xb4 a bruno coelho TQ WCh 2015_interview

Bruno’s Road to the World Championship Title

NeoBuggy: Portuguese touring car star, man of the moment, touring car ace, XRAY’s on-road sensation, European & World electric touring vice-Champion, European nitro touring Champion, and now current electric off-road World Champion Bruno Coelho, how does it all sound Bruno?

Bruno: It sounds really great, actually. If you had asked me the same thing one year ago, I couldn’t even imagine all the things I was able to accomplish. Everything happened so fast, but there was a LOT of dedication and hard work. I couldn’t have managed it without all the support I got.

…it’s really tough to define “What is the correct amount of time to wait?”

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NeoBuggy: Some would say a surprise winner given that you are ‘new on the scene’ in 1/10 Off-road, some of your peers have spent the majority of their racing careers working towards the goal of winning a Worlds yet you achieved the staggering feat in only your 2nd attempt at a 1/10 Off-road event, do you feel accepted and respected into that community – now wearing the ‘badge’ as 4WD World Champion?

It was also a big surprise for me. I worked a lot together with Martin Bayer in order to improve my driving skills and to have the car ready to be able to compete with the top drivers. Luckily everything came out perfect and we were able to win.

I think that the World Championship title is something very special and something that is not available to everyone, there is a lot of work and commitment from each driver and I think everybody in the community knows and understand this, and so far with the support from everybody of the community so I couldn’t feel more respected and accepted.

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RC media describe you as a talented driver with an aggressive racing style who has his own unique and quite humble presentation at events. How do you describe yourself?

Ahhh, yes… I know I can be quite aggressive on the track, but that has been my driving style since I can remember. I can still recall only a few years ago when I couldn’t finish a single nitro final without changing tires because I was being too aggressive. Meanwhile, all the other guys were finishing easily without any changes.

However, throughout the years I have been able to make a better compromise between aggressiveness and not risking everything. Electric cars have helped me a lot in developing that ability.

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When XRAY decided to take a chance on you, and informed you that they would like to have you at off-road races (starting with EOS R1), what were your first feelings?

I accepted immediately!  Since I drove off-road some years ago locally, I felt it was a great challenge that I wanted to accomplish.

Even though that EOS R1 was your first 1/10 electric international race and first off-road race after almost a year without practice in off-road, you managed to finish on the podium. How difficult was it for you to re-orient yourself to off-road?

It was actually very difficult. Even with the experience I had, I had no idea that it would be so difficult!   I trained exhaustively starting at the Hudy Arena. For 2 weeks, I was arriving at the factory at 7AM and leaving at 11PM. This was the only way to not only perfect my off-road driving skills, but also to learn the new cars XB2 and XB4.

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A few days before leaving for the World Championship in Japan, you & Martin Bayer had practiced at Hudy arena with the new XB4’16 & XB2. With your lap times at Hudy Arena you showed that you had the speed to battle with the best drivers. In what place did you think you could finish in both classes?

My main goal at the WC was to finish in the Top 10 for both classes. In the beginning of our practice at the Hudy Arena, it was difficult to get closer to the Top 10 times but after a few days with some epic experience, insight, and help from Martin Bayer, I was able to improve my times and my confidence.

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First practice at Yatabe arena, first time with astro turf. How different was it for you to race at an astro turf track compared to the carpet track in Hudy Arena and track at EOS in Nurburgring?

It´s always different compared to the Hudy Arena. In Hudy Arena, whatever you want to do with the car it just does it. But on astro turf, my first practice was very fun and super funny… I was driving and my feeling was like “I’m completely drunk!”  The car didn’t go straight, I didn’t have the response I was expecting in every corner, and I had super steering. It was a very strange feeling but I adapted to the specific track conditions easily and then it was no problem anymore, the car worked great during the whole time.

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Did missing out on the A final in 2WD (despite finishing 1st in the B) have a big effect on your mental state going into 4WD ? Obviously struggling with the rumble strip section, however knowing the track would change for 4WD… ?

My car was always really good, I wasn’t able to do better than the B-Final because I found one section of the track very difficult to manage which at the end I found out was by a wrong setting of electronics. I was making mistakes there on almost every lap, and so it cost me a better position.

In the beginning, I was a little bit afraid about 4WD, as you said in 2WD I wasn’t able to do the rumble strip section and I was super frustrated with it, especially because the car was felling really good and I was losing all the time gained in the rest of the track in that section. However, in the 4WD, after a few laps in the new layout I got my confidence back and I was able to move past my frustrations and charge in front.

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Coming as the fastest man into the main final lottery, did you start to put pressure on yourself?

Yes of course, I was super nervous because it’s not always that you have the 9 best drivers in the world behind you. But after 2 minutes when I saw some advantage for the 2nd guy, the pressure went away and I was able to relax and focus on my driving.

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How was the process of preparing the car & finding the best set-up for you?  What all did you change on your XB4’16 from the start of the 4WD race until the last final round?

It was little bit surprising for us as our car was so good from the beginning. We changed only the springs compared to our Hudy Arena set-up.  As such we did not have much work, we tried couple of things here and there but at the end got back to our initial set-up.

From the beginning of our testing in Hudy Arena, the car showed really good performance and ease of set-up. We beat all the best times in Hudy Arena and we were super confident for the Worlds.

