ARA F3 VRS Super Series | Laguna Seca Report
Round two saw the Apex Racing Academy F3 VRS Super Series head stateside, to the tricky Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca. A more different challenge to the first round at Monza, you will not find. With the slip stream effect negligible, drivers would have to execute overtaking manoeuvres perfectly to gain track position.
In qualifying, David Holland set the pace with a 1 minute and 15.699 second lap. Hugh Barter joined Holland on the front row. Monza feature race winner, Christophe Herbigneaux qualified third. With the top three drivers covered by less than two tenths of a second in qualifying, race one promised to be a thriller. As qualifying concluded and drivers took to the grid, both PRO and AM championship leaders, Sam Kuitert and Nick Brown, were nowhere to be seen.
As the race began, Holland launched beautifully off the line, converting his pole position to a race lead coming out of the Andretti hairpin. Herbigneaux ambushed Hugh Barter, stealing second place. Sadly, for Barter, race one woes haunted the Japanese/Australian ace once again. A spin on the exit of the final turn on lap one dropped him down the order.
On lap two, PRO class driver, Ethan Lampe hit trouble. On the exit of turn four, Lampe arrived to find AM class contender, Bryan Vorce, broadside across the track. With nowhere to go, Lampe ploughed into Vorce and mayhem ensued as more cars fell victim to the hordes of bodywork blocking the circuit.
On the fourth lap, Aaron Smith crashed his Alpha Tauri liveried machine, losing a wheel in the process. In true gritty spirit, the Briton limped his Dallara back to the pits. Smith’s sheer stubbornness won him plenty fans on Apex Racing TV’s coverage. Devastatingly for Smith, another spin on his out lap left the #42 machine parked until the feature race.
Despite constant pressure from Holland, Herbigneaux never flinched and took victory by 1.3 seconds to make it two in a row for the Fiercely Forward man. Hugh Barter recovered to fourth, after his spin on lap one.
In the AM class, Chivan Ballou took his first win of the season but not without incident. On the penultimate lap, Ballou spun heading up the Rahal straight. Despite the blunder, Ballou managed to stumble over the finish line to clinch class victory. The spin and win, a coveted achievement many drivers wear proudly.
When the lights went out to start the feature race, Taylor Lane dashed from third on the grid, getting the hole shot into the lead at the Andretti hairpin. Race one winner, Christophe Herbigneaux, wasn’t so fortunate. Typical turn one turmoil forcing the Belgian to return to pit lane for repairs.
Taylor Lane’s reign lasted until the notorious corkscrew section. A spin on cold tyres put paid to the Briton’s victory hopes.
With Herbigneax far down the order and Kuitert absent, David Holland seized the opportunity to take control of the championship lead with a charge to third place by lap three. Just up the road, Eddie Beswick led from Hugh Barter. Wasting no time, Barter barged his way past Beswick with Holland following in his path. The tone of the race now set, it would be a straight fight for the win between Barter and Holland.
Sporting his beloved Damon Hill replica helmet, Aaron Smith led the AM class at the halfway point. A fine recovery after a messy heat race.
Meanwhile, Herbigneaux put on a masterclass recovery drive, climbing up to eleventh by lap thirteen. At the front, Barter and Holland traded fastest laps with ease but Barter held strong. As the final laps approached, Holland began to put Barter under the cosh, but the 14-year-old didn’t flinch. In fact, as the white flag was being prepared, Holland made a crucial error at the final corner and spun into the gravel. As a result, Barter had the luxury to ease his #68 to his first win of the season. Despite his error, Holland managed to limp home in second place to take the championship lead.
Further back, the scuffle for the final spot on the podium went down to the wire. Greg Seitz gave Eddie Beswick no respite and despite a final corner move, Beswick edged Seitz in a drag race to the line by a whisker. In the AM class, Aaron Smith cruised to class honours by twenty seconds from Brett Punkari. Smith the only AM class driver to finish in the overall top ten.
Next on the calendar is the notorious Mount Panorama circuit, which promises to be every bit as dramatic as the opening two rounds. Check out all the action, live, on Apex Racing TV at 8pm EST on Saturday 22nd August.
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