By Aaron Waldron
On-road racing champion Keven Hébert joined Team Associated during the 2007 season - when Team Associated was still racing the TC5. The Quebec native has been winning major races ever since - including multiple ROAR national championships in both 1/12-scale and touring car divisions. One of those titles came back in September behind the wheel of a-then prototype chassis, as Hébert drove the upcoming TC7 to the win in the hotly contested 13.5 class and then finished third behind teammates Ryan Cavalieri and Rick Hohwart in a podium sweep. To commemorate Hébert’s success behind the wheel, and honor his efforts testing new parts and helping customers at the racetrack, Team Associated chose his body to represent the TC7 on the box art for the new car - which should begin shipping to hobby stores next month. Hébert agreed to chat about the new car for this exclusive LiveRC interview.
Aaron Waldron: How much input did you have with Bob and the engineers on what new features to try?
Keven Hébert: Coming out with a new platform is always a long process of testing new parts and moving forward. In the last year we have tested many parts and, together as a team, we came up with what is best to offer to the public. Bob [Stellflue, senior did an excellent job releasing a car that I believe the TC7 can compete with any current platform and for a better price.
AW: Can you describe your first impression of driving the TC7? What should racers expect when they set their new car down for the first time?
KH: I first ran the full production car about a week ago and I built it with the same setup as my TC6.2. Right from the start, I felt like the car had more rear traction and was easier to drive but it still had the same amount of steering. I feel like people will be surprised at how well the new car performs.
AW: When building the TC7, what are the biggest differences you noticed over the TC6.2?
KH: First off, it was the quality of the parts. I built the shocks first and I was amazed at how well they went together, everything went perfectly and they are the smoothest shocks I have built. The car is also super easy to work on. The sway bars are a breeze to adjust, out of the box it comes with better bearings than the TC6.2, the plastic has a better fit and uses a set screw to hold the hinge pin making everything tighter. The hinge pins are also better. Overall, it is a much improved platform and I am super excited for racers to start building and racing the TC7.
AW: What do you think is the single biggest improvement over the previous car?
KH: It is hard to pick one thing but first off would be the shocks. A lot of work has been done in the last year and it started with the off-road shocks because a lot of the technology could apply to the touring car program. The shocks are amazing - no leaks and very smooth. The plastic was also improved to a better material. The parts fit better, too, and in on-road a lot of these small details make a huge difference on the track. When you add every little thing together you get an easier car to drive and it makes it easier to go fast which I think is what the TC7 will bring to its customers.
AW: Do you find yourself making the same changes to suit track conditions that you did with the TC6.2? Or have you had to change your strategy?
KH: That’s a good question. I think a lot of racers have their own way of doing things and that is usually hard to get out of no matter what car you run. I like my car to feel a certain way and most of the time I will work on what I feel will get me there and in most case those are the same changes I would make on any car. I usually start with a base setup and make small changes from there with droop, camber, shock oil but I never try to go overboard and change my whole car, especially at a race. So to answer the question, I would say yes, I kept the same strategy.
AW: How did it feel to have the team sweep the podium at the ROAR National Championship with a prototype version of the new car?
KH: It was great! We all worked together as a team and it was nice to have a bigger team at the event sharing ideas. It really helps move things forward faster and we were able to stay a step ahead. I think now that more people will get to run the TC7, we will have even better setup information to share which will help customers with their car setup.
AW: What was your reaction when you found out your paint scheme would be used for the box art?
KH: That is a funny story. I was in Czech a few weeks ago when the press release went out and one morning I was jet lagged so I was lying in bed at 2 am going through my phone and saw all the pictures on Facebook and had no idea at the time. I thought it was pretty cool to see, but to be honest, I had no clue. I gave Team Associated a body thinking it was for a promo video and turns out its all over the internet now. :)