We are now half way through the season as RES visited England to race on the historic circuit of Silverstone last Sunday. The previous round (shanghai) saw battles down to the very last lap for podium positions in both LMP2 and GTR3, would silverstone be any different?
The circuit offers a variety of fast and slow corners, demanding the very best concentration, talent and setup work from our competitors. Both M.sanderson and D.Boon of Team Garage 59 were particularly excited to participate as Silverstone was their home circuit for the season, both stated that it is one of their all time favourites, thus confidence was high with hopes for a victory.
- HIGHLIGHT VIDEO -
It would be no easy task, as Qualifying once again displayed just how close the compeition is in both classes. In LMP2, it was Georg Ortner who took pole position in his first race of the season. Close behind him was John Dalton in his black and green Radical SR9 Judd, who looked eager and ready to make silverstone his second win of the season.
In GT3 in was Garage 59 who secured the front row of the grid, with D.Boon securing the top spot with just 1 minute remaining in the session, his team-mate would start alongside him with just 0.049s seperating both their times. As if that wasn't close enough, behind them was the cars of Radek Pawlaczek and Radoslaw Indyka who both set very competitive times making silverstone the closest qualifying session in GT3 so far! R.Arella, who is leading the GT3 class, was dissapointed as he started from 5th in class after struggling to find a decent setup to match with the English tarmac. He would have to ensure good tactics and consistency in order to retain the lead in the championship.
The lights went out and the long journey to the chequered flag began, both classes dived into the tight hairpin of "village" trying to take advantage of the dense traffic at this early stage of the race. George Ortner didn't have the best of starts, with both of the RollCentre racing cars overtaking him on the inside of turn 1. In GT3, M.Sanderson took the lead on the exit of aintree as D.Boon struggled for grip in the No.59 Mclaren 650s. The rest of the pack chased the Garage 59 team, hoping to disrupt any chance of a 1-2 win for the team who are currently 3rd in the constructors. Another strong starter was the No.14 Audi driven by C.Mathieson, who was able to get to third before the pack reached brookland bend.
As the timer Decended to zero, Competition and pace began to show in both classes. G.Ortner made a bold move into Copse corner in an attempt to get past S.Jansen, with G.Ortner on the inside line, neither driver gave ground as they entered the fastest corner of the circuit, making contact touching wall to wall, they both made it through with S.Jansen losing out on second place.
In GT3, the Mclarens of Garage 59 began to slowly extend their lead from the rest of the pack with M.sanderson still leading the way. In third place was the car of Connor Mathierson , who was giving everything he had to keep within striking distance of the front runners, only losing around 0.2 seconds a lap to the Mclarens.
The leaders of LMP2 soon found themselves behind the rearguard of the GT3 class, adding an entirely new element to the race. G.Ortner capitalised on the situation, quickly closing down on the rear bumper of J.Dalton as he weaved through traffic as quickly as possible. It became clear that outright speed would not be enough to secure the top spot. J.Dalton attempted to overtake newcomer C.Durselen in his ROWE sponsored BMW at becketts, but both meet on the apex, with the Black and green Radical being spun around, allowing G.Ortner to take the lead of the race.
GT3 also saw plenty of action, with C.Mathieson catching up to D.Boons Mclaren after the first pit stop. The two would fight fo 2nd place, with several exchanges being made. However while entering Stowe corner, D.Boon took too much speed, opening the door for the audi to move into P2 in class. Further bad luck would strike with a spin at Brookland bend which would see the him fall down the grid.
Further back in GT3, fighting ensued for 4th place between 4 different GT3 cars, with several overtakes taking place throughout the race. In the end it wouldbe the Yellow No.9 Mclaren driven by R.Indyka that would come out on top, however this is a great example of just how tight the competition is even in the mid pack.
As the race entered the last stages, C.Mathieson was able to cruise past a very surprised M.sanderson, who was refuelling in the pits. The Audi was ahead by 5 seconds by the time the Mclaren got back up to speed, however the gap began to close down as M.Sanderson utilised every horsepower the 650s had to offer, taking off around half a second a lap. M.Sanderson stated after the race that fuel consumption was considerably better during the race compared to practice, which had led to him overfuelling and losing time as a result.
The Mclaren chipped away from the Audi's lead, however with a full tank of fuel, the task was one that would require immense concentration. Luck was with the #58 car, as both G.Ortner and J.Dalton, who were still neck and neck whizzed passed, diving up the inside of the Audi as they entered the corner of village. Good strategy and amazing pace had allowed J.Dalton to regain the lead from G.Ortner in LMP2, with both drivers once again unable to break away to secure the win.
Now there was a close battle for first in both classes with only 15 minutes remaining, however disaster struck as the Red and White Audi took too much speed into becketts, sending him off track and onto the grass at a crucial part of the circuit. The Garage 59 car regained the lead and put the throttle to the floor to extend the advantage as much as possible.
Further troubles would hit the No.14 car, as connor realised that he would not have enough fuel to make it to the end of the race. The driver was forced to pit for a third time, destroying his chances to fight for the lead, along with 2nd place which was taken by R.Arella in his BMW M6.
As things in the GT3 class began to calm down, with M.Sanderson slowly easing off the pace to ensure he made no silly mistakes before the chequered flag. The story was not the same in the LMP2 class. G.Ortner was able to retake the lead with a bold move down into village, Securing his place on the top spot. Both drivers crossed the line with only 0.1360 Seconds seperating them!
Once again the competition at RES demonstrated just how difficult it is to win one of our events. The challenge that multiclass racing offers is certainly unique in the motorsport world, demanding drivers to master a combination of speed, traffic management and pit stop strategy in order to get a shot at the top. Who has what it takes? I guess we will find out at the next roud at Slovakia Ring.
What are your thoughts on the race? who stood out the most to you? share your thoughts with a comment below.
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