The first half of the 2020 Reedy Offroad Race of Champions is in the books with the concluding round of 4WD proving a tough encounter for the main title contenders however with 4 wins from the 6 races so far Ryan Maifield holds a comfortable advantage as things switch to 2WD at OCRC Raceway in California. The six round of racing would see the Open Champions all step up to the mark and register their first wins among the invite regulars. Kicking off the final 4WD battles, 2WD Open Champion Tommy Hinz took his Xray to the win ahead of Joona Haatanen and defending Invitational Champion Jared Tebo. That was followed by one of the most stacked heats of this the 26th running of the Reedy Race – Maifield, Dakotah Phend, Spencer Rivkin and Ryan Cavalieri sharing the grid. Having shown impressive speed against Maifield a round earlier, Broc Champlin would lead from start to finish to move into 5th in the final 4WD standings as the main title contenders fought hard behind but made mistakes under the pressure. Starting from the pole, Phend, who was second in the points, didn’t get the start he wanted and that was compounded at the first triple when Maifield landed on the TLR dropping him back to third. The battles continued with the four heavy hitters bunching together but all having bobbles. In the end, Rivkin would come out top snatching a second from Cavalieri as he flipped his Sworkz on the final dash to the loop. Ron Devoll completed the round with a win over young Japanese driver Kouki Kato to bring the tally of 4WD race winners to 11 from the 18 races.
Ending 4WD with his worst result, a 5th, Maifield explained, ‘I landed on Dakotah in the first triple. We both got going and I tried to catch Broc. He had a good race and didn’t make any mistakes so I tried to hold of Dakotah, Spencer and Ryan. I had a mistake and took Dakotah with me and we dropped back. After that I was just trying to take a point off him’. Going into the second half of the event with a four point advantage over Phend who holds second with Rivkin and Tebo on the same points, the Yokomo driver said, ‘I’m looking forward to moving on to 2WD and to keep the momentum going’.
‘It was not the best start, I was too cautious at the start’, was how Phend described his race adding, ‘this is how it goes sometimes’. Unable to drop the 4 he got from the second round, asked about 2WD, the former Champion said, ‘the plan is to keeping plugging away. I know the car is good’.
Commenting on his second place, which allowed him to drop the 3 from the previous round, Rivkin said, ‘that as definitely an insane race. My start was not that great, Maifield got the holeshot on me. Then he landed on me which screwed me but the race turned out good when I go by Cav at the end. It was a good second for me. The Top 3 had bad races, more so Dakotah as he has to count a 4 now, Maifeld not so much’. Asked about the switch to 2WD, the World Champion replied, ‘I am really looking forward to 2WD. It was my strong suit last year. This is when the big boys come out to play’.
Summing up his race, the 3rd allowing him to drop a 4th from yesterday evening, Tebo said, ‘It was a really good and a really bad race’. He continued, ‘I felt I was driving better and worked my way through the pack but unfortunately JP (Richards) crashed on the straight away. I thought I had the room to get around him but I hit him. That’s just part of the race’. Heading into the first of the 6 rounds of 2WD, the Tekno team driver said, ‘I am really looking forward to 2WD. I enjoy driving 2WD more than 4WD. I am not going to over think the points. Sure Maifield has a good gap but I am just going to go out and do the best I can do and see how the points work themselves out’.
Having ended Day 1 of the Reedy Offroad Race of Champions as the points leader with 3 wins from four races, Ryan Maifield kicked off Saturday’s action at OCRC Raceway with a big win from the back of the starting grid. Lining up 8th for the penultimate round of 4WD action, a row behind his closest points challenger Spencer Rivkin, the Yokomo driver didn’t have the best of starts. Hitting the wing of team-mate Yusuke Sugiura he dropped back off the pack in last position. Getting back in touch with the main pack, the 2015 Champion got a big break at the end of lap 4 when he somehow managed to avoid carnage and come out in third place from where he set about chasing down the lead battle between front row starters Broc Champlin and Joona Haatanen. Mistakes from both drivers gave Maifield the lead which, despite a strong comeback from Champlin, he held to the end to guarantee no matter the outcome of Round 6 he will go into the 2WD action as the points leader. In the other races Dakotah Phend opened the round with another dominant win ahead of Alex Kosciuszek from sixth on the grid to make it three wins in a row. Heat 2 of the round ended with with a heated debate between defending champion Jared Tebo and Ty Tessmann, as the duo came together at the end of the final lap in which Tessmann was able to grab the win.
Summing up his latest win, Maifield said, ‘In the rhythm section I hit Yusuke’s win and thought it is going to be tough to come back but Spencer was back there too. He cased a jump so I got passed him and then I managed to to get around the carnage and come out third. I was content with third from the back row’. Complimenting Champlin’s attempt to get back the lead he had held for more than half the race, the former World Champion said, ‘Broc raced me pretty good and he drove smart too. He could have thrown it down my inside at the chicane’. Asked about his tyres, Maifield said, ‘They are slicks. The problem is new ones have no forward traction so you’ve got to run old tyres to be competitive but it means you have to hang on for dear life at the end of the race’.
