Viktor Wilck has moved himself into contention at the Reedy Race of Champions in California, the 2012 Champion claiming a third win as the 20th running of legendary race reach the half way point. With one of the two allowed dropped scores taken into account, the Serpent driver sits second, 3 points adrift of new leader Marc Rheinard. Starting fourth on the grid, Wilck would win ahead of reigning champion Ronald Volker with the same heat seeing the kink bring an end to Bruno Coelho’s run of Top 3 finishes, the impact leaving the Xray driver with a DNF. For Rheinard, Round 6 netted the Infinity driver his 4th win allowing him to take over the points lead from overnight leader Meen Vejrak, the Yokomo driver having his worst round so far with a 6th. In the third of the encounters, Christopher Krapp finally ended his run of bad luck, last year’s runner-up becoming the ninth of the 24 invite drivers to register a win.
‘Getting better. For sure it was a lot easier than the previous one’, was Wilck’s reaction to his latest win. Having taken a somewhat controversial win in Round 5, the Swede making contact with Akio Sobue in the kink, he added, ‘I thought it was going to be a good fight with Naoto but he rolled when I caught him. They then had a battle with Ronald so I could easily pull away’. Winning his Reedy Race title at the Norcal track before it returned to its spiritual home of the Tamiya Raceway, he said, ‘My car is still ok, it is easy to drive and is not having the same problem others are having in the heat’. Set to line-up in the same heat as Rheinard for Round 7, starting P2 while his former Tamiya team-mate starts last, he concluded, ‘it an important one the next one’.
The only driver with four wins, Rheinard summed up Round 6 with, ‘what can I say, I had a lucky start because 1 & 2 crashed and had the lead in the first corner’. The 3-time Touring Car World Champion who won the first of his five Reedy Race titles 11-years-ago here at the historic Tamiya track, continued, ‘after that I could take it easy to the end, apart from having to avoid one car flying into the chicane the race went like a perfect plan’. Asked about Wilck’s form, he joked, ‘he’s just been lucky’ but on starting in the same heat as his good friend off track he said, ‘everything can happen, Ronald went from 8th to 2nd in the last one so I will just drive and see what happens’.
Sitting fifth, with just a single win to his credit, Volker wasn’t happy with the performance of his latest set of tyres. The World Champion said, ‘Having struggled with understeer in Round 5 we swapped the front tyres from left to right and now it had crazy understeer in right corners which is totally frustrating’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I benefited from Naoto and Bruno’s kink hit and 2nd is a valuable result given I started 8th’. He added, ‘While 5 out of the 6 races I have started at the back I can only look forward to the upcoming races and better grids, better tyres and better results’.
Making his third Reedy Race appearance, making a big impression on his 2015 debut, Krapp said, ‘I’m just happy to finally get a clean run’. Suffering a spur gear failure in yesterday’s final round which left his car stranded in the middle of the kink with the entire field somehow avoiding his Yokomo, the German said, ‘With yesterday’s results the race is over for me. The car is good but I have just been unlucky but now with a win I just want to have fun the next round and enjoy the rest of the event’.
Marc Rheinard made the biggest gain as Day 2 of the Reedy Race of Champions got underway with Round 5 of racing at Tamiya Raceway, a third place moving the Infinity driver to within 2 points of overnight leader Meen Vejrak and Akio Sobue. The opening heat of the day’s four rounds of racing would see Eric Albano capitalise on his pole position, the Yokomo driver winning by over 3-seconds from fellow American Ryan Cavalieri as Bruno Coelho snatched 3rd from Juho Levanan in a drag race to the finish line. The second encounter was the most heavily stacked heat of the round, Rheinard joined by reigning champion Ronald Volker and points leader Vejrak with Nicolas Lee on pole. Lee would take the win with all eyes on the battle behind for second. Starting second Naoki Akiyama drove a great race as Rheinard overshadowed him, the German eventually getting by with a forceful move only to be called to give it back by the referee. Getting by the young Japanese driver for a second time, the 5-time Champion would then make a mistake entering the kink with Akiyama there to take back second and hold it to the end ahead of Rheinard, Volker and Vejrak. Heat 3 would see a great battle between Viktor Wilck and Sobue with Wilck going to the front after a questionable move on the Infinity driver in the kink. Sending Sobue flying of the track, Sobue with drop to 5th as the Serpent driver registered his second win of the event. While no call came from the referees the general opinion of the invitation class drivers watching was the Swede was at fault for the incident.
