Robert Battle is one of the 1:8th Nitro Buggy specialists out there. He has raced some other classes slightly, but for the most part, 1:8th buggy is where he spends most of his time. He is a World Champion, double European Champion, as well as multiple national champion. He is a driver that you can never count out once the final rolls around, regardless of how his qualifying, or even semi final goes. He has a knack for finding a rhythm and if need be, un-lapping himself after the halfway point in a main, and finding himself in a battle for the win at the very end. I sent him some questions a while ago, and this is what he had to say.
You are one of the most successful drivers in 1:8th offroad, I don’t even know your best achievements, please list them here:
First of all thank you so much to make this interview and your blog, some people hate it but I think it is because it’s true things coming out.
My best achievements are:
World Champion 2012
2 x European Champion 2007/2011
2nd at World Championships 2016
2nd twice at European Championships
11 x Spanish Champion in a row (edit. we heard a record breaking 36 national race wins in a row)
You were clearly talented as you were fast ever since the beginning at your first Euros, I believe in 2002, but since then you progressed to become one of the most consistently fast and successful drivers, regardless of the equipment you were running, be it GRP, Proline or ProCircuit tyres, AXE, or Novarossi Engines, HoBao, AE or Mugen cars. How did you pull this off? Was it easy or did you actually have to put some work in?
From my point of view to be in the top of any sport is super difficult, you have to work a lot and be consistent in what you are doing. But you also need someone who guides you specially when you are young. It has been really difficult most of times mainly when you see your friends going out, holidays,… but you cannot go with them as you have to race or test.
How much did you practice in the early years, and did you have a plan, or did you just drive gallon after gallon? Do you practice less or more now than before?
I really didn’t practice a lot when I was young, but I made a looot of races, that’s the best way for me so you can drive in a lot of tracks and you can set-up the car in any condition. Practice a lot in your home track doesn’t make you improve your skills from my point of view. Now I practice more than ever, specially because I have to test a lot of prototype things but also because I’m getting older…. so you need to practice more to be still alive!
Some drivers switch a lot from car to car, searching for some magic. You have raced for 3 different car brands in your career, what is your opinion regarding this?
I don’t like at all, if you are confident with your car and you think that it is the best, you can win whatever. Changing too much can confuse you I think, I feel great with Mugen and all people there, I know the car and they take always a line from so many years ago… so I’m confident with it. As we all know, you never know what’s gonna happen, but that’s what I think right now.
What exactly is Marc Ibar’s (Ultimate Racing) contribution to your success? What is his contribution? And what about your father?
What I am now, it is thanks to both 100% and Javi Muela who helped me in 2002 to race, making Hobao believe in me.
Marc helps me a lot to understand the race itself, how to manage the difficult situations and things like that, we could say psychologic terms.
My dad as the word says is my dad, so he helps me everywhere, and he taught me all I know in RC and outside, always helped with my mom who never came to a race because she becomes too nervous haha.
What are the main changes you make to your car at a race, and why?
We normally work with swaybars because I feel a big change anytime we change. We work also on tires as it is a key thing in the setup.
Shocks are also a main thing so basically these three items, as the others from my point of view just change a little your feeling and they are more “psychologic” than any other thing.
Do you sometimes end up with a car that’s less than ideal, and you just drive around it?
Yes. So many races I had a difficult car and I had to drive more than 100% to win or to finish in a good position. Although it has been races where I had an awesome car and I made stupid mistakes to ruin the race lol.
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 changes to your driving, or your line choice during races?
Yes, my team sometimes says to me that I think too much. I always think how to improve the car, how to find a better line to go faster, changing my driving style in some parts to get some tenths…. I think all drivers do that as this is the only way to learn the track as it changes a lot during even a main final.
You are known as a main final driver. Somehow you manage to put it all together in the mains, even sometimes halfway through the main. How? What’s wrong with you, why not all the time, why wait until the last 30 minutes of the main?
Haha. This is difficult to explain… we always work more thinking on main finals, my car goes better after 10/15 minutes so maybe that’s why in qualifying I am not the best at all. However it is something that this year we want to change and I think we will do it. We work also with harder compounds as I don’t drive smooth… that also helps to be faster at the end. Although we will try to change it this year, I will ask you at the end what you think 😉
I have seen you now have an impressive RBR36 Arena in Barcelona.What is the story? Is this yours or does it only use your name, do you run it yourself? What are the future plans for this project?
This is mine and another partner, this is the story, I spent a lot of money there but sincerely it is not going as expected so I don’t know what will happen with this on next year… will see what we can do, but seems difficult to go ahead….
If you could change some things in RC Racing, or the RC industry, what would they be?
We need professional people leading RC, people who live because of that. Not people with another job then doing this like a “hobby”. Real world championship with some races during the year, same for European Championship… we need to change RC and make it visible for the people as a sport not simply as a toy. RC is a perfect sport for an amazing dad/(son or daughter) relationship, we have to work on this more than ever.
I have seen you like racing real cars too, and heard you used to race gokarts before? Is that so? Will you move on to real cars after RC:-)?
Yes I love real racing cars, I used to go to any track day I can, basically when my pocket can….lol
I used to race gokarts even wining some national races but it was too much money so I had to quit. I will not move from RC, real racing is too expensive and I’m too old to live from that, I love RC and I love my life so I don’t want anything else.
Finally, what does the future hold for you. What are your major goals for 2017 and beyond?
My main goal is to win Euro’s again after last two terrible years…I have some projects in my mind that I’m still discussing with my sponsors that can be a motivation for me, in terms of helping drivers and specially kids.
Thank you so much for everything, and keep going with your blogs as they make RC more alive!