He was last after the first corner but Ralph ‘Smokin Fast’ Burch didn’t let the opening drama get to him as the Texan climbed his way back through the field to take a convincing victory at the Gulf Coast Raceway to become the 2010 Nitro Touring Car World Champion. Starting from fourth on the gird, the 43-year-old American got spun out at the first corner and was hit by most of the pursuing field dropping him down to tail of the pack. Taking a few laps to regain his composure he set about a stunning recovery that would see him hit the front just before 10-minutes after a thrilling battle with the then leader Marc Rheinard and the sensation of these championships Takumi Matsuda. Although he was running shorter fuel stops to his rival, pitting every 4:45, Burch took control of the hour long race once in front only loosing the lead to fellow Xray driver Dirk Wischnewski when he pitted for tyres on 32 minutes. Such was his pace he was able to lap the entire field with only Takehiro Terauchi managing to get back on the lead lap with 12 minutes to run. After the race, the first American Onroad World Champion for 9 years said he knew after the practice session for the Top 4 Direct Qualifiers that he had the pace to win and throughout the race was always within his limits. Asked about his early fuel stops, the RC America front man said having watched the earlier finals he had told his pit crew he wasn’t letting an empty tank be the reason for him not winning his first World title. The result also marks the first ever World Championship success for Slovakian company Xray and Italian engine company Max Power.
Finishing second, factory Mugen driver Terauchi said his race went to plan but admitted he found the hot conditions very tiring. Having been able to unlap himself, the 18-year-old Japanese driver said he pushed 100% right till the end for the win but there was noting he could do about Burch. His first World Championship final appearance he said finishing second was quite good but he is already looking forward to going one better in two years time.
Having lead the race following the demise of Top Qualifier Robert Pietsch, Marc Rheinard said he was just unable to match the pace of Burch. The three times Electric Touring Car World Champion said other than a flame out after his scheduled tyre stop the race went to plan with his Velox V10 working well. Only his third ever nitro touring car race, the German said Top 3 at a World Championship is ‘not too bad’ and he is pleased that he was able to give Team Shepherd a podium placing on their 200mm Worlds debut.
The man everyone was talking about in qualifying Shinnosuke Yokoyama finished fourth after a troubled run. Running out of fuel just before his second stop the Xray driver also broke a rim but once fitted with new tyres, and with his OS engine tuned to make the five minutes, he was very fast, recovering to finish as the top rookie of the championships. Running the entire race on one set of tyres European Champion Wischnewski’s gamble looked like it was going to reward him with at least a podium finish until with a quarter of the race to run he got radio interference. Sending his Orcan powered NT1 around in circles on the main straight, marshals brought it back to pits from where he was able to rejoin the race and continue with out any further issues, eventually finishing fifth. The very disappointed German said afterwards his no tyre stop strategy was a good call but no one could plan for something like radio interference.
Wischnewski was not the only driver to hit problems. Fellow countryman Pietsch was leading the race until his Novarossi powered Mugen went crazy in the pitlane after fuel got into the receiver during the first round of pit stops. Driving out of control in the wrong direction down the pitlane it made contact with the No.2 car of factory Kyosho driver Takaaki Shimo. Shimo was to hit bigger problems 34 minutes into the race when a clash with another car broke the rear wing of his shell. With his car impossible to drive he had to make a stop for a bodyshell change but he retired shortly afterwards. The only other American in the final Mike Swauger had the four screws holding his Novarossi into his Mugen come loose causing him to strip a gear. With a new gear fitted and the engine screws tightened he got back on track only for his LiP o reciever battery to pack in just as the race entered the final 15 minutes.
Even younger than we were originally told, 13-year-old Matsuda showed he is a potential future World Champion. Battling with established stars of the sport for a podium placing in the Main, the searing Texas heat was to catch out the Japanese kid. Just after the second round of fuel stops sweat ran into his eyes causing him to crash his Mega powered Serpent resulting in a broken rim. Although he didn’t feature strongly on the radar in qualifying the youngest ever 200mm World Finalist showed he is one name we are sure to hear a lot more of in the future after bumping up three finals to gain himself a ranking as seventh best driver in the World. Starting from 10th on the grid Australian Champion Philip Woodbury was the big benefactor of the various drivers troubles bringing his Mugen home in sixth despite a number of flame outs.
