Having just been announced as joining Team HB, former Kyosho racer and back to back reigning European Champion David Ronnefalk sat down and answered some questions we put to him about his new deal, racing career and his thoughts on his new rides. You can read the full interview from the young Swedish talent below.
Red RC: Hi David, first of all I would like to thank you for giving us this exclusive interview. Switching chassis is the biggest change in the package a driver can make, and doing so during a winning streak like yours (2 time back to back European Champion) is a big deal in our industry. What was the main reason you decided to join the HB team? David: Hi, no problem! Ever since I started my career my goal has always been to be a professional driver, and we have known that 2015 would be the year I finish school and just want to proceed with the plan I’ve had. This requires that your sponsor have the same plan and ability to make it possible, or you have to make some changes if you want to work with what you love to do.
After a lot of thinking and analysis of what my opportunities were, I came to the conclusion that the offer from HB was the only option I had that would give me the chance to be a full time driver. One more thing was that in the offer from HB I would be able to get involved in the R&D side of the team at some level. This is something that got me very excited and I’m really looking forward to work with the whole team.
Red RC: Abandoning a top performing platform such as the MP9 shows some bravery and confidence, which I both like in a driver: Given that the HB car isn’t as established in Europe, how risky would you rate your decision? David: I’m aware of the HB brand not being that big in Europe at the moment. I see it as a challenge as of together with the HB team to make i grow even more. Though I know it always take some time to get used to all new platforms, the results from my tests has been very good. I’m sure that together with HB we will have great success in the future.
Red RC: Given the relationship with your engine sponsor and mentor Adrien Bertin, your move into the HB team will mean even greater teamwork, as Adrien is currently part of the team himself and Neidhart SA is distributing both Orion and HB brands. How big of a role has this played into your choice? David: I think many think this were a big part of my decision, but actually not. Of course I got some advice from Adrien as I will take the step into something new and wanted some guidelines. I had the discussion with him and dad that helped me a lot to understand the whole thing, as it is not just being a driver. With all those pieces on the table, I made the final decision myself.
Red RC: Joining a team that has just won the Worlds may seem an easy choice, even if leaving such a team as Kyosho is never easy: have you been influenced in any way by Ty’s 2014 season domination? David: The year Ty has had has been very impressive and I know they are working very hard. I’m looking forward to work together with them and the whole HB team so that we together can make the brand grow even more as I said before.
Red RC: Many will think you are a 1/8th scale specialist, but I know how much attention you pay to the 10th electric buggy class: do you think HB have a better development and racing program for that class, compared to the one you’ve been used to? David: Even if the 1/8 scale class is my primary class, I have put a lot of effort into the 1/10 scale class on the past few years as well. With the 1/10 Worlds coming up next year, my focus will be a little bit more on this event. Regarding the HB development program I have no experience of it yet (more than from what I’ve seen Ty and Torrance doing together). As said before this was one of the reasons why I saw this as the best opportunity for my future, to get involved in the R&D at some level. I´m very excited and I´m looking forward to start working together with everybody.
Red RC: HB has proven an incredible strength in their 8th buggy project throughout the last six years, but has never really taken off in Europe: is that due to a lack of a top driver who could battle for the win? And do you think your arrival in the team may change things in terms of car popularity? David: You have to see the two sides of the coin. On one side it depends on the availability of cars and parts in the many different countries. On the other side it is important to have drivers present at the races not just for fighting for the win, but also have good ambassadors to help and support the drivers using the HB cars. In the longer term I hope myself and the team together will increase the popularity of the HB cars, it is not a ’one man show’ you have to work hard together.
Red RC: If it’s true that you’re joining a very functional team for 8th scale, it’s also to be said you will be alone fighting on carpet for the 10th scale titles: how confident are you with your car? David: From the testing I’ve done so far I can see the D413 has lots of potential to get me to the top. Now hard work has to be done and I’m sure I will have great success with all the platforms.
Red RC: You and your father are about to start working with some great professionals and perfectionists in our sport: how in good terms are you already with Ty and Gord Tessmann? David: I have always thought Ty and Gord have been great people and hard workers. Right now we are in progress to get everything started and I’m looking forward to work be working together with them and the whole team.
Red RC: Have you already tested your new cars? If so, I’m not going to ask you a silly question about which one is better; could you just point out the thing you liked most in them? David: From the tests we have done I really like the handling of both cars. The durability also seems to be very good which I know Torrance is working very hard on. Right now I cant give you any more than this until I have got more time with the cars.
Red RC: You’ve been running Kyosho cars since your very early times. I know you since 2006 and you already were rocking a MP777. After three European titles and many other successes I think there are many things you want to say to your former team: here’s a chance. David: I have everything to thank the whole Kyosho team for. Kanai, Mitsuo, Chikuba, Joe Pillars, Daniel Haas, Frank Lemke the list is long. I cant thank them enough and I wish them all the best for the future and I hope we can keep a good relation. Arigato!