The biggest news of DCL’s Grand Prix Turin was Denmark’s APEX Racing, who shocked two-time season champions XBlades Racing by overcoming the British powerhouse in the final round on both days of the event. The team’s manager, APEX Drone Racing founder and CEO Christian Clemmensen Møller, credits preparation and teamwork.
“It was a team effort, and we had a lot bigger team than just the four pilots and me on stage. We had people working across Europe to try to improve all aspects,” Christian reveals. “Our technical department is based in Sweden. Leading up to the race, and throughout race weekend, they were working on the technical side – testing equipment and the power limitations and so on, and we had guys in London taking care of the social media side. So the pilots could be quite focused. And just before the race, the pilots trained for eight days together at our facility in Zurich. So when we got to Turin, we couldn’t have been more prepared. And we also had some luck.”
While APEX flies under the Danish flag, the pilots in Turin – Erik Holden, Timothy Trowbridge, Noa Koch and Dane Grace – come from Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark, respectively. Christian explains, “We have tried to build a northern European team, for some cultural similarities and fewer language and logistics barriers. We do have a few pilots from other countries, but the core team is from the North. And these are young guys who love what they do.”
When it comes to what APEX looks for in a pilot, the manager describes a “triangle” of talents: First, they must have skill in the track. But additionally, he notes, “We’ve tried to pick people who understand the technical side themselves, and lastly we want to have some pilots who are aware of the importance of social media presence and showing the stories.”
Although APEX is a new team in a relatively new sport, they’ve seen good growth on the community side, with more followers every day. A recent commercial featuring Dane Grace flying his drone head-to-head against a racecar at Volkswagen Hannover has raised the team’s profile even higher. The jaw-dropping footage from the roughly 1.1 million square-meter site was the result of a 2.5-day shoot with a production crew numbering 30 people.
“DCL quads are not the easiest to fly, as many know,” Dane shares. “It was mostly a bit scary staying between a camcar and the VW ID.R that was scheduled to beat the electric Nürburgring record the next week. But it was fun being a part of such a big production.”
Next up for APEX Racing is the Grand Prix Vaduz on October 18-19, which will be the home race for the Liechtenstein-based series. Christian has heard that the race organization is pulling out all the stops. “DCL told us that this is going to be the best DCL race in history, so I’m looking forward to that!” he jokes. “But everywhere we go, it’s about putting in lots of preparation. And the rest is luck – success is not a given. We’re really looking forward to the sporting side at Vaduz.”
The team is flat out in preparation, and following a similar strategy to their Turin training, the pilots will assemble for a week together before the racing starts. APEX is currently second overall, and with just two races to go, they’ll need more outstanding results like their Italian sweep if they want to take the season crown from XBlades, who hold a 180-point lead. They’re learning with every race, and they’ll give it everything they’ve got in Vaduz.
“The objective is to secure first place, that’s what it’s all about,” Christian declares. “It’s all about the sport – that’s what we love, that’s what we do, and we need to be the best.”