This week our interview guest is from France, his name: Lucas Urbain!
Lucas is well known at every circuit he races and he is not only a very friendly person, his racing skills and his setup knowledge are also very impressive. Let`s read some interesting facts about Lucas Urbain you probably didn`t know before!
Hi Lucas, we are happy to have you here as our interview guest today. As we face difficult times at the moment, we hope that you and your family are fine. How is life going at the moment in your home country?
Thank you very much for having me, truly a pleasure. To be honest, my lifestyle hasn’t been affected much by what is going on at the moment since I still go to work (I work for the national train network so obviously that has to keep going) and whether you call that cocooning, social distancing or just being an introvert I’ve always been fine staying home by myself. I do have more sympathy however for the people who need to be out and around other people, I bet they have no clue how this works and they must go through tough times. We each have our own role play in this, so hopefully if we stick to it we will be back to normal soon enough.
You live and work in the northern part of France! As maybe not everybody knows, you are not a full time RC racer. How does the normal day job of Lucas Urbain look like?
As mentioned earlier, I indeed work for the national train network and my job involves working shifts and weekends. It has its pros and cons, on the one hand I’d rather spend my weekends racing so that’s pretty much how all my holidays are spent and not much are left for vacation. On the other hand that leaves me a lot of free time during the week to either be wrenching or going to the track where I can often get the whole facility for myself.
As you are part of the ETS for many, many years now, how wo you combine your regular job with racing when it comes to vacations and off-days? Is it always easy for you or sometimes tricky as well?
It somehow works out most of the time. I only had to skip very few big races due to work commitment in the past. That being said, and since I have a limited amount of free weekends each year, I tend to purposely skip smaller races which often include nationals. That is not ideal as far as representing my sponsors at local/smaller events and also prevented me to be a true contender for the national title. In this context I have to set priorities unfortunately.
You are a part of the MRC Longwy in France. The club is well known for the Longwy Winter Series and the great GP3F. Longwy is located very close to the borders of Germany, Luxemburg and Belgium and the Winter series is always very successfull with a great amount of entries. What, in your opinion, is the secret behind the success of the races in Longwy?
The #1 reason I believe is pure luck. We are sitting at a crossroads between the countries you mentioned, and the area around our location is likely to have the highest density of drivers in the world therefore we were bound to be successful on the numbers alone. Another reason I would say is we (the club) are racers ourselves so we know how to fulfill the expectations of our attendees. That is obviously reflected on the people we attract, as it is generally high level/hardcore racers that come to our races. And finally, we’ve consistently been doing it for almost 20 years, we have experience and we know what it takes to make it the way it is.
Where and why did you start RC racing? Can you remember your first car, club, race, win and stuff like that?
I started back in 2000 in the very same club I am in today. I really wanted an RC car for Christmas after I saw a club race in my hometown, so my parents bought me a Tamiya TA-03F from our local hobbyshop. I entered my first club race early 2001 and kept racing ever since, I am currently in my longest racing hiatus in the past 20 years…
When you think back to the “good old days of RC”, is there something that you miss today or do you more like the ongoing development and the technology that we have right now?
I honestly miss the sound of brushed modified motors. Sadly, there is not many good videos online of the mid 2000 where it got pretty crazy towards the end of brushed motors. At the same time, I am glad this is over… Brushless, LiPos, 2.4 GHz, gear diffs, things are a lot easier these days to the point where it is sometimes too easy and possibly and bit less rewarding, but I guess it is for the greater good.
You had a good time with VBC before you switched to the Awesomatix team some time ago. Since you are using the Russian car, you have made more A-Mains at the ETS that before. Is it just the quality of the car that makes it easier to achieve these results or was there some kind of “new motivation” coming along with the change as well?
I think my role at Awesomatix is very different to what I was doing at VBC. My goal at VBC was to be involved in building a racing brand from its early stages. As such I had no real expectation at first and we improved step by step. I was never really in the spotlight, so it was extra special when we did well and not a big deal when we were off pace. In the end it was a fantastic learning experience and it made me a more mature driver. Joining Awesomatix has a totally different set of expectations, not that Max and Oleg put me under any pressure, but we know we do have one of the top 3 fastest car (if not the fastest) therefore I’m expected to deliver. Motivation was always there but these days I have the tools to consistently be towards the front. What my time at VBC taught me is that I should not take that for granted and keep working to maintain that good form.
Do you practice a lot to feel confident or are you one of those drivers who are only using races as their kind of practice?
Practice is definitely key to success. Drivers who just show up to races and still do well would do even better if they practiced.
Practice takes time and effort though, just doing laps won’t cut it. You need to go to the track with a plan, have discipline and accept that you will not see any benefit in the short term.
As far as confidence goes, sure practice helps you feel good about an upcoming race, but overconfidence is not a good thing either. One can never have everything covered, always expect the unexpected. I could go on forever on the topic of practice, race prep and mindset though!
When you are at a big race like an ETS for example, can you describe what makes it so special for you? What are the most special moments for you during these long weekends?
