As explained in the press release a few days ago, John Yves Ferte is one of the newest recruits at Mugen Seiki’s European base of operations; MSE. He will head up the sales team as well as manage Mugen’s European racing team, made up of quite a few top level drivers. Neo Buggy caught up with John Yves to spill some of the beans on the future of Mugen Seiki Europe.
John Yves Ferte
Role: Sales & Team manager at Mugen Seiki Europe
Previously: Sales at Kyosho France & UK for 5 years.
First off, John explained that his job is to help rebuild Mugen Seiki’s brand awareness in Europe by improving the communication & the service to shops, distributors and dealers. Focus has been placed on the British, French and Belgium markets to establish a strong dealer network with good support for the end user. As team manager John’s role is quite diverse, in part strategist, driver liason as well as being involved in research & development. In that role as team manager he has set out a few goals; a strong Euros performance with the team they have – comprising of Robert Batlle, Borja Hernandez, Simon Willetts, Fabio Boero, Patxi Penas, Baldo Brothers, Julien Lattanzio & Nicolas Reynaud.
The fact that many industry insiders have tipped Batlle’s move from Associated to Mugen as the move of the season is no added pressure despite them going into the 2011 Euros as defending constructors champion for the last 3 years. The news of Savoya’s departure came as a slight surprise, a big blow to Mugen Seiki’s future racing aspirations and some very big shoes to fill, however any fears would have been quickly dispelled as Robert Batlle arrived; perhaps the only driver more than capable of filling the vacuum. Looking even further ahead, John tells us that the long term goal is the 2014 Worlds – due to be held back in Europe after a 10-year globe-trotting absence. Whether the 2014 lineup will mirror the 2011 team remains to be seen however; winning a World Championships gets tougher every time.
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As manager of the team, John will act as the bridge between company and drivers; collecting feedbacks and ensuring that Mugen Seiki products are represented the best. Mugen’s image is a strange one; they are very much the original racing company, although they have never been one to throw money at big teams and driver retainers, preferring to let their products do the talking on the track. Their product lineup is one that defies any RC company’s business model; not a ready-to-run in sight; all are cars designed for one purpose; racing.
And so that led us onto the topic of new products, the MBX6 platform is entering the twilight phase, released in late 2008, its considered one of the best all round cars available today. But ‘new’ sells and the influx of aggressive new brands may prompt some moves from the boys at Chiba in Japan. John tells us that we can expect a MBX6 EU2011 in Mid-March in Europe only, actually it’s a MBX6 + new long chassis and a few optional parts based on our European team’s feedback and that we will have to wait for more news. On the subject of a car designed for the highest levels of racing John said that any new car should only be designed and manufactured with the same spirit, with equal thought to high and low competition, it should perform whether you are racing for the win at the Euros or in a local backyard race.
There has been a general buzz around the re-emergence of 1/10th scale EL Offroad – TLR releasing the 22, and the class tipped to grow again, there have been a few rumours of Mugen Seiki looking at this market, John remained cool on the subject but admitted that the Electric market is ‘interesting’ and said that as far as he was concerned, it would be the icing on the cake if Mugen Seiki were to release more electrics cars, especially if that was with a line of EL Buggies and Short Course for the US market. Whether that would happen or not he couldn’t say.
The UK market has seen big changes for Mugen in the last 6 months, deciding to change their approach and go direct from Mugen Seiki Europe to dealers, rather than using the conventional nationally based distributor route. Losing Elliott & Chris Boots was quite the blow – Elliott is one of the lead drivers and Chris who was to act as representative and racer support before confirming their switch to Team Durango in late 2010. John tells us that MSE have a two-years plan focusing on the future, perhaps with one eye on the strong electric offroad market in the UK… ? Part of this plan is Simon Willetts, a driver John has known and worked closely with for a number of years whilst both were with Kyosho. The aim is to go for the ’11 & ’12 BRCA titles, and assemble a small team, don’t be surprised to see Willetts mixing it with the likes of Bloomfield, Cragg, Boots for the title hunt.
Mugen’s position in the UK couldn’t be more different to that in Spain; MSE’s strongest market, not to mention the number of drivers in Spain using the car in 2011; Batlle, Hernandez, Baldos, Penas etc. We didn’t talk much about Mugen’s position in France or Germany; the latter served by RMV, but it seems that new strategies are in the starter box and, one point of interest is the news that Robert Batlle will partake in a couple of French nationals. Doubling up as good racing experience but perhaps also an attempt at stealing a podium finish or even win…
John would like to thank Mike Cradock – mentor & friend at Kyosho, showing me the way how to work, I will miss him; one of the best guys to work & learn from. Also a thank you to Kyosho in general, having spent 5 years with this great brand it was time for a new challenge, thank you to Stefan Habbecke from Mugen for this great opportunity at Mugen Seiki Europe, the challenge is to make it one of the strongest brands in the market, and one I am looking forward to!
John will be at several of the big events around Europe this year; Neo, Euros etc…