Marc Rheinard has opened the new season of the Euro Offroad Series with 2WD victory at the Nurburgring. The Yokomo driver claimed his second ever EOS win when he dramatically held on to the lead of A2 from Michal Orlowski making it a perfect weekend as having TQ’d the event he kicks off the season with maximum championship points. The win marks the third season in succession that Yokomo have won the season opener as they chase a fourth consecutive manufacturers title. Completing the podium for the first event on the championship’s expanded 5-round championship, Orlowski would take second after taking the A3 win with reigning champion Lee Martin opening his title defence with 3rd.
‘For sure now we have to aim for the title’ was Rheinard’s reaction to his win. Although a regular in the EOS, the 4-time onroad World Champion only managed his first EOS win when he took the penultimate round last season. Asked if this weekend was a turning point in him getting to grips with 2WD Buggy, he replied, ‘I think my driving has for sure improved but doing the German Nationals last week really helped. It gave me a chance to get out of touring car mode’. Incidentally the German would finish second at the 2WD German Nationals behind former EOS Champion Joern Neumann. Commenting on the second A-Main, having survived throwing away the race lead twice in A1 to win it, he said of his first incident on the opening lap, ‘On the step down I went wide and myself and Wollanka touched which let Lee go by but then Lee over jumped the table top and I went from third to first’. On the second error he continued, ‘I had a good rhythm and a good feel for the car. I could see Orlowski was closing but I knew I had a big enough lead but then for some reason on the step down I didn’t manage to land it. He (Orlowski) tried to avoid me and he rolled too which was lucky for me’. With a 3-point lead in the championship over Orlowski, Rheinard added, ‘I never touched the car today so I have to thank Pumpi and Shin for all their help’.
Giving his view of A2, Orlowski said, ‘Me & Marc put on a good show for you’. Having the advantage of new tyres for the race, the 15-year-old said, ‘In the middle of the run I though something was wrong with my car because I could hear a weird noise so I dropped back. The feeling of the car was ok so I don’t know if I imagined it so started to push again. When I saw Marc’s car crash I didn’t want to hit him so I thought I could go around without crashing him but it didn’t work out and I rolled myself. It was close.’ Pressuring Martin into a mistake in A3 to go on to win the leg from Bruno Coelho and Martin, Orlowski said, ‘I’m very happy with second after my lack of good driving in qualifying’. The former race winner continued, ‘the car was very good all weekend and I have to say a big thanks to Tristram (Neal) for that but I just couldn’t drive 5-minutes. After the 1st A-Main (in which he finished 9th) I just wanted to get a good result, I didn’t expect 2nd’. On getting passed Martin he said, ‘With a good gap back to third I knew I could put pressure on Lee without too much risk. I though maybe if I could force him to go wide I could pass but I didn’t expect him to make a mistake but he did and it worked out for me’.
Continuing his run of podium finishes with the YZ2, finishing all of last year’s races in the Top 2, Martin summed up the day by saying ‘the car was good but next time it’ll be dialled’. Looking back on A2 he said, ‘I screwed that up myself. The other two made mistakes and landed on their wheels. I made a mistake and landed on my roof’. On the concluding race, he said, ‘It start good but it was really hard to drive as it was almost dark but I still managed to get a gap. Then Orlowski started to catching with the benefit of newer tyres. After my morning tyre issues I was on the only tyres I had left. Then I made my mistake and while I tried to catch him I was trying a bit too hard and made too many mistakes’. The Brit concluded, ‘Obviously a win would have been a nice result to kick off the season with but I’ll take 3rd’.
Having been the surprise of the weekend topping practice and then backing that up with a TQ run in Q1 and 4 to qualify second, Wollanka would finish 4th. Leading away A3 as Rheinard sat it out, the Xray driver would see off Martin for a lap until he caught the piping and forced to give up places could only recover to P5, a result he would have to count with his A1 P3, having only got sixth in the second leg. Behind the Austrian would be fellow countryman and team-mate Hupo Hönigl. Neil Cragg would complete the Top 6 but the result was well below what was expected of the Team Associated driver considering their achievements at the final round last season.