With just two rounds of racing to go at the Reedy Race of Champions in California, Marc Rheinard has moved closer to becoming champion of the legendary race with a victory in Round 10 of 12. Starting from pole, the Infinity driver took an easy win ahead of Day 2 title challenger Viktor Wilck, and with 6-wins to his credit needs just one more good result to wrap up the 20th edition of the race. While Volker would match Rheinard, also converting his TQ staring position to a win, the defending champion’s 4th victory only strengthened his quest for the runners-up spot against Wilck rather than put any pressure on Rheinard going into the closing stages of the event. A key figure in the organisation of the Reedy Race, this the 10th running of the event at the historic Tamiya Raceway, Rick Hohwart would win the third encounter of the round to become the 12th driver of the 24 invite drivers to post a win.
‘I used the No.1 spot well’, was Rheinard’s reaction to his latest win. Not yet ready to accept his 6th title is all but in the bag, he added, ‘I will try to repeat it in the next one, I start again from pole’. Summing up his Round 10 performance he said, ‘I struggled a bit at the beginning, I didn’t drive perfect lines. When Akio rolled I was worried Viktor might come to the front but my car was good so it was easy to the end’.
Giving a summary of his race, 3-time Reedy Champion Volker said, ‘I started first and got a good start but lacked traction again so we need to change the set-up again’. With Yokomo team-mate Christopher Krapp starting 2nd alongside him, he continued, ‘Christopher wasn’t attacking so it was one of the less stressful races of the event for me. Unfortunately for Nicholas (Lee) he fell to the back in the same heat and lost his chance of fighting for the podium’. Starting the final two races from 4th and 6th respectively, he said, ‘I am not looking at Marc. I will try to make Top 2 finishes in the next two rounds and see what will come from that’. Sitting one point behind Volker with whom he will battle it out for the runners up spot, Wilck said, ‘Its just down to the last two races but you don’t know whats going to happen, you could make a mistake or get caught up in a crash, so all can happen but we don’t drive together (same heat) anymore’. The Serpent driver will finish out the event with two 6th place starting spots.
‘Finally I got a win in’ was how Hohwart reacted to his win. The Reedy/Team Associated driver continued, ‘I started at the front before but made some mistakes. The cars & drivers are so close when your running 6th or 7th there is not much you can do if somebody makes a mistake but I would say the real issue has been my own mistakes’. A former Offroad Reedy Race Champion, ‘I don’t come here looking to win, a Top 5 would be a dream result, a Top 10 is were I hope to be at. We don’t do the ETS so we don’t get to race with these drivers so it great to test yourself against the very best drivers’.
Of the key podium contenders at this year’s Reedy Race of Champions it was Ronald Volker who was the only one to register a win, the defending Champion winning Heat 3 of Round 9 ahead of Viktor Wilck to move ahead of the Serpent driver in the standings. Third in the overnight ranking, Volker would get the jump on pole sitter Juho Levanen and despite a spin in the kink would go on to takes his 3rd win of the event. While Volker was out front, all the attention was on the battle behind between Levanen and Wilck following their clash in yesterday’s closing round. In the end a mistake from Levanen would let Wilck through to second although the Serpent driver would have to see off a strong challenge from Infinity’s Akio Sobue. For overnight points leader Marc Rheinard, he would open his Day with a 3rd from 7th on the grid after an attempt to take the lead from Ralph Burch resulted in contact forcing the Infinity driver to wait. Looking very much on target for a sixth Reedy Race title bar a complete disaster, Rheinard would recover from dropping to last to finish 3rd and maintain his Top 3 finishing record. Up front Viljami Kutvonen backed up his first win from yesterday evening with another Awesomatix win while Nicholas Lee was another repeat winner in the round.
Commenting on his latest win, Volker said, ‘I was trying to holeshot the start and right away felt I had it. After that I tried to pull away and could get a gap over the first few laps’. The World Champion continued, ‘My car started to get loose over the run and I spun in the kink without attacking so that’s something we need to change for the next one. I start that 1st on the grid and want to try maintain that position for the race’. On the latest points standings he said, ‘I’m 2nd now but for the win I am not expecting to challenge Marc, his car is on pace and he has two front row starts so I don’t expect him to fail but having said that we have seen before that anything can happen’.
