We have finally arrived in Portugal where conditions are overcast making for welcomed cooler conditions. After a quick walk around the pits to say hello to drivers the main talk is that of the blistering pace of the Sirio team drivers and in particular electric touring car ace Jilles Groskamp. The Dutch driver is fast and more importantly very consistent although a 2 speed one-way bearing failure in the warm-up for the first controlled practice means we will have to wait till this evening to get a true indication of his pace over 10-minutes. Groskamp is really happy with the combined pace of his engines and Kyosho chassis which he says are allowing him to comfortably run fast consistent laps.
While most drivers combat boredom with around 4 hours to kill between runs, we killed some of Barry Bakers waiting time to chat about the America veteran’s new collaboration with Team Magic who have won two European titles with their G4 in the hands of Dario Balestri. Making your competition debut with a new manufacturer is a daunting task at the best of times but doing so at the World Championships is the ultimate challenge and thats exactly what Baker is doing along with former World & newly crowned European Electric Touring Car Champion Marc Rheinard for whom the event is also his nitro racing debut!
Both Baker and Rheinard are running special WC spec cars which features new front upper suspension brackets with convention roll centre adjustments and rear lower suspension brackets in which whole block can be adjusted up and down. Balestri continues to run the G4+ version as its a package he knows works and the Italian is once again showing the potential of the car running some very impressive lap times here. Moving to Team Magic is a brave move for Baker who previously ran Xray but the vastly experienced multi discipline racer says he has been really encouraged by his dealings with the Asian company to-date. Despite his limited running with the cars, Baker says the factory are very open to his feedback on developing their range of competition cars and this is key to the success of any team driver/manufacturer relationship.
We will bring you a full round up of the day’s controlled practice and the views of the leading driver in our next update once we have settled in and got all the hand shaking duties out of the way. With a near capacity entry booked in and with all the major manufacturers here to support their team drivers the pits is a hive of activity.
Marc Rheinard has won the European Touring Car Championship for the second time in one day!! Having won the second leg of the A Mains the German looked to have wrapped up his first ever Touring Car Euros title only for his cells to fail post race scrutiny. Excluded from the results of Leg 2 this meant the title would have to be decided in the final Leg and shadowing Top Qualifier Ronald Volker throughout the race, Rheinard put in a calculated drive to take second and reinstate himself as the 2008 Champion.
With Leg 1 victory to his credit, Rheinard knew he only needed to finish in a podium placing and ahead of his team-mate Viktor Wilck, who inherited the Leg 2 victory, to clinch his second European title having won the 1:12 Euros earlier this year. Glued to the bumper of Volker, the Tamiya ace appeared to have slightly better pace than the defending champion. Passing him on the back straight on lap 14 Rheinard very briefly led only to out brake himself into the hairpin. A slight mistake on the next lap as they came onto the straight was enough to give Volker the breathing space he needed to claim a deserved victory.
‘I knew second place was OK and because of this I drove a sensible race. My car was very quick especially down the back straight. I’m delighted to win my first Touring Car Euros and really pleased for Tamiya who finished 1-2 especially as Kiyo (Suzuki) was here supporting us all week.’
Race winner Volker was happy to finally get a good run in the finals. Pleased with his car which remained unchanged from Leg 1 & 2 other than a new set of tyres, the Hot Bodies/LRP drivers suspects bad tyres were the cause of his earlier handling problems. The result was enough to give 2007 Champion the final place on the overall podium.
Viktor Wilck fought back from an early clash with Teemu Leino to finish third, which combined with his Leg 2 victory secured him Vice Champion honours and an impressive 1-2 result for Tamiya’s TRF416.
At one stage it looked as though the Japanese marque would dominate the podium as Jilles Groskamp held third in the final Leg but the Dutch ace was to come to a hault on lap 9 when his pinion came off. Although disappointed for himself as the non finish dropped him to seventh in the final ranking, Groskamp was happy for his team-mates and Tamiya on taking the top two positions.
Missing out on the podium Andy Moore had yet another troubled run finishing in eight but his results from the opening two legs were good enough to give him fourth ahead of Leino, Alexander Hagberg, Groskamp and Weiss who all finished up with 9 points.
Finishing 9th overall, promising young UK driver Elliot Harper should be very proud to come away with the European Junior title. The Xray driver did well against his more experienced rivals and is sure be a leading force in future Euros. Marc Fisher, whose Corally made it four different manufactuers in the A Main, completed the ranking that will now go into the EFRA history books as the 10 best drivers in Europe for the 2008 season.
Red RC would like to thank all the race officials and the Nitro 15 club for making us feel so welcome during our time here in Vila Real. We would also like to thank our sponsors LRP and Speed Passion for supporting our live race coverage.
Final results (Official)
1. Marc Rheinard (DE) – 3pts [Tamiya]
2. Vikor Wilck (SE) – 4pts [Tamiya]
3. Ronald Volker (DE) – 5pts [Hot Bodies]
4. Andy Moore (GB) – 7pts [Hot Bodies]
5. Teemo Leino (FI) – 9pts [Xray]
6. Alexander Hagberg (SE) – 9pts [Xray]
7. Jilles Groskamp (NL) – 9pts [Tamiya]
8. Steven Weiss (DE) – 9pts [Xray]
9. Elliott Harper (GB) – 11pts [Xray]
10. Marc Fischer (DE) – 16pts [Corally]
Action from Leg 2 of the A Mains at the 2008 EFRA Touring Car European Championships at the Nitro 15 track in Vila Real, Spain. The result of this final looked to have secured a first Euro Touring title for Marc Rheinard but afterwards the German driver’s cells failed scrutiny pushing the title battle to go to the wire in Leg 3.
Breaking news here from Vila Real is that Marc Rheinard has been excluded from his victory in A Main Leg 2 after his cells failed post race scrutiny. The cells failed to meet the maximum permitted length as laid down by the sports governing body EFRA. The exclusion hands the win to Sweden’s Viktor Wilck and means the European title is still wide open with anyone of seven drivers still able to win the title.
Revised Leg 2 results
1. Viktor Wilck (SE) 17 05:03.051
2. Andy Moore (GB) 17 05:04.790
3. Jilles Groskamp (NL) 17 05:05.966
4. Ronald Volker (DE) 17 05:06.553
5. Steven Weiss (DE) 17 05:07.854
6. Elliott Harper (GB) 17 05:08.354
7. Alexander Hagberg (SE) 17 05:09.051
8. Marc Fischer (DE) 17 05:11.480
9. Teemo Leino (FI) 16 04:46.269
10. Marc Rheinard (DE) DQ
Marc Rheinard is the new European Electric Touring Champion after backing up his Leg 1 victory with another win in Leg 2. The German won the race after Top Qualifier Ronald Volker rolled out of the lead allowing the former World Champion to claim his first every European Touring car title which he adds to the 1:12 European title he won earlier this year.
UPDATE: Rheinard has been excluded from the results. See news item above.