Name – Road Race Riccione RC Circuit Marco Simoncelli Country – Italy Location – Riccione Host Club – Road Race Riccione Surface – Asphalt Direction – Anti-clockwise Previous ETS races hosted – 2015 (Winner Yannic Prumper) & 2016 (Winner Bruno Coelho)
Road Race Riccione RC Circuit Marco Simoncelli is the venue for Round 4 of the Euro Touring Series, this being the third time the Italian circuit has hosted the championship. First appearing on the calendar in 2015 after a long search by the championship organisers to find a venue to bring Italy back onto the ETS calendar, the track was initially a big hit with racers. Not just fans of the track, it was also the location that was been key to the success of the race. One of Italy’s famed tourist destinations, the majority of racers get to wake in the hotels to a view of the beach and thankfully this year the weather is looking a lot more accommodating to the wearing of shorts and sitting outside the restaurants once the day at the track is complete.
With World Champion Ronald Volker declaring it one of his favourite tracks on his first visit, the Yokomo driver still stands by that feeling however the track’s famous bump appears to be becoming a bigger issue. Situated just before the corner entering onto the main straight it has proven to be a place where many drivers’ chances of success have come to a violent end, their cars usually getting launched in a roll up the grass banking along the main straight. Volker said, ‘This year I see a lot more people crashing there’. Team-mate Meen Vejrak , who is a podium finisher at the track, added, ‘the good line is getting narrower, I think the bump has got wider and its much harder to avoid it’. One driver getting his first taste of the track this year is Infinity’s Akio Sobue. The Japanese ace has not been enamoured by the track, quickly pointing to the bump and saying ‘I don’t like this’.
The Yokomo Euro Touring Series travels to Italy this weekend (12-14 May) with the outcome of the Riccione event crucial to the rivals of reigning champion Bruno Coelho.With the first half of the season complete it is advantage Coelho with the Xray driver registering two wins from the three races.With last month’s third round in Spain marking the start of the outdoor season, the Portuguese driver took an important psychological strike against his rivals as the rest of the season will be battled out on asphalt.Only the ETS’s third visit to the Riccione track, it is a venue that has proven a happy hunting ground for Coelho with it being one of three wins he claimed last season en route to the title.The race’s other winner is Yannic Prumper who took the spoils in 2015 but its Coelho’s main title challengers Marc Rheinard and Ronald Volker who need to be the third winner at the beach side holiday destination in order to heat things up in the Season #10 title chase.
The only other winner so far this season, with hard work paying dividends at Round 2 in Germany, Volker failed to repeat that form in Madrid.While he would end up third, the World Champion was never a threat for the win. While Riccione has never been good to the Yokomo driver in terms of a result, it is one of the German’s favourite tracks and he knows he can be quick there having taken the TQ in 2015. Unfortunately Coelho’s ETS asphalt debut that weekend resulted in the pair clashing in the finals with Volker finishing 4th while Coelho completed the podium behind Prumper and Meen Vejrak.Last year would fare worse as he would only qualify & finish 5th but the 5-time ETS champion wants his title back as do Yokomo, so they can be expected to come out fighting for the win this weekend.
With Madrid only his second outing with touring car newcomers Infinity, Rheinard would be the only one to keep Coelho honest there.The 4-time World Champion had a rejuvenated focus for the first asphalt race and pushed his rival hard in qualifying, the TQ having to be settled on the tie-breaker in favour of Coelho.Like Volker, Riccione is not a track which Rheinard has enjoyed particular success although he did at least make the podium last year.With third on his Infinity debut and P2 on his second outing the German will be looking to complete the trend with a win.Again Jilles Groskamp will form the team’s core EP team for the weekend and the former World Champion’s input within the team is a factor that should never be underestimated.Having come close to the podium the last two outings, finishing fourth in both Germany and Spain, Akio Sobue will be aiming to join his team-mate Rheinard in the mix for the win as he makes his debut on the Road Race Riccione track.
