Marc Rheinard is looking good for his 7th Reedy Race of Champions title after the 10th round of racing saw the Infinity driver claim a 2nd place while rival Ronald Volker suffered a mechanical DNF. Having eked out a 1-point lead with a win in the previous round, the duo lined up in the same race with Volker starting third and Rheinard 7th but unfortunately for Volker his race would last only 7-laps while he was running 2nd. Having just put in the fastest lap of the race, the Yokomo driver suffered a front drive shaft failure, the World Champion conceding afterwards the his title hopes are now over despite two races remaining. For Rheinard, who just ran out of time to put a move on race winner Rick Hohwart, the result gives him a two point point advantage meaning Volker needs to win the remaining two races. In the other battle of this, the final running of the Reedy Race at the iconic Tamiya Raceway which will no longer be after September, it was also a bad round for Volker’s team-mate Christopher Krapp. In a fight with Viktor Wilck for the final podium place, he momentarily took the lead from Akio Sobue only to make a mistake and end the race 6th. Sobue would take the second win of the morning ahead of Wilck, moving the Infinity driver into contention for the overall podium. In the opening race of the round Brandon Clements took full advantage of his pole starting position to register his first win of the event ahead of fellow Americans Julian Wong and Sam Isaacs.
‘Not perfect but still good points’, was Rheinard’s view on his latest race. Chasing the legacy of being the last driver to win the Reedy Race at Tamiya Raceway, a track that has given him 4 of his 6 Reedy titles, he said, ‘I took it easy at the start but someone hit me in the front. I eventually got to second and tried to catch Rick but ran out of time’. With his 2nd place one of his current drops, he continued, ‘Ronald had a DNF, so it gives me a 2-point lead at least’. Asked if he was thinking about the title win yet, the 3-time Touring Car World Champion replied, ‘I will just drive the next one and see, I start again from the back’ – his starting position for the penultimate round P5.
A clearly frustrated Volker said, ‘the car was awesome. We changed to a softer rear spring but the front drive shaft gave up’. A 3 time winner of the Reedy Race, his last title coming in 2016, he continued, ‘It basically ended my chance for the win. I can only battle for the podium now’. Team-mate Krapp was also looking dejected after his race. The 2016 Reedy Race runner-up said, ‘It was stupid on my side. I passed him (Sobue) already but my line was not normal and I hit the kink’. He continued, ‘my pace was awesome and I could pass every corner. Anyway there is still two more race to come and it is wide open. I will try to stay calm and see what happens’.
On his race, Wilck said, ‘we changed back the set-up and the car was much better. I got the most out of the heat’. Starting from 6th on the grid, the Swede added, ‘When Chrissy went out I didn’t want to crash with Akio and drove to save the second place points’. For the next round, he will again start in the same race race as Krapp, lining up fifth as his rival again starts on the front row.
Moving up 2 places in the standings and ahead of Krapp with his third win of the weekend, Sobue said, ‘today is not so bad, I am having my best results today’. He continued, ‘my car feels so so, it was better yesterday but I was unlucky’, this a reference to him going out of the lead of the day’s final race when his camber link came out. The Japanese driver added, ‘I want to get on the podium but all the Infinity team are in the next one but I want to win this because in the last round I am racing against Viktor and Christopher’.
It was a contrasting start to the final day of racing at the 21st Reedy Race of Champions for joint overnight points leaders Marc Rheinard and Ronald Volker. Reigning Champion Rheinard would have the perfect start coming up the grid to claim his fifth win of the event while Volker dropped to third from a front row starting position. In the first race of the day, early contact at the front of the grid allowed Rheinard to shoot into the lead and pull clear of the field with his race time now giving the Infinity driver the tiebreaker – the combined time of his fastest three races. For Volker, he started alongside pole sitter Jan Ratheisky but the Xray driver drove a great race keeping the World Champion at bay. Ratheisky’s second win of the event, this one clearly meant a lot to the friendly German. Struggling with his Yokomo in the cold overcast morning conditions at Tamiya Raceway, Volker then got off line allowing team mate Christopher Krapp to slip through for second. The result means with three races left, and drivers two permitted drops taken out, Rheinard holds a 1-point advantage. In the other race of Round 9, Akio Sobue took his second win of the event ahead of a Brandon Clements who had a great battle with Randy Caster, Ryan Cavalieri and David Jun.