So after Paul Lemieux came so close to doing it in Portugal, America finally has its first 200mm World Champion as Burch becomes the fourth different winner from the fourth different country to lift the crown. We now have to wait 2 years to find out if he can become the first driver to defend that title when China is expected to host the fifth IFMAR 200mm World Championships.
1. Ralph Burch – Xray/Max – 198 Laps in 1:00:09.28
2. Takehiro Terauchi – Mugen/Novarossi – 197 Laps in 1:00:02.71
3. Marc Rheinard – Shepherd/Novarossi – 196 Laps in 1:00:02.15
4. Shinnosuke Yokoyama – Xray/OS – 194 Laps in 1:00:19.54
5. Dirk Wischnewski – Xray/Novarossi – 191 Laps in 1:00:04.16
6. Philip Woodbury – Mugen/Novarossi – 188 Laps in 1:00:15.14
7. Takumi Matsuda – Serpent/Mega – 186 Laps in 1:00:05.67
8. Takaaki Shimo – Kyosho/OS – 146 Laps in 47:49.754
9. Mike Swauger – Mugen/Novarossi – 133 Laps in 45:54.425
10.Robert Pietsch – Mugen/Novarossi – 17 Laps in 4:52.354
The complete final results can be found here (PDF).
Red RC would like to thank Roger Bourland, Race Director Bob Ingersoll and all the crew at Gulf Coast Raceway for their support during are stay in Texas. One nice gesture during this event which we feel deserves a mention is that of title sponsor Byron Fuels. The controlled fuel for the event, their 16% Gen2 blend, was supplied free of charge to all 122 drivers for the duration of the event. Finally thanks to the sponsors of our coverage, Matrix tires, Team Titan and Reds Racing engines, without whom are trip from Europe to Texas would not have been possible.
Ralph Burch is the 2010 IFMAR 1/10th 200mm World Champion. The Texan won on home soil in convincing style to become the first American in 9 years to win a nitro onroad World title. The 43 year-old’s first World title, the victory also gives Xray and Max engines their first ever titles at World level. Completing the podium at the Gulf Coast Raceway was Japanese factory Mugen driver Takehiro Terauchi and electric Touring Car World Champion Marc Rheinard. Top Qualifier Robert Pietsch led the race up until the first pit stop but fuel got into the receiver and his Mugen went out of control ending his race in the pitlane.
The second of the Semi Finals has seen another of Japan’s super quick teenagers take victory even with his Novarossi powered Mugen suffering a late flame out. Takehiro Terauchi won the race with the fastest of time of the two Semi’s recording the only 100 lapper to finish ahead of European Champion Dirk Wischnewski. The race saw three of the last World Championship finalist eliminated with Paul Lemieux and Christopher Tosolini both running out of fuel. Getting back into the race they managed to battle their way back to finish 3rd and 4th respectively but with faster race times in the earlier Semi it is Team Shepherd’s Marc Rheinard and Australian Champion Philip Woodbury who get the final two places in the Main. The fifth fastest qualifier overall, Alexander Hagberg started the race from pole but a broken fuel tank lid on his Xray ended his race, the Swede retiring just after the 10-minute mark. Another finalist who wont be in the 2010 final is Dario Balestri. The Team Magic driver had a rough race making contact with a number of his rivals before eventually retiring after 21 minutes.
So the grid is set for the 2010 IFMAR 200mm World Championships and the biggest shock is that none of the finalists from Portugal are on it. Japan looks strongest in terms of number with four drivers lining up for the big race. Providing the opposition will be three Germans, two Americans and one Aussie. Regarded as the masters of nitro onroad racing there is no Italian driver in the final. In terms of chassis, 2006 World Champions Mugen are the best represented with four cars compared to three Xray NT1s and single entries from reigning Champions Kyosho, Serpent and World Championship debutants Team Shepherd of Germany.
