Bruno Coelho has put it up to his title rivals by taking a convincing win today at the first asphalt round of the Yokomo Euro Touring Series in Italy. Handed an easy win in A1, the Top Qualifier would wrap up an extra early win in Riccione with another unchallenged win in A2. With the finals run early due to the impending threat of rain at the first outdoor race of ETS Season #9, completing the perfect weekend gives the Xray driver an extended lead in the championship standings as he becomes the season’s first double winner. With Marc Rheinard ending up with a 3rd for Round 4 behind A3 winner Viljami Kutvonen, the Tamiya driver is now 5 points behind Coelho with two races remaining in which to reverse that deficit. With reigning champion Ronald Volker only fifth in Italy, his quest for a 6th consecutive title is looking increasingly difficult as he leaves 7-points behind Coelho.
‘For sure to TQ and win today is super important for the championship’, was Coelho’s reaction to his fourth ETS win in just 10 races. Commenting on the importance of winning the first asphalt race, the Portuguese ace said, ‘normally on asphalt I am stronger than carpet. I am more confident on it as I started my racing on asphalt but Luxembourg is next and it is a difficult track and the traction is very low so we will see what happens’. Last year the 22-year-old claimed his first ETS win in Luxembourg before going onto win the season finale at the Hudy Arena. Having to work a little harder for the win in A2, Coelho said ‘I made a push at the beginning to get space between myself and Viljami. This allowed me to drive smooth at the end to avoid any mistakes which worked out as he made a mistake so it was all perfect’. Describing his Hobbywing powered T4 as ‘very good’ he pointed out that a contributing factor was his new Montech IS200 body with this the first time he has raced it, a previous attempt blocked by the ETS due to the body having not being commercially available.
Claiming his first Modified podium finish of the ETS, former Pro Stock race winner Kutvonen said, ‘I’m happy with the result. Not many thought I would make the podium on asphalt’. The Finn continued, ‘I’m super happy for the team. Our new car was so good this weekend on asphalt and it looks really good for the future’. Commenting on A2 when he closed on Coelho at the end before crashing his A800 on the straight he said, ‘I was pushing like crazy. I knew I needed to be super close to Bruno if I was to have a chance. I knew the others had finished so I had a Top 3 for the round but I went over the limit and got on the curbs. The tyres were bad after that’ his car flipping on full throttle.
‘Lets say it looks like I am fighting for second in the championship once again’, was Rheinard’s summary of the weekend. Runner-up to Volker for the passed five seasons, the former ETS Champion continued, ‘last year I finished 8th so to end up with my fourth podium in a row is an improvement on a track which is not my favourite to drive on’. His first asphalt race with Tamiya’s latest release, the TRF419X, the winner of the season opener said 3rd today ‘was a good start for the first rollout of the new car’. In contention for second overall going into A3, the 4-time World Champion said, ‘At the beginning I was a little faster (than Kutvonen) but I didn’t want to take any risks because of my P9 in A1, then as the race went on we both had the same speed’.
Missing out on the podium for a third time this season, Alexander Hagberg said, ‘I finished in my usual position. Fourth for a third time this season isn’t too bad but I would prefer to finish on the podium’. Summing up the weekend, the Swede said ‘the problem was to find consistency between runs. Sometimes it was fast, sometimes it was slow, and we need to work on that for the remainder of the season’.
Reflecting on a disappointing transition to asphalt after the high of his first win of his title defence at the last carpet round, Volker said, ‘Of course we came here with high expectations. I wanted to win’. He continued, ‘basically we have to work harder. Everything is in Bruno’s hands now but it’s not decided yet so we will come back better and our hard work will pay off’.
While the premiere title is still far from decided, the Serpent Formula class would be the first title of the 2015/16 ETS season to be decided as Jan Ratheisky completed the perfect championship score with his fourth TQ and win of the season. The Xray driver would have to wait until A3 to seal the deal after finishing 3rd in A2, the popular German leaving Italy with a fourth consecutive Formula title.
In the Xray Pro Stock A-Main, the racing would produce a first time winner in Italian driver Mattia Collina after P2 qualifier won the opening two encounters. Top Qualifier Max Mächler would finally get a win in A3 to secure second overall with the Schumacher of Nicolai Lindegaard completing the podium.