SlotsintheCity.com EXCLUSIVE First Review!
It’s fair to say that the modern breed of Le Mans racers probably won’t be remembered as being the most beautiful racecars to have ever graced our circuits – gone are the sweeping curves that graced many cars of years gone by, replaced by hard lines and aggressive aerodynamic aids crucial to the performance and success of these current racers.
That said, the Lola Aston Martin DBR1-2, despite boasting it’s fair share of modern vents, ducts and spoilers, is certainly one of the most visually-appealing LMP racers of modern times… and, of course, it doesn’t hurt that it wears the classic Gulf livery!
The Aston Martin DBR1-2 was a Le Mans Prototype sports car built by Lola Cars International and co-developed with Prodrive for use by Aston Martin Racing. It was the first prototype to bear the Aston Martin name since the AMR1 in 1989. Aston Martin’s internal name for the car, DBR1-2, refers to the specific DBR1 chassis which won six races in 1959 en route to clinching the World Sportscar Championship as well as that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. [Wikipedia]
The Slot.it CA31a Lola Aston Martin DBR1-2 caused quite a stir when it was announced recently, and now that I finally have one in front of me, it isn’t hard to see why – it really was a good-looking model in those teaser photos, and it really is an even better-looking model in the plastic.
In fact, writing a review of this car seems somewhat redundant… it doesn’t appear to me that Slot.it need anyone drumming up interest in this model on their behalf – at least, not if the reaction from my clubmates was anything to go by. Everyone crowded around me the moment I opened my pitbox to unwrap the CA31a, and it was a fair few minutes before all the cooing stopped for long enough for me to get the car on track.
But, get the car on track I did – and, straight out of the box, the CA31a didn’t disappoint. Within a few short laps, I was immediately able to put the stock DBR1-2 around our club track very confidently and, as the magnet was still in place, with no dramas or nasty surprises!
As the fuss surrounding the car settled down, I finally found a moment to quietly pull over and view the car up close. Yes, it is a beautiful design, faithfully reproduced in the striking Gulf colours, with an excellent paint finish and neat, sharp, tampo printing… my only criticism was a small one, as the thin dark blue stripes separating the orange from the light blue show through a small area of the less-than solid white number plaque on the nose of the car. But, I was reminded by Maurizio that this is a pre-release model which, although mechanically identical to the production cars, had slightly different decals which would be corrected by the time the customer models hit the stores.
One visual detail I’d still like to see improved upon are the wheel inserts. To be fair, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with them exactly – and, these are arguably my favorite of Slot.it’s many insert designs – just that they’d look better and more representative of the 1:1 car if they could be inset a little, rather than left flush with the rim. After all, Slot.it achieved that ‘dished look’ admirably with their Audi R18 e-Tron Quattro.
These modern LMP cars released by Slot.it feature bodyshells that are made of many separate pieces and, while it’s clear that the model has been skillfully assembled to provide an impressive level of detail, it does seem to result in a model that creaks and rattles a little as it laps! But, I think achieving that level of detail is well worth a little extra noise while driving – particular favourite details of mine are located at the front of the car. First, the front splitter, which is sturdy, neatly decaled and textured without requiring, for example, separate photo-etch parts that would’ve proven more fragile. Second, the panels just ahead of the front wheels which, although almost seamlessly fitted, will allow Slot it to install different aerodynamic options on future releases to more accurately represent the various 1:1 versions of this car.
…out on track
Regular readers will know that the C1-compound tyres Slot.it fit as standard aren’t my first choice for Carrera track – so, while I had the bodyshell off to remove the magnet, I swapped the rear tyres out for a set of ScaleAuto ‘2007’ foam-rubber tyres to increase grip, and added sealed tyres up front to reduce drag. This gave me a car that, for all intents and purposes, was exactly the same specification as the ones we run at our club – and an opportunity to do some more effective benchmark testing!
Switching to those new tyres improved things immensely. Having also loosened off the motorpod screws a little, the lap-times fell easily below 10s, but the DBR1-2 would need to do a lot more if it were to match the consistent 9.3s laptimes set by my benchmark comparison car – in this case, the Slot.it Audi R8C that I’ve been campaining in my club’s Modern Le Mans series.
It took me a good number of laps to put my finger on the real difference between my trusted racer and this latest release. The DBR felt great, though – very solid and stable through fast sweeping curves, it just seemed a little more tricky to push around the tighter bends. At first, I put it down to the DBR being taller and thinner than the R8C, but a quick measurement showed that both cars are almost exactly 64mm wide… putting the two cars side-by-side revealed the real difference – the Lola Aston Martin DBR1-2 has a wheelbase over 10mm longer than the R8C, more similar to the CA22 series of Slot.it Lolas (for obvious reasons!) as well as other releases modelled on more recent cars for their LMP range.
As is usual with Slot.it cars, there is a lot to be gained by experimenting with adjustments to the front axle height and travel. So, a third track session with the standard plastic blocks removed and four grub-screws installed to control the vertical axle movement and keep the guide as deep into the slot as possible, I set about matching the R8C’s lap-times.
Lap after lap went by while I made small adjustments to those grub-screws and, as I did, the laptimes gradually fell. By the end of my evening, I had the CA31a lapping consistently around the 9.4s mark – right on the tail of my R8C! I’ve no doubt that, given a little more time, I would have been able to reduce that laptime further by fine-tuning a few grams of ballast but, as it stands, I was very pleased to have gotten the Lola Aston Martin DBR1-2 that close without anything other than a change of tyres and adjustments to the standard components.
The Slot.it CA31a Lola Aston Martin DBR1-2 will appeal to a very wide audience, and is sure to be an instant hit.
Fans and collectors of the Gulf livery will love this model. Even those who aren’t fanatical about modern LMP cars will still love this model. Plucky Brits racing outside our shores (mentioning no names…) will love this model. And, anyone looking for a strong, stable performer to add to their slot racing fleet will love this model… have Slot.it finally created the slot car that sells itself?
Available in stores: October 13th, 2015
Once again, a big thank you to Maurizio and everyone at Slot.it for making this model available to me so quickly, and to my clubmates for eventually leaving the car alone long enough for me to actually put some test-laps in!