March 3, 2024

Record equalling 4th TITC win for Coelho

Bruno Coelho has taken a record equalling fourth TITC win but his victory at the 20th edition of the race is set to be remembered for incidents rather than the result equalling record achieved in Bangkok.  Having qualified second behind Top Qualifier Ronald Volker, the Xray driver would make contact with his Mugen Seiki rival in the opening two A-Mains resulting in a wide open race going into A3.  This time however Volker would spin on his own early on allowing Coelho to take the leg ahead of team-mate Alexander Hagberg, winner of A2.  Giving Xray an overall 1-2 in the legendary touring car race, it also sees Coelho join Atsushi Hara as the races most winning driver.  The benefactor of the Top 2 qualifiers’ clash in A1 but retiring from A2, Marc Rheinard would complete the podium at RC Addict for Awesomatix with a P3 in the final encounter ahead of Volker.  For Volker, the high of taking the TQ honours after his B-Main appearance last year was overshadowed by the disappointment of being classified 6th overall.  As a race that has become the most significant in the World for touring car racing & its manufacturers, and which is on par if not exceeding the dept of competitiveness of the World Championship, going forward it might be time for ‘the World’s biggest local race’ to consider appointing a referee to ensure the amazing atmosphere that surrounds the TITC is not overshadowed by incidents on track.

Reacting to his A3 win, Coelho said, ‘It was a clean run for me’, but the back to back World Champion felt Volker’s spin highlighted he wasn’t fully to blame for the A2 contact.  He continued, ‘It is easy to blame crashes on the person behind but this time we see how difficult Volker’s car was to drive.  He spun out himself.  I am sorry it happened before (incident in A1) but it’s easy to point the finger at me but look at his car, it was super difficult to drive today and had to avoid many times to not crash him.’  On claiming his fourth TITC, this being his second time to defend the Title having previously achieved the back to back in 2017,  he said, ‘Like I told you before I don’t care about records but I do like to finish races without drama and when drivers assume their part in an incident.’

‘I am really happy with 2nd given how things were at the beginning of the week’, was how Hagberg summed up his podium finish.  The Swede explained, ‘I changed the car a little bit for A3 as I expected grip to be very high and maybe I made it too easy to drive and I couldn’t challenge Bruno.  That was kind of good as it kept it safe and as a team we could finish 1-2.’  Hagberg would tie on points with his team-mate but with A3 a faster race that gave Coelho the win.

‘I’ll take it but it was shitty that my car shut down in A2’, was Rheinard’s response when ask about his podium finish explaining his electrics had a problem during the run before completely shutting down.  A driver known for speaking his mind, the multiple World Champion continued, ‘I would love if this race had a proper referee.  For today’s winner this is a bitter sweet win. He should not have got P2 in the second one.  He should have at least got a Stop & Go for what he did.  Saying that Ronald braked too early is not an excuse.  The guy in front controls the pace.  You can’t drive through him, you need to find a way around him that is clean.  For me the wrong person won today.’

Spinning out on the third lap of A3, Volker said, ‘I was on used tyres and unfortunately the balance was not perfect and I lost it in the chicane.  I knew I needed to win (A3) in a good time to have a chance but I knew from the start that this was going to be a big challenge.’  Having vented his frustration at Coelho following their A2 clash, the normally PC German said, ‘I should not have sweared so I want to apologise for that, the fact he believes it was not his fault shows his disrespect to the other drivers.  I don’t want to discredit his talent or hard work but this isn’t a race he should be proud of’.  Enjoying a crowd pleasing three way battle of World Champions with Rheinard and Naoto Matsukura after his early spin, Volker said, ‘I just feel really disappointed to end up with this result after our great start and getting the TQ.  We were Top 3 or fastest all week.  Big credit to Robert (Pietsch) and Jürgen (Lautenbach) for the great job.’

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