Ronald Volker has kept the championship race for this year’s ETS title going by winning the third A-Main in Italy to finish 2nd overall. With reigning champion Bruno Coelho wrapping up his third win of the season in A2, the Portuguese driver was a more than usual interested spectator of A3 as the failure of Volker to finish second overall would mean he would be crowned Champion for a second year. Leading away the field Volker will get the result he needs with pursuer Elliott Harper not able to get by the Yokomo driver. Harper would in fact come under attack from Marc Rheinard until the Infinity driver ran onto the grass. An important result for Volker, if not the one he came to Riccione seeking, it was probably Harper however who was the happiest driver on the podium, his first podium finish in 6-years marking the first for Schumacher in the premiere Modified class.
Commenting on his second overall and clearly choosing his words carefully, Volker said, ‘A3 wasn’t easy because I was fighting with the balance (of the car) but I can’t be too unhappy to get P2. It was the max I could do for now’. The only other winner this year apart from Coelho, the World Champion said, ‘we are trying hard to catch up in car performance but it wasn’t on point so we couldn’t win’. Needing perfect results in the final two races of the season, he concluded, ‘we have to improve the car and that’s got to be our main focus from now to the next ETS’.
‘It nice to be back, we worked hard for this’, was how Harper summed up his impressive performance over the weekend. Having TQ’d a round of qualifying for the first time on Saturday, the multiple World’s Finalist continued, ‘we did a lot of learning and we had pretty good pace today and for the size of the team I think thats pretty impressive’. With former ETS Champion Jilles Groskamp one of the first to compliment the British driver on his performance, Harper said, ‘hopefully its the first of more to come’. On his A3 performance he said, ‘I tried to pressure Ronald. I would get closer some laps and then other laps he would pull away. When Marc went on the grass I could push a little over the limit but myself and Ronald were on exactly the same pace so I couldn’t challenge, but I tried’.
Finishing fourth, his first time to not make the podium since joining Infinity, Rheinard summed up the weekend as ‘disappointing’. With his title hopes over, he said, ‘the pace of the car was there for sure for a podium and I think also the potential was in the car to challenge Bruno but I messed it up in qualifying with my own driving mistakes’. Asked about A3, he replied, ‘I was stuck behind Elliott and then I ended up on the grass but somehow I kept going but I had no podium chance so it didn’t change the overall result’.
Unlike Modified and Formula, the overall Pro Stock winner would be decided in A3. Having lead both opening A-Mains, Top Qualifier Mattia Collina would finally go the full distance to win ahead of Max Mächler but winner of A2 that was enough for Mächler to take the overall win. Winner of A1, following the clash between Collina and Mächler, Lars Hoppe would get P5 in A3 but it would be enough to secure him 2nd overall with Olivier Bultynck completing the podium. With Jan Ratheisky wrapping up his second asphalt win of the season in A2, A3 would see Top Qualifier David Ehrbar win from Jitse Miedema which is how they would complete the podium presentation.
Bruno Coelho has put one hand on retaining his Euro Touring Series title as he notched up his third ETS win of the season today in Riccione, Italy. The Xray driver repeated his 2016 win at the Marco Simoncelli RC Circuit with another win in A2, although Ronald Volker made the Top Qualifier work harder for the win second time round before a mistake ended the challenge. Allowing Elliott Harper into second, the Schumacher driver would finish 1.2-seconds back from Coelho with Volker a similar distance back in 3rd.
‘We’re not quite there yet with the first place in the championship but today’s win gets us a bit closer’ was how Coelho summed up his 8th ETS career win. Having made his asphalt debut of the championship at the Italian track and instantly making his mark after disappointing results at the season’s opening two carpet rounds, the Portuguese ace said, ‘racing on asphalt has always been very good for me I have always preferred it to carpet’. Summing up his A2 performance, he said, ‘in the first final the opening laps were loose so this time I drove more calm so I didn’t pull away easy. Ronald was pushing a lot to catch me so I pushed a little more to get some space. When he made his mistake the race was more comfortable for me’. With the penultimate round of ETS Season #10 taking place in Xray’s backyard, the Hudy Arena, Coelho said, ‘for sure it would be great to wrap the title up there in front of everyone. It is our home track but because of all the other classes I race I don’t get to practice on it and 200 people racing on it is going to be different to when only 3 or 4 drivers are testing. But the track has been good for me in the past’. Since joining track Coelho has won both ETS encounters in Slovakia.
Summing up his race, Harper said, ‘I didn’t get the best of starts and went wide at turn one. I just managed to hold my position’. He continued, ‘Myself, Bruno and Ronald pulled away and Ronald was pushing hard. Next thing I just saw a flash and somehow managed to get to the inside and avoid his (Volker’s) car. I knew I wasn’t going to catch Bruno so for the last few laps I backed it off to bring it home’. With P2 up for grabs in A3, it 6 years since the British driver last made an ETS podium, he said, ‘I’ll have to push hard and try to pressure Ronald into a mistake. I’ll try hard to make a pass’.
The only driver who can mathematically challenge Coelho for the title, albeit he needs to dominate the rest of the season, Volker said on his A2 performance, ‘I made a bit better start off the line but I was over the limit the whole time to keep up’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘then in the middle of the run I hit a bump and after my donuts on the straight I just tried to survive to the end. I went all in for the challenge but it didn’t pay off. Bruno did a good job so congrats’. Set to battle in A3 with Harper for second overall, having never made the podium in Riccione, he concluded, ‘I just try to do it simple and go tone to tone’. Behind Volker, Jilles Groskamp would get another P4 although his Infinity team-mate Marc Rheinard was not happy with the Dutch driver’s driving as he finished 6th behind the VBC Racing of Yannic Prumper.
In Pro Stock it was another though outcome for Top Qualifier Mattia Collina. With the crowd behind him, the Italian would again have a great battle with Max Machler before getting tagged by the Awesomatix. Unlike A1, the Xray driver could continue but only briefly. With Martin Hofer joining the battle at the next corner Collina would try down the inside but hit the Yokomo sending both cars off into the barrier leaving Machler to take an easy win over Olivier Bultynck. In Formula, David Ehrbar would lead away as he did in A1 but again a mistake would ruin his race allowing Jan Ratheisky to the front where he would stay to win ahead of Bultynck and a recovering Ehrbar.