True Touring Car Greatness!
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s July 2016 issue.
Photos: Edwin Rodriguez
Touring Cars. They’re some of the fastest surface vehicles out there. Top level drivers control overpowered TCs through tight courses with long straights, all with the precision of a fighter pilot. One of the companies at the forefront of this has been Team Associated. Their first TC, the TC3, started life as a molded chassis car with a shaft-driven drivetrain. Everything about the car was amazing – the handling, the speed, the look … boy how times have changed. That early car has seen some evolution over the years, the latest model being the TC7. This is a true race car – carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium – all combined in one package to form a top-ofthe- line Touring Car. It’s gained a few updates over its predecessor, the TC6, boosting the performance of what was already a pretty stellar car. Let’s take a look, give it a drive and see if adding a +1 to the logo means it’s a better car.
OUT TO PLAY
iI gathered up my onroad goodies and headed to one of our local onroad tracks for the TC7 shakedown. It is outdoor season, but being that winter is still lingering a bit the track surface isn’t quite optimum yet. No worries though – it will still be a good test of what this car has to offer in a ‘not-so perfect’ environment.
Like you might expect, the steering is completely on point! It’s quick, precise and can carve a corner like a razor. The combination of the floating servo and updated steering allowed the TC7 to seem very consistent rounding the corners, both slow and fast. There were a few times where the TC7 would drift off line a bit if I overheated the entry, but once the tires regained grip on the dusty track, it was bittersweet goodness. After a few laps, I had burnt a groove into the track and the steering was sharp as a tack.
You might assume that something like a 13.5T motor is a bit puny, especially when TCs are usually tearing up the tracks with 4.5T motor! Well, you’d be partially wrong. Sure, it’s not a blast of lightning, but it’s still very quick with impressive top speeds. I’m used to 13.5T-ish motors in 2WD offroad cars where throttle control is necessary, but in a 4WD Touring Car, it’s basically point and shoot. After a few laps I was used to the handling characteristics and threw all I knew about throttle control out the window! This car has some pretty amazing grip and full-pin rip sessions out of the corners was what I needed for a big ol’ smile on my face. It’s extremely quick and, even in times where I was slightly off line, more throttle meant more pull from the front wheels to straighten things out. On the brake side of things, it’s basically the same principle; approach the corner and slam the brakes to slow the car down. I know it has to do a lot with the entire design, but I felt like the new softer drive belts actually aided in acceleration and braking.
The handling department is where I really felt this TC accelerated. The track wasn’t in all that great condition; it hadn’t had a full race day prepping. Even so, the TC7 had a lot of grip in the corners. Like, an amazing amount – more than I thought ANY car should have. Lap after lap I pushed the car harder and harder and it just stuck. I knew when I was going to fast through a corner when the front end gave up – not the rear. That’s a good thing – I feel it’s better to push wide a bit and still stay in the game than lose the back end and possibly collect the field. Now, mind you, this is with an un-prepared track – things might be a little different when the track is race ready. My guess is that most TCs I’d be up against will have similar handling traits but, for this offroad guy, it was pretty impressive. My mind is ‘set’ in offroad mode and how I need to drive that, so to pick up the transmitter and feel locked in, that says a lot about how someone new to Touring Cars (or looking for their next one) would fare.
It’s hard to really test the durability of car simply because I’m not actually out to test it – it just happens. That being said, most of ontrack durability testing revolves around small bounces off boards, controlled collisions or something like that. Until this test session. Again, my offroad experience has me trained to expect a car to do a certain thing when I turn the wheel, launch off a jump or slide around a corner. This is a 4WD Touring Car with lots of grip and lots of power (yes, even a 13.5T motor in these cars is fast!). So, when I was done with my first 2 shakedown laps, it was time to pull the throttle. Entering in the first corner – a fast right hand sweeper – I cranked the wheel over at speed to clip the apex and start my super fast lap. Uh, ya. When I turned the wheel, the car turned, hard! I did clip the apex, WAY earlier than I wanted to and sent the TC7 in a barrel-rolled flight towards the outside of the track. Mind you, this was lap #3. After a loud crash, some splintering wood and a whole lot of cringing ‘ooooohs’, the TC7 came to rest upside down on the track. I told Edwin to start packing up the gear – I’m sure we’re heading home. But, to our surprise, the TC7 was 100% ok! A pretty healthy crease in the body and a popped ballcup were the extent of the damages, both fixable in about 47 seconds. I’m not sure how most cars would have taken that hit; I’m just feeling pretty lucky that my TC7 survived!
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT:Team Associated
WHO IT’S FOR: Intermediate to Advanced Drivers
PART NUMBER: 30120
HOW MUCH: $459.99
BUILD TYPE: Kit
• Optimized suspension includes FOX Shocks
• Arm mount inserts provide precise toe adjustment
• New, one-piece motor mount system allows better rear chassis flex
• Unique, floating spur gear
• Softer drive belt material
• Flipped, low-profile steering bellcranks
• Floating steering now connects to the steering bellcrank posts
• Front spool, rear gear diff combo
• A revert back to the old-style anti-roll bars
• 48P gearing only, hard to fine tune for stock racers
• Body fitment issues – only if using an older TC6-series body (read more below)
I’m a big fan of Team Associated’s touring cars – when I run TC, it’s usually an AE car. They handle great and really seem to fit my driving style. It’s easy to work on, responds well to tuning and has exceptional handling. Once I got it dialed in (which wasn’t so far off the stock setup), I was able to keep up with some of the faster drivers at the track – and that was on the first day of testing. This car has some serious potential!
