With the two carpet races on this year’s Yokomo Euro Touring Series leaving Marc Rheinard and Bruno Coelho sharing the lead in the points table, the championship moves to Spain this weekend (13-15 April) for Europe’s first major international outdoor race of 2018. With the large Asoger track having made a popular debut on the ETS calendar 12-months ago, it was to be Coelho who would go down as the first winner in Madrid enroute to the successful defence of his championship title. Like last season, the Xray driver again starts off the switch to asphalt at the top of the points but this time he shares it with Rheinard. The Infinity driver won the season opener in Austria ahead of Coelho with the duo swapping positions at Round 2 and now they each want to leave Spain with a second win and break clear of their rivals.
It is Ronald Volker who sits third in the standings, five points adrift, having put his Yokomo on the final step of the podium at the opening two rounds. However, the World Champion knows he needs to find something big this weekend if he is to remain in the hunt for the title he held for so long before losing it to Coelho. 2018 has seen a lot of change at Yokomo, and that clearly has had an effect. Failing to make the A-Main at the TITC earlier this year, the German is working his way through the restructering of the team and with the ETS’ switch of surface will want to re-establish himself as a contender for race wins. Rejoining Yokomo for 2018 after a number of disappointing seasons at VBC Racing, Yannic Prumper showed on his first outing back with the team in Daun that he hasn’t lost his raw speed. Finishing fourth behind his team-mate, the former ETS race winner is certain to one to watch this weekend.
Another potential winner this weekend is Akio Sobue. Fourth at the race last year, the Japanese Infinity driver returns to Europe off the back of claiming his first major international title having won the TITC in Bangkok last month. Infinity will be in Spain with its biggest line-up of the season so far with Jilles Groskamp making his first ETS outing of Season #11. Fifth at the race last year, the former World Champion will boost the team’s potential to gather set-up information throughout practice and qualifying which could prove vital due to the weather looking changeable.
Fresh from wrapping up yet another 1:12 European Championship victory last weekend in the Netherlands, Alexander Hagberg comes into Round 3 fourth in the standings. The Swede had a tough time in Spain last year ending up 8th but with Xray designer Martin Hudy now looking after the multiple ETS race winner expect much better things this time round.
Outside the big three teams, this weekend marks the debut for two new drivers signings at Awesomatix. Top French drivers Loic Jasmin and Lucas Urbain have both joined the Russian manufacturer which lost its star driver Viljami Kutvonen. Both Jasmin and Urbain will be looking to Awesomatix frontman Freddy Sudhoff to help get them up to speed with the unique car given especially Urbain, whose deal was only announced this week. For Kutvonen, Spain marks his debut with Mugen where he joins 1:10 nitro ace Erik Dankel to boost the Japanese company’s foray into Electric Touring cars.
In Pro Stock and Formula both of last year’s Spanish winners will be out for repeat wins. Alexander Duchet had a difficult season opener and was absent from Round 2 so he really needs to hit the top this weekend. Xray team-mate Jan Ratheisky has had the perfect start to his campaign with with the TQ and win at the first two rounds to lead the points from Awesomatix’s Max Mächler and Xray’s Mustafa Alp. Ratheisky also leads the Formula standings with a one point advantage over the Serpent of reigning champion David Ehrbar for whom Spain was his worst result of last season when he finished 8th. Winner last time out from 3rd on the grid, Shepherd driver Olivier Bultynck sits 3rd in the standings. Having taken the TQ in Madrid last year but beaten in the finals by Ratheisky, the Belgian will be looking to complete the perfect weekend this time round.