IFMAR ISTC 1/10 history and World Championship cars

The cars that we race today are a product of decades of intense competition. I thought it would be interesting to cover the history of...

The cars that we race today are a product of decades of intense competition. I thought it would be interesting to cover the history of the class, and call out key milestones in its development by looking at each of the IFMAR ISTC World Championship winning chassis.

Background History of Electronic Touring

1/10 onroad is a relative newcomer in the world of RC racing, before the 90's 1/12 scale pan cars were the only onroad option. You would expect these would act as the nucleus for the cars that we race today, but actually its origins are rather different.

In the eighties, offroad buggy racing was really popular. The simple electric SRB's soon made way for more sophisticated race chassis. Then in 1995 Tamiya released the Hotshot creating a big impact with its affordable 4WD shaft driven design.

This new era of 4WD buggies also coincided with the golden era of Rally thanks to loads of TV coverage and the exotic Group B super cars. These two worlds collided to provide us with RC rally cross. Simply these were 4WD buggies with wide 220mm rally car shells.
The Parma Cosworth one of my Favourites :)
As winter approached, RC racing went indoors, so these Rally cross cars could be slammed lower. Many just modified the shocks on the 4WD buggies to adapt to the flat tracks, but there were some actual wide touring car kits released such as the Schumacher Wildcat touring cars. These were very crude kits compared to the 4WD buggies but they were cheap, so they helped make the class even more popular over the next few years. Although it was still a niche class compared to 1/10 offroad.
The kit that started it all
The big impact came in 1991 when Tamiya released 58096 Tamiya Toyota Celica GT-4. It introduced the TA01 chassis. It was derived from the Manta Ray DF-01 but had shorter suspension arms (190mm) and a lower stance. Tamiya released a slew of these cars in quick succession featuring a Skyline GT-R Nismo, Mercedes 190E Evo  and the BMW M3 sport.

The shells were a huge leap in quality with other manufacturers, the cars handled really well and importantly they were also cheap. Many racers flocked to this new class, as it also had the advantage that it could be raced indoors and out. The 1/10 onroad class that we now know was born!

The class literally exploded within a year. Many off road racers bought a TA01 to race in the winter months, and when spring arrived decided that it was more fun racing these cars and abandoned buggy racing. I was one of those people. It was a great time, and my local club tripled in size as it was really simple to join in the fun. For anyone interested in joining the hobby you just told them that the Tamiya was the only option,  so they just had to choose the shell they like the most and get started :)

The first race spec Tamiya
Tamiya released the TA02 in 1993. It was very close to the TA01 and shared many of the same parts. The main differences were focused on improving the steering and weight balance. It had revised front arms and hubs, and the chassis was shorter, moving the battery forward.

The shift had started, Tamiya had captured the imagination of the RC scene, and this new class was gaining more traction.  In late 93 Yokomo produced their first foray into onroad with the YR4, based on the dogfighter chassis, with shorter arms and shock, with body posts positioned to ensure that the scale Tamiya bodyshells would fit perfectly.  

1996 - The rise of the competition 

HPI was a small company company that made a popular chassis conversion that changed the layout of a standard TA02, but they were not content with just making hop-ups. The designers were working on a car that some would call the first proper race spec chassis, the RS4.

The RS4 was a superb car with its belt drives signalling a big change to the shaft cars that were popular at that time. With kit bearings, universal drive shafts, adjustable shocks and geometry, all included in the box, people had to take notice.
The original RS4 with two speed transmission 
By 1998 1/10 onroad was so popular that there was a lot of demand for it to be included in the IFMAR worlds roster. Due to this demand it was decided that there would be a provisional race to go alongside the 1/12 and Pro 10 classes. So all of the manufacturers assembled their top drivers to put the new chassis to the paces in the first world championship touring race...

1998 Losi Street weapon IWC : Driver David Spashett 

David Spashett won the inaugural world Touring car championship with the Losi Street weapon. Note: He also won the 1/12 and Pro 10 at the same event! The only time a driver has ever achieved such a feat.

The Street Weapon was a great car, designed by the legendary Gil Losi. The car has a very distinctive layout as you can see in the picture. With the motor upfront the car had a great amount of on-power steering for the time. The chassis was adapted from the XX-4 buggy but the revised suspension geometry really made the car shine on the track.

Soon there was a special IWC worlds edition released with lots of optional goodies
Pic from Jamin (Rc10)

2000 Yokomo MR4 TC  /  Driver : Atsushi Hara

This was the kit to own in 2001
For the millennium race was hosted at the Yatabe Arena in Japan. This world championship was a much bigger affair as Touring cars has become the most popular class worldwide. The winner was Atsushi Hara, driving the Yokomo MR4 TC.

