David Ronnefalk confirms Kyosho exit
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...
"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 ?
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.
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 ?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
Double European Champion, considered a pre-event favourite regardless of track, was it a case of a fresh challenge or better offer?
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.
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?
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.
Project 17.5 Racer: Associated B5M
Words & Photos by Stephen Bess
Building A 17.5-Class Maestro
So Associated released the B5M mid-motor car approximately, er, mid year 2014 (appropriately?), and along with its rear-motor B5 brother, both have made a huge splash in the 1/10-scale 2wd electric buggy market. I decided to build a B5M and race it in the highly competitive 17.5-turn “spec” class this summer and fall. Having already tested the rear-motor B5 (AE B5 Rear Motor Test
), I knew the B5M
would offer an advantage on high traction tracks
, both indoor and outdoor. But how much of an advantage? Here are my thoughts on the car, as it has been tested with a short but significant list of options and upgrades.
Out of the box, the B5M performs like a champ. It needs nothing extra, especially if you race modified. But as we know, the 17.5-turn class
is one of the most competitive classes on the planet, and every teeny tiny little advantage makes a difference in lap times. I didn’t go hog wild building my B5M stock racer using every titanium, aluminum and unobtanium expensive part on the planet—I mean, I only recently added titanium turnbuckles, after my test car’s photo shoot. Knowing that the journey to the “perfect” upgraded and lightened B5M is an endless one down a deep, dark and expensive path
, I practiced restraint and added the parts that seemed to make the most difference in lap times. Sure, there’s plenty of items on this list, but many of them are items you’ll need regardless of the class you plan to race.
Lunsford Punisher Titanium Turnbuckles - Reduces weight, increases durability, added after photos were shot of this car. #2006
MIP Pucks Set - Lighter weight, rebuildable, reduces rotating mass and increases acceleration. #MIP14230
Schelle Ceramic Gearbox Bearing Set - Shocking reduction in transmission’s rotating drag. #SCH2301
MIP Lightened Top Shaft - Reduces rotating weight, improves acceleration. #MIP14195
AE Factory Team Aluminum Screw Set - Reduces weight. #91544
AE Factory Team Motor Plate - Reduces weight and improves cooling. #91546
AE Rear Aluminum Ballstud Mount - Durability piece. #91520
AE Single Disk Slipper - Drastically reduces rotating mass (some stock racers run no slipper at all!)
AE XP 1015 Digital Servo - Fast, durable, digital. #29167
AE Flat B5 Front Arms - Makes car less aggressive, which is helpful for my driving skills. #91398
AE B5 Front Shock Tower - To match the flat front arms. #91373
Reedy 4000mah Shorty 60C LiPo #302
Reedy Sonic 17.5-turn Motor - Plenty of RPM and torque to run silly gearing if needed. #232
LRP Flow ESC - Smooth, easy “blinky” set up, great throttle feel. #80970
KO Propo EX10 Helios Radio - A longtime favorite for oversize hands.
AKA Impact Super Soft rear tires - Used at Hot Rods when watered and high traction. Have since installed AKA Chain Links for indoor clay track. #1310VR & #13124CR
AKA 3-Rib Super Soft front tires - Used when watered at Hot Rods. Have since installed Evo Pinstripe tires for indoor racing. #13201V & 13221CR
So how does the B5M perform on the track? In stock form, it feels great but a little heavy and sluggish during acceleration when compared to a rear-motor B5 with similar gearing and running equipment. I attribute this to the friction and driveline loss in the M’s 4-gear transmission—an unavoidable penalty
for the mid-motor layout and the transmission design required to make the vehicle move forward. The B5M’s performance differs from the rear motor B5 in its ability to dive into corners, rotate
through the center of the car (rather than from the rear end), and its readiness to leap out of corners
. While the rear motor car offers a traction advantage on dusty or lower traction outdoor tracks, the B5M offers a considerable advantage
on high traction tracks. The mid-motor layout creates a reactive, athletic chassis that feels nimble and, occasionally, a bit nervous. For racers like me with “expert” level skills but not “pro” skills, the rear motor B5 offers a safety buffer when pushed too hard around the track.
Discussing the differences between the M and rear-motor B5 often results in heated, though (usually) good natured arguments in the pits
. Some racers swear that the B5M is not only the best B5 version, but they go so far as to proclaim that “you simply can’t win without the mid-motor car nowadays.” I’m not sure I agree with that. As many other racers point out, the rear-motor B5 is consistent, it’s more predictable, and it handles low traction surfaces better without getting too sketchy. The B5/B5M debate popped up at least 37 times over the summer, while the debate over traction additives, dinner at Rattlers and just what the hell
a “cookie experience” is rages on.
