Marc Rheinard got his first full season of ETS as an Infinity driver off to the best possible start by taking the overall win in Austria with another clear win in A2, again finishing ahead of reigning champion Bruno Coelho. Wrapping up his long run as a Tamiya driver at the season opener last year before moving to newcomers Infinity for Round 2, today marks the German’s first ETS success with the team and the first for the team as a manufacturer. Also claiming the TQ in Vienna taking all four qualifiers, Marc’s first win in almost two season’s sees the former champion go away with the maximum points available with him admitting himself he doesn’t know when he last had such a dominant weekend.
‘Couldn’t be better’, was Rheinard’s reaction after the race, his winning margin over Coelho in A2 1.7 seconds. With his last ETS win coming at the Season #9 opener in the Czech Republic, the battle for the win going to A3 on that occasion, the 4-time World Champion continued, ‘everything worked this weekend both from my side and from the car. I have to thank Kotonori (Fujiwara) from Infinity and Mr. Jang from Muchmore for a great car and motor. Everything was perfect and we had three cars in the final.’ On his A2 encounter, Rheinard said, ‘It was again like A1, I could make a gap on the first lap. Viljami has no speed today which is good for me’. He continued, ‘I knew Bruno was faster than me but I knew I had almost a 3-second which was too big a gap for even him to close so I could drive a safe race to the end’. Joking he doesn’t remember the last time he wrapped up an ETS win in A2, this his 15th victory of the championships, he said, ‘I could not have asked for a better way to start Infinity’s first full season of ETS and I hope we can continue in this way at Round 2’ – the second round taking place in home country at the start of February.
‘It was a little bit complicated’, was how Coelho summed up A2. Starting behind Xray team-mate Marco Kaufmann, the pair would clash twice in the space on two corners. He continued, ‘I made a good start and overtook Kaufmann at the end of the straight. I was already on his inside and he tried to close and I crashed him or should I say he crashed me. Then I turned around and he was there again and we crashed again. It was unfortunate because I felt very confident for this final and maybe I could have raced Marc because my car was really nice now’. Setting the fastest lap, he added, ‘we are running a strange set-up to have it that the car runs straight and there was a big chance to fight with Marc but I lost too much time at the start’. Aiming to salvage a second overall out of the weekend, he said, ‘It will be hard. Kutvanen already has a 3rd and he starts at the front but now I am very confident with the car so we will see’.
Managing to hang onto a P3 in A2 ahead of World Champion Ronald Volker, Viljami was clearly lost for words on his performance drop off today. The Finn said, ‘I don’t now. I really don’t know where my speed is gone from yesterday’. The Awesomatix driver who qualified second continued, ‘it feels like I am just sliding everywhere and I don’t know what to do’. Set to start at the front of the grid in A3 with Rheinard able to sit out the closing race, he concluded the way his car is working today he is just going to have to dig deep in terms of his driving if he is to salvage a podium finish.
Having stamped his authority in qualifying on both Pro Stock and Formula yesterday, Jan Ratheisky continued his reign over both classes this morning by taking victory in both A1 encounters. The German took a very easy win in the Xray Pro Stock class after an early mistake from Tamiya driver Simon Lauter gave him the chance to break clear of the field. With Lauters’ mistake unsettling the field, the Awesomatix of 5th place starter Max Mächler would find its way into second. Yokomo’s Martin Hofer would work his way through the field from 8th on the grid to complete the Top 3 just ahead of reigning champion Alexandre Duchet who started last.
In the Scorpion Power System Formula encounter, Ratheisky didn’t have as easy a win with reigning champion David Ehrbar keeping him in his sights throughout. Making his first A-Main appearance British driver Luke Lee would complete the Top 3, the finishing order the same as they lined up at the start. Olivier Bultynck was the biggest mover getting 4th from 7th on the grid ahead of former champion Herbert Weber. In the new Infinity Masters Touring class, a Pro Stock rules based class for drivers 40 plus years old, Top Qualifier Thomas Oehler looked all set to take the win until a mistake on the penultimate lap which allowed Christian Drießle through for the win with the Top 3 completed by Miko Peter.
Marc Rheinard cruised to an easy win in the opening A-Main at the ETS season opener in Vienna this morning, the Infinity driver leading home Bruno Coelho and Ronald Volker. Top Qualifier for the race, the German got a break on the opening laps as the pack bunched up behind a slow starting Viljami Kutvanen who then came under attack from Marco Kaufmann. While they battled, Rheinard further extended his lead while contact between Kutvanen and Kaufmann allowed fourth place starter Coelho to take up the chase but with the pair matching lap times Rheinard maintained the gap to win by 2.5 seconds. With the Kutvanen/Kaufmann incident forcing the following pack to take evasive action, Volker would tag the rear of Alexander Hagberg resulting in an exchange of words afterwards. Hagberg came off the worst his car jumping the boards and needing to be marshalled as Volker continued behind Kaufmann whom he would eventually get passed to salvage a 3rd from his P6 starting position.
Reacting to his win Rheinard said, ‘It was a perfect start. For me it was important to get a good first lap and try to get a gap. Viljami struggled so that gave me a good lead but then when Bruno moved into second I thought I might have a problem because he had good pace in Q4 but we were the same speed. One lap he would be a 1/10 quicker then the next lap I would be a 1/10 quicker so I could control the race to the finish’. Reverting back to the tyres he used in Q3 for the opening A-Main he said despite them now having done 4 runs he plans to stick with that set again for A2 adding, ‘I will just try and get the same start as before’.
After struggling in qualifying, Coelho summed up the first final by saying, ‘that was good’. The reigning champion continued, ‘ Marco and Viljami crashed together and I could overtake them both but because they had been battling at the beginning I lost too much time to Marc and knew once I was in second I couldn’t catch so I was just managing the race to the end’. On his T4 performance the Xray driver said, ‘today it is more balanced but it is slower than yesterday’. With challenging for the win always going to be difficult from 4th on the grid, the Portuguese driver believes it is going to be ‘almost impossible to catch Marc’.
Summing up his race Volker said, ‘the warm-up lap was terrible, I could not get rear grip but as the race went on it got better but I also adapted to the behaviour of the car having so much steering’. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘I put a lot of pressure on Marco and finally could make a pass. It seems then I was faster than the guys ahead of me but P3 was the maximum I could do’. Setting the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate lap, asked about the incident with Hagberg the World Champion said, ‘there was nothing I could have done different and after checking the video I am definitely not agreeing with Alex’s opinion. There was just a bunch up between Viljami, Marco and Bruno. Giving his view of the incident, Hagberg, who would finish 9th, said, ‘I tried to take care not not hit the drivers in front but he drove straight into me. I don’t know why he did but I came off worse than him and he continued’. Behind Volker, Kaufmann would hold off Kutvonen for fourth while Olly Jefferies completed the Top 6.