The MR4 was released in late 1999. It was originally intended to be a entry level car released alongside the YR-4 which was Yokomo's 'Pro' chassis. The car was fantastic, and it had a good level of specification for the time, with full ball bearings, ball diffs with lightweight outdrives and an efficient belt driven drive train.

It was not only club racers who noticed the potential of the car, Yokomo team drivers at the time Barry Baker and Masami Hirosaka tried the chassis and found that the car was much more consistent to drive fast than the YR-4.

Yokomo took the team drivers feedback and soon released the MR4-TC Pro kit. This had a lot more hop-ups included such as threaded shocks, turnbuckles, revised steering assembly and a new top deck to make the car stiffer.

When Atsushi Hara took the worlds victory with the car, there was a worlds edition kit released, taking the car and providing the following changes
  • Graphite main chassis tub 
  • Worlds upper deck 
  • Worlds front & rear suspension arms 
  • Aluminum driveshafts 
  • Titanium turnbuckles 
  • Front antiroll bar 
  • Centre one way & front drive pulley 

The MR4 went on to be a popular platform for Yokomo, and a shaft drive variant was released (The SD) and is still popular with some drifters.  The Yokomo is the only tub chassis to have won the worlds, although later versions of the MR4 would move to a carbon Double deck.

2002  Tamiya TRF414M / Driver : Surikarn Chaidejsuriya

In 2002 the event took place in South Africa, here Surikarn Chaidejsuriya surprised the crowds and took Tamiya's first worlds championship.

Despite being the pioneers of the 190mm touring car class with their affordable TA01 and TA02 cars, Tamiya soon fell behind as the class became more popular and specialist race cars were built by rival manufacturers.

In 1998 Tamiya decided that they wanted to create a car that would put them back in contention and their design team consisting of Masayuki Miura, Takanori Aoki and Takahiko Yasui started developing the TRF404X.
The Prototype TRF404x
The chassis had a two belt design with the motor central at the rear of the car, and saddle packs placing the weight in the centre of the chassis. It was soon apparent once all the test data was accumulated that the chassis had real potential, and the design team were given the budget to create many different prototypes and the final result was the TRF414.

There were a few revisions to the chassis, the bulkheads were changed to allow anti-roll bars to be fitted, and the decks were revised with the batteries being moved for better steering response.

The worlds edition that Surikarn drove had lightened bulkheads that helped make the car more responsive, it also had revised suspension mounts and a different front sway bar kit.

Here is the car that won the worlds in 2002
The 414 proved to be a popular car and there were a few key versions released
  • TRF414
  • TRF414M
  • TRF414M2
The TRF414 M2 was also the first TRF kit that came in the distinctive TRF blue. There were many cars that had similar layouts to the TRF414 including the XRay T1.

2004 Tamiya TRF415MS /  Driver Marc Rheinard

The 2004 championship was held in Florida. World champion Surikarn was using the TB Evolution IV and a young Marc Rheinard drove the latest TRF415MS chassis and claimed the winners trophy.

Tamiya had come back as reigning champions and reclaimed their crown (The only manufacturer to do that until Yokomo in 2016). The TRF415 was a significant chassis as it was sporting a very different layout and design from the previous TRF414 and the other manufactures. It would prove to be the blueprint for most modern touring cars.
The TRF415 was a collaboration between Tamiya Japan and Tech Racing. Tech Racing had been making some interesting conversions for other manufacturers chassis at the time, along with releasing their own club cars.

Tech Racing My02 and TRF415
The Tech racing MY02 and the TRF415 share a lot of common design features, and the drive train was interchangeable. There was a large gap in build quality however and also the suspension arms on the 415 were different and had much better geometry.

The drive train was a dual belt system with a ball diff in the rear and one-ways in the front. This would be the standard for some time.

The original TRF415 had 3 top decks, one along the chassis and the other two for the front and rear stiffeners. This chassis was built in a time when flex was the anti-vision in car design, and this car was stiff. It was also epic on foam tyres. Although soon people would race without the side stiffeners.

As the car was developed, Tamiya fitted a range of new parts, including the reversible lightweight Suspension and shock towers, lightened motor mount and a thinner bottom deck (2.5mm as opposed to the 3mm original).

This MS spec car took the championship, although there was a lot more evolution to come from the TRF415 platform

2006 Hot Bodies Cyclone / Driver : Andy Moore

In 2006 the championship was held in Italy at the Collegno Track. Here HPI took the crown with their Hot Bodies Cyclone.

