2019 - ETS ROUND 4
MAY 23-26 CALIFORNIA, USA
The 2019 Reedy Race of Champions marked the beginning of a new chapter for this legendary race. With its spiritual home no longer in existence after the famed Tamiya Raceway was redeveloped into a commercial property since last year's farewell, finding a new home was always going to be a huge ask. A favourite with drivers, Tamiya Raceway's compact size and infamous kink was perfect for the unique heads up racing format and for the Infinity team it had been a happy hunting ground. The IF14 won on its debut in 2017 and Marc backed that up with victory again last year. For the 22nd running of the Reedy Race, California's newest track would become the centre of attention for electric touring car fans around the world. Announced as the host for the 2019 1:8 Onroad World Championship, Steel City RC Speedway is a complete contrast to Tamiya Raceway. Located in the shadows of the full size Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, such is the massive size of the 1:8 inspired track, that the 25% of track removed from the layout for its Reedy Race debut was the size of the entire track of its predecessor.
A track completely new to the oversea competitors, the fact that 'Sunny California' wasn't living up to its title didn't help preparations for the racing. With Thursday scheduled as a practice day before three days of heads up racing for the invitation class, RC racing's newest element, rain, once again followed our sport around the globe. Arriving to a wet track, drivers got one damp run before rain returned and washed out any further running. Thankfully Friday and Saturday's weather was to be keeping more with Cali tradition but Sunday had question marks over how it might turn out. Getting to practice their drifting skills over a 4-minute run on Thursday, two rounds of practice were scheduled into Friday's timetable followed by five instead of the traditional four daily rounds of racing.
With tradition low, conditions were going challenging as drivers lined up for the first round of racing. Rather than the usual 3 heats of 8 cars per round, the 22 entry count meant two 12 grid spot races would be run over 12 rounds with 10 to count. Kicking off the new chapter for the race, all three of our IF14's would line-up in Race 1 with Viktor claiming a second followed by Marc in third and Akio in fourth. Also new for this year was that the two winners from the previous round would grid up in the same race for the following round and start on the same row. Lining up in the winners heat for Round 2, Marc registered his first win, while in the other encounter Viktor came out on top from 5th on the grid meaning they would go head to head in Round 3. Working there way to the front from the fourth row, contact between Marc and Lucas Urban on the last lap as they battle for the lead presented the opportunity for Viktor to become the first double winner of event while Marc got a P3. Round 4 and they would again share the same grid and coming through from P9 on the grid Marc finished second with Viktor third having started on the back row. Faced with another back row start for the final round of racing for the day, Viktor showed great pace setting the fastest lap but following contact with another car he needed to be marshalled. While the marshal was super quick in getting to his car, the way he lifted the car caused a body tuck ending any chance of going for the win. While finishing third, up front from the front row of the grid Ronald Volker took the win which meant he was the Day 1 points leader. For Marc it wasn't a good end to the day either as he struggled for traction and he faced the problem of having to use the same set of tyres to start out Day 2's racing - drivers getting a new set of handout tyres every two rounds.
Saturday's action was to open with some very tricky conditions, with traction levels widely described as terrible. Despite this, Viktor was looking on target to close the gap at the top of the points table until he came across two cars spun in the sweeper which he was unable to avoid leading to a broken car and retirement. A frustrating way to start off the day. In the other race, Marc as expected struggled with his set of tyres but up front Akio bagged his first win of the event. For the overall win it was becoming a clear two way battle between Viktor and Volker. Looking to reduce the points deficit, Viktor gave his all in Round 7 to get by Volker, who started ahead of him but he ran out of laps and finished P2. Time was running out to claw back the damage that was done in first run of the day and there was the increasing doubt of being able to run the final two rounds on Sunday due to rain. Clearly the fastest driver, Viktor delivered an important win in Round 8 ahead of Marc. With the grid for his Round 9 encounter again favouring Volker, Viktor managed to pass his rival but stuck behind others early on it was too late for him to challenge for the important win. Still, it was all to play for given the likely hood Round 10 would conclude this year's race. Lining up in separate races Viktor and Volker matched each other with wins and while Viktor continued his display of outright speed by recording the only 21-lap race time, it looked like 2019 wasn't going to be our year. The final decision on that would be down to mother nature and around a 12-hour wait over which time Viktor was doing the opposite to a rain dance!!
To almost everyone's surprise, Sunday's weather forecast hadn't materialised and we had a dry track to race on. It was cold & windy but it was dry and there was two more opportunities to try & make it three in a row for the IF14. As winners of the previous day's 10th round, Viktor would line up on the front row alongside Volker who had the pole. With the faster car, Viktor looked to have the move made for the lead with one & half minutes to go but an out of shape Volker hit him in the chicane resulting in both cars breaking. One last chance remained but Viktor had to win it. Starting on pole, that's exactly what he did and knowing the importance of the tie breaker of the fastest three combined race times his determined drive the evening before was key to our man securing his first victory since joining the team earlier this year. What a race to mark your first win with. Ending his event with two more wins, Marc made it a podium double with third place overall. With Akio taking the IF14's race winning tally 12 at this year's event with his two wins that secured him 4th overall, it was a great team effort that meant we also brought home the Manufacturers title for another year.