With half of the 12 rounds of heads up racing complete at the Reedy Race of Champions, it is Ronald Volker who narrowly leads the way from defending champion Marc Rheinard. The sixth round of racing would see the early title contenders maintain equilibrium as both drivers recorded wins, the other race going to Round 4 winner Randy Caster. The only time both drivers don’t line up in the same races today, it was Rheinard who laid down the gauntlet after a disappointing start to Day 2 as he won the opening race of the round from fourth on the grid ahead of P8 starter Viljami Kutvonen and Naoto Matsukura. Starting his encounter from 3rd, Volker however would match his fellow German to win ahead of 3rd in the overall standings Akio Sobue to make it a neutral round in terms of the point divide between himself and Rheinard. Two pretty straight forward races the third race would provide all the action. While Caster would complete a tone to tone win from pole, behind him there was a great battle between Austria’s Thomas Pumpler, American Touring Car stalwart Rick Hohwart and for a time Juho Levanen. Pumpler would hold his nerve to finish second, himself and Hohwart high-fiving after their crowd pleasing tussle.
With a 1-point deficit to Volker based of the best 5 0f 6, both dropping a 3rd place for now, Rheinard said, ‘In the end it was an easy win but before that I had to take care with Naoto and a few others’. Going to the front on lap 7, he continued, ‘As soon as I passed them for the lead they crashed so then I could just cruise in the lead’. Commenting on Volker’s lead and looking to the two races that will complete the second day’s action, the Tamiya star said, ‘It going to be tough. We are racing in the same races and both times he is starting up front while I’m at the back. For Round 7, Rheinard’s TRF419X will line up last on the grid as Volker starts off P3 while for their 8th race its a P6 start with Volker on pole.
Summing up his 4th win of the 19th running of the Reedy Race, Volker said it was ‘what we planned’. The former champion said, he was ‘just patient at the start as Felix (Law) blocked very good and I had no chance to pass at the beginning’. Starting from pole, Law would eventually roll at the chicane allowing Volker ‘to do (his) own race’. With his LRP powered BD7 suffering a big impact in the previous race when he collected Keven Hebert on the straight after his car shutdown, he said his car was a little loose as the impact had damaged a front wheel – drivers having to use new tyres in the odd race and the sane set in the proceeding even numbered race. On his lead in the points, the reigning ETS Champion reacted, ‘overall I’m happy with the day so far as I have got two wins’. Commenting on the grid order for the next two races he added, ‘the next ones I will just try to stay ahead of Marc so I will take it easy at the start so as not to get caught up in any incidents’.
4-time Reedy International Touring Car Race of Champions winner Barry Baker has brought along his 2002 title winning Team Associated TC3 and trophy for us to have a look at. The car that won Baker his third RROC title on the iconic event’s first visit to Tamiya Raceway, it is also the same car that the Californian used to TQ the 2002 Worlds in South Africa which took place just the weekend before. The car was never run again so Baker had to build another one to win the ROAR Nationals a fortnight later to cap off a great few weeks. Its interesting to see how much touring car has developed over the past decade & a half and its great to see Barry still running and still winning races.
With California’s ‘June Gloom’ delaying the start of the second day’s action at the Reedy Race of Champions, when racing did get underway on the low traction conditions it was Christopher Krapp, Ronald Volker and Viljami Kutvonen who took the wins. With the 5th round again seeing Volker line up against defending champion Marc Rheinard, the main attention would be on Race 2. Starting side by side on the second row, Rheinard having the advantage of lining up on the inside, the prospects of a repeat of the great battles yesterday would be short lived. Coming out of the sweeper, Rheinard’s Tamiya would spin out dropping him to the back allowing Volker to bide his time in getting passed early leader Andrew Hardman. Hardman would hold on to finish second as an attempt by the recovering Rheinard to pass the Canadian saw him get spun out by the lapped VBC of Ryan Maker. Having established a lead Volker’s race wasn’t without drama, holding comfortable lead the Yokomo driver somehow survived a huge impact when he collected Keven Hebert’s Associated which suffered a shutdown on the main straight. In the opening race, Krapp registered his second win as he capitalised on his pole starting position to win easily ahead of Ryan Cavalieri. In the third race, RROC Rookie Viljami Kutvonen also made the most of a P1 grid position to win but couldn’t let up as Tamiya’s Akio Sobue chased in second. World Champion Naoto Matsukura would finish a distant third.
