By Tyler Hooks
For the second time this season the Yokomo Euro Touring Series revisits one of the tracks from the past with Apeldoorn in the Netherlands the destination for drivers for Round 5 this weekend (22- 24 June). Last on the ETS calendar in 2013, the track is a contrast to the previous round when the championship returned to the tight & technical Andernach track in Germany last month. Having previously hosted the ETS four times, it is Marc Rheinard who comes into the penultimate round with the best record taking 3 wins there. The other winner is then Tamiya and now Infinity team- mate Jilles Groskamp who won on the first visit in 2009. A track layout that is highly regarded by drivers, the weekend is an important one in terms of the championship as drivers look to force the championship to do down to the final round.
Having never been to Andernach before, while it took him time to get used to the tight layout, it didn’t prevent Bruno Coelho from becoming the season’s first double winner. The Xray driver hadn’t yet burst onto the international touring car scene when the ETS last travelled to Apeldoorn but the reigning champion could mark his first visit by wrapping up early his third title in a row. Coming into the weekend with a healthy 8-point lead over Rheinard, the Portuguese driver has just two remaining rivals for the title. Rheinard, who won the season opener, and the only other race winner of Season #11 Alexander Hagberg must win come Sunday evening to stay in contention.
While his title hopes ended in Andernach when he could only manage 6th from 9th on the grid, Ronald Volker will be determined to put in a strong finish to the season. Since joining the ETS, the 5-time champion has never gone a season without registering a win and with the World Champion facing into the defence of that title in South Africa in August a win this weekend would be a huge boost for the Yokomo driver. His previous best finish at the Dutch track came on the last visit when he made the podium for the first time finishing 3rd behind winner Rheinard and second place Viktor Wilck.
Having come so close to his first ever ETS win last month, only to lose out to Coelho on the tie breaker, Naoto Matsukura will be hoping he can back up his first championship outing of the 2017/18 season and again challenging for the win in Apeldoorn. The Infinity driver’s last three ETS appearances have all netted the former World Champion podium finishes but so far the top step has eluded him and that’s a statistic the current 1:12 World Campion wants to rectify. Team-mate Jilles Groskamp may give his age as an excuse as to why adding a second Apeldoorn victory to his CV will be difficult. The Thai based Dutchman however took advantage of a very supportive Dutch crowd at the Euro Nitro Series season opener in Rucphen in May to claim his first ever win in the championship and the former World Champion will have their full support again this weekend.
Having enjoyed his best result of the season last time out, taking the win in A3 but losing out on 3rd overall on tie break with Rheinard, Viktor Wilck has a good record at Apeldoorn having finished runner-up there twice. The Serpent driver will be hoping he can mix it with the big three manufacturers as will Awesomatix’s Freddy Sudhoff, who like Wilck has shown the pace on asphalt to challenge for a podium finish. While Andernach didn’t go his way, Christopher Krapp produced good form on the asphalt in Madrid and he would like to finish out his first ETS season with Yokomo with further podiums to add to that he took in Spain. Making his first asphalt outing of 2018, Schumacher Racing’s Elliott Harper has the potential to mix it at the front like he did last season in Italy.
In Pro Stock and Formula, the weekend is also a decisive one. Awesomatix’s Max Mächler needs to win to keep alive his hopes of the title against Xray’s Jan Ratheisky who looks on target to get back the title. In the Scorpion Power System Formula class, it is also Ratheisky at the top of the points table but both Olivier Bultynck and reigning champion David Ehrbar can deny him his fifth Formula class crown. New for Season #11, the Infinity 40+ Masters class has produced a different winner each round but it is Round 4 winner Thomas Oehler who leads from Round 3 winner Christian Drießle with Beni Stutz holding third but only Drießle can challenge Oehler for the inaugural title.