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’.
Track Name – Tamiya Raceway Country – USA Location – Aliso Viejo, California Surface – Asphalt Direction – Anti-Clockwise Previous Reedy Races hosted – 9
Tamiya Raceway plays host to the legendary Reedy Race of Champions for a 10th time with 2017 marking the 20th anniversary of Mike Reedy’s famed race format event. Built in 1994 as part of Tamiya’s then US headquarters, the track covers an area 170 ft wide by 70 ft deep and while small in size it is hugely popular with drivers for being a great track on which to race and overtake. While the track surface over the past two editions of the race meant a more exact racing line than previous events, reducing the amount of overtaking, the track owners have this year had the surface refreshed much closer to the event date. Explaining the work done this year, Tamiya USA’s Fred Medel said, ‘they scrapped off the old surface and then power washed it. After that a silicone base was laid on the track to seal it before they added the new slurry coat’. Talking to the contractor during the work, the same company’s other work including resurfacing airport runways, it came to light that the spraying of sugar water was one of the reason for the track surface’s short life which normally had to be done every 18 to 24 months. The problem with the spraying of the track is the combination of the sugar and the strong California sunshine was attacking the slurry coating. As a result the track will no longer spray sugar water.
Asked how he found the new surface, reigning Champion Ronald Volker replied, ‘It’s difficult to say as I’ve only had a few runs but a few people who have run on it before say it is supposed to be better. More overall grip will make for better racing but the important thing is there is a wider racing line to allow more chances for overtaking. So far I am not sure but we will see tomorrow’. With Thursday made up of four practice rounds before the event goes straight into its first of 12 rounds of heads up racing tomorrow morning, this year sees one of the most competitive entries the Reedy Race has gathered in a decade. One of the first timers is Bruno Coelho. On the crest of an impressive run of wins over various classes, the Xray driver summed up his first impressions of Tamiya Raceway by saying, ‘It is completely different to European tracks. I had seen photos and watched videos before I came here and it looked a lot bigger but its a historic track so I’m happy to be here’. Asked about his first run on the track, the ETS Champion said, ‘It is a little bumpy and has very specific curbs but that’s what makes it what it is. When you look at it it looks like there is no places to overtake but I was driving with a few guys and there are many places to overtake. I think starting from the back it will be super easy to overtake but starting from the front it will be super hard to keep the door closed.’
Ty Tessmann has completed the double at the Philippine Masters, the Xray driver winning the much anticipated buggy showdown with arch rival David Ronnefalk to add to his earlier Truggy victory in Manila. With both Tessmann and Ronnefalk’s participation in the 7th running of the Philippine Airlines sponsored race attracting much international interest, it was the latter who drew the first blood as the HB Racing driver claimed the TQ after 5 rounds of qualifying. In the final however, after some early battles and mistakes by both drivers it was Tessmann who had the upper hand as the Canadian took control of the race helped by a fuel strategy that meant two less visits to the pits over the 1-hour main. With 2nd place qualifier Kyle McBride suffering two flame outs at the start of the race, putting an end to him being in the mix, Atsushi Hara would make it an all World Champions podium at CV Offroad Track as he finished ahead of outgoing Philippine Masters Champion Adam Drake.
‘The Philippines has been fun and winning doesn’t hurt’, was how Tessmann summed up his buggy win after getting through the queue of local fans wanting a photo with him. He continued, ‘My car felt really good in the warm-up and felt like I could drive it all day except for my wrist hurts’. With a buggy set-up that made it, ‘easy to get around the track’ he added, ‘the steering faded near the end but everything held up awesome’. Asked about some of his early mistakes over the opening laps he replied, ‘the track bites a little when you push too hard but after a few laps I figured it out so as not to make them again. After that I just focused on not crashing’.
Commenting on his race, Ronnefalk said, ‘I had it in mind that (Tessmann) could run longer than me so I knew my only chance was to run a perfect race with no mistakes to run with Ty. I made a decent start with him behind me and I knew the track is super tricky especially the last triple which is where I lost the race. I didn’t just crash there I went of the track’. Landing in under the fencing, the Swede lost around 5-seconds dropping to third. Putting in a charge, resulting in him posting the fastest lap of the event, he said, ‘I heard I was catching by 1 or 2/10ths but it is so hard to push on this track and I could only do it for a few laps and then I would lose it again’. Asked about his extra fuel stops, the career long Orion engines backed driver said, ‘usually run time is really good for me but this track is a bit thirsty so I didn’t have the run time’. Running the final on JConcept’s Detox o2 tyres, he said everything felt good but he just failed to get the perfect run concluding, ‘I’m still happy anyway’.
‘I’m happy with third after a long time, I don’t race a high such level anymore’, was a very pleased looking Hara’s view of the race. Racing HB Racing cars in his debut at the Philippine Masters, the Japanese legend continued, ‘when you are not racing so much at high level you lose your edge. My lap times were not much different but its the consistency of those laps that makes the difference’. Struggling with understeer throughout the race, he said ‘this caused me to crash because I ran wide and hit the pipping’. Switching to Pro-Line Blockades for the final he said, ‘I should have change set-up to suit them’. Following his fuel dramas in Truggy, twice running out of fuel, he said this left him nervous throughout the buggy final and led him to make quick extra stop with 2-minutes to go.
Last year’s double winner, Drake put his missing out on a podium double down to a ‘couple of hick-ups in the pits. without this it could have been a good battle with Hara’. The Mugen driver, who was making his third Masters appearance, said, ‘I though they called me (for fuel) but it wasn’t them and then when I came in someone picked me pick up because my guys weren’t ready’. Happy with the car for the final describing it as ‘the most competitive its been all weekend. It was not as fast in the middle of the turns as David or Ty but it was good, my biggest problem was a couple of mistakes and the mishap in the pits’.
Having put in a strong finish to qualifying in both Truggy, taking the overall TQ, and Buggy, snatching P2 from Tessmann with a TQ in the final round, McBride’s finals didn’t fair as well. Summing up Buggy, having had a DNF in Truggy, the Team Associated driver who finished up 6th said, ‘Pretty much the story is I flamed out twice at the start. The engine was maybe too rich but my dad tuned it up and it was OK after that’. It was not to be a good buggy final for compatriot Aaron Stringer either. Having made the podium in Truggy but starting to feel sick during that 1-hour encounter he would start the Buggy main but had to call it a day 7-minutes in due to suspected food poisoning.