On-Road 4WD TRF
For most people, the Team TRF history begins circa 1998-2000 in the Touring category when the first prototypes were designed before entering the 2000 IFMAR World Championship, followed by the first World Championship victory in 2002.
Actually, Tamiya did not “make” themselves World Champions in the Touring category in a snap: before the world victories, Tamiya first created the Touring category.
Tamiya Touring before the Team TRF
The context was RC by the end of the 80's, that is the end of the buggy golden age:
- October 23, 1990: release of the Manta Ray buggy (model 58087) based on the all new DF-01 chassis.
- July 30, 1991: release of the model 58096 Toyota Celica GT-Four Rally based on the new TA-01 on-road chassis.
DF-01 chassis (1990)
TA-01 chassis (1991)
In short, the TA-01 chassis is a DF-01 with shorter arms and shorter wheelbase. This chassis generated a new craze among fans who massively adopted this new RC category, the Touring (often called DTM in Europe). In 1993, Tamiya released the TA-02 chassis, a leisure-oriented updated TA-01 chassis. And then, on June 9, 1996, Tamiya released their kit 58177 TA-03F Pro, an entirely new design:
58177 TA-03F Pro (1996)
For the first time, Tamiya released a chassis-only hopped-up kit under the name PRO, that is a version with more equipment than the standard kits. After the TA-03F PRO, Tamiya would repeat this PRO strategy every time they release a new F1 or Touring chassis (except entry-level chassis such as TL-01 and TT-01/02). This could have been the end of the story and the TA-03F would never have been mentioned in this article dedicated to TRF models only.
That would have been without counting on a Tamiya USA sponsored driver who won 3 major titles in USA with his modified TA-03F Pro. David Jun was the driver, and his victories are the only ones RC would ever remember about the TA-03. However, to commemorate so prestigious victories won using a leisure-oriented chassis, Tamiya released a special version of their TA-03F chassis named after David Jun.
58200 TA-03F David Jun (1997)
Best results (to my knowledge)
1996: NORRCA Champion (David Jun/TA-03F Pro)
1997: NORRCA Champion (David Jun/TA-03F Pro)
1997: ROAR Champion (David Jun/TA-03F Pro)
Next is a hi-res photo gallery dedicated to David Jun's TA-03F and to the special model Tamiya released to commemorate his brilliant victories.
Neither the TA-03F Pro or the David Jun special edition are TRF models, and the Team TRF was not involved in this adventure at all (at least officially). However, these exploits using a leisure-oriented chassis served as a launching pad for the Team TRF that, in turn, will commemorate the TA-03 chassis:
58227 TA-03R TRF (1998)
58243 TA-03RS TRF (1999)
Even though it is not a TRF model, I wanted to acknowledge the TA-03F contribution to Tamiya racing history in this article about TRF. Please note the above TRF versions are not to be considered as TRF chassis, but rather as PRO chassis equipped with TRF parts.
The success of the new Touring category was tremendous: the 80's were the golden era for buggies, the 90's were for Touring cars. As a matter of fact, the Touring category was officially recognized by the IFMAR in 1998, a decision that definitely matched Tamiya's racing strategy.
Tamiya Touring by the Team TRF
It is hard to establish any direct link between the TA-03F and the first TRF Touring prototypes because TRF designers started from a blank page, not an existing chassis like David Jun did. However, we can assume that solutions developed by David Jun were a source of inspiration, or at least a source of motivation at the time when the first prototypes were designed.
Even though available information is rare and rather imprecise, it is generally considered that the first TRF prototypes hit the tracks between 1998 and 2000:
TRF404X prototype (circa 1998-1999)
93013 TRF414X prototype (circa 1999-2000)
As for the first prototype, I could only retrieve its name and its development period (unsure). The photo is probably “official” but I couldn't find any additional information about it. The TRF414X is better known because it was produced at 150 numbered units and sold by Tamiya USA under the reference 93013. As far as we know, it could have been sold to some national distributors too, but only 1 single unit per country.
While digging the web in search of extra information for this article, I stumbled upon the sale of unit #143 at the price of 1.159,35€. A piece of history.
The Team TRF kept on developing the chassis design with the objective of racing the 2000 IFMAR Touring World Championship. This effort can be seen in the following models: the TRF414 (presumably a 1000 unit limited edition) is an evolution based on the feedback from drivers racing the TRF414X, and the TRF414M is the chassis that was raced at the 2000 Worlds.
42132 TRF414 prototype (circa 2000)
49175 TRF414M prototype (2000)
The results were very encouraging with the chassis reaching A finals for its first participation, but missing the podium. The development continued and Tamiya released the TRF414MII (or M2) version in 2002 to commemorate a series of TRF414M victories in national championships (Germany, Japan, etc...). Despite this version not being extremely significant on a technical point of view, it is important for the brand identity because it is the first appearance of the famous distinctive TRF metal blue on a chassis.
At last, after Surikarn Chaidejsuriya's victory with the TRF414M at the 2002 World Championship, Tamiya released the World Champion Replica kit in limited edition (presumably, 1700 numbered units), and the TA-04 TRF version:
49255 TRF414M World Champion Replica (2002)
49278 TA-04 TRF (2003)
From now on, Tamiya's reign over the Touring category will last for a decade (excepting 2006 Worlds), undoubtedly thanks to these chassis, but also because of an exceptional driver, Marc Rheinard:
58320 TRF415 (2004)
49349 TRF415-MS (2004)
49381 TRF415-MSX (2005)
49394 TRF415-MSX Marc Rheinard (2006)
49419 TRF415-MSXX (2007)
42104 TRF415-MSXX Marc Rheinard Edition (2007)
42106 TRF416 (2007)
42138 TRF416 World Edition (2008)
42162 TRF416X (2009)
42184 TRF417 (2010)
42200 TRF417 w/ gear differential unit 2 (2011)
42205 TRF417X (2012)
42235 TRF417X Reedy Race Victory (2012)
42240 TRF417 v5 Premium Package (2012)
42270 TRF418 (2013)
42285 TRF419 (2014)
42301 TRF419X (2016)
42311 TRF419X World Spec (2017)
Best international results (to my knowledge)
2002: IFMAR World Champion (Surikarn Chaidejsuriya/TRF414M)
2004: IFMAR World Champion (Marc Rheinard/TRF415)
2008: IFMAR World Champion (Marc Rheinard/TRF416)
2010: IFMAR World Champion (Marc Rheinard/TRF416X)
2012: IFMAR World Champion (Jilles Groskamp/TRF417X)
Despite the Team TRF having been initially formed to design and to race buggies, the TRF drivers offered Tamiya their best results in the Touring category. Not any results, actually: 5 supreme titles out of 6 possible during a whole decade of unchallenged domination.
In a certain way, as far as the World Championships are concerned, the world of RC racing could be almost fully described with Associated 2WD buggies, Yokomo 4WD buggies and Tamiya 4WD Touring cars. Don't get me wrong: this does not mean other brands are bad or that these brands are bad outside of their preferred category... Because, beyond the brands, one could notice that the World Champion titles is also a driver title. And when you have a closer look at the leaderboards, you often read the same names that repeat year after year: Masami Hirosaka, Marc Rheinard, Ryan Cavalieri...
Some say... a chassis needs a driver to win...
- Team TRF official website
- Tamiya 58087 Mantay Ray DF-01
- Tamiya 58117 Lancia Delta HF Integrale TA-01
- Tamiya TA-03F Audi Quattro
- Tamiya 49278 TA-04 TRF
- Tamiya On-Road chassis