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.