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You encountered quite some drama on the way to your 4WD win, if we start with round 4 of qualifying, you’ve TQ’d Q1, Q2, just missed Q3 to Naoto and round 4 saw the involvement of the head referee, how did you see what happened from your perspective?

It was a surprise for me, I started second behind Naoto but a few laps after I was able to catch him and he opened for me, so I got 1st place. After this, I decided to slow down a bit in order to avoid unnecessary risks by pushing too much and Naoto was able to catch me back.

I heard the head referee mentioning something on the speakers, but at first I thought it was a warning to Naoto, in order to avoid any crashes between the 2nd and 1st place, if he decided to attack the 1st place. Two laps after, I heard the head referee speaking with a really “angry voice” – “Car number two you must open for the fastest car behind you” and I finally realized “ohhh I´m the car number 2” and I as a robot following directions I opened for Naoto, and only after I started thinking “Why I´m opening? I´m first! I don´t need to open!” After that I was really disappointed about the decision and lost my focus causing my last 2 laps to be a complete disaster. Luckily I didn´t lose my TQ.

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Looking back at it, was Q4 a bit of a pivotal moment ? Naoto’s car let him down on the straight but you both had slow laps, had he done a clean lap he would have taken Q4 and made Q5 the decider, but it meant you were assured pole for the A final…

I think I was super lucky in that one. I did so many mistakes in last two laps allowing Naoto to get the first place easily but luckily for me his car slow down on the straight allowing me to be TQ. I think at this level, the driving skills are so good that the only thing that makes the difference is the number of small mistakes and also a little bit of luck.

 

World Championships aren’t won by accident, however you made a very rare and public mistake on the table top which sparked reaction and division in opinions – from report:

“The first 4WD A final delivered on controversy on only the 2nd lap as Bruno Coelho pulled away cleanly from pole, only to get the table top blind up ramp wrong and land on his wheels but on the wrong side of the track, he waited just enough not to be passed by 2nd placed Michal Orlowski and the rest of the pack, however the post-race reaction from some rivals and spectators was pretty heated to say the least.”

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You paused, turned the car round having missed that corner – a few months on from winning your title how do you see that incident from your point of view and subsequent reaction that followed ?

It was super bad for me also, I think any driver likes to win without any controversies or questions, and for sure these Worlds would have had a better taste without them.

I was 3 seconds ahead of the 2nd place in my first lap; I did a mistake in the table and jumped to the wrong place. Knowing this I’ve waited for Michal Orlowski in 2nd, losing completely the advantage I had and kept driving. In a situation like that, I think it’s really tough to define “What is the correct amount of time to wait?”

Overall I know that I am really an ethical driver and I try in every race to be, above anything else, correct and clean. None of my actions during that final were done with bad intent.

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Did you feel even more determined as you lined up on the grid for A2, maybe with a point to prove?

I was for sure determined, I went to A2 wanting to do a clean race with no chances for questioning or doubt and I think I was able to prove that nothing was handed to me or that it was pure luck. I was so determined in clear the air over the entire controversy that I’ve wanted to drive in A3 as well but unfortunately since I had already won two finals, the technical inspection took my motor, so I was not able to do it.

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We didn’t see much visible emotion or reaction from your triumphs that day, TQ’ing but more importantly winning the World Title, is this simply your character and personality or were you just in the zone before it started to sink in?

I think overall that is my character and personality. I think winning a world championship was such a big dream that took a lot of time to sink in. Also there was a bitter taste because, it’s not easy when you see everything you’ve worked for and the results you achieved being questioned in the way some people did.

But that’s in the past, I’m super happy with the World Championship title.

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There can be no doubt that the right driver won, pacesetting throughout all of 4WD, however with a pretty underwhelming looking… spray can Paint job! HAHA! The collective RC Media might get together and chip in next time for your real paint scheme! Talk us through that…

About my body, that is actually a funny saga. Before the EOS, XRAY did a prototype body for XB4´16, so I painted with white color because I had no time. After the EOS, Juraj Hudy gave me two new bodies so I could paint them, which I did with my beautiful colors but when I arrived to the Worlds Juraj brought me two another all-new and different bodies and happily told me: ”Bruno here you have the new and final body for our XB4” and I was like: “NOOOOOOOOO”.

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In hindsight what do you think was the main reason, the most important thing on your road to the World Championship title?

I absolutely couldn’t have done this without my father. From the very beginning, he invested in me when I didn’t have any sponsorship. For more than 10 years, everything and all my support came from my family; they believed in me and helped get me where I am today and hopefully into the far future.

I also can’t forget my XRAY family: Martin Hudy, Juraj Hudy, Alex Hagberg, and Martin Bayer. This was the factory and people that believed in me, gave me all support I needed, and I would like to send a special thank you to Martin Bayer because he was the person who shared his deep knowledge about everything of RC cars. Without him, this win wouldn’t have been possible.

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In your relatively short international career you gained many great results. What are you looking forward to now?

My main goals now are the World Championship 1/10 Electric in China next year, and also the World Championship 1/10 Nitro in Italy. I want to keep delivering great results and now is the time to gather everything I learned this year, prepare everything, and practice a lot harder so I can continue to be strong in future events.

Thank you for your answers, and we wish you the best of luck!

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