The Cyclone is probably one of the most under-rated cars in my opinion, it was one of the first cars to really move all of the weight towards the middle of the car using the conventional layout that we have now. The belt pulleys were on either side of the spur gear. The aluminium rear mount kept the chassis flex under control with a low turn brushed motor, but also allowed the batteries to fit closer to the centre of the chassis. The car also had easy to adjust ackerman on the steering arms.

The suspension was from the Pro4, and this car was the first proper Hot bodies Chassis, the big difference was the Cyclone was much easier to drive than the Pro 4.

2008 Tamiya TRF416 / Driver : Marc Rheinard

Now over to Bangkok for the 2008 worlds and the classic final showdown where Marc Rheinard pushed Hara to claim victory whilst driving the Tamiya TRF416 WE. The race is a classic and it really showcases the reasons why this class is so popular.

The winning car was an evolution of the TRF416 that was released a year earlier in 2007. The TRF416 inherited all of the key features of the TRF415 chassis line and took it further to have a better left and right balance by moving the motor in a considerable amount. It also was a lot lighter as the large rear aluminium bulkheads were disposed off and a separate motor mount was introduced, providing a little more flex giving the car a lot of mechanical grip.

The World Edition version of the TRF416 had a longer top deck which gave the car more flex, as the racing chassis were moving away from the mantra of stiff is best, to make a more neutral chassis. It had Tamiya short reversible suspension arms, and with the battery moved forward these gave the car even better response on the track. It also featured a spool as standard (brushless motors killed the one ways that were popular before). The car was very popular on club level, as it was easy to drive and really quick just out of the box.

2010 Tamiya TRF416X  / Driver : Marc Rheinard

Burgdorf in Germany was the setting for the 2010 championship and the Tamiya Team took victory again thanks to Marc Rheinard. Giving Marc 3 Championships and Tamiya an unprecedented 4 worlds titles.

The 416X had quite a few tweaks to really ensure that the 416 could cope with the advancements of lipo and brushless technology. The motor position was mounted further back for extra traction under acceleration. It was also more central for better overall chassis balance and corner transitioning.

This picture above shows all of Marc's winning cars, here you can see the evolution of his 415, 416we and 416x (We have an interview with Marc Rheinard here)

2012 Tamiya TRF417v5 / Driver : Jilles Groskamp

At the MACH circuit at Heemsteed Jilles Groskamp took a popular win at this home circuit with the TRF417x.

The TRF417 itself had gone through a pretty quick rate of change from its initial launch only a year earlier. Flex was the main reasoning behind the changes, as it was the era when the concept of controlled even flex was becoming paramount to chassis design.

The original car had a solid rear motor mount (Soon to be cut by many asphalt racers to get more flex), the chassis had lots of cut-outs that were different on each side of the lower deck and the servo was mounted in the conventional way with two posts.

The TRF417x was a big jump to moving the flex around on the car, The motor mount was in two parts, and the chassis was softer and revised to have a floating servo mount. This gave the car much more flex (Although not enough for some, who fitted conversions to have even more).

The other distinctive feature about the worlds car is that it uses aeration shocks, these do not have a bladder like the standard shocks, and they let out air in the caps to allow you to build cars with negative rebound, ideal for the low traction surface / tyre combination that was used at this worlds final.

The released version of the car is called the V5 not the X as it was given this name to celebrate 5 Victories for the Tamiya TRF team. (We have a build and review here for more detail)

2014 Yokomo BD7 15 / Driver Naoto Matsukura

Back to the Full throttle raceway in Florida, the host of the 2004 worlds. This time it was not about Tamiya but the he two leading Yokomo drivers, Ronald Volker or Naoto Matsukura as they battled to take the victory.

The car that was dominating was the BD7 2015 edition. The original BD7 prototype was raced at the 2012 worlds and was a big step forward from the previous car. Yokomo had started to invest heavily on the on-road scene and BD7 took a lot of the design inspiration from rival cars, but importantly it also brought some big innovations of their own, including the motor mount which brought the motor much closer to the centre of the car.

The Worlds car had a few interesting changes, such as a motor mount that could be set into two positions (Forward or backwards) depending how how much grip was available at the track. It is also worth to note that this chassis features a oil filled gear differential in the rear. Ball differentials had been phased out as the gear differentials have no slip and provided a little more speed from the line.

Other changes were shorter suspension arms, and a battery tape system that helps keep the flex of the chassis even more symmetrical than standard taping methods.

2016 Yokomo BD8 / Driver Ronald Volker

Yokomo was on top of the world and they kept the momentum by winning the 2016 event in China with the Yokomo BD8.
Pic Redrc
It was a departure from the BD7 with a lot of revisions. Smaller differentials to lower the centre of gravity. A refined drive train with a centre aligned front belt and moved the motor a whopping 2mm further inboard to improve the stability of the car. The new suspension mount system also allowed for the driver to change the settings to suit conditions, something that the Yokomo team insisted really helped them as the track conditions evolved over the course of the worlds event.

