February 28, 2024

Atsushi Hara – TITC is ‘toughest race in the World’ and ‘most difficult to win’

Every sport has its legends and for me personally the greatest of all is Atsushi Hara.  Before I knew I would ever work in the RC Industry and well before a thing called ‘social media’ would consume our daily lives, there was one driver dominating the track.  You couldn’t open an RC Magazine without Hara featuring as a race winner or in an ad for the brands he represented.  For our younger generation of followers I should explain that an RC magazine was a thing made of paper pages that had kit reviews and reports & photographs (that you can’t zoom in on) from major RC races a few months after they happened.  He was an influencer before influencers were a thing.  Hara was a truly global star and was the only racer I found myself slightly star struck on first meeting him at the DHI Cup in 2008.  It was also Hara who many attribute to putting the TITC on the World stage and on my bucket list of races to attend and to this day, as we approach the 20th running, he is still the Master of it.  As the most winning driver in its history, Hara is the ultimate authority to be able to label this iconic race the ‘toughest race in the World’ and one he believes is the ‘most difficult to win’.

With a record four wins, Hara has been a part of the TITC history from the beginning and it was his first win that shot the race to true international legendary status.  First held in 2003 at RCS when Hara had made the switch from Yokomo to Hot Bodies, he said the first two years were the peak of the career of Thai driver Surikarn Chaidajsuriya.  The Tamiya driver had just become World Champion in South Africa and successfully defended his inaugural TITC win a year later.  ‘It was the peak moment for him.  He dominated 2003-2004.  The first year of the race there was maybe 60 entries with 20 to 25 Modified.  It was also a shitty track.  My first win was 2005 and the entry had already grown to 150 but it was 2006 when the race became famous.  Everyone was crazy to race in Thailand that year and I think we got 250 entries.’  In 2008 TITC would become Hara’s home race. “I was living in the US in 2007 but my visa expired in 2008 so I needed to move and the TITC influenced my decision along with RCS getting the 2008 Worlds.  I lived in Bangkok for 12-years.’

With his last TITC victory coming in 2013, asked if any of the four wins particularly stood out more than the others his response was definite.  ’TITC 2013 was my biggest win.  It was right after the Worlds in the Netherlands.  I had a big chance to win there and lost to Jilles (Groskamp).  I was annoyed so after that I worked so hard for TITC win.  I ended up with the best car I ever had and I got easy the TQ.  People said I was cheating I was so far in front.  They said I had different compound tyres.  So for the final I was the last to get tyres from organiser and I glued my tyres in front of everyone.  When I win the final they see I was not cheating’.  Reminding us of the race’s slogan ‘the World’s biggest local race’, and highlighting it ‘still has the feel of club race race but with world level racing’, Hara said what makes the TITC the most difficult race to win is the free practice before the race.  While officially this four day event starts on the Thursday, most of the factory drivers come the week before and so should have everything well dialled in come the start of racing, some get sorted better than others for the changing track conditions that are part & parcel of the hot weather.

With the return of the TITC last year after its forced two year hiatus due to Covid, 2023 was to be first year Hara has been absent from the race (due to work commitments).  Excited to be back this year, Hara is here for the fun side of the event rather than chasing a fifth win.  He said his ‘last serious race’ was before Covid so it’s been a long four year break from racing.  He explained, ‘I have too long a break away from World level of racing but driving is still fun for me but my focus has changed.  Before I was just focusing on win, now I want to help promote the industry, me doing well in the race doesn’t change the industry.  I am also involved with the organisers helping them with any rule changes and helping to try improver the event.’

Getting in some touring car testing in Japan before his departure to Thailand he said, ‘things have changed a lot since I last raced.  Bodies are thinner and lighter, they are crazy to drive.  It’s fast but I’m not sure I like the current touring car.  It’s too fast, it’s like a 1:12 pan car.  Even for me I need to learn the new touring car.  They are so fast now, even Stock.’  Asked his thoughts on this year’s contenders he replied, ‘At RC Addict track it is always same people who are fast.  Bruno and Akio.  Hagberg, Jilles, Meen fast before.  For some reason Marc and Ronald not so good at this track.’

Unveiling his own Hara Racing brand recently, he will be racing a special ‘Hara edition’ chassis from Xpress at this year’s TITC, the car featuring anodised parts in his trademark purple.  Asked his plans for the brand he replied, ‘I don’t want to just make option parts for cars.  I want to do something different.  I would like to do collaboration with Xpress and other manufacturers.  If people are interested in the look of my Xpress, we can produce a kit for customers.  Sticking with one manufacturer it is hard to survive as the industry is shrinking.  I am still personally sponsored by  rcMart and VP Pro tyres so maybe there are more brands I can also work with.’


2024 TITC coverage presented by Hobbywing

Hobbywing is China’s earliest national-level high-tech enterprise engaged in R&D, production and sales of brushless power systems for UAV and RC models.  Committed to provide high power density brushless power systems for global customers, Hobbywing and the TITC have a deep-rooted history.  As early as 2009, Hobbywing’s ESC made its first appearance at TITC with this year marking a 15 years history of collaboration.  Except for the three years during the COVID-19 period, Hobbywing has consistently offered on-site technical guidance to its users at TITC, ensuring the optimal performance of their power systems and providing steadfast support for drivers, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the competition.


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