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.
Having had the perfect morning at the Reedy Race of Champions, Marc Rheinard’s fortune’s changed in Round 3 as Tamiya Raceway’s infamous kink put an end to the German’s race after just 4-laps. Running in Heat 3, Rheinard lined up 5th for the start with Infinity team-mate Thomas Pumpler on pole. With the field bunching up behind Pumpler making it anyone’s race, it was Round 1 & 2 race winner Rheinard who was to be the first fall out of the high speed train. On the landing from his contact with the kink curbing he would break a mounting screw on his car’s ARS, the race done for the 5-time Champion. Explaining his off, Rheinard said, ‘I was just being patient but then had one shitty lap and it left the car loose. Then I hit the kerb in the kink and the ARS screw broke’. With Pumpler managing to hold on to his lead for a number of laps his race would also come undone in the kink as the Austrian got out of shape and collected second place Juho Levanen. This allowed Bruno Coelho and Viktor Wilck, the back row starters, to go to the front and battle for the win but the kink wasn’t done yet, with it tripping up Coelho for the second time in three races. While Coelho would hang onto his Xray he went wide which was enough for Wilck’s Serpent to slip through to register his first win of the 2oth running of the Reedy Race.
The two encounters would see pole sitters Meen Vejrak and Akio Sobue, points leader after three rounds, take rather straight forward wins but the first encounter wasn’t with out its dramas. With Meen pulling clear up front, it was the battle for second that provided the entertainment with reigning champion Ronald Volker trying to make a similar last lap pass as he successfully did in Round 1. Looking like he had snatched second from the Awesomatix of Freddy Sudhoff on the exit of the final corner there would be contact. Reversing the order as Sudhoff would cross the line in second, Volker clearly wasn’t happy no action was taken for the incident.
Commenting afterwards, Volker said, ‘I have totally no luck today. I was after getting by JJ (Wang) for second but off the racing line there is no grip so I had dirty tyres for a few laps. This allowed Freddy to go by. I made a move on him then on the last lap and went ahead of him at the exit but then I got hit by him in the rear’. The World Champion continued, ‘ I’m not blaming Freddy for hitting me but they should have given me P2. Having the second referee from the invite drivers didn’t help and that’s something I can’t understand’. New for this year’s event, race referee Fred Medel is joined by one of the 24 invite class drivers for a second opinion on any race incidents which in the case of Heat 3 was Coelho.
Summing up his second win, which puts him second in the points behind Sobue and ahead of Coelho, Vejrak said, ‘now the conditions are not easy. I changed my car to get more overall traction but it wasn’t any better. Many cars are on the limit now. Something is different to yesterday. Maybe now it because its hot and windy’. Aiming to try to make his car more stable for the days final round which he starts again from pole, the Thai driver said, ‘2 wins from 3 races is not a bad start and I hope I can end the day with another good result’.
It has been a perfect morning for Marc Rheinard at the Reedy Race of Champions in California with the Infinity driver making it two wins out of two races. With Round 2 his only front row start for the day, lining up alongside team-mate Naoto Matsukura while he would fail to get the jump off the start he would go to the front when the kink put an end to Matsukura’s race, the battery coming out on the landing after the Japanese driver’s short flight. In the other two encounters, while Yokomo drivers Nicholas Lee and Meen Vejrak enjoyed their first wins it was a less fruitful race for reigning champion Ronald Volker. The most heavily loaded race of the round, Heat 3 had Volker starting from the back behind team-mate Christopher Krapp, Bruno Coelho and Round 1 winner Akio Sobue. While Vejrak took the win after Kevin Hebert threw away the chance to become the first pole sitter to convert their starting position into the win, Volker would get caught up in a mistake by Krapp. Getting out out shape coming onto the straight Krapp would tag Volker as he tried to go by leaving the World Champion with a P5 result he will be hoping is one of his two permitted drop outs.
‘It’s been a good start’, was Rheinard’s reaction to putting two wins on the board. On Round 2, the 2015 Champion said, ‘I tried to beat Naoto off the start but it didn’t work and I had to back off. After that I had a few rough laps but then he hit the kink. Its a pity because he has good pace and it would have been another Infinity 1-2, although I’m not sure in which order’. Getting to watch Volker’s race he said, ‘for me it was a good round in terms of how my rivals did although Bruno got a second’. Having made the most of his best two starts of the day, Rheinard will finish Day 1 having to start both races from 5th on grid going up against Coelho in both with us having to wait until the morning for the first race when he & Volker share the same grid.
‘I got lucky everyone in front of me crashed’, was how Lee summed up his win of Heat 2. Starting and finishing 6th in Round 1, the Singapore driver also felt set-up changes had left him with a better car for Round 2. Asked about the opportunities to overtake rather than have to wait for mistakes from others he replied, ‘the room for racing is not so much because of the low traction off line’. Behind Lee, Serpent’s Ralph Burch would finish second somewhat redeeming himself for throwing away a certain Round 1 win while last year’s Reedy Race Open Champion Julian Wong completed the Top 3. Elsewhere, a winner in the first round, Ryan Cavalieri would salvage a P4 from the race having started on the back row of the grid.
Having got a 4th in Round 1 after two crashes, Vejrak was more happy with his car second time round saying, ‘this time it was better, it was more consistent on used tyres’. The former Nitro Touring Car World Champion also described it as a ‘good fight between me & Bruno’ with Coelho eventually finishing 2-seconds back. Starting from 5th on the grid, Akio Sobue would back up his Round 1 win with a third place.