‘I wasn’t going to get into the same shit as yesterday with Juho so I backed off’, said Wilck after the race. With a clash with the Finn effectively ending his challenge for a second Reedy Race title, he continued, ‘I waited behind him and he made a mistake so I could get by but Ronald was already cruising so I couldn’t catch him’. With Sobue on his back bumper he added, ‘It was a good fight with Akio, he is really fast’.
Summing up his 9th of the 12 races that will decide the winner of the 20th running of the Reedy Race of Champions for Touring Cars, Rheinard said, ‘Yeh it wasn’t bad at least for the points’. The Infinity driver, this the first year the Japanese touring car newcomer has been represented at the event, continued, ‘It could have been more but I hit Burch, I wasn’t forcing the pass it just happened but it was a good comeback. Now 2-times I have the TQ so I’ll try to take advantage of that’.
Marc Rheinard is within reach of a sixth Reedy Race title after the Infinity driver wrapped up Day 2 with a 5th win at the 20th running of the event. The new overnight leader going into the final day at Tamiya Raceway, his title hopes boosted further in the final round as main challenger Viktor Wilck’s day came to a crashing finish, the Serpent driver running in to the rear of heat leader Juho Levanen. Leaving the Swede who took three wins earlier in the day with a fifth for the round, it also handed Ronald Volker a win that puts the reigning champion in contention for a podium as he moves up to third in the points ranking with 8 of the 12 races completed. A bad round for Day 1 leader Meen Vejrak, the Yokomo driver’s chances of a podium took a major hit as he ended the day with a 7th dropping to sixth in the standings. While not a contender for overall honours, Awesomatix Viljami Kutvonen would be the third winner of Round 8, the Finn become the 11th of the 24 invite drivers to register a win.
Leading by a massive 6-points with four races remaining, a very happy Rheinard said, ‘What can I say, again it as a good start for me as something happened again at the front’. Starting from 6th on the grid, the 4-time Onroad World Champion would battle for the win against 4-time Offroad World champion Ryan Cavalieri, the Associated driver having started on pole. With the American Running slightly wide in the sweeper this was all Rheinard needed to make a pass that would earn him his 2nd win of the day. Commenting on the pass, he said, ‘I knew Cav was fast so I didn’t want to do anything stupid to try pass him. I knew to finish 2nd would be OK as Viktor crashed in the race before but then he went a little wide and I got him on the inside’. Asked about his lead going into tomorrow, he replied, ‘For sure the chances are good for me now so I will try to drive smart. Sometimes 3rd will be enough so I will use my brain tomorrow’.
A clearly annoyed Wilck reacted to his incident with Levanen by saying, ‘I don’t know why this guy is here. He pretty much f#@k my race and basically decided who the winner is’. The 2012 Champion continued, ‘He tapped my back at the start. Then I was just waiting behind. He was backing off for 4-minutes and then he slammed the brakes’. Giving his view of the incident, Levanen said, ‘I was just driving defensive and got taken out’. The Finn added, ‘he messed up his own race, 2 points would have been a lot better than 5 points. Why risk it’.
Now on the same points as Wilck but with half the number of wins, Volker said, ‘at least now we have a chance for a podium’. On his second win, the World Champion said, ‘we changed a lot on the set-up and at least now I had the steering I want but I had to fight the rear the whole race, I lost it a few times’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘the last three laps we were so close together and until the last lap I had not planned any attacks but to wait and see what happens. Then Juho and Viktor crashed and I could take the win. We struggled today with the car but I have decent starting grids tomorrow so we can try to finish somewhere on the podium’. Behind Volker, his normal touring car arch rival Bruno Coelho sits fourth one point back going into the final day of his Reedy Race debut. While he had one DNF, the Xray driver has never been outside the Top 3 in the the other 7 races so a podium is still possible for the ETS Champion.