We’ve been waiting a while for this one to arrive!
Sideways’ Gp.5 class is a firm favourite amongst collectors and racers the world over, and especially here in Germany – it’s also the 1:32 class that I look forward to racing the most. But, while we’ve had plenty of varied liveries to choose from in the past, it’s been quite some time since a completely new silhouette has hit our shelves and start-lines… Sideways have teased us for nearly a year with this release but, no matter – it was worth the wait!
The FALTZ-Jägermeister Team BMW 320 duo (SW41a #14 Harald Grohs and SW41b #15 Hans Stuck) have both arrived and the biggest problem I have right now is deciding which one to prepare for our Group 5 series. They both look fantastic, but are not identical – driver decoration and subtle differences to the front air dam separate the two variants. But, still… which one do I race? Well, Harald Grohs is something of a local legend in these parts, so -as I’m the Brit abroad at my club – it seems only fair that I let one of the locals run their #14 Grohs car – I’ll go for the #15 Stuck car…
…suits me just fine – it has the extra vents in the front end, a feature that’s obviously worth 0.1s a lap!
But before starting, I did spot a couple of issues – the first was a minor one, easily fixed. It’s probably no biggie if you’re a tinkerer like me, and take a look inside a new car to get everything aligned and set up before running it… but, if you’re a more excitable type who’s more likely to whip it straight out of the box and onto the track, be careful!
I found everything was as securely assembled and well-lubricated as usual, but the pinion gear on mine was badly adjusted, only making contact with half of the thinner spur. Not a difficult thing to fix – just use a puller to move the pinion a little further along the motor shaft – but something that could cause premature wear and/or bad running if left unchecked.
The second issue was a bigger one but, oddly, I only noticed when I lined the BMW alongside others in my collection. Sideways have an excellent reputation for producing consistently well-detailed, good-looking, high-performance slot racing models – they’re an excellent combination of looks, performance and value for money, designed to please home enthusiasts and competitive club racers like myself. Tampo printing looks to be as clean and sharp as usual, but the finish is somewhat dull and lacklustre… at first, I thought it was simply a lack of clear coat. Then I realised it was more than that – the main bulk of the bodyshell appears to be unpainted, bare, coloured plastic! Further, if you look very closely, you can see that the front air dams have been painted and are a very (very!) slightly different shade of orange to the bodyshell – same for the rear wing supports and the fuel filler caps on the boot.
To be fair, you’d be hard pushed to notice – and I can easily clear-coat the shell myself if I want to protect those decals and buff the body to a high-gloss finish. But, this one is going racing – and my club isn’t a show’n’shine!
Sideways SW41 BMW 320 Gp.5 specification:
- body width F: 64.2mm / R: 65.5mm
- overall length: 151.0mm
- height: 38.5mm*
- wheelbase: 80.4mm
- guidebase: 92.4mm
- ‘Flat6’ 20,500rpm motor
- 11/28 gearing (1:2.54)
- body weight: 21gr
- chassis weight: 62gr
- total weight: 83gr
With the intention of comparing the 320 to a Porsche 935/78 Moby Dick, it was only fair that I gave the BMW 320 the same level of preparation. So, while the chassis cooled in the oven and the motor gently ran itself in on the bench, I trued up a pair of varnished front tyres and Slot.it P6 rears – now, the car is running to our club rules. Reassembled and back on the setup plate, it’s clear that the BMW 320 is wider, especially up front, and I found I could comfortably get a useful 2mm of extra rear track over the Moby Dick without arch clearance problems. All this should make for a nice stable car that takes fast corners really well and, although the guide is closer to the front axle, it is still quite well forwards in the chassis as there’s at least 8mm of extra wheelbase compared to the Porsche.
Those who know me will remember that I do have something of a soft-spot for those 935/78s – my own Ickx car was a regular winner of Gp.5 rounds during the 2015 series – but, I have to admit that I’m expecting these differences will add up to the SW41 BMW 320 being an easier car to drive consistently on the limit.
