Defending champion Marc Rheinard leads the Reedy Race of Champions at the end of the Day 1, the Tamiya driver taking an important win in the day’s closing race as he again went head to head with arch rival Ronald Volker. With Volker pulling off an epic pass on Rheinard in the previous round, the pair started their fourth race of the day side by side on the back row setting the stage for a showdown that wasn’t to disappoint. While Volker got the initial jump on his fellow German, he would have to check up to avoid hitting pole starter EJ Evans, allowing Rheinard to go second behind Barry Baker. A winner in Round 3, Baker would hold three of the best drivers in the business at bay for six laps but when Rheinard found a way through so too did Volker and World Champion Naoto Matsukura. With three & a half minutes complete Volker was all over the lead Tamiya, getting on the inside of Rheinard in the centre section before the kink Volker tried a pass. Side by side they would touch in the kink with Volker coming off the worst as his Yokomo rolled. With Rick Hohwart slipping through Volker would finish third as Rheinard won by 0.9 of a second. In the other encounters, starting from pole Meen Vejrak would register his first win taking Race 1 ahead of last place starter Christopher Krapp and Akio Sobue who finds himself third overall overnight. The same race would see Ryan Cavalieri’s impressive run come undone as had a coming together with AE team-mate Juho Levanen, the Offroad star not happy with the Finn saying afterwards, ‘You can’t do much when your ball jammed by your team-mate’. In a somewhat chaotic Race 2, Associated driver Randy Caster would benefit to take a comfortable win from the back of the grid.
Switching to a narrower front end on his TRF419X, Rheinard said, ‘I had a good feeling for the last race as the car felt better’. He continued, ‘Early on I just sat behind Barry as I didn’t want to risk anything and I knew Ronald wouldn’t try anything either because the risk was too high. Once we passed Barry it was then just Ronald and me and after one shitty lap he was on my tail. After that I didn’t drive my race like I should have and he got on the inside of me at the kink but I didn’t want to give up the place so we went side by side. Luckily for me I was able to run on the green stuff so I didn’t come off as bad as him’. He summed up the race with ‘this was an important one’.
Giving his view of the race, Volker said, ‘I beat him (Rheinard) off the line and we were working our way through but I had to brake check for EJ really hard which let Marc by me’. Running behind his rival for 3-minutes he ‘pressured Marc into a mistake before the kink’. Running ‘side by side’ into the kink, the ETS Champion ‘came off worst & lost points’. Sitting second overnight 1-point down on Rheinard, he added, ‘I didn’t plan to pass there but he left more space than expected’. Having met in the same race three times today, they will do so again 5 more times over the remaining 8 races. Using a different car in Round 4, the car having been faster on used tyres in practice yesterday he said while it was very good he will revert to his main car for the rest of the meeting. Incidentally in an attempt to pass Hohwart for second his car would make heavy contact with the track barrier just after the finish line.
A podium finisher last year, Vejrak’s reaction after his win was ‘finally I feel back to normal’. The former Nitro Touring Car World Champion said, ‘I couldn’t control the car in the previous races, I had no steering even on full lock’ but after a big set-up change ‘it is now perfect’. The Thai ace added, ‘the car now feels comfortable to drive so its a positive end to the day and I think we should be able to have a good day tomorrow’.
‘Excellent, I couldn’t be happier right now’ was how Caster summed up his win. A big factor in Cavalieri’s impressive RROC debut last year and again mechanic for the multiple offroad World Champion this year, the 32-year-old would copy his team-mate’s set-up for the final race of the day. With the car ‘excellent’, he said starting from the outside of the last row he planned to just get a clean start and try to work his way through but he ‘got lucky as everyone got into each other’. Out front after three laps, last year’s open class competitor ‘cruised & just got laps in’ which was an approach that would see him win by almost half a lap from Associated team-mate & pole starter Keven Hebert with reigning Open Class Champion Felix Law completing the Top 3.
