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.
Marc Rheinard, Ryan Cavalieri and Akio Sobue have opened the 20th running of the Reedy Race of Champions at Tamiya Raceway with wins, with reigning champion Ronald Volker opening his quest for a 4th title with a second behind Cavalieri. In the first of the Round 1 encounters, it was Reedy Race debutant Bruno Coelho who lead the way after a bad start for pole sitter Viljami Kutvonen. Leading from Rheinard, Coelho had the 5-time winner on his rear bumper with their proximity leading to contact in the sweeper which would spin out the Xray driver. Resuming the lead as Rheinard waited, Coelho’s chancing of opening with a win were short lived as the track’s infamous kick launched him into the barriers allowing Rheinard and team-mate Naoto Matsukura to the front for an Infinity 1-2 finish as Coelho finished a distant 3rd. In the second leg Offroad star Ryan Cavalieri got the jump on the front row and despite Volker trying to use the kick to make an offroad pass on the Team Associated driver he would hold on to take the win by more than half a lap as Volker pulled an impressive pass on Juho Levanen through the chicane on the final lap. Wrapping up the first of the 12 rounds, Ralph Burch was looking like he would be the only pole sitter to pull off the win but half way through the race clipped the curbing in the chicane allowing Akio Sobue, Naoki Akiyama and Christopher Krapp through which is how they finished, Burch’s race however going backwards as he finished last of the 8 cars that make up each race.
Commenting on his race, starting from 3rd on the grid, Rheinard said, ‘Like expected the track was loose, the right was more loose than the left, but my car was still good compared to the others’. He continued, ‘Luckily Viljami spun out at the start so I was second behind Bruno. I was a bit faster and we touched once. I let him take back the place but then he had a big hit at the kink and me & Naoto got by. It was a good Infinity start with a 1-2’. Having expressed concern at practice yesterday that there was only going to be a single racing line, when asked about the line today he said, ‘I tried once to go around the outside and for sure there was less grip so its going to be hard to overtake’. In terms of overtaking, he will need to make one pass to make it two wins out of 2 as he will start 2nd behind Matsukura.
‘I met the kink for the first time’ was how Coelho summed his first Reedy Race encounter. The ETS Champion continued, ‘I got hit by Marc and got dirt on my tyres and I knew before I got to the kink I was going to hit it because the car was loose coming out of the corner before’. With the car tweaked after its impact with the steel barrier he said he had no chance of second so he settle for 3rd. Having started on the front row for his second encounter he will start on the third row.
Cavalieri summed up his race by saying, ‘I got off the line pretty strong and was able to get around the two guys in front of me and had a decent run from there on’. The back to back reigning US Touring Car Champion continued, ‘Volker was a little quicker obviously and tried to offroad me by jumping over me but it didn’t work’. Asked about his car, with only Volker able to run a faster lap time in the race, he said, ‘Randy’s (Caster) been working on it and making it fun to drive so its all good’. Cavalieri will start 7th for Round 2.
Pleased with his last lap pass on Levanen saying, ‘I think people like that kind of thing’, Volker summed up Round 1 with ‘I can’t be to unhappy with 2nd’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I was 2nd after the first few corners but struggled with steering right away and Ryan was pulling away’. The World Champion continued, ‘I stayed behind Ryan but suddenly hit the kink, I didn’t see it coming actually. After that I was behind Juho but I took my time to get by him and it was a good last lap pass’.
‘Busy at the start, it was super close’ was how Sobue described Heat 3. Describing track conditions as making it ‘super difficult’ to overtake’ due to the low traction, the Japanese driver who started 4th concluded, ‘I was lucky Ralph made a mistake’.
Ronald Volker set the pace in practice today ahead of the 20th running of the Reedy Race of Champions. The defending champion set the fastest 3-consecutive laps of the Tamiya Raceway track ahead of 2015 Champion Marc Rheinard with Reedy Race first timer Bruno Coelho completing the Top 3. While the heads up racing format means today’s time count for little, probably the biggest news from the four practice run was the low traction. This has left drivers slightly unsure of what to expect going into the first of the 12 rounds of racing tomorrow morning. With a newly laid top surface to contend with, clouds prevented the California sun from bringing up track temperatures with the cool conditions leaving drivers unsure of what to expect tomorrow.
Summing up how he felt practice had went, Volker said, ‘they were not easy conditions today because it was quite cool. I hope it is better weather tomorrow so there is more grip but my package was very good’. Chasing his fourth Reedy Race title, the Yokomo driver continued, ‘if it stays cold everyone will struggle in the opening laps before the tyres warm-up and that will cause problems for racing’. A contender for the win on his RROC debut in 2015 and runner-up last year, Volker’s team-mate Christopher Krapp would end up fourth fastest with the German declaring himself ‘kind of happy’ although he would have a ‘rough 4th round’. Echoing his rivals he said, ‘the traction is down on last year for sure’. Happy with his BD8 set-up when on used tyres he said on new tyres it was ‘more slidey’ something he hopes will be reduced by warmer temperatures.
Leading Infinity’s first appearance in the iconic & unique race format event, Rheinard was pleased with his 3rd run which he topped ahead of Volker only for the World Champion to go fastest in the final practice. Running two cars in the penultimate practice and switching to the car he used at ETS Italy to set the fastest lap of the day with a 12.029, he said it was ‘fast and felt good’. With no sugar watering of the track this year due to the advise of the contractors who resurfaced the track, the Reedy Race’s most celebrated driver, with 5 wins to his credit, isn’t a fan of the move. ‘Personally I think they should have sugared it, I think its not the right decision because there is just one line. There is no grip off it so it will effect the level of racing but maybe some sun would help but I don’t know if we are going to get sun this weekend’ he said. Team-mate Akio Sobue would complete the Top 6 times for practice behind fellow Japanese driver Naoki Akiyama. Fourth last year he declared his car was ‘ok’ but believes the low traction is going to be the biggest thing to contend with predicting it is going to be ‘more difficult to overtake’ compared with last year.
Reflecting on his first day to run on the historic Tamiya Raceway track, Coelho said, ‘It is not perfect yet and we are still working on the car’. With the Portuguese drivers confirmation for the 20th running of the Reedy Race creating great anticipation for this year’s event, the Xray driver continued, ‘the surface is quite different here and we are struggling a little bit’. Asked what the main problem is he replied, ‘it is missing a little bit of steering’. With Race Director Scotty Ernst using the fourth & final practice start do a practice race start ahead of the morning and giving Coelho an indication for what to expect for the next three days he said, ‘It was OK but my focus was more on getting a feel for the car than the racing’. Asked how he is adapting to the track layout, having had only a total of 20-minutes to learn it he replied, ‘we completely changed the car set-up each run but I was getting more used each time so we’ll see how tomorrow goes’.