Marc Rheinard is within reach of a sixth Reedy Race title after the Infinity driver wrapped up Day 2 with a 5th win at the 20th running of the event. The new overnight leader going into the final day at Tamiya Raceway, his title hopes boosted further in the final round as main challenger Viktor Wilck’s day came to a crashing finish, the Serpent driver running in to the rear of heat leader Juho Levanen. Leaving the Swede who took three wins earlier in the day with a fifth for the round, it also handed Ronald Volker a win that puts the reigning champion in contention for a podium as he moves up to third in the points ranking with 8 of the 12 races completed. A bad round for Day 1 leader Meen Vejrak, the Yokomo driver’s chances of a podium took a major hit as he ended the day with a 7th dropping to sixth in the standings. While not a contender for overall honours, Awesomatix Viljami Kutvonen would be the third winner of Round 8, the Finn become the 11th of the 24 invite drivers to register a win.
Leading by a massive 6-points with four races remaining, a very happy Rheinard said, ‘What can I say, again it as a good start for me as something happened again at the front’. Starting from 6th on the grid, the 4-time Onroad World Champion would battle for the win against 4-time Offroad World champion Ryan Cavalieri, the Associated driver having started on pole. With the American Running slightly wide in the sweeper this was all Rheinard needed to make a pass that would earn him his 2nd win of the day. Commenting on the pass, he said, ‘I knew Cav was fast so I didn’t want to do anything stupid to try pass him. I knew to finish 2nd would be OK as Viktor crashed in the race before but then he went a little wide and I got him on the inside’. Asked about his lead going into tomorrow, he replied, ‘For sure the chances are good for me now so I will try to drive smart. Sometimes 3rd will be enough so I will use my brain tomorrow’.
A clearly annoyed Wilck reacted to his incident with Levanen by saying, ‘I don’t know why this guy is here. He pretty much f#@k my race and basically decided who the winner is’. The 2012 Champion continued, ‘He tapped my back at the start. Then I was just waiting behind. He was backing off for 4-minutes and then he slammed the brakes’. Giving his view of the incident, Levanen said, ‘I was just driving defensive and got taken out’. The Finn added, ‘he messed up his own race, 2 points would have been a lot better than 5 points. Why risk it’.
Now on the same points as Wilck but with half the number of wins, Volker said, ‘at least now we have a chance for a podium’. On his second win, the World Champion said, ‘we changed a lot on the set-up and at least now I had the steering I want but I had to fight the rear the whole race, I lost it a few times’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘the last three laps we were so close together and until the last lap I had not planned any attacks but to wait and see what happens. Then Juho and Viktor crashed and I could take the win. We struggled today with the car but I have decent starting grids tomorrow so we can try to finish somewhere on the podium’. Behind Volker, his normal touring car arch rival Bruno Coelho sits fourth one point back going into the final day of his Reedy Race debut. While he had one DNF, the Xray driver has never been outside the Top 3 in the the other 7 races so a podium is still possible for the ETS Champion.
Day 2 of the Reedy Race of Champions is proving to be Viktor Wilck’s day with the Serpent driver posting his third win of the day to join Marc Rheinard and Meen Vejrak as the only drivers with 4 wins on the board. The Swede’s latest win was a significant one as Rheinard and defending champion Ronald Volker all line-up in the same race. With a mistake from pole sitter Freddy Sudhoff handing the No.2 starting Wilck the lead, the former Champion would stay there to the end to win ahead of Rheinard and reduce the German’s lead down to two points. Another important win of the round was that of overnight points leader Vejrak who now sits third a further 2 points behind Wilck. The third winner of Round 7 of 12 was Bruno Coelho, the Reedy Race rookie registering his first win of the event.
Reacting to his hat trick of wins, Wilck said, ‘I just drove without mistakes when I saw Marc was coming. If Marc won this one he would pretty much have it (the title)’. The World Championship podium finisher added, ‘I got lucky at the beginning when Sudhoff spun out and then had a clean road ahead of me. It was a good race and all 3 of us pushed maximum’. Set to finish off the day with another front row start when asked if it was now game on he replied, ‘I’m just going to try to get more cleans runs and see what happens’.