Ronald Volker has moved in to the early lead at the 19th running of the Reedy Race of Champions in California after pulling an epic pass on defending champion Marc Rheinard in the 3rd round of racing. Starting from the back of the grid with Rheinard on pole, Volker would work his way up to second and then set about closing down a 2-second lead held by his arch rival. With the race into the final minute, the Yokomo driver was all over the Tamiya and, with three laps to go, as they came out of the first corner sweeper Volker set-up the pass. Going to the outside before switching back to the inside, the ETS Champion would get down the inside into the hairpin immediately pulling clear of his long time arch rival. In the other two encounters of the round, both pole sitters would lead tone to tone, with four time Reedy Race Champion Barry Baker taking a popular win as Ralph Burch came of best from a three way battle for second that also involved European’s Viljami Kutvonen and Loic Jasmin. In Race 2, Tamiya’s Akio Sobue would be come the first double winner of the event, joined later by Volker, as he saw off the close attentions of Ryan Cavalieri with Rick Hohwart completing the Top 3 having started P7.
‘There is definitely a smile on my face after that one’, was Volker’s reaction to his memorable pass on Rheinard. Starting from last on the grid, the 2-time RROC Champion said he ‘didn’t expect to have the chance to win starting last and with Marc first (on the grid)’. Describing the track as ‘still tricky’, he said his LRP powered BD7 ‘felt really good’ allowing him ‘come from over 2-seconds back and be able to pass’. To convert a P8 starting position into a win is one thing but to beat Rheinard at the same time the round is a significant one for Volker but he is ‘not looking too much into it’. Starting Round 4 from the back row, his third of the day, alongside Rheinard he concluded it was going to be ‘another interesting finish to the day’.
‘I was too slow, there was nothing I could do’, was Rheinard’s reaction to the race. Having not been happy with his car in the opening two races despite taking a win in Round 2, he added ‘it looks like we went backwards that time’. Commenting on Volker’s pace and how he was able to close such a substantial gap, the 4-time World Champion said ‘its just Ronald’s car. The others in the team are slower so obviously they have found something special (on Volker’s car)’.
With his last RROC title achieved 13-years ago, commenting on his win Baker said ‘I had zero expectations’ adding ‘but I still have the competitive spirit’. Declaring the weekend was for him about ‘just having fun’ he continued ‘that is how Mike Reedy always wanted it’. His first touring car race in 3-years and choosing a Yokomo for his Reedy Race return, he said ‘watching what Ronald did is what the Reedy Race is all about and to see two of the best going at it was awesome’.
Making a diff oil change to his Tamiya for his third race, Sobue was happy to get the win as his car was only ‘so, so’ for the race. With the change leaving the TRF419X suffering from understeer, he will go in the opposite direction with his set-up for the days final encounter hoping to it will give him a car good enough to challenge for a third win of the day from P4 on the grid. Winning by 1.5 seconds from Cavalieri, he admitted ‘having a World Champion right behind you adds a little pressure’.
A driver tipped to do well despite his offroad background, Cavalieri is living up those predictions. Starting alongside Sobue, the multiple Offroad Reedy Race Champion said, ‘I let him take the lead into the first corner and just followed him’. He continued, ‘after a few laps I felt I was quicker in a few spots but could make a pass’. After suffering a ‘few bobbles’ that dropped him back a little he ‘was able to catch back up but then over cooked it at the kink and had to settle for second’. Commenting on his TC7, he said ‘my car is really good, its just a matter of me putting it in the right line’. Setting a faster lap than Sobue, he said ‘I think if I had been leading I probably would have been able to run faster lap times as the car has real pace’.
Chassis – Tamiya TRF419X Motor – Muchmore Fleta ZX 4.5T ESC – Muchmore Fleta Pro V2 Batteries – Muchmore Impact 6000mAh Tires – Sweep (handout) Radio/Servo – Sanwa/Xpert Bodyshell – Protoform LTC-R Remarks – Reigning Reedy Race Champion Marc Rheinard is using a variation of the setup he used 2 weeks at the 4th round of the ETS in Italy on his kit standard Tamiya 419X. Making some small adjustments such as less rear toe-in, using a non progressive spring as well as softer shock oil and lowering the rear shock position, the car is going well but feels he needs more steering. He plans to try narrower front suspension blocks in the hopes of fixing this.