David_Ronnefalk

A halloween nightmare for Kyosho as their #1 Star European driver and two-time European Champion David Ronnefalk confirms his departure from the Japanese outfit, bringing a decade-long association between driver and company, five of which were spent as factory driver.

Ronnefalk’s time with Kyosho saw him blossom rapidly from a promising protege nurtured by engine guru Adrien Bertin & his mechanic father Pierre to challenging for Championship wins, his first breakthrough coming in 2009 winning the European ‘B’ Championships in Switzerland.

The Swede’s performance curve sharpened further as he went on to take two back-to-back European Championship titles, 4th at the 2012 IFMAR Worlds – regarded by his peers as a pacesetter he suffered a disappointing end to the recent 2014 IFMAR Worlds in Sicily – a race that would prove his Kyosho swansong.

NeoBuggy.net caught up with David for an exclusive interview…

 

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“Until the IFMAR Worlds I made 39 main finals in a row…”

 

NeoBuggy: David, the news of your departure will likely send shockwaves round the passionate community of Kyosho fans and racers, can you talk us through some of the reasons behind the decision ?

David Ronnefalk: Yes I am aware that this may be a bit unexpected, but after a lot of careful thought and analysis I came to the conclusion that despite many offers, there was really only one option if I wanted to be a full time driver. Until this time I had no written contract with any of my main sponsors, and one reason is that I am still in school and I can be forced to prioritise school over some races.

Since I started my career 11 years ago my goal has always been to be a Professional driver, we have known for some time that 2015 would be the year I finished school and just want to proceed with the plan. Of course, this requires that your sponsors have the same plan and make it possible, or you have to make some changes in the package if you want to work with what you love to do.

The second thing is what you want as a driver… just practice and go to races, or to be involved in R&D at some level as well. This is something I’m really look forward to participating in for all of my main sponsors.

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Some would claim you have Kyosho in your blood having raced for them so long, the MP9 handing you multiple victories in your career thus far, how does it feel to leave that car behind for a completely new platform ?

David Ronnefalk: First of all I have to thank Kyosho for all support I have received all these years. Both at national level (Kyosho Sweden), European distributors (Kyosho Germany) and of course Kyosho Japan.

Since receiving the Pre-Production version of the MP9 back in August 2008 it’s been a lot of races and my career took off with the MP9 platform. Ever since it has been a huge success with first Swedish Nats, first Nordic Championship win and the two European Champion titles. Of course I know the car very well and that made the decision to leave very difficult.

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Kyosho have known my goals for a long time, and we have been really clear in all discussions and explanations why I made the change. They understand the situation so there are no hard feelings between us at all. I have also talked with some of the other “K” people and they understand and think I made the right decision (or they just wanted to get rid of me, haha:) ).

How influential has your mentor, sponsor and close friend Adrien Bertin been in deciding where to go for 2015 and the future?

David Ronnefalk: Not as much as some might think actually. Of course we have discussed it a lot and I try to learn how the new car works on the “Pro side”. He always wants the best for me so I’m really confident with his advice.

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It’s the same with dad. He has always said that “When the day comes that David considers switching cars, I hope he is old enough to make the decision himself” … and that’s how it was made. Dad and the rest of my family were involved in the discussions with me, but the final decision was on my own.

The 2014 IFMAR Worlds in Sicily started brightly, setting the pace in early practice only to struggle a bit in qualifying however a final-worthy performance in the semi final saw heartbreak as you flamed out with only minutes left, how difficult was it to get over that disappointment?

David Ronnefalk: The Worlds was really a strange race with the good speed I had in the practice rounds, followed by some bad qualifications but back again with a really good showing in the semifinal before my mistake that ended the race. Until the IFMAR Worlds I made 39 main finals in a row (last missed A-main before the worlds was Neo11) so it was just to wait for something to happen….. and it did, but at the worst possible time unfortunately.

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Of course it was a huge disappointment at that point as I felt I had the speed & pace to fight for the podium in the A-main. I think I got over it faster than I thought I would do, but that’s the way motorsport works and it’s just to refocus and come out stronger next time.

Had you made your decision to leave already at that point?

David Ronnefalk: I already got some offers in July – August but I didn’t want to enter in any discussions at this time as I wanted to keep the focus on the Euros and Worlds.

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Double European Champion, considered a pre-event favourite regardless of track, was it a case of a fresh challenge or better offer?

David Ronnefalk: As I explained above it was the choices to live as a Pro-driver or get a normal job and race on the side … so even if the decision was tough in the beginning, it went quite natural when the facts were laid out on the table.

Changing the car is a huge change to the package, and now I’m really motivated and looking forward to start working with the new stuff and drive something completely new. 2015 will be busy with a lot of work as I want to keep the same race level as before and improve.

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Historically after the Worlds the drivers’ merry-go-round goes into overdrive, we’ve already seen a few moves, however we’re expecting many more later in the year, are you only changing chassis? 

David Ronnefalk: So far all focus have been on the chassis and I have no plans to make any further changes at this moment.

What will you miss the most about leaving the Kyosho Samurai family?

David Ronnefalk: Kyosho has been the car I’ve been driving my whole career, and I have come very close to a lot of people in and around the team. It feels like everyone are a big family and I hope we can keep a good relation in the future.

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