ARA F3 VRS Super Series | Bathurst Report
Bathurst’s Mount Panorama Circuit played host to a dramatic third round of the Apex Racing Academy F3 VRS Super Series on Saturday. This vicious Antipodean circuit ranks highly on many drivers bucket list to win. Bathurst is revered for the 1000km race in October and 12-hour event in February but in the sim racing world, the variety of competition, is infinite. Conquering such an unforgiving circuit in a single seater machine is the sternest challenge. Nevertheless, an expert set up from Apex Racing Academy coaches provided the perfect preparation to defeat Mount Panorama.
Akin to the fabled Bathurst 1000 top ten qualifying shoot out, drivers took to the track alone with minimal opportunities to set a quick time. In the PRO class, series newcomer Carl Modoff, pinched pole position from his teammate, David Holland. Christophe Herbigneaux and Hugh Barter would roll off from third and fourth place, respectively. Only two tenths of a second covering the top four drivers, promising a fierce battle in race one. Englishman, Aaron Smith, took the AM class pole position from Chivan Ballou.
Delta Sport-Team Raptor drivers Holland and Modoff, scampered away to a perfect start in race one, leading one-two as they embarked upon the mountain. For polesitter, Modoff, it wouldn’t last. A mistake on the critical exit from Forrest’s Elbow sent the American straight into the wall, ending his chances of a debut victory. AM class pole sitter Aaron Smith was even less fortunate. Quarry Bend’s seemingly magnetic outside wall, claiming the Briton’s Dallara at the first opportunity.
By lap three, Hugh Barter began to hassle Holland. Hailing from Nagoya, Japan but now residing in Melbourne, Barter was fuelled by local pride. A perfectly executed slipstream move on the Conrod straight moved Barter past Holland and into the lead. Alas, Barter’s time at the front would be brief. Rapid Belgian, Christophe Herbigneaux, quietly worked his way to the back of Barter, ready to line up a manoeuvre. Once again, the Quarry Bend wall would be waiting for another victim. Whilst defending from the advances of Herbigneaux, Barter brushed the wall and dropped from the lead. Luckily, for the fourteen-year-old, Barter was able to continue and get back on the pace. A miraculous escape. Better still, the Antipodean ace’s luck would come in once more. On the seventh lap, the slightest of touches between Holland and Herbigneaux would have catastrophic consequences. A slightly clumsy move from Holland at The Cutting inflicted a light tap on Herbigneaux’s left-rear haunch and a resultant barricade of bodywork. Meanwhile, Barter slipped through like a slippery eel, reclaiming the lead. Holland would recover to fourteenth but Herbigneaux’s race was ruined.
Following the dramatic incident, Barter couldn’t be bettered and cruised to an eventual victory of 1.2 seconds from Seitz, another benefactor of the Herbigneaux/Holland pile up. Gianni Espinosa and Isaac Snider tussled for AM class laurels all the way to the line. Espinosa taking the class win by a whisker.
A partly reversed grid for race two jumbled the order. Race one winner, Hugh Barter, would start in the depths of the pack, in tenth place. Rust Racing’s Mark Macdonald rolled off from pole position in convincing fashion, leading into lap two. Championship contender Christophe Herbigneaux’s night went from bad to worse. A mistake at Forrest’s Elbow sending the Belgian careering into the back of another car on lap two.
A mistake from Macdonald on lap six allowed Rod Clinard into the lead, immediately dropping the American into the clutches of the chasing Barter. Moments later, contact heading at the terrifyingly quick right hander of The Chase, torpedoed Barter off track.
As the penultimate lap of the feature race commenced, Greg Seitz began his assault on leader, Rod Clinard. However, Seitz would have to wait to the final drag down The Conrod straight to attack. A flawlessly judged drafting manoeuvre allowed the Rust Racing star to slip past Clinard to pinch the lead. A lead he held through the final sector, all the way to the chequered flag. Carl Modoff made amends for his race one blunder with a strong charge to third place. Chivan Ballou took the AM class win, the only driver in his class in the overall top ten.
Images by @Groove_Media
Following the race, feature race winner, Greg Seitz, gave his thoughts on a tight last lap tussle:“I thought I had the pace on Rod. I think he was backing us up a little bit. I knew if I could stay close to Rod heading down the back straight, I knew I’d have a great opportunity” beamed the Rust Racing ace.
Rod Clinard revealed his anguish of narrowly missing out on a maiden victory: “I was just running for my life from Seitz because I knew he was coming. I was so fixated on Seitz that I didn’t realise my teammate was coming along with him until the last corner!”
Third place finisher, Carl Modoff, confirmed his delight after a much-improved result in the feature race: “That was a good recovery from the embarrassing moment I the heat race” exclaimed the series newcomer.
On Saturday 29th August, the Apex Racing Academy F3 VRS Super Series heads to Imola for the penultimate round of the season. With the championship standings agonisingly close in both PRO and AM classes, a dramatic finale to the series is guaranteed. Tune in to Apex Racing TV via the link below to catch all the action.