ARS (Active rear suspension) is another feature, and one that was used to help Ronald have more grip and rear traction in Beijing. ARS works by adding a level of bump steer to the rear wheels, as the suspension compresses the rear toe changes. 
pic RedRC
There are other new parts such as new C-Hubs and uprights and the lower plate has had the flex points changed.

2018 Xray T4'18 / Driver Bruno Coelho

The 2018 worlds was hosted in at the Welkom RC Arena in South Africa. This indoor facility was superb, unfortunately the location was not. So some of the large factory teams, and support engineers did not attend due to safety concerns. 

The event would still host some great racing amongst some very fierce competitors. Two time champion Ronald Volker was top qualifier and would start the finals on pole position, with the runner up from the last two championships Bruno Coelho alongside him in second position. 

As the finals commenced the two drivers were very close with Ronald making his Yokomo very wide and holding Bruno back until he managed a pass and claimed A1. The second final it was apparent that the Yokomo just did not have the grip and Bruno managed to pass Ronal on the third lap and never looked back to claim his, and Xray's first world championship.

Xray founded by Juraj Hudy, started manufacturing competitive racing chassis in late 2000 when they introduced the T1 to the world. They have become one of the most popular brands in the RC racing community. 

The Xray T1 has a layout very similar to other popular chassis of the day including TRF414x. It was different to some in that it featured pivot balls on the arms that would allow you to adjust the camber and caster easily, but added weight over the wheels and the caster would move on large impacts.  

Photo RedRc
The 2018 Worlds winning chassis was based on the Xray T4'18 with some prototype parts that would go on to feature in the T4'19 chassis. This chassis reflects many of the current trends with chassis design. The dampers are now even shorter in their ULP guise. As a point of reference the shocks are 15mm shorter than those on the original T1. 

Bruno's chassis also featured the active rear suspension, reducing the rear toe on the straights. Chassis flex was also developed further with inline flex options seen on the earlier TRF and Yokomo cars. Interestingly this is the first worlds winner that was running an aluminium chassis. These have been more common because of the rise of very high grip carpet tracks around the globe. These combine stiffness along with the benefit of adding weight lower to the ground.

2022 Xray X4 23 / Driver Bruno Coelho

With a four year gap due to the global Covid 19 pandemic, Bruno Coelho would have a long wait to be able to try to retain his World championship title. 

Gubbio, Italy would host the event. Unfortunately it was not a smoothly run race, with a lack of planning for the forecasted rain there was a lack of wet tyres. Tyres would also be a cause of controversy as the Xray team were alleged to have had their own tyres supplied. 

On the racetrack, Bruno dominated in the adverse conditions, his experience in offroad racing no doubt helping conquer the lack of grip that many of his competitors were experiencing. This resulted in Bruno having a dominant weekend, and he retained his title with the Xray X4.

Bruno's X4 (Snowbirds) Photo Xray.

The X4 was released in 2021 and was a big departure from their popular T4 chassis.

The chassis was the first Mid motor / pulley chassis to win since the Losi in 1998.  The last four years have seen a resurrection of this layout. Following the design cues from the Tamiya TA05 and with longer arms to compensate for the more aggressive handling this layout provides. (Note this trend was predicted here in 2018). 

The low profile chassis brought back the carbon composite arms championed by serpent over a decade ago, but updated with latest manufacturing techniques. The suspension is now a pivot ball design. This has also become more popular with Schumacher and Awesomatix adopting the system and others following. 

The Future

In the world of RC racing, nothing stays still. All of our favourite brands are working hard to claim the top spot. What new trends will we see coming for our chassis? 

(Dated 2018)
With the increase in high grip racing, it is likely that the motors could move more towards the middle of the chassis. We might even see mid motor designs like the Tamiya TA05 come back again as increased corner speed is explored. Alongside that you will probably see longer suspension arms to make these lower, faster cornering cars a little more drivable. Modern electrics such as shorty lipos, 1/12 high power servos could also lead to new layouts for better weight balance. 

It will be interesting to see what the future offers, and we will be along for the ride :)
Worlds 6076629132964953707

Post a Comment

  1. Nice Article!

    Wish you could share the other EP class too... the 12th Scale



Home item

Support this site

Featured post

Tamiya Suspension Mount Ultimate setting Guide and charts

The Tamiya suspension mounts are a powerful tuning option to help you refine the way in which your car will handle on the track. Th...

Search This Blog

Like us on Facebook!

Popular Posts


Random Posts

Article Archive

Other things