‘I couldn’t have asked for a better start’, was Rheinard’s reaction to his 3.6-seconds win over Meen Vejrak and Jilles Groskamp. Chasing his 7th Reedy Race title, he continued, ‘I got lucky in the start. I think Jilles and Andy touched, I’m not sure but I benefited from it and once in front I just tried to keep it on the track and take the win’. Checking the latest points standing and in particular keen to see the tie break time, which Volker held at the end of Day 2, he said, ‘I didn’t take any risks but I knew I had to go for a better time and it worked well’.
Commenting on a disappointing start to the day, Volker said, ‘that was the first time my car wasn’t to my liking. It came a a bad time’. He went on, ‘I struggled for overall grip and couldn’t put enough pressure on Jan to pass while he was defending well as expected. I could at least have been second but made a mistake and got dust on my tyres and lost second. At least I gave it to Christopher’. Set to start Round 10 third on the grid with Rheinard lining up 7th in the same race he said, ‘for the next race we will make changes but we need to wait to see if the sun comes out’.
Krapp, who is in a battle with Viktor Wilck for the final podium position said, ‘they were important points to get second. I got a good start right away and my car was again on point so overall it was good for the podium’. Set to start his next race on the front row the Yokomo driver said, ‘finally I got a front row race but it will be a tough one with Akio, Meen and Viktor in the same race. The main goal will be to take points from Viktor’. Commenting on the first race of the day, Wilck said, ‘that was not good’. Finishing 4th, the Serpent driver said, ‘we changed the flex and it was way to loose so I couldn’t fight’.
The stage is set for the Reedy Race of Champions to bid a thrilling farewell to Tamiya Raceway tomorrow, with today’s action ending with two of the legendary race’s most successful drivers tied on points. Having eked out a one point advantage with a win over Volker in Round 7, the 8th & final round of racing today saw Volker reverse that result but only after an unfortunate Akio Sobue went out of the race while leading. Starting from pole, the Infinity driver had a comfortable lead over Volker and Rheinard, who both survived separate crashes in the opening corners of the race, but with a minute to go his camber link worked its way loose coming off in the kink to end the Japanese driver’s chances of a second win. This left Volker who started 5th to take the win ahead of Rheinard who started from the back and going into the final four races tomorrow they both have four wins each to share the lead on 8 points although on current tiebreaker it is advantage Volker. Looking more podium contenders rather than outright title winners, the final race of the day would see Viktor Wilck and Christopher Krapp go up against one another, both starting from the back row. A delighted Jan Ratheisky would get his first win of the event ahead of pole sitter Sam Isaacs with Wilck getting 3rd and Krapp fourth, a result that both drivers have as a counting drop in the latest standings. In the other race, Ryan Cavalieri added a second win to his tally with a dominant victory ahead of Meen Vejrak and Keven Hebert.
Commenting on his race Volker said, ‘I had a good start and went from 5th to 3rd in the sweeper but then coming out of the hairpin Rick’s (Hohwart) car (having cleared the boards) hit me head on. It was a big impact so I thought my race was over but the car somehow survived. It just had a minor tweak’. The 2009, 2014 & 2016 Champion continued, ‘I was chasing Akio but then Marc and I got lucky when he had to retire. Now we are tied so everything is possible tomorrow’. With drivers only set to find out their starting positions for the final four rounds of racing tomorrow morning, he said, ‘the car works well. I’m happy with the performance of the car and the electrics and there is nothing else we can do to prepare for the next day’.
‘Normally 2nd from 8th is good but I wish Ronald didn’t take the win. It’s a pity Akio’s camber link came out’, was Rheinard’s reaction. He continued, ‘I had a crash in the first corner, it was not a big hit but the car didn’t feel the same as before and I couldn’t catch up to Ronald’. Asked his thoughts on tomorrow’s deciding four races as he chases his 7th Reedy Race title, the reigning champion simply replied, ‘we will see’.
Two points off the leaders, on his latest race Wilck said, ‘It was ok points coming from the back. I had a chance for second but it was too risky to pass him’ – him being Isaacs. Holding the final podium position with a three point advantage over Krapp going into the last day, asked about his chances tomorrow the Serpent driver replied, ‘we have to see the starting positions but it will be very hard to catch up to Ronald & Marc, they only need two more results and its over but we will see if something happens tomorrow’.
A disappointed Krapp said, ‘this was the expected unlucky race you have to have over the 12 races’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘My car was on point so I’m disappointed with 4th. I quickly got up to Viktor but I couldn’t take him’. Looking to tomorrow, the former runner-up said, ‘I will still fight for the podium tomorrow. I will give my all’.