But back to the cars. Drive clean lines in the groove, and the M is faster if you can handle it. Fly too hot into a corner and get off the racing line, however, and the B5M will bite back with snap oversteer. The M is less forgiving than the B5, but it’s also faster in capable hands on the right track. And on my local indoor clay track, SCVRC in Santa Clarita, CA
, having the correct tire that's properly broken-in, bagged and sauced for weeks on end to become sticky as flypaper will mean the difference between putting around the track and actually racing
around the track, on the pace...no matter what buggy you drive. So put some thought into your tire selection
before getting too lathered-up over the B5M's handling characteristics.
So how did the upgrades work? Very well indeed; the acceleration difference between the out-of-the-box B5M and my lightened, reduced rotating mass B5M 17.5 racer is drastic
to the point of shocking. The buggy accelerates hard with no hesitation, and maintains corner speed that outpaces the heavier box stock car. As Colin Chapman of Lotus
is famous for saying, “Adding power makes you faster on the straights; subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere
.” In following Chapman’s insistence to “add lightness,”
the B5M’s transmission and driveline benefits in incredible ways from reduced rotating mass
. If I had to list the most important, most effective upgrades
, I would list the MIP Pucks
, AE aluminum top shaft
ceramic transmission bearings and the AE single-disk slipper
as most vital. Should I decide to get really jiggy wid'it, I may also install the Schelle slipper lockout
to provide maximum acceleration and with maximum pucker factor for my transmission's well being.
I didn’t go so far as to chop up
the plastic upper deck/battery holder area like many racers have done, nor did I remove the battery strap in favor of industrial strength Velcro. I want the car to remain durable and somewhat close to stock, should I decide to convert it to modified use. Suspension bind is a performance killer, and out of the box, AE’s new rod-ends are durable…but I’ve yet to find one (out of a B5 and B5M kit) that wasn’t bound up on the ball-stud. AE’s Jake Mayo
suggested chucking the ball studs into a drill and polishing the surface with a mild polish (I used 1200-grit sandpaper). Once polished, the rod ends move smoothly on the ball stud; if they still bind and don’t fall under their own weight, use pliers to firmly crush the ball-end while it’s mounted to the ball stud. This seems to do the trick
At some point, I’ll install a mod and compete in the ultra fast modified class. If you've made it this far into the article, I'll also point out that my test car's "Team Moo
" paintjob is an homage to AE president Cliff Lett
-- he often rocked this paintjob during his racing career, so it seemed appropriate to tip our cap to him with this scheme. As it is now, the 17.5-turn class is by far the most competitive class in my area with multiple heats and mere seconds separating the top 10. High bite tracks tend to accentuate any set-up or design flaws, and the B5M performs its best on high bite. This tells me that the car is solid, the design is right, and ultimately whether I finish well or not is entirely in my hands. I’d love to blame the rare lackluster finishes on the car, but I can’t; the B5M is a refined and solid platform
. It’s up to you to get it across the line in first place.
TLR’s Nats winning 22 hinge pin brace
TLR has just released the highly anticipated 35g brass hinge pin brace for the 22 mid-motor series vehicles. This option part has been spotted on team drivers vehicles for quite sometime. A variation of this brace has been available through aftermarket companies, but now the official TLR brace has arrived. The added weight over the rear end helps to provide more rear traction without compromising steering and overall handling on less than high traction surfaces.
TLR says, “The TLR Race Team has done extensive testing this year tuning their Mid-Motor 22 2.0’s and 22SCT 2.0’s with brass weight from front to rear. Of all of the brass weight additions for Mid-Motor that we tested, the addition of the Brass MM Hinge Pin Brace made the largest improvement to the handling and balance on the 22 2.0 and 22SCT 2.0. It gets 35g of extra ballast as low and as far to the rear of the vehicles as possible without being behind the rear diff (which creates the unwanted pendulum effect). The has helped to increase the rear weight bias of the 22 2.0 and 22SCT 2.0, which creates more rotation and forward drive, and an all-around better balance. This setup improvement has helped Dakotah Phend win the 2014 ROAR Nationals with Ryan Maifield winning A3 for a TLR A-Main Sweep!”
Machined to be the maximum dimensions to fit the 22 2.0 and 22SCT 2.0 without out interference, the MM Hinge Pin Brace still allows for both LRC and HRC adjustments using all the different anti-squat tuning options. This Brass MM Hinge Pin Brace will fit the 22, 22 2.0, 22T, 22SCT, and 22SCT 2.0 without any further parts of modifications in Mid-Motor configuration, but will NOT fit any of the 22 vehicles in Rear-Motor configuration.