Asked about his first win of the event, which came from starting last on the grid, Tessmann said, ‘we made some changes to the car it was probably the best it has been for racing’. The Xray driver continued, ‘I was able to avoid a major pile up and pick people off. I had my own mistake at the first rhythm section when I landed down on the pipe’. On his pass on Tebo, the Canadian said, ‘It was aggressive. I pushed him the corner before when he got loose and then he tried to close and there was no where to go. I was trying to pass and he was trying to block. I didn’t think there was anything wrong and that’s why I didn’t stop’.
A frustrated Tebo, who didn’t have the best start from pole dropping to P3 for a time before moving into the lead on lap 12, said, ‘I was trying to be patient and get the win. Yesterday I took out Ty on the first lap. Today he took me out on the last lap for the lead so I guess we are even now’.
On his race, Phend said, ‘I was patient moving my way through and waited on mistakes’. Asked which tyres he ran, the TLR driver said, ‘I ran my newer ones. They were not quite as fast but it was safe to drive’. Looking to the final 4WD encounter, the former Champion said, ‘I start the last one on the front row so I’ll try to get a good start and make it happen so I can drop my four’.
Ryan Maifield leads the way at the end of the opening day of racing at the Reedy Offroad Race of Champions. The Yokomo driver enjoyed a strong first day of 4WD action being the only driver to record three wins which together with his second place from the first round gives him a 3-point lead over Team Associated’s Spencer Rivkin. After a less than perfect start to the 26th running of the unique race format event, Dakotah Phend turned things around with two convincing wins to hold third overnight, the TLR driver putting an impressive move on Rivkin in Round 4, with both cars touching, to take the win and end the day holding 3rd position. After kicking off his title defence with a win in the morning, Tebo holds 4th position going into Day 2 at OCRC Raceway with the same points tally as Phend. Having become the first driver to register a double win when he took the opening two rounds, four time champion Ryan Cavalieri ended the day with a third in his final race ahead of Tebo. With a 7th from Round 3 he will be looking to drop that result with two strong results in the final two rounds of 4WD tomorrow – each driver only able to drop one round per class. Making his Reedy Race Invitational Class debut, Yusuke Sugiura would become only the second non-US drivers to win today with the Yokomo driver winning on his fourth attempt to leave him 6th in points.
‘It’s been a good day’, was how Maifield summed up his lead in the points. Winner of the event in 2015, on his latest heat win the Arizona driver said, ‘the car was good and I had another good start. All day I have tried to capitalise on my front row and Top 4 starts and I hope tomorrow we can end with a couple more good runs in 4WD before we get going in 2WD. My car has crazy power and we are running a lot of new parts on the car which are working well’. The former double World Champion said that tomorrow’s remaining 4WD races was going to be a ‘tyre game’. He said, ‘They are getting loose especially towards the end of the races with the dust so we will run in tyres in the free practice in the morning and hope they come in’.
Reacting to losing out in the win in Round 4, Rivkin said, ‘It was not what I wanted but at lest I didn’t make any mistakes to finish below second’. On the pass made by Phend, the only driver in the Top 5 to yet claim the Reedy Race title said, ‘He made a nice landing and sneaked down my inside. It was a good pass’. Looking to the remaining 4WD encounters, the newly crowned 2WD World Champion said, ‘I need to be better at keeping it rolling throughout the run but to end the day with nothing more than 3 points is pretty good. I wish I had got that win but we are in the hunt’.
On his strong finish to the day, Phend said, ‘everything is working awesome. I was pushing the whole race and was able to catch Spencer and at the end could make the pass for the win. I’ll keep chugging away tomorrow to drop that 4’. Asked about tyres for the remaining two rounds of 4WD, the 2016 Champion said, ‘we will run another set in practice in the morning to save this set because I hope I can run out the last two races on this set’.
Ending the day with his worst result having lost 3rd place with 2-laps to go, Tebo said, ‘that was the fastest my car has been just with the higher grip I had trouble with my timing at the first triple and two times it almost cost me. I need to slow my power down. The car felt great but I had too many bobbles out there’. Asked about tyres, the Tekno driver said, ‘my front tyres are bald but they feel good so I don’t know what I am going to do yet’.
Becoming the 8th different race winner of the 2020 event, Sugiura was happy that he was able to register a win on his debut in the invitational class. A previous Open Class Champion, taking the 2WD win on the Reedy Race’s only time hosted outside of the US at the Yatabe Arena in Japan in 2009, the 2019 World’s podium finisher is concerned about his tyres for the rest of 4WD saying, ‘now the tyres are very slick especially the front tyre so I will try new tyres in the morning practice but I am happy with how my first day has gone’.