A new World Champion will be crowned here at Gulf Coast Raceway after defending Champion Daniele Ielasi failed to make it through from his Semi, the Italian finishing the 30-minute encounter in only 6th position. The Team Shepherd driver said he took a gamble on harder 47 shore tyres, having done so at the Pre-Worlds when he finished on the podium, but the gamble didn’t pay off and his reign is over. The race was won by young Japanese sensation Takumi Matsuda who bumps up into the Main having come through from yesterday’s 1:8 final. The 14-year-old Serpent driver got past Mike Swauger’s Mugen as the American clashed with a backmarker as he was about to start his penultimate lap but progress to the Main event. Running at the back of after a number of incidents in the opening part of the race Matsuda put in a stunning recovery and by lap 72 was up to second having found a way passed Electric Touring Car World Champion Marc Rheinard who finished third and should go through to the Main based on his race time. The final two places on the grid will be determined by fastest race time of those not finishing in the top 2 of each Semi. Starting from pole, Tadahiko Sahashi lead for the first 25 laps until his Picco powered Serpent flamed out ending his chances. The race saw another of the finalists from Portugal drop out, Francesco Tironi finishing the race in last position after a flame out his Sirio powered Mugen having run as high as fourth. Pre Worlds winner Paolo Morganti set the fastest lap of the race but a flame out ended the American Team Serpent drivers event.
The Top 2 qualifiers from the last World Championships have had very different fortunes in the second of the 1/4 finals here this morning at Gulf Coast Raceway. Starting the 20-minute race from pole, 2008 Top Qualifier Jilles Groskamp was to be the first retirement, his Shepherd stripping first gear just as the first round of pit stop were getting under way, but the Dutch ace was already struggling from the start with a clear lack of speed. Up front Chris Tosolini, the Runner-up in Portugal, took the win with his Serpent 733 ahead of Xray’s Adrian Berntsen, the Norwegian having bumped up from yesterday’s 1/8. The big battle of the final was between Team KM driver Meen Vejrak and Austria’s Gerhard Kandelhart after the Thai driver, who briefly led the round, stripped a gear. Holding the Xray driver behind despite his lack of straight line speed his fight for the final bump up spot was lost on the last lap as Kandelhart found a way through. Although he set the fastest lap of the race and ran as high as third, factory Serpent driver Mark Green’s event is over after he hit trouble on lap 18. Team-mate DJ Apolaro’s campaign has also come to an end after his 733, which was starting from the number 2 spot, flamed out as the cars took the start. The American believes a faulty throttle servo caused this as he suffered further engine throttle issues during the race.
The Top 4 Direct Qualifiers are now on track for their 1-hour practice giving them a change to test various choice compounds and sizes ahead of this evening big race. The first of the 30-minute Semi Finals is scheduled to get underway at 13:00 (local time).
The first 1/4 final has seen the demise of two of last year’s finalists with Adrien Bertin and Martin Hudy both crashing out. Former World Champion Bertin, who bumped up from yesterday’s 1/8 final, made contact with the boards coming onto the main straight breaking his Kyosho with just four minutes on the clock. Shortly after 2008 podium finisher Hudy broke his Xray exiting the pits at the first round of fuel stops. Taking the win was impressive 14-year-old Japanese driver Takumi Matsuda who bumped up from yesterday’s 1/8 final. The 2008 Japanese National Sportsman Champion has been quick all week here in Texas but suffered run time issues. Doing all the work on his Mega powered Serpent 733 he is definitely one to watch. Finishing behind Matsuda to progress to the Semi were Mugen drivers Philip Woodbury, the current Australian National Champion, and 2008 finalist Francesco Tironi. The race also saw the end of the event for rapid Belgian Jerome Renaux, Japan’s Yuya Sahashi and American Josh Cyrul.