This time we are happy to welcome Robert Pietsch in our series of „ETS Family Interviews“. Let`s hear from Robert how his job at Mugen looks like and what he is expecting from RC in the future!
Hell Robert and welcome to our “ETS Family Interview” . As you live in the south of Germany (Bavaria) and very close to the Austrian border, tell us how you and your family are doing and how you managed to stay healthy and safe in the last months?
We are all doing well. Obviously everything is getting a bit closer to usual these days. Basically we were following the advices how to deal with the situation. Once a time, we were in quarantine, but we weren´t infected fortunately. We are living landside, so it was easy for us to go outside and enjoy ourselves.
You are racing RC cars since a very long time. Have you ever had such a long break without racing as we have it right now? How much do you miss the competition on the track?
No, I haven´t had such a long period without racing in my career yet. As you mentioned above, I race rc cars since a very long time. To be honest I must say due to the lockdown I was able to think about racing a lot. I have the feeling this break brought me back some motivation. I have also tried to find a better mindset in that period of lockdown, which I hope being able to continue later on.
In which year you have started the RC Hobby and how long did it take until you raced the first time on a real racetrack?
It was in the early 90´s and I got to the track initially because of my dad and my uncle started with racing at the late 70´s. It was a good time back then and I also have the feeling 1:1 motorsport was way more famous than nowadays.
When you grew up in RC racing, which was the driver you liked watching the most – did you had an RC hero?
I didn´t had any real idol. I remember it was always impressive for me, when I saw somebody at the track who was fast. I was waiting each month for the upcoming rc newspapers, loving to see the pictures and news of the races. It was clear to me I want to do the same.
When did you made the transition from a competitive racer to professional driver? Was it at the same time you started to design RC cars on the computer?
I would describe myself not as a professional racer at any time, because it was always a combination of designing and driving. Only the part of driving might have been a bit more in the past than nowadays. In 2007 I have drawn a 1/8 car in my spare time beside my normal work (CAD CAM in a company producing parts for Airbus). That car has got the Shepherd Velox later on, as they have offered to me to work in their company fulltime back then. So I moved to Heidelberg which was around 450km away from my hometown. It was a pretty successful story coming up with the idea of that car, which kept its base in the following years. After that, I changed to Mugen Seiki where I´m still working these days.
When we are looking onto the career you made until now, you are one of the best known Nitro Onroad racers in the world because you have won a lot of races and titles. The greatest victory for sure was your 2011 world championship title in 1:8 scale which you won in Miami. When you think back to this day, which feelings are coming into your mind first and what was the most emotional moment for you?
Basically it has changed my life a bit. It was like reaching the maximum possible. I was on pole position the 3rd consecutive time at these worlds, so my target for the final was clear. After I was dominating the practice and qualification in 2009, but losing the title to Lamberto who won his 9th title back then, I was so proud to be the first champ after his several consecutive wins. The most emotional moment was, when I have called my parents after the final telling them I´m the new world champion (btw. it was nighttime in Germany). I also remember several friends of mine told me afterwards, they did public viewing on liverc along with some barbecue. This also made me very proud, because it shows up people and friends are interested in what you do. Also they got the key of my apartment from my parents, and prepared some coming back surprise inside.
Last year, after some years passed by, you celebrated another world championship title when Shoki Takahata won it for Mugen at Steel City Raceway/USA with the car that you designed. How thrilling was it to watch the final from the sideline compared to driving on the track by yourself?
It was also very emotional for me. Basically I always dreamed about my own designed car would be world champion once with another driver, because in the past some people always thought, I have designed the cars mainly for myself and my own driving style, which was never the truth honestly.
It almost happened before, when Simon Kurzbuch was winning the world´s with the Shepherd Velox, which was produced with the base of my design back in 2007. The same worlds our prototype MRX6 car finished 2nd with Takaaki Shimo. So it was kind of a weird situation.
Generally it was a big win for me last year too. All our team was so proud and happy. I also have a good relation with Shoki, and I must say he has impressive driving skills.
After designing many nitro cars for Mugen, you finally stepped into the electric market in 2017 when the first Mugen 1:10 scale touring car came onto the market. How challenging was it for you and your team to enter the electric racing scene with a brand new electric car after so many years of drawing and racing nitro cars only?
