themselves as well as other cars, this served as a gauge to make sure they were going to be fast enough or not with other racers. Saturday Race Day Once we arrived Saturday there was a certain excitement in the air you could feel, as you got off the train and noticed other racers with their pitboxes you knew you were exiting the right train. As you climbed the escalator out of the train station you were greeted by hundreds of racers already pitted all around the venue. Tamiya designates areas to pit all around the Aeon Shopping mall to not hinder regular mall shoppers at this venue. On Saturday, two Dxn racers would be participating. Edgar and Sang. Edgar racing a MS Flex and Sang racing a Super 2. We’d meet many other racers that you’ve seen on Instagram later that day. That day of the racers I knew personally and from Instagram, 2/10 would complete 5 laps and get the purple card. Two cars would get stuck on the lane changer, 2 cars would get nailed by the kicker flap and slam into the bridge section, and 2 cars would turtle or get hung up after the one major jump before the lane changer. Unlike Mini4Wd racing in the States these official Tamiya Races have upward of 1000 entries and each racer is only allowed one car and one chance. If you course out or get beat, you’ll be packing your bags and waiting for the next Mini4WD race. Sunday Race Day On this day myself and Toni would be racing as well as many of the big name racers from all over Japan. Saturday’s race only features the new Trials Class and Open Class, while Sunday will have Junior, Open and Champions racing. Confident in my setup I only have to make a decision on whether I wanted to push the first race or play a little safer. Much like the first time I participated in this layout in June, there was only about a 20% completion rate for the cars in the first round. Many cars simply wouldn’t finish 5 laps and it would be a full course out for them. With that in my head and the most laps completed by one of our own racers on Saturday being 3, I decided to back my voltage off just a hair in hopes of simply finishing 5 laps. I ended up using 1.56v PowerChamps. After inspection I was assigned lane 5, which would get the lane changer right off the bat. After seeing so many people not complete that section of the track I was a bit nervous my car wouldn’t even complete one lap… hahah. 5 racers lined up at the drop ramp and waited for the buzzer to go off. Our first obstacle would be the balancing road, which was lane 3’s challenge. The buzzer went off and my fate was all in my cars setup and the decisions I made prior. After the first corner, many of the cars had around the same speed. The Digital Dragons back would not claim any cars on the first lap, but one car would get stuck on the Balance Road section on the second lap. 4 cars left. The second lap in the Digital Zone would claim another car. 3 cars left. With only three cars left, my car was about 1 full length straight behind the number 1 car. With only two laps left and the lead car having the lane changer at the end there might have been a possibility to catch him, but after the last drop section from the lane change my car would become too unstable to recover and flip out on the last corner before complete 5 laps. Super bummed, but also super happy I was able to complete so may more laps then last time... haha. Lot's of eyes watching my race I had japanese racers I've met come up to me and use the phrase, "zannen" which basically means tough luck. They also had a little hope that I might have been able to slingshot around that last turn to make a photo finish.