FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Ronald Volker's first Reedy TC Race win
Friday, May 15, 2015 04:31pm
By Aaron Waldron
Everybody knows that Friday is meant for reminiscing old times. Each week we take you back in time as we flashback to some of R/C racing's greatest moments, products, drivers, and more!
Ronald Völker wins his first Reedy Touring Car Race of Champions title amid controversy
Last year, Ronald Völker won the Reedy Touring Car Race of Champions on his way to a spectacular 2014 run - including his fourth straight Euro Touring Series championship and second Euros title in a row - that nearly ended in his first IFMAR World Championship. He won several other international races along the way, including the Reedy International Touring Car Race of Champions in the event’s storied return to the track at Tamiya America.
It was the German’s second win in the illustrious invite-only, heads-up racing spectacle, joining Barry Baker (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003) and Marc Rheinard (2006, 2007, 2011, 2013) as the only three drivers to win the race more than once in its 17-year history. The first, at Speedworld in Ripon, CA, came in 2009 under strange circumstances.
Just weeks before the event, Völker shocked the on-road world when he switched from HB (then Hot Bodies) to Yokomo. Not only was the on-road RC racing scene struggling at that time, especially in the U.S., but that year’s Reedy TC Race fell on an awkward weekend for many international drivers. So few drivers entered that the typical format for the Invitational class - which was to run alongside the Open Modified, 13.5 and RCGT divisions - was changed drastically. Instead, all Modified drivers ran together four rounds of points-style qualifying, and the top 21 were separated from the field to run four rounds of an abbreviated Reedy-type heads-up format.
After switching over from HB, Völker began working closely with Yukijiro Umino. Umino was one of the designers of the BD5 and formerly Masami Hirosaka's mechanic. The pair's working relationship continues to this day.
Three of the four rounds were used to determine the overall finishing order. Rather than serve as the tiebreaker, each driver's worst score was discarded completely - and the results of the timed sessions earlier in the weekend were used to settle any points battles.
In round one, the three heats were won by Völker, Juho Levanen, and Rick Hohwart - after on-track winner Paul Lemieux was penalized for a rough pass on Hohwart in the final corner.
Hohwart recovered in the second round, however, winning his heat as did then-Tamiya driver Hupo Hönigl. This was the only time in four rounds that Völker and Levanen raced each other, and the Finn got the upper hand on the German.
In round three, Hohwart won again along with Völker and Levanen.
Völker and Levanen won their final rounds as well, as did Ralph Burch Jr.
After four rounds, both Ronald Völker and Juho Levanen were tied with perfect scores - three wins each. Rather than just using the throwouts as tie-breakers (or even the race in which the drivers competed heads-up), the tie went to the driver who qualified higher. Völker was the runaway Top Qualifier, while Levanen was just fifth after four rounds of staggered qualifying.
The tiebreaker gave the overall championship to Ronald Völker in his Yokomo debut. Though the rules were made clear, the decision left Juho Levanen - who won all four of his races including heads-up against Völker - on the second step of the podium. Rick Hohwart rounded out the podium thanks in part to the rough driving call in the first round that gave him the first-place points, which made up the difference between his score and that of fourth-place finisher Hupo Hönigl.
Though he has maintained that he’s not a fan of the format, which he feels requires too much luck rather than all-out pace and strategy, the German driver won the race again five years later. There was no controversy or rules-based decision this time, as Völker won seven of his twelve races - including a final round showdown with runner-up Marc Rheinard - to wrap up the title.
Will he win successfully defend his title in 2015? You'll be able to watch all the racing action live next weekend!