‘Oh my god’, was Volker’s reaction after the race, the German still trying to get around how he survived the impact with Hebert. Running back over the race, he said, ‘I had a better opening lap then Marc and that gave me the advantage. Once first I was just pacing myself but then Keven Hebert’s car shutdown on the straight when I was a few metres behind him. It was a huge impact’. The ETS Champion added,’ I was unlucky to hit him but lucky not to break only tweak the car. Such a heavy impact it could have easily been a DNF’. Chasing a third RROC title, the 2009 & 2014 Champion described track conditions after the morning’s misty rain as ‘very bad’, adding ‘I hope for a better track the next time to make for better racing’.
Asked about his Race 5 start Rheinard said ‘I just spun out’. With his car crossing the barrier and into the oncoming field facing the wrong way, the 5-time Champion was forced to wait to rejoin. He said, ‘I waited but two cars were fighting so I went but got called to give up position to them which left me at the back’. While his TRF419X ‘felt good’ in the low traction conditions, ‘it took a while to get back to the front’ and any chance of capitalising on Volker’s tweaked car ended when he ‘spun out again after (he) was hit by a backmarker’. Summing up the result which drops him from the points lead he held overnight, 3rd his worst finish so far, the German said, ‘I lost the race at the beginning’.
Commenting on his win, Krapp said it was ‘a good morning run’ adding ‘I got lucky the guys behind me crashed. After that I just dd laps’. A title contender on his RROC debut last year until a mistake in Race 10 of 12 at the Tamiya Raceway’s famous kink, the Tamiya Racing Factory driver said for Race 5, ‘again the track was different but like last year his car was better in the colder conditions’. With the clouds slowly clearing, the multiple World Championship finalist said he needs to work on getting his TRF419X better for when the track heats up.
After a solid run yesterday with three 3rd place finishes and a 4th, Kutvonen said Race 5 ‘was good’ adding that starting from the front row for the first time he was able to ‘drive a clean race’. The factory backed Awesomatix driver said while ‘(he) had a small gap after 2-corners (he) noticed Sobue was second so he had to push for the full 5-minutes’. Commenting on his A800, he said ‘the track was more slippy this morning but my car is improving every run and I will try something different again for the next one’.
Chassis – Yokomo BD7 2016 Motor – Reedy Sonic 3 4.5T ESC – Reedy Blackbox Batteries – Reedy Zapper 5600mAh Tires – Sweep (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Highest Volker edition Bodyshell – Protoform LTC-R Remarks – 4-time Reedy Race Invitational winner Barry Baker is back this year and running a Yokomo BD7 2016. Prepared for him by Yokomo Team Manager Robert Itoh, the Californian only had a small shake down run with team mate Carson Wernimont at URC Raceway prior to putting the car on the track here. Starting with a setup from Eric Albano, Baker has changed almost everything with the focus on narrowing the track width as well as putting some weight on the front of the car to make it easier to drive.
Chassis – Awesomatix A800 Motor – LRP X20 4.5T ESC – LRP Flow Batteries – LRP LCG 5600mAh Tires – Sweep (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Highest Bodyshell – Protoform LTC-R Remarks – Runner up at the recent Italian round of the ETS, Viljami Kutvonen started here at the Tamiya Raceway with his car and setup from Riccione but has since made some small adjustments. Running less droop, he also changed to higher front roll centres to get more steering. In terms of car he is using new rear suspension arms with built-in rear toe as well as upper arm mounts that reduce caster flex. The Finn is also using revised thicker shock parts that remove bad flex into the car’s innovative shocks.