2017 REEDY RACE OF CHAMPIONS
MAY 25-28 TAMIYA RACEWAY, CALIFORNIA, USA
One of the World’s most legendary races both for Electric Touring Car and Electric Offroad, 2017 marked the 20th running of the Reedy International Touring Car Race of Champions. Taking place at the historic Tamiya Raceway in Aliso Viejo, California, this would be the first time Infinity participated in this unique heads up racing format and what a weekend it was to turn out to be.
Marc Rheinard, Akio Sobue, Naoto Matsukura and Thomas Pumpler represented the team as part of the 24 invited drivers completing for the coveted Reedy Race trophy over 12 rounds and 3 days of racing. The fourth consecutive year the race has been held at Tamiya Raceway since returning to what is widely recognised as the spiritual home of the race created by industry pioneer Mike Reedy, the 2017 entry was one of the most competitive this decade setting the stage for tough competitive racing.
With the team all happy with their IF14s after Thursday's four rounds of free practice, Marc and Naoto would kick off the event in the best way possible as they claimed a 1-2 in the first of the 36 point scoring heats. With 1 point for a win down to 8 for 8th position, each heat having 8 starters, drivers could only drop 2 of the 12 rounds. As a result every position made in a heat was crucial come Sunday evening when the final point were tallied up. For Akio he also kicked off the event in the best way possible winning his opening encounter. Round 2 would see another win for Marc but in his third race he met with the track's infamous kink. With every Reedy Race competitor having an encounter with 'the kink' but gaining more respect for the dream crusher with each year they race at the small track, this would be Marc’s one & only blot on his copy book for the weekend. While Marc had a retirement after his short flight following the run in with the kink, Akio would double up on his winning tally. On target for a third win in his final Race of Day 1, with Marc on his rear bumper Akio would roll through the final corner handing Marc the win but P2 left him sharing the Day 1 overnight points lead with Meen Vejrak.
Day 2’s action started with a P3 for Marc however Akio had a coming together with Viktor Wilck in the kink, with Wilck taking the win as Akio dropped to fifth. For Naoto he would again start his day with a second place, Day 1 having been unlucky for him with an 8th in Round 2 and 7th in Round 4. Over the rest of the day Marc would register two more wins, and a P2 from last on the grid. All this put him as the overnight leader going into the final day. Unfortunately for Akio it was to be a rough day at the office as got a 5th and a 6th, these ending up being his two throw out rounds in the final ranking.
With a great air of anticipation in the team on Sunday morning, Marc needed to get through his final four races with solid results as opposed to wins. Going for the lead in Round 9 he made slight contact with leader Ralph Burch and dropped to the back as he waited for Ralph to retake position. A great recovery drive would see him get back up to 3rd with Akio achieving the same result in his heat. With front row starts for his next two encounters, Marc converted his No.1 starting position into 1 point in Round 10 and now a sixth Reedy Race title was within arms reach, but as its the Reedy Race, Marc was not accepting it was job done just yet.
With a break of almost 2 hours between races and with all the drivers fuelled up from lunch, the amazing moment finally arrived in the penultimate round of heats as Marc registered his 7th win of the weekend to wrap up the 2017 Reedy Race title early. An unbelievable achievement, Marc is now a record six time winner having surpassed Barry Baker as the most celebrated champion in 2015. Afterwards, Marc admitted this one was extra special because he did it with a brand new team. The win marks the first international race title for our first touring car creation, the IF14, and to cap off the ultimate weekend Akio points combined with Marc’s meant we were crowned Reedy Race Manufacturer Champions. What a day for the Infinity history books. With our EP project and team just 3-months old we couldn’t be more proud of this achievement and look forward to building on the great vibe that has already been created within the team. Thanks to everyone for their contribution in getting us this far already.