‘Overall I made some points I guess compared the leading driver in the points’, was Rheinard’s reaction to his P3. With a DNF & 8 points, in his tally, he added, ‘2nd would have been good but 3rd is ok given the result of the others’. Commenting on his race, he said, ‘I was in a Yokomo sandwich, I was faster than both of them but had to be careful not to touch them and Naoki was driving really well’. On his first pass on Akiyama, he said, ‘We touched but I didn’t hit him so I don’t think the call was fair, there have been worse crashes and no penalties’. Explaining his error in the kink he said, ‘I was pushing trying to catch Nicholas but ran too much inside and slid up the curb on the green and got dirty tyres and that’s how Naoki got back by’.
The only triple winner so far along with Rheinard, Vejrak summed up his P5 with, ‘not a good start this morning’. The Thai driver said, ‘Marc opened in the sweeper and I went for the pass but we touched and my tyres got dirty so I lost a few positions’. The 2015 podium finishers continued, ‘the car feeling changes every round so it really difficult to know how it will react in the race’. Vejrak’s worst round so far, if taken as one of the two rounds drivers will drop, the former nitro touring car World Champion sits 1-point behind Rheinard in the points.
Giving his view of his incident with Sobue, Wilck said, ‘It was a tough battle with Akio. It is way different when you go defensive driving. I tried to pull away but hit the kink. Then we went into the kink side by side, I lifted a little but we touched. It was side by side’. Asking Sobue for his view of things, the friendly Japanese driver was ultra PC describing it as ‘unlucky’. Commenting on his heat win Lee said, ‘That was the most difficult heat so far in terms of the level of drivers in it. My car was a little difficult in the beginning but the others fighting helped me get away’.
Meen Vejrak leads the points at the end of the opening day of racing at the Reedy Race of Champions, the Yokomo driver notching up his third win in the day’s fourth & final round of racing. Having started out with a fourth place from 6th on the grid, the Thai driver would mark himself as one to watch in Round 2 with victory from the second row before taking easy wins in Rounds 3 & 4 from front row starts. Ending the day on the same points as Meen but having one less win, Akio Sobue came to within one corner of holding the overnight lead. Heading into the final corner of the race with his Infinity team-mate Marc Rheinard on his rear bumper, he would roll allowing Rheinard through for a third win however a DNF in Round 3 leaves the 5-time champion fourth going into Day 2 behind Reedy rookie Bruno Coelho. For defending Champion Ronald Volker a frustrating day for the Yokomo driver would end on somewhat better as he finally registered his first win of the 20th running of the legendary race with victory in the closing race of the day.
‘A good day for me’ was how Vejrak summed up Day 1’s action. The 2015 podium finisher continued, ‘in the last race my car felt like it had good grip in the warm-up so I decided to try to pass Jan (Rathesky) in the first corner and it worked’. Once out front he would pull clear as Ratheisky came under attack from Viktor Wilck, the Swede getting by in a last lap dash to the finish line. Feeling his Scorpion powered BD8 is better on used tyres, he said ‘the track cold is completely different than when its warm and for my car the cold is better’. With another pole position among his grid positions along with last for Round 6, he said, ‘I hope tomorrow is a good day for me too’.
The day’s only other triple winner, Rheinard was happy with his performance saying, ‘having the one DNF is shit but otherwise it was a really good day’. On his Round 4 win the Reedy Race’s most celebrated winner said, ‘This was a hard one. I started 5th behind Bruno and could see he was not so fast but waited and when he made a mistake in the chicane I got on his inside. Just after I got by Cavalieri and was running with Akio’. He continued, ‘My car was really good but I knew Akio would make no mistake normally and that 2nd would be good. Luckily for me and bad for him he rolled at the last corner but I’ll take it’. Explaining his error, Sobue said, ‘Marc make much pressure but it was all going good until the last corner, I just took it too tight’.
‘Finally a clean run and also a front row start, it was a badly needed win’, was Volker’s reaction to his Round 4 win. The World Champion continued, ‘I benefited from Christopher’s mechanical failure and from lap 2 had a clean track so I went flat out for the rest of the race to secure a fast run if needed (as a tie breaker)’. Winning two of his three Reedy Race titles at Tamiya Raceway, the German said, ‘my car is on pace ad I hope we have more luck tomorrow’.
With very high expectation from his huge following, while Coelho didn’t manage to win on Day 1, the infamous kink blocking that, the Xray driver finished all his races in the Top 3. With the unique format of the historic event requiring a different mindset to regular racing, the Portuguese ace will have learned a lot from Day 1 and while not completely comfortable with his car around the small track he is sure to have a better handle on things for Day 2. Only 3 points off leader Vejrak, with eight rounds of racing still to run the ETS Champion is still a contender to win what is the most competitive Invitation entry in a decade.