Aside from being a great social experiment in itself, what really drives me during high level racing weekend is the level of competition. I like to go by a famous French phrase that says something along the line of “to overcome without danger we triumph without glory” (A vaincre sans péril on triomphe sans gloire) meaning doing well against fierce competition is a lot more meaningful. Bruno did put it perspective very well in his interview when he mentioned his win against Ronald in South Africa. Despite being a low attendance world, it still felt special to him because he had to dig extra deep while being on the back foot to turn it into a win. Currently, ETS is where the competition is, and aside from the nice dinners with friends at night, to me this is what feels special about it.
If you had to choose between winning an ETS, or making the A-main at the next worlds, what would be your choice?
Winning an ETS is definitely harder than “just” making the A at the worlds. But more generally, as a driver you know when you do better than normal and it could very well be that given the circumstances, just making the A, sometimes, feels better than a podium finish.
In 2019 you raced in the US at the famous “Reedy Race of Champions”. Tell us about your impressions from that race and how it finally ended for you in the invitational class?
We had terrible weather half the time and I was very jet lagged the whole time. With that said, I still had a very good experience. Heads up racing is very different to what I am used to though, and it is mentally a very tough game. I am not doing particularly well during the finals these days so for that reason alone I am glad I did OK and finished 7th.
Would you like to see a race like that going on in Europe as well on a nice and racy asphalt track?
As a spectator yes. Again, as mentioned before, as a driver the format is very tough, luck is often involved, and you do not always feel as if you are in charge of what’s going on. But it has to be said that it produces fantastic racing.
There was one GP3F where you used a very old Losi touring car in a qualifying run and you were able to make the A-main with that car and that run. How can it happen that such an old platform can show such a good pace in today`s racing scene?
To this day I am still not entirely sure why this car was a commercial failure, it certainly was not perfect but it sure was pretty damn fast on the good days. I indeed used a modified version of one of my leftover Losi car at a GP3F and sort of did alright with it, good times!
In the past (especially in the last 2 years) the body shell market was kind of crazy with a lot of new bodies coming out almost every month. Do you like the look and the handling of the bodies at the moment or do you wish to be back in the good old “Speed6 and LTC” days?
I might have an unpopular opinion here as I do really like the looks of most of the newer bodies (I said “most” right !?). Given the speed of current TC class, I like the fact that they look like spaceships and I like that manufacturers are starting to embrace it. The good old days were the early 2000s when Stratus and Vectras were the real deal. Back then we did have decent scale replicas of real touring cars. What we had in between was more problematic in my opinion because manufacturers started to bend some lines to gain an advantage while still claiming they were replicas. Sure, we had stability and for a while it was very easy to choose a body, but they were not the prettiest in my view either.
What is the race result with the highest value for yourself and what is the race you will never forget because it was a thriller?
Difficult to say to be honest, but I have very fond memories of 2009-2010 when I broke into the scene during my Losi days by TQing Q5 at the 2009 Euros. ETS Luxembourg 2014 with VBC is still my best ETS result to this day when I finished 4th, also a good memory. But I think the best is yet to come as I think I am still making steady progress.
Do you have some special goals you want to reach as long as you will race RC cars?
Yes, short term, if ETS Luxembourg is still a thing by the time we get to it, I really want to give myself the best chance at winning it. In my current form and with my local advantage it may work out in my favor. Long term, still doing RC for as long as I have the will to do it would be nice.
There is always a Turtle beside your name on your shirt and on the car, where does that come from and what it`s all about?
Haha ! Well, my car is always mostly green and as a former traction roll specialist I was often the little green car on its roof, looking like a turtle having a rough day…
What is the best track you ever raced on? As this is hard to say, you can name two or three if you like!
Apeldoorn – Luxembourg – RC Addict, in no particular order.
Somebody told us, that you don`t like cheese. You are from France and you don`t like cheese – really hard to believe! Which of the traditional French food you like the most?
I know right ?! Almost blasphemous considering where I am from ! Jokes aside, every time I travel to the south west of France, near Bordeaux, I have a very good time food-wise, highly recommend!
Do you follow any other sports or do you have any other hobbies beside RC?
I do a bit of R/C flying, just to toy around outside of the (too?) serious world of racing. I used to follow a lot of motorsport (WRC, F1, MotoGP) but I lack the time to really get fully into it these days. I also follow a bit of e-sport as I really like the energy and the way it is broadcasted, I believe they do a lot of things right that we could get inspiration from.
When we look at the RC hobby, it is noticeable that there are some really big events with a huge amount of entries, but on the other side the regional races have become very small sometimes.
What can the clubs and racing series do (in your opinion) to get more racers (and more newcomers) to the races?
I consider myself very lucky to live in an area where RC is fairly healthy, with many tracks and races at a reasonable driving distance on a weekly basis. Having said that, our club as well is failing at bringing new blood in the hobby. In the world of instant gratification we live in, it has never been more difficult to convince someone that our hobby is worth it. So to be honest, I do not have a clear answer on that issue at the moment.
Lucas, it was a pleasure to have you in our interview series. We really look forward to see you at the racetrack very soon. Now it is your time to end our nice interview session!
Thank you very much for having me involved in it, much appreciated! Absolutely cannot wait to get back to the track!
|06.||Frederik B. Mikkelsen||592pts|
|03.||Martijn v. d. Heijden||569pts|
|04.||Steven M. Olsen||598pts|