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• Molded tools
• L wrenches
• Electronic Speed Control
• Brushless Motor
• Futaba BLS571SV Servo
I chose this servo for two reasons – it’s a manly unit that puts out some big numbers (153oz/in of torque and a .08sec speed) and for its shorty size. This will give me more room on the chassis to mount the other electronics.
• Reedy 800Z ESC
Reedy’s newest brushless ESC is designed for stock or spec racing. It has a zero-timing feature, is lightweight and is fully adjustable. A perfect match for my 13.5T Reedy Sonic
• Futaba 4PX Transmitter
My love. My life. The 4PX is an amazing extension of my existence. I am one with it, and it’s one with me.
ADDITIONAL ITEMS USED
• Reedy Sonic 540-M3 13.5T Brushless Motor
• Reedy Zappers 7400mAh LiPo Battery
• SP Racing 134 Belted Tires
• Protoform LTCR Body
• The TC7 uses a similar chassis to the 6-series car but has been optimized a bit for better handling. It starts life as a 2.25mm carbon fiber deck, cut to 88mm to allow maximum roll without touching the ground. While this may sound pretty narrow it still has quite a bit of room on the face to mount a wide assortment of electronics, however anything with a small footprint will be much easier to manage. All of the mounting holes on the bottom of the chassis are precisely countersunk with a couple additional holes for mounting ballast. The 2mm top deck extends the length of the car, slinking it’s way around the spur gear and mounting to both the front and rear gearboxes. Once assembled, it’s a stiff platform with just a hint of flex.
• This car uses a suspension system similar to the TC6; aluminum arm mounts with separate plastic inserts. These inserts accept pivot balls that rotate in them, creating a sort of ‘floating’ hinge pin system. When the inserts are changed, the hinge pin angles will be fluid, providing a sticky-free suspension movement. The suspension arms have also been updated using a stronger carbon fiber composite. This creates an extremely stiff suspension part and, in turn, has been designed with less total surface area. The arms do appear quite thin but, I’ll assure you, they’re incredibly strong. I know – I did test it out once against a non-moveable 2×4. Also included with the TC7 are the A-Team’s much sought after Genuine Kashima Coated FOX Shocks. These shocks look killer against the black and blue, are amazingly smooth and mounted to 4mm carbon fiber towers in both the front and rear. As a final ‘upgrade’, Team Associated has reverted back to the standard one-piece anti-roll bar. While I didn’t play around too much with the H.D.R.C. (High Definition Roll Control) anti-roll bar back on the TC6, I’ve always thought the one-piece setup was better. I’m glad they went back.
• The steering on the TC7 is also similar to the TC6. A floating servo mount is used and is connected to a series of aluminum posts via a carbon fiber top plate. While it only attaches to the chassis near the centerline, it does add two additional mounting points – the steering posts. This setup makes for a very rigid mount, yet allows proper flex of the chassis. The steering bellcrank system is a carry-over, however the cranks themselves have been flipped to provide a lower-profile setup. As with the TC6, the steering uses a full set of bearings for super smooth operation.
• The drivetrain has been massaged a bit to further refine its exceptional operation. A one-piece motor mount is now utilized as is a new, floating spur gear system. Both of these refinements allow better alignment of the spur and pinion gear as well allowing better flex at the back of the car. Their standard spool is up front but now uses composite outdrives and CV axle-mounted composite blades. Should you have a big crash up front, these easily replaceable parts should be the first to go. A fluid-filled gear diff is out back, also using the composite blades. 3mm CV axles extend out to the 12mm clamping hexes at the wheels.
• Opposite the electronics is a standard, race-ready battery mounting system. Unlike other cars that use molded straps or battery doors, the TC7 is all about less weight and maximum efficiency. Because of this, the battery mounting system is basically a pair of molded end stops and a center bumpstop; you must use a piece of strapping tape to hold the pack in place. It’s not that big a deal as it feels very Factory Team, it’s just a minor inconvenience. It’s like having a race car with the doors welded shut. Just a thing you have to do if you want to go fast.
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SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
Length: 14.2” (360mm)
Width: 7.5” (190mm)
Wheelbase: 10” (254mm)
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
Body: Not included
Wheels: Not included
Wheel adapter type: 12mm hex
Tires: Not included
Type: 4-wheel independent
Shock positions: (F) 4-tower, 2-arm,
(R) 4-tower, 2-arm
Camber: Adjustable turnbuckles
Roll: Adjustable ball heights
Wheelbase: Adjustable with shims
Ride height: Threaded shocks
Type: Dual bellcrank
Material: Carbon fiber
Transmission: Belt Drive
Differential: (F) Spool, (R) Gear differential
Clutch Type: None
Gear ratio: Optional pinion gears
Bearings: Full shielded
Feature Breakdown: 10
Overall Value: 9
I’m an offroad guy for sure, but every time I get a good TC in my hands, it inspires me to be a good onroad racer as well. Wrapping my fingers around my 4PX when it came time to test Team Associated’s TC7, well, let’s just say that I’m inspired to be more than just a good onroad racer. This car instills greatness, and I certainly felt great. I love this car. I think it’s time to terrorize the onroad natives.
Team Associated, teamassociated.com, (949) 544-7500
Reedy, reedypower.com, (949) 544-7500
Futaba, futaba-rc.com, (217) 398-8970
Protoform, racepf.com, (800) 899-RACE
SP Racing, dist. by Delta Plastik USA, deltaplastikusa.com