In the past, many racers have resorted to adding tape, hot-glue or even aftermarket motorpods in order to limit unwanted movement and juddering from the rear axle on their Gp.5s – especially those who’ve opted to upgrade their motors. As we know, these BMW 320 models are the first to arrive fitted with the improved Sideways Motor Pod, designed to address that exact problem. The motor now is held much more securely and members ogling my 320 also commented on the new axle supports that offer much more substantial bracing between the bushing carriers and the rearmost chassis fixing points.
And, as usual, a bag of useful extra parts arrives taped under the base – an allen key, revised rear axle supports to adjust the offset/ride-height of the chassis, replacement tabs to allow fitment of FK-130 size motor, and optional components that can be attached to the front of the motor pod so that it can be used in any chassis that accepts a Slot.it AW pod.
So, Sideways appear to have adjusted their ‘collector/racer balance’ a little – and it appears to have worked out in favour of the racer. No complaints here – it’s time to get the Beemer out on track and put it to the test!
Right out the gate, I was able to produce consistently neat laps that crept towards the benchmark 10.0s laptime for our 38m Carrera circuit. Overall, a much smoother experience through the faster corners than the shorter-wheelbased 935/78 – but ultimately not yet as fast. On meeting tighter bends, the BMW seemed less eager to change direction, so I inspected the guide to find that it was no longer turning very freely.
Bodyshell off, the guide moved without binding and centred perfectly. Body back on, stiff again. Hmm. Turns out that the inner face of that short and upright front end was obstructing the motor wires as they curved and flexed when the guide rotated… fixed easily by pulling a little more of the wire towards the motor so they angled slightly backwards from the guide – not forwards, like in the picture!
…head to head
Back out on track and the car felt much more fluid and lively through the esses. Now able to get into more of a rhythm, the laptimes gradually fell and I soon found myself joined by a clubmate in his IMSA 935 Moby Dick. Small adjustments to loosen off the motor pod and body screws slightly allowed the chassis to flex and do its thing and, as the BMW began to pull closer and closer to the Porsche’s pace, handling differences between the pair became clearer. For one, the wider front track and longer wheelbase do make it a little more stable – and, although the bodies weigh almost exactly the same, you notice the extra height in the 320 in the same way that you notice the extra bulk behind the rear axle of the 935… whether one is preferable to the other is a choice only the pilot can make.
Personally, I’m quite enjoying the taller BMW 320 as, once you get the body-float adjusted to your liking, any weight transfer is spread more equally across both outside wheels rather than creating that ‘pendulum effect’ the Moby Dick is infamous for! Lap after lap went by and, by the end of the session, there wasn’t much in it time-wise – steady 9.8s laps and the occasional 9.7, with the upright and four-square little Beemer looking solid and composed all the way.
In less than 200 laps, I’d managed to get an almost box-standard Sideways SW41b #15 Hans Stuck FALTZ-Jägermeister Team BMW 320 right on the pace of Gp.5 series front-runners. It’s not the fastest car yet, but with time to experiment with ballast and fine-tune tweaks to the setup, there’s no reason it can’t be on the podium at round one, next week… fingers crossed for that, expect a report here at SitC!
I am very pleased with my latest Sideways purchase. Although there is some issue with the finish, the improved pod system makes up for it. In the past, many racers have reported issues with their Sideways motor pods and suggested hot-fixes and improvements – it’s great to be able to report that the manufacturer made such an effort to develop their product, even better to report that those efforts have been a success.
Thanks for listening, Sideways! Not only have you managed to make a well-considered improvement to an already great slot racing class without overshadowing older models, ensuring that your new motor pod remains backwards-compatible with those older releases was a shrewd move on your part – like many other fans, I’ll continue collecting your new models and will also be upgrading the existing ones in my fleet.
Available in stores: now!