It is very difficult, because we were already well known as a nitro manufacturer. I achieved a very strong ETS result at our very first race. That was good on one side, but on the other side it brought along a huge pressure. It was hard for us to get into the market with a consistent and healthy growth. The impact of any mistake we did was way bigger compared to a slow and steady step in. The image of our car never reached its deserved standard, even if we had some more good results with ETS and TITC A-main later on.
Do you see any big differences between the nitro and the electric market? Do the customers have specific needs which are completely different?
It is obviously completely different. In my point of view it is coming up from huge differences such as testing, preparing, racing mode, and so on.
Due to those kind of things, racers growing up a different mindset to what they want to have, and what is important for themselves. I feel it is simply the result of the time in which category you grow up.
The job “RC Car Designer” sounds very unique as it is something special in a niche business. How does a regular work day look for you when you are designing a new car? Do you work more on the computer or does the practical testing on the track finally require more time?
I´m working way more on the software. There are a lot more things to do, which customers basically never see, because usually they only see the final product.
I think a normal working day doesn´t look to much different from others, besides the testing. Basically you are growing up an idea bringing it into 3D files, checking everything, choosing material with the resulting production machines..., prepare the drawings with tolerances for the prototype, testing the prototype, doing revisions to the 3D file and drawings, prepare packing lists and manuals and handle it into mass production. I think it is a pretty similar way like any other product development.
Are you working on a new project at the moment? If so, can you tell us what it`s all about?
Yes, we are working on a new touring car, as well as some other interesting new projects. Soon there will be more information on that.
How important is the feedback of your team drivers during the testing stages of a new car? Do you rely more on your own experiences as you really know what you are doing, or is it important to also collect as much data’s as possible from other drivers as well?
I think it is very important to hear the other drivers. Especially electric touring car is very difficult to test setup wise compare to nitro because of the tires. You have more parameters on it such as, additive, age of tire, temperature, insert, additive time....
In nitro, even if you use the same tire like the run before, you can realize a setup tendency.
You basically need more information and documentation to realize a tendency in terms of setup, and the drivers need to be very precise on how they do their setup tests.
After the 1:8 scale worlds last year you announced that you will race less nitro to focus more on
electric racing. Was it an easy decision for you as you are a real “nitro guy”?
I think such a step is never easy, but I think it shows up our motivation to grow up our electric business at the same time.
After racing the ETS series now constantly for the last 3 years, what in your opinion makes the series so popular all around Europe and the rest of the world?
I guess it is simply a good overall product.
During your career you must have raced on a lot of different tracks. What is the best racetrack you raced on with your nitro cars and do you also have a favorite track in the electric touring car class?
Electric: RC addict and Apeldoorn
Do you follow any other sports on TV beside RC racing and are you a fan of somebody?
I´m following MotoGP and alpine skiing when I find the time. I wouldn´t say I´m a fan of some person, but I`m excited for example of the huge passion and love Valentino Rossi has for his sport, even when results aren´t the same as it has been in the past. In skiing I like the downhill skiers, because they are simply crazy. When you see yourself what type of slopes they drop down and it is pure ice basically, you believe they are from a different planet. Also the physical training they do to hold those huge forces is impressive.
You live close to the Alps. Do you go for skiing during the wintertime? If so, on which mountains we can meet you most of the time?
Yes, I use to go skiing in the winter. Mostly I´m going to Fieberbrunn/Saalbach and Obertauern. But I usually go once a winter in ski holidays with my closest friends. Then we go to Italy or Switzerland most of the times.
The Bavarian and Austrian kitchen is pretty famous all around the world! What is your favorite food when you go out for dinner?
As I was in Italy so many times in my life, I like their food a lot. Also the way how Italians enjoy their food, suits to myself. Also I like barbecue together with my family and friends.
Robert, thank you for being a part of our world of racing and for the insight views of your job as a designer for the cars we all like so much. We look forward to see you racing at the highest level for many more years. Now it`s your time to end our nice interview!
Thanks a lot!
I wish everyone to stay safe. Let´s hope we get our previous life back soon.
|06.||Frederik B. Mikkelsen||592pts|
|03.||Martijn v. d. Heijden||569pts|
|04.||Steven M. Olsen||598pts|