Jaws dropped when wildcard INDRONE TEAM defeated US juggernaut Quad Force One and took third place in the first day of the Grand Prix Turin. Team Manager Javier Mendoza shares his insider experience.
INDRONE’s journey to the DCL began in 2018, with six races to find Spain’s best pilots. “We chose 20 from a total 150 pilots, and these 20 had to earn their seat in a final race previous to Torino,” Javier describes.
The resulting team came from different locations: Javier lives in Barcelona, Marc Román is from Vilafranca del Penedés, Miquel Garriga Sànchez hails from Premià, Marcel Lleixà Bergel is based in Montblanch, and Issac Massot Sala makes his home at Les planes d’Hostoles.
Javier says, “Past results were not important for us. Miquel and Marc have more experience and have been leading all the races, but that is not what we cared about, which is why we put up a contest. If we had chosen our pilots by their resume, we would have missed Marcel or Isaac. I remember them at our first race in July 2018 – how they couldn’t even make it to the knockout qualifications, and one year later they are our fastest pilots at 15 and 18 years old. So these four guys really earned their seats.”
Once the pilots were selected, the work began. Javier recollects, “We were worried about the drone specifications. None of our pilots had flown a DCL drone, and they had a very short time to build and get used to them. But [eventually] I saw that the drone wouldn’t be an issue after all, even though we flew 4S while the rest of the teams were flying 6s.”
Personal performance was another focus. “I had a lot of confidence in my pilots. I knew they were fast and had skills, and they had been racing indoors in very complicated tracks,” Javier remarks. “My doubts were about how they would handle the pressure, the cameras, the show, meeting pilots they admire… We worked a lot on that, on staying calm and confident, trying to avoid mistakes and fly fluidly.”
But in online Qualifying for Turin, the team realized that they hadn’t devoted enough time to training on DCL – The Game. A last-place result put them against Quali’s first-place finishers, Quad Force One, in the Quarter Finals.
Javier admits, “Our confidence decreased a bit. They are one of the best teams of the world!” Although the smallest mistake could mean elimination, INDRONE decided to concentrate on the positive: their “huge” opportunity to compete against one the best.
“In football, you want to play against FC Barcelona or Real Madrid, to shake hands with Leo Messi – so that is how we managed the competition once we realized we had to fly versus Quad Force One,” Javier relates. “That was our goal: enjoy, smile and have fun. And show the world we could be as fast as them, even though we didn’t have the best quads or their experience.”
Thanks to that steady mindset, when equipment problems made Quad Force One vulnerable, INDRONE TEAM were prepared to pounce. “We didn’t know exactly what was going on; all we knew was that we were in first position while they were crashing. But the big heat was still there, and we had that pressure to keep pushing because we saw we could make history,” Miquel recalls.
What the Spaniards couldn’t know was that Quad Force One would sit out the big heat. The INDRONE crew was disappointed not to put an exclamation point on their victory, but moved on to the Semis. And while they were eliminated by eventual winners APEX Racing (DEN), their points tally was enough for the day’s podium. They’d made their mark.
So what’s next for INDRONE TEAM? “What we learned is that we are ready to compete and we want to be part of the game. We have started working on the next level – we are searching for sponsors to join DCL permanently,” Javier reveals. “We want to win DCL, and we know we can make it. We also want to put up a race in Barcelona and show our people the incredible event that DCL delivers. We really enjoyed it, and Spanish fans did, too. I think we can make great things together.”