January 25, 2009

New Kids on the Block

Listening to the news one would be forgiven for thinking 2009 is going to be a year with little to look forward to. During the off season Formula One was shocked by the news that the Honda F1 team would be no more, while the World Rallying Championship took a hammering with the loss of the iconic Subaru team and Suzuki. The r/c industry will not escape the knock on of the world’s current economic downturn but its not going to be all doom and gloom, at least not for fans of 1:10 onroad nitro.

This year will see the biggest ever influx of new creations from manufacturers not seen on a 1:10 200mm nitro entry list before. While the arrival of Taiwanese manufacturer Edam with its 980 chassis may not set the pulses of serious nitro enthusiasts racing, the news that both Motonica and Shepherd are to join the grid shortly is creating a great air of excitement.

The last new entry into the world of competition 200mm Touring Cars was in 2007 when Xray came along with its NT1, a car that has proven to be a very successful project for the Slovakian company. At last year’s World Championships in Portugal, the NT1 was the most popular choice of chassis with racers ahead of nitro racing’s three power houses Kyosho, Mugen and Serpent. Now specialist manufacturers Motonica and Shepherd are preparing to emulate that success with their new P100 and Velox V10 entries respectively. The timing may not be perfect with many countries reporting a big drop off in the numbers of 1:10 racers competing last season, but their arrival is great news for nitro touring car racing and may bring an important boost to this one time huge category.

Italians are synonymous with all things fast. The nation that gave us Ferrari is no different in r/c racing with the large majority of engines used by racers around the world coming from one of three Italian factories. The current 1:10 World Champion is an Italian, he took the title powered by one of these fine jewels from his native country and was kept in contact with track using tyres that also hailed from the home of pizza & pasta. The element missing from giving this so passionate country total world domination was the lack of an Italian made chassis but that is about to change. With an image very closely styled on the world’s most iconic sports car company, Motonica is about to fill the void with their first interpretation of a 1:10 200mm chassis.

The first Motonica was actually born in 2003 as a light hearted project within a design studio called Inovo Design which is owned by Maurizio Ficcadenti. In 2005 things got serious when Ficcadenti turned his love of r/c cars into a business with the creation of Fastom S.r.l. Now the Turin based company is an established player in the Formula 1 category of scale racing 1:8 on road and directly employees eight people. Its decision to enter the more commercially competitive 1:10 market was easy. Although the brand is focused on the extreme competition end of the market they wanted to offer a more complete range making it more appealing for model shops to stock the Motonica product line. Up to now that range has been its P8.0 4WD and the P8 Classic which caters for the very niche but re-emerging 1:8 2WD pan-car market.

Already on the second prototype of the P100, Ficcadenti says that his new creation will not be about revolution but more about innovation. The focus of the design brief was to research new materials for certain components of the car, mechanical consistency and adjustment of geometries. With Inovo Design specializing in the automotive industry, Fastom has been able to access the most advanced technologies and mathematical rendering programs available in the 1:1 scale automotive world and has put this to use in designing the P100.

New Kids on the Block

The P100 project has already clocked up thousands of man hours, but Ficcadenti and his team have been encouraged by the feedback from early track tests of the prototype. Motonica are being tight lipped about their driver line-up for the P100 but one expects that back to back defending European Champion Dario Balestri, who already drives for the team in 1:8, will be seen at the controls of their first 1:10 creation. Balestri won both his European titles driving for Team Magic via the Taiwanese company’s Italian distributor Electronic Dreams who also happen to be distributors for Motonica.


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