Marc Rheinard has won the European Touring Car Championship for the second time in one day!! Having won the second leg of the A Mains the German looked to have wrapped up his first ever Touring Car Euros title only for his cells to fail post race scrutiny. Excluded from the results of Leg 2 this meant the title would have to be decided in the final Leg and shadowing Top Qualifier Ronald Volker throughout the race, Rheinard put in a calculated drive to take second and reinstate himself as the 2008 Champion.
With Leg 1 victory to his credit, Rheinard knew he only needed to finish in a podium placing and ahead of his team-mate Viktor Wilck, who inherited the Leg 2 victory, to clinch his second European title having won the 1:12 Euros earlier this year. Glued to the bumper of Volker, the Tamiya ace appeared to have slightly better pace than the defending champion. Passing him on the back straight on lap 14 Rheinard very briefly led only to out brake himself into the hairpin. A slight mistake on the next lap as they came onto the straight was enough to give Volker the breathing space he needed to claim a deserved victory.
‘I knew second place was OK and because of this I drove a sensible race. My car was very quick especially down the back straight. I’m delighted to win my first Touring Car Euros and really pleased for Tamiya who finished 1-2 especially as Kiyo (Suzuki) was here supporting us all week.’
Race winner Volker was happy to finally get a good run in the finals. Pleased with his car which remained unchanged from Leg 1 & 2 other than a new set of tyres, the Hot Bodies/LRP drivers suspects bad tyres were the cause of his earlier handling problems. The result was enough to give 2007 Champion the final place on the overall podium.
Viktor Wilck fought back from an early clash with Teemu Leino to finish third, which combined with his Leg 2 victory secured him Vice Champion honours and an impressive 1-2 result for Tamiya’s TRF416.
At one stage it looked as though the Japanese marque would dominate the podium as Jilles Groskamp held third in the final Leg but the Dutch ace was to come to a hault on lap 9 when his pinion came off. Although disappointed for himself as the non finish dropped him to seventh in the final ranking, Groskamp was happy for his team-mates and Tamiya on taking the top two positions.
Missing out on the podium Andy Moore had yet another troubled run finishing in eight but his results from the opening two legs were good enough to give him fourth ahead of Leino, Alexander Hagberg, Groskamp and Weiss who all finished up with 9 points.
Finishing 9th overall, promising young UK driver Elliot Harper should be very proud to come away with the European Junior title. The Xray driver did well against his more experienced rivals and is sure be a leading force in future Euros. Marc Fisher, whose Corally made it four different manufactuers in the A Main, completed the ranking that will now go into the EFRA history books as the 10 best drivers in Europe for the 2008 season.
Red RC would like to thank all the race officials and the Nitro 15 club for making us feel so welcome during our time here in Vila Real. We would also like to thank our sponsors LRP and Speed Passion for supporting our live race coverage.
Final results (Official)
1. Marc Rheinard (DE) – 3pts [Tamiya]
2. Vikor Wilck (SE) – 4pts [Tamiya]
3. Ronald Volker (DE) – 5pts [Hot Bodies]
4. Andy Moore (GB) – 7pts [Hot Bodies]
5. Teemo Leino (FI) – 9pts [Xray]
6. Alexander Hagberg (SE) – 9pts [Xray]
7. Jilles Groskamp (NL) – 9pts [Tamiya]
8. Steven Weiss (DE) – 9pts [Xray]
9. Elliott Harper (GB) – 11pts [Xray]
10. Marc Fischer (DE) – 16pts [Corally]