February 27, 2024

Lucas Urbain – ‘Hiring Marc pi$$€d me off’

While racers are not known for always agreeing, one thing all the professional team drivers do agree on is that the TITC is the most difficult race in the world!  After the World Championships, this annual Bangkok based race has become the most significant electric touring car title drivers can secure.  Racing at the TITC you are putting yourself on a World class stage with the best in the business with the additional unique element of every driver having had the opportunity to complete days of pre race practice, something that eats into your excuses when the race doesn’t go your way.  So for these reasons it might not be the first race of choice at which to make your international race debut as the newest member of the full time professional driver ranks but that is exactly what Lucas Urbain will do later this week.  At the age of 34, Urbain will tell you himself that the opportunity to become a full time professional racer ‘came out of the blue’ adding ‘the idea was never a topic we talked about’.  An announcement on February 2nd however from Awesomatix changed all that and now this popular French racer switches from a decade of working in signalling with the French railway network to living every young RC racers dream of travelling the world racing and getting paid for the privilege.  Lucas’ journey to becoming a ‘Pro’ is an interesting one that started in 2000 when a certain Adrien Bertin came to his home town of Longwy and gave a demo with a 1:8 Nitro Onroad car.  That was the moment Lucas was ‘blown away’ by radio controlled cars and with his parents getting him his first RC car from a local hobby shop for Christmas that year, the seed was sown for his 24-year long road to obtaining the job description of Pro RC Racer.

Roll on a few years and the next significant moment occurred with Marc Rheinard’s first of two key parts in this story.  Seeing Rheinard race for the first time at the International Orion Carpet Race in Switzerland, Lucas was immediately impressed by the German’s driving ability.  ‘It was like he had a magnetic force pulling him to the apex.  It looked like magic how precise he was.  I was hooked by that.  Marc was the main guy and in his prime at that time.’  Red RC’s first dealings with Lucas would come in 2009 in Luxembourg when, driving a Losi JRSX-R, he TQ’d the final round of qualifying at the European Championship.  It was a result that helped Jilles Groskamp take the overall TQ from where he would become the Champion.  With this performance getting him a stint with Yokomo, he said nothing good came from that partnership except the start of a great friendship with the Japanese company’s then star driver Ronald Volker.  From Yokomo he moved to VBC Racing and from there onto Awesomatix in 2018 where Rheinard would play his second part in the story.  ‘When I joined Awesomatix they had just got rid of Viljami (Kutvonen) as their full time driver.  It had been a bad experience for them so they were in no rush to recruit a replacement.  I was just making it into A-Mains at the time.  I was definitely not Pro level and no one cared about my results.  After some time with the team I started to improve.  There were a combination of factors.  I was getting better with age and I put in the work to get the goals and when I saw the work pay off I wanted to do more.  Working better, eating better, sleeping better plus the support from Oleg (Babich) and Max (Mächler) were a huge part of my improvements as a driver.  Simple things like Max organising where to have dinner let me focus on racing.’

Announced at the 2017 TITC that Rheinard had joined Infinity after 22-years racing Tamiyas, after 2-seasons the new partnership with Infinity came to an end.  With the multiple World Champion on the market, Awesomatix seized the opportunity and acquired his services but Lucas wasn’t impressed.  ‘Hiring Marc pissed me off.  It was like a stone in my shoe but it made me more motivated to work harder to challenge him.  It was big motivation for me to get better.’  Asked about their relationship in the team, Lucas replied, ‘we have very different personalities.’  This new found motivation netted Lucas his first ETS wins on both carpet and asphalt making him now a prominent force in the team.  After his real job prevented Lucas from attending ETS Aigen and the European Championship ‘Max was pissed’.  ‘I had a contract with my job that for safety reasons they don’t allow me to have a side job but once work stopped me from racing Max said, ‘What about if we made you professional.’  For me it was no risk at all to go Pro.  A sabbatical is pretty easy with a state company so it was no risk at all to give it a go, although maybe it might be a different situation in 2-3 years time.’

Asked his feelings about making his International Pro debut at TITC, Lucas was very open and honest in his reply, ‘I am blown away by the reaction to me going Pro.  It’s a big deal.  I’m a very anxious person and I worry a lot.  Will I be able to do the job.  It is shiny and pretty at the beginning.  For now it is all good.’  He continued, ‘I did TITC once before and had a shot at the A-Main but ended up in B.  I know the vibe there.  This year the objective is to make A-Main but so much can happen with track conditions and I will be in lower practice group because I have no recent results from the race.  Many guys have experience from 10 years of TITC so they have good management when it comes to the changing conditions.  We aim to be very methodical.  The right method and people can give me an edge.  Max is going but not racing, so this is a big plus.  He can watch what others are doing.  We will have quite a few pair of eyes to help us.’


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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