Starting from the back on the grid, Rheinard said, ‘for 8th this heat, 2nd was pretty good’. Last winning the Reedy Race in 2015, the Infinity driver continued, ‘I felt I would be able to real in Viktor but I had understeer to the left, this set of tyres not 100% but otherwise it was a good heat for me. Sure Viktor is 1 point closer to me but from 8th I’m happy’. Rheinard will end Day 2 starting Round 8 from 6th on the grid with Ryan Cavalieri, a winner yesterday and Coelho occupying the front row.
‘I had to make sure I took advantage of my front row start’ was how Vejrak summed up his win from pole. The Yokomo driver didn’t however have an easy time of the race with overheating tyres an issue. The former podium finisher said, ‘It was better than this morning because I have steering but I made a safe drive’. He continued, ‘the feeling is strange and after a few laps the grip goes completely. It looks like I overheat the tyres. When Naoto caught me I was having to go slow to cool the tyres but then could pull away again’.
‘Finally’ was Coelho’s reaction to his first win. The Xray driver continued, ‘so many times I was in 1st position but through my own fault or super bad luck I couldn’t stay there’. His first Reedy Race experience, the ETS Champion said, ‘For sure it is not going well for us. It’s our first year so we have no experience of the track and no base set-up for here. We are still working on it but the problem is I’ve no steering so its quite difficult’.
Viktor Wilck has moved himself into contention at the Reedy Race of Champions in California, the 2012 Champion claiming a third win as the 20th running of legendary race reach the half way point. With one of the two allowed dropped scores taken into account, the Serpent driver sits second, 3 points adrift of new leader Marc Rheinard. Starting fourth on the grid, Wilck would win ahead of reigning champion Ronald Volker with the same heat seeing the kink bring an end to Bruno Coelho’s run of Top 3 finishes, the impact leaving the Xray driver with a DNF. For Rheinard, Round 6 netted the Infinity driver his 4th win allowing him to take over the points lead from overnight leader Meen Vejrak, the Yokomo driver having his worst round so far with a 6th. In the third of the encounters, Christopher Krapp finally ended his run of bad luck, last year’s runner-up becoming the ninth of the 24 invite drivers to register a win.
‘Getting better. For sure it was a lot easier than the previous one’, was Wilck’s reaction to his latest win. Having taken a somewhat controversial win in Round 5, the Swede making contact with Akio Sobue in the kink, he added, ‘I thought it was going to be a good fight with Naoto but he rolled when I caught him. They then had a battle with Ronald so I could easily pull away’. Winning his Reedy Race title at the Norcal track before it returned to its spiritual home of the Tamiya Raceway, he said, ‘My car is still ok, it is easy to drive and is not having the same problem others are having in the heat’. Set to line-up in the same heat as Rheinard for Round 7, starting P2 while his former Tamiya team-mate starts last, he concluded, ‘it an important one the next one’.
The only driver with four wins, Rheinard summed up Round 6 with, ‘what can I say, I had a lucky start because 1 & 2 crashed and had the lead in the first corner’. The 3-time Touring Car World Champion who won the first of his five Reedy Race titles 11-years-ago here at the historic Tamiya track, continued, ‘after that I could take it easy to the end, apart from having to avoid one car flying into the chicane the race went like a perfect plan’. Asked about Wilck’s form, he joked, ‘he’s just been lucky’ but on starting in the same heat as his good friend off track he said, ‘everything can happen, Ronald went from 8th to 2nd in the last one so I will just drive and see what happens’.
Sitting fifth, with just a single win to his credit, Volker wasn’t happy with the performance of his latest set of tyres. The World Champion said, ‘Having struggled with understeer in Round 5 we swapped the front tyres from left to right and now it had crazy understeer in right corners which is totally frustrating’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I benefited from Naoto and Bruno’s kink hit and 2nd is a valuable result given I started 8th’. He added, ‘While 5 out of the 6 races I have started at the back I can only look forward to the upcoming races and better grids, better tyres and better results’.
Making his third Reedy Race appearance, making a big impression on his 2015 debut, Krapp said, ‘I’m just happy to finally get a clean run’. Suffering a spur gear failure in yesterday’s final round which left his car stranded in the middle of the kink with the entire field somehow avoiding his Yokomo, the German said, ‘With yesterday’s results the race is over for me. The car is good but I have just been unlucky but now with a win I just want to have fun the next round and enjoy the rest of the event’.