I decided a while ago to interview some of the top drivers in RC, at least the ones that still talk to me 🙂 Just kidding…Or maybe not. Anyhow, just thought it would be interesting to ask some other questions than “How did you get started in RC?”. Got a few lined up, let’s see how it goes.
I figured it’s only fair to start with the World Champ! Thank you David for the interview.
Coming from Scandinavia, the elements are against you, and it’s definitely not common to become World Champion in 1:8th scale Offroad, coming form a country with a short season, and relatively low level of competition compared to some bigger countries. Do you think this was a benefit or a hindrance looking back at your career?
For me coming from Sweden I know I have not had the same possibilities as the racers from countries with a longer season. Though I have not seen this as a huge disadvantage, as during the winter in Sweden I have been running lots of 1/10 EP and I think that is very good practice also for 1/8 scale. This also means I never get tired of running one class only. As towards the end of the winter I´m super excited to move outdoors and start my engine and burn some nitro again. Of course this means it will take a few runs to get back into it and I would say this might be the only disadvantage I have, but I have been lucky to have the gift to be able to adapt very quickly to new tracks, cars or setups which helps. As I usually have gone to US a couple days earlier to get some track time I feel like I have been in good shape going into the DNC which has been my first 1/8 race of the year the past few years. For 2017 I will make a change to the schedule though as I will for the first time since 2010 go back and attend the Montpellier GP early February. Really looking forward to that as I think the track is one of the best in Europe at the moment.
Now that you are done with school, and are for the first time a paid professional RC Car driver after having switched to HB, how has this changed your situation? Has anything changed in your ability to prepare for races, or in your mental approach in general?
Of course this was a huge change in my life. It took a while to get used to it in the beginning as I was used to have dad preparing my cars in between the races and for practices we went to. I learned a lesson as I didn’t think it would be that much work besides the racing part, so it is very important to have a great structure and a schedule you follow. This took a while for me to adapt to, and even if it can still be improved I think we showed in Vegas that my whole team with dad and Adrien have a very good plan both at the races and in between to get the maximum performance of our equipment and my driving. The work in between the races is at least as important or maybe even more important than at the race. If you do it right, you will get a head start and face an easier challenge at the race.
You recently made a big switch from Kyosho to HB Racing. What is the main differences between the Kyosho and the HB cars?
My first feeling I got was that the HB 1/8 car had and still has way more natural steering and corner speed. This took a while to get used to as with the Kyosho I had to push the car through the corners and when I did the same with the HB I would spin out. Of course this also had to do with the way the car was setup when I first switched. After a couple of months with the car we found a very very good base setup which I can use almost everywhere. I would say with this setup I´m 80-85% ready when I get to a new track. After two full years running HB, we have worked hard and developed a car that fits any driver out there. The D812 was still a car that was very aggressive and didn’t have a lot of grip, but with the D815, D815 V2 and the coming D817 I think we have a car for any driver out there. It has way more grip and stability than previous cars but you still have great steering and corner speed. So the conclusion on this is that I believe I´m faster and more competitive with the HB car than I was with the Kyosho. I have changed my driving style to where I have found a nice balance on the steering and throttle control, and as I don´t have to push as hard as I did with the Kyosho I can focus more on the line I want to hit every lap.
What exactly is Adrien Bertin’s contribution to your success? What is his contribution?
Adrien means a lot to me. Over the years we have worked so hard together and become very close, I wouldn’t call him a friend anymore as I see him as family. His knowledge and experience really boosted my career after he took me under his wing in 2008. I have learned so much from him and I can´t be more thankful for his help. Now you might be wondering what I have learned from him, and I would say pretty much everything. From understanding setup changes and what they do to the car, to different paths you choose in life or just personal advice in general. We have now had 8 years together and I don´t see the end in our relationship so I think everyone out there needs to watch out, because I truly believe that we together have become one of the strongest teams to beat out there today .
What are the main changes you make to your car at a race, and why?
At the races we always try to find the best car for the longer runs. Of course we need to be there also in qualifying but we are not always trying too hard to get the TQ, for us that is a bonus. The changes we make to the car of course vary from track to track, but for me the shock pistons/oil together with the diffs makes the biggest difference on the car. Then we mainly work with the caster, ackermann and hub position in the rear end.
Do you sometimes end up with a car that’s less than ideal, and you just drive around it?
Normally when it comes down to finals we always have something that we know we have the chance to win with. Of course sometimes you pick wrong tires or so and therefore you will suffer a little bit because of that. But normally I always feel like I will have a shot at it!
Do you think about what you are doing when you drive, or do you just drive? Do you think about the car and how it is handling, or your own driving, such as line choice or throttle control? Do you consciously make changed to your driving, or your line choice during races?
Normally I don´t think too much when I´m driving. Sometimes you try to find another fast driver on the track to kinda have a idea on what your pace is like, but that is pretty much it. I wouldn’t´t say that I think about how my car is handling, it is more like a feeling that comes to me. Of course I have the line choice in mind while I´m driving, I normally take a walk around the track before a final or so and then I get the idea of where I have to put my car while driving. Then it is all about focusing on the line and keeping your car square. For instance the Worlds in Vegas was a track that you really had to be 110% focused on your line in the main. This was what I did the best during the 60min to win my first ever IFMAR Worlds title.
I saw a video of you driving a Touring Car, why touring car?
I think touring car is fun to drive and I wish there would be more time for that as well, but there is not. So I just like to go once in a while to drive some just for fun. This coming weekend I will actually attend a 1/12 scale race, this will be the first time ever for me driving a 1/12 and I´m really excited and looking forward to it. All in all, On-road is something I do for fun when time allows.
What’s the story behind your own track?
So the story about my private indoor 1/10 EP Buggy carpet track is that we have always had a tiny track in the same building, and I got tired of travelling 2h to the closest track during the winter to practice. So I decided to do all I could to build my own track where we had this small one already, though I wanted it to be way bigger and with the EOS carpet. After a lot of talking with the girl that rents the building (I share it with her now) she finally agreed with me getting more space to build a big indoor track. In the agreement I had to move all her stuff away from the space that I wanted and she wsa not required to do anything. So basically it was me and my grandfather that was there every day in January 2016 for 2 weeks straight doing everything. I got some help towards the end when it was finished with painting the walls, carrying the 4m wide carpet rolls up two floors. Two and a half weeks after me and my grandfather started to take down the old track we had built a new track but also gave the whole building a way better look. So now I have 25min to the track instead of 2h and I can go practice whenever I want. The track has almost the same size as the EOS tracks so it is also a perfect opportunity for HB and Orion to test and develop our products.
Finally, what does the future hold for you. What are your major goals for 2017 and beyond?
For me I think the future looks very bright. I´m feeling very confident with my whole package and with all sponsors and people around me. I cannot say anything else than 2016 was a great year for us but I will be working very hard to be able to win every race I attend in 2017. Obviously we wont have the Worlds in 1/8 in 2017 so I will wait until 2018 to do my best to be the first ever to defend a title in 1/8 Off Road. I´m looking forward to the Euros which will be held in my home country for 2017 and I will try to bring the title back to where it belongs after missing out in 2015 and 2016. Other than that we have the Worlds in China for 1/10 which will be a highlight of the year. Looking forward to another great year and to see all my friends out at the tracks.
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