1. How it feels to suck:
To do your best and still get beat badly, to fall short of your goals, and to fail in general, is a terrible feeling. There are only 2 possible outcomes, there is no middle ground. Everyone hates the demoralising feeling of failure. The more you have invested, and sacrificed, the worse the feeling is. Option one is to quit. Most people do that. Others get motivated to work harder and succeed. I guess there could be a 3rd category, reserved for idiots, who change nothing, and just go through life failing repeatedly and hating life.
For me I think setting goals and constantly failing to achieve them is really motivating, it pisses me off so badly. I feel so terrible already that whatever spiteful stuff haters write, really doesn’t get to me, because they can’t make it any worse. Friendly banter and shit talk helps to lighten the mood a bit.
Having said that, looking at the big picture, THECar and my driving have improved a lot in the past year. I am now able to match the best on lap time when things are right, and am able to stay within a few seconds over a qualifier, and occasionally beat them, which was not possible a year ago. Even at this race, although I did not achieve it, due to another car cartwheeling across the track taking me out in the process, I was still on a 10lap run on the 5th lap of the 2nd qualifier, and my best lap was a 32.6 vs 32.3 from David. Had I achieved that 10 laps, I would have been 3 seconds or so behind David’s TQ time. 3 seconds over 5 minutes is in the ballpark. That was not possible a year ago. So there is that.
2. How I suck, and what I need to do in order to suck less:
The difference between very good and great is a slight difference in corner speed and controlled aggression. It’s not a massive difference, it is tiny, but over one lap, it builds up. It is most evident in sections of track where there is a combination of corners that require being stringed together. What great drivers do so well, is pinpoint the limits of the car, and then maneuver and dance around the track without exceeding them, but also staying as close as possible to them. This means going as fast as the conditions allow, without loading the tyres too much where they will lose grip, or pushing the car too much to where it will not stay within the pitch, roll, weight transfer, camber change range that provides the best performance.
This means going as fast as the conditions allow, without loading the tyres too much where they will lose grip, or pushing the car too much to where it will not stay within the pitch, roll, weight transfer, camber change range that provides the best performance.
Basically I can’t do the above as well as the best, unless I get my car really good, and I practice a lot in the exact conditions that a race will be in. I can’t adapt as well. I can match the best at times, and those are the times when everything is perfect. So the way I will become better, is to improve my setup, and make it less “knife-edge”, where you lose speed if you make a slight error. I can already go for as long as needed, being extremely consistent, I can hit the same line for a whole main, I can avoid mistakes. That’s not the problem, I need to be a bit faster all the time, and that will come from a better setup, and learning to identify where I am pushing the car past it’s best performance, and scrubbing speed, and focus my practice on avoiding that.
At this race, I already know what I should have done differently. The track had a lot more grip than I expected, so my setup was too soft. I needed thicker swaybars, and thicker diffs. Now I would go into a corner too hard and the car would roll too much and scrub speed, or I got on the gas a bit too hard and the car would squat and diff out, and I would lose drive. Nothing major, we are talking small errors like that. David could have taken my car and done the same as he did, I’m sure, but I can’t do that. I need to get those things spot on, and then I can be more competitive.
3. Why I think David Ronnefalk will be the most successful 1:8th Offroad driver over the next 5 years.
There are a number of reasons for this, I had an idea for a future blog post about this, that’s why I have been thinking about this subject. I will list the reasons:
- Obviously, as far as talent and speed goes, he is right up there with the rest of the best , Maifield, Boots, Battle, Tessmann, Cavalieri etc. One thing he has going for him compared to many of his competitors, is that his clear main focus has been, and more than likely will continue to be 1:8th Offroad, instead of spreading out his time on many classes.
- Unlike most of his competition, we haven’t seen the best of David yet, because up until his recent switch to HB, he had never been a paid professional RC racer. Kyosho didn’t pay him a salary, he lived with his parents in Sweden, and went to school. The closest track was almost 2 hours a way. Add to this the short Swedish season, you can see that practice has been limited, and it’s not really until now that his program is getting to the point where he truly is well prepared for the races.
- He is still only 20 years old, still freshly motivated as a paid professional, and thanks to his parents I would suppose, clearly understanding and appreciative of the situation he is in, and the opportunity he has.
- I don’t see anyone with equal talent, that also has the same level of commitment and dedication as David at this point in time. There are no distractions, there is no family, there are no kids, there are no larger plans outside of winning every race, and that’s a scary prospect for his competition. He is looking at possibly moving to Spain in order to be able to practice and race more, against better competition, and all the year round. He is practicing, racing, or working on his cars almost every day now, unlike before. He is investing in his own career.
- He has a solid crew behind him, with HB/Orion fully committed to keeping him winning. His father has been his mechanic since the beginning, and Adrien Bertin has been guiding him for a long time, and is a great help when it comes to approaching the races, motor and car set up. It’s a team effort that is working.
- Finally, one thing that I think is very important for continued and constant success, is driving style and setup preference. David’s driving style, as well as the way he sets up his car is very solid, and safe. Some great drivers are so extreme in their preferences that it’s just not going to work out every time, or in the long term, if something changes, like the tracks or the tyres we race, or the car they race for example. I’m not saying anyone can pick up his car and go fast, but what I am saying is that it’s nothing crazy or extreme in one direction. The car does everything well, jumps, corners, turns, it has traction, it stays flat and balanced, it’s not super low, it’s not super high, it’s not super soft, it’s not super hard, it’s a good compromise of everything, that will work on any track, US style or European, and his controlled yet aggressive driving style complements it perfectly. You don’t have to hit your marks perfectly, the car will still handle it, and on the other hand, if need be, he is still capable of pushing the pace to a higher level, he isn’t maxed out all the time.
I would draw a comparison to Ken Roczen, young fast, very confident, very strong program, very solid style, with the difference that no injury will sideline David, so I predict he will be the most successful 1:8th Offroad racer over the next 5 years.