Marc Rheinard has claimed a sixth Reedy Race of Champions title, the race’s most celebrated champion wrapping up victory at the 20th edition of the legendary event in style with his 7th win of the weekend in the penultimate round of the heads up racing format. First crowned Reedy Race Champion in 2006, that win also at the historic Tamiya Raceway, Rheinard’s latest victory sees him extend his record tally of wins having surpassed 4-time Champion Barry Baker as the races most successful driver with his last win in 2015. The German’s win also marked the first major international title for touring car newcomers Infinity for whom the 4-time World Champion only signed for earlier this year after his unprecedented professional stint with Tamiya came to an end at the end of 2016.
‘I’m super happy to win a 6th title. This is one of my favourites race every year. I just love the heads up racing, even starting at the back of the grid because it’s a challenge to work your way to the front’, was Rheinard’s reaction after sealing up the title in Round 11 of 12. His fourth time to win it at Tamiya Raceway, and this the most competitive field of invitation drivers this decade, he continued, ‘My car worked from the beginning to the end, all our cars worked well and even though its not about being the fastest I think we also had this too. The whole team did a great job, for sure luck needs to be on your side but thats what makes the Reedy Race. To come here with a new team and giving them their first major win makes this one extra special, we have been close in the ETS but finally Infinity has got a big win’.
While Rheinard celebrated regaining the title he lost to Ronald Volker, the outgoing champion was far from happy with what happened to him in the penultimate round. Having pretty much conceded defeat to his long standing rival last night when Rheinard took the overnight points lead, Volker is battling for the runner-up spot with Viktor Wilck but was far from impressed with the standard of driving. With Wilck having a bad result in Heat 2 of Round 11 finishing 7th, it was an opportunity for Volker, running in Heat 3, to sew up the second spot on the podium however he would have an altercation with Bruno Coelho leading to a spectacular exit from the race when he had contact with Freddy Sudhoff at the end of the straight. ‘I can’t believe what just happened’, was the World Champion’s reaction afterwards. He continued, ‘there was 4-minutes to go and I was behind Randy (Caster) but Bruno just ran over me. I can’t believe he was so impatient, there was so much time left. After the spin from Bruno I went on to the straight side by side with Freddy. I should have lifted because I was on the outside but I guess I was too worked up because of the Bruno incident. I made the wrong decision, it was my first big mistake of the event. I hope the car is alright for Round 12 and I can maintain 2nd’.
Asked about his race, Wilck said, ‘JJ (Wang) rolled and I had to go around him. After that delay I was trying to pass Viljami and my car rolled over’. Sitting a point off Volker, he concluded, ‘its going to be an interesting final round’. Having looked like their battle was over whether they stood left or right of Rheinard on the podium, their bad results and a P2 for Nicholas Lee means the Singapore driver could take one of their places which adds some extra interest to the closing races.
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’.