Making a welcomed return to the ETS having been forced to miss ETS Spain due to illness, Viljami Kutvonen was impressive at Riccione last year.The Awesomatix driver would be Coelho’s closest challenger qualifying & finishing second on what is still his best ETS performance to date. Having since equalled that performance on carpet at this season’s opening round in the Czech Republic, the Finn is well up for his comeback as he chases his & Awesomatix’s first win in the premiere class.
In Pro Stock, the championship has followed a similar pattern to the Volante Modified class with winner of the season opener Alexandre Duchet adding a second win in Spain. The win was decided in A3 after reigning champion Jan Ratheisky had snatched an A1 victory on the line from his Xray team-mate.With Awesomatix’ Oliver Bultynck winning at Round 2, Ratheisky has yet to register a victory this season.In the Scorpion Power Formula class, Ratheisky did manage to end his winless streak as he denied Top Qualifier Bultynck the win at Round 3.Overall it is winner of the opening two rounds David Ehrbar who leads the standings despite being off form in Madrid.
Marc Rheinard has wrapped up the first ETS race in mainland Spain with a win in A3 that would see the Infinity driver leave Madrid with a 2nd place. With Xray’s Bruno Coelho wrapping up his second win of the season in A2, the third A-Main was a showdown between Rheinard and ETS Round 2 winner Ronald Volker for the runners-up spot. With Rheinard leading away the field as Coelho watched on, the German was untouchable winning with ease from Volker who had to work hard to fend off Akio Sobue for the early part of the race. Also third in A2, Sobue would end up 4th overall ahead of Infinity team-mate Jilles Groskamp.
‘I lost the chance to win in A2 when I spun out but now for sure I would have been able to match Bruno’s pace’, was Rheinard’s reaction after the race. The only driver to challenge Coelho in qualifying by taking two rounds to end up tied on points with the reigning champion, he continued, ‘for sure I want to win but 2nd is a good result for our first race on asphalt’. Having made the podium on his ETS debut for Infinity at Round 2 but having never been in the mix for the win on that occasion, Rheinard said, ‘we are now in the right direction with the car and that is reflected in the team result here, we had four cars in the final and 3 of them ni the Top 5. We know now we are pretty close’. Looking to the fourth round of the championship next month in Italy, he concluded, ‘our result here makes us very positive for Riccione’.
Commenting on his A3 performance, Volker said, ‘right away I felt I didn’t have enough forward traction for some reason so I couldn’t do anything to stay with Marc’. Maintaining his second in the points standings with today’s result, he continued, ‘3rd is not the position I wanted before we came here but it is not too bad for the championship. We are still in the game but definitely have to beat Bruno the next one’. With Riccione ‘one of (his) favourite tracks’, the World Champion said he is confident ‘this time round we are closer to Bruno than in the passed’.
Again missing the podium, Sobue said, ‘it was too difficult to overtake. Ronald’s car was very loose but offline it was low traction so I could not pass. I tried to overtake him at the end of the straight around the outside but it was too dusty’. The Japanese driver said the weekend showed the potential is there with the ProtoTC and ‘next time I will be on the podium’.
In the Scorpion Power Formula Class there was a lot more at stake as the previous encounters produced different winners. Leading away the field, Top Qualifier Olivier Bultynck again let his lead slip away, getting out of shape and letting champion Ratheisky to the front. While the Belgian would mount a comeback, another mistake put amends to his chances of the win allowing Ratheisky to take his first overall win of the season. Infinity driver Jitse Miedema would complete the podium. In Pro Stock, Ratheisky was also in contention for the win and he certainly deserves any awards there are for effort. Having snatched the win from Xray team-mate Alexandre Duchet in A1 right at the line, the German went for it again but was too tight with his line and his T4 came to a sudden stop against the kart tyre marking the corner. Winning by 0.09, Duchet wrapped up his second win of the season with Ratheisky runner-up and Tamiya driver Christian Donath completing the podium.