Whilst reflecting on last week’s Vegas Worlds, one cannot help but admire HB’s achievements; taking 3 of the last 5 World Championships.
Equal to Mugen Seiki on the all time list – a fantastic achievement whichever way you angle it for a company that young – Not to mention one that has undergone huge transitions over the past year, rising from the ashes of the HPI racing.
For new World Champion David Ronnefalk one can draw a few parallels of his move from Kyosho to HB to that of Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton, switching from ‘childhood team’ McLaren to the lesser fancied Mercedes AMG F1.
> “No one wins anything after they leave Kyosho“
Ronnefalk, like Hamilton at McLaren learnt his trade with Kyosho, growing into the lead driver role before deciding the time was right for a change to HB.
The loser now will be the later to win – Bob Dylan
Ronnefalk’s switch took the RC racing world by surprise and caused seismic reactions as armchair pundits awoke to voice their opinions.
The new era saw Ronnefalk narrowly miss out on retaining his double European Championship crown in his debut year with HB, losing it to newly promoted Kyosho team leader Elliott Boots.
A few paddock ‘What if’ whispers claiming the banal, ‘he would have won if he was still driving a Kyosho’.
Boots’ stock would continue to rise and he would go on to claim the title again in 2016 as Ronnefalk & Batlle retired whilst leading, another victory bit the dust.
It seemed 2016 was going to go down as an ‘unlucky year’ in the history books after issues at smaller events, his summer season ending on a positive note with victory at the E-Buggy Euros.
Approaching the Worlds, the focus and desire were both there – as were all the details that came together and gelled, indeed a ‘poetically just’ jackpot delivered for the steely Swede in Vegas.
David choosing to recall a quote from a well known pitlane persona commenting on his HB move two years earlier, “No one wins anything after they leave Kyosho“.
Hollow and now exorcised words spurring him on as the youngest to take the sport’s biggest prize.
The Italian Job: A Vegas Gamble
Ronnefalk gambled joining HB shortly after 1/8 Offroad’s benchmark driver Ty Tessmann was crowned World Champ in Italy – entering into the lion’s den.
Joining as #2 driver, on the back of a poor worlds in 2014, missing the final, departing Kyosho as they failed to do enough to retain him as a professional.
Two years down the line, and amazingly Kyosho’s podium-less streak since Cody King’s win in 2010 stands. Staggering for a company with the pedigree & resources like Kyosho ‘The Ferrari of RC’ and certainly not a true reflection of the company’s stature and Kanai’s continued efforts.
HB on paper have a dream team line up, the current World Champ and the most recent one, both hugely marketable and popular on their home continents.
It would make sense not to disrupt a winning setup – with Ronnefalk surely locked in to stay given the new ownership structure (same as Team Orion).
For Ty, it appears less clear… for now.
Torrance the favoured engineer wizard & designer is in place – this should help as the Tessmanns have been instrumental in the development of the (2x World Champion) D815 buggy.
HB team boss Adrien Bertin knows full well he only needs a finger or two to count the number of drivers of similar calibre to Tessmann in the current climate let alone those available in ‘17.
If F1 is anything to judge by, its not easy racing with two #1 drivers in a team, (Rosberg, Hamilton), however in RC Racing there many good examples with Team Associated in particular handling it in the days of Cavalieri & Maifield.
Continental separation of the two #1 drivers Ty & David is likely to be a positive, the pair racing to win on different sides of the pond until the biggest of races where they share the track, not only with each other as the benchmarks within their sport but their peers.
With the 2016 season coming to a close, 2017 looks set up to be a vintage ‘in between Worlds year’ with winter storylines brewing and a few driver swaps expected as well.