Madsen masters Imola!
Apex Racing Academy’s fledgling Porsche Cup Championship (ARA PC) returned for round two on Wednesday. Following a tightly contested inaugural meeting at Oulton Park, a packed grid of thirty-three cars lined up at Imola to resume battle.
Tamburello, Piratella, Rizza. Imola is chock-full of iconic, yet notorious sections. Although not typically known for sports car racing, Imola does have brief interludes in a rich heritage of Grand Prix and motorcycle racing. Gritty Briton, Brian Redman, muscled a wild Porsche 917K to victory in the 1970 Imola 500km, without the assistance of a co-driver! ARA PC needn’t worry about repeating Redman’s heroics, two short sprint races are the order of the day in this fast-paced series.
In qualifying, Nick Madsen pipped Salvatore Larne to pole position by a tenth of a second. Madsen’s mastery of Imola’s quirky course gave the Danish star the vitally important clear view to Tamburello. Quickest of the AM class runners, was Jentsen Adriaenssens, in twelfth overall.
As the green lights illuminated, Madsen mashed the throttle of his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup machine and dashed to Tamburello in the lead. Madsen’s front row companion, Salvatore Larne, fumbled his opportunity for the podium with a combination of errors on lap two.
At the halfway mark, Madsen amassed a slender advantage of 2.6 seconds between himself and an emergent Ivo Laubscher. Madsen’s march continued all the way to the chequered flag, sealing a superb maiden win for the Dane.
Laubscher enjoyed second place until the penultimate lap, when a rampant Lewis Ward arrived on the scene. A pristine move from Ward at the Alta chicane gave the Englishman the runner up spot. Laubscher faded but still maintained third place.
Jentsen Adriaenssens narrowly missed out on converting the AM class pole to a race win. Brazilian, Daniel Manzano, took the honour from his Belgian rival by little over two seconds.
Race two’s inverted grid placed Luke Maxwell and Phillipe Lauer on the front row of the grid. Race one victor, Nick Madsen, started from eighth.
After a very brief spell behind Luke Maxwell, Salvatore Larne swiftly moved into the lead. The Italian ace looked keen to make amends for his stumble in race one. Also seeking redemption, was Ivo Laubscher, who leapfrogged to second in the early stages.
Lewis Ward wouldn’t repeat his race one heroics after his Michelin tyres cried no more under acceleration out of the Tosa hairpin.
Fifteen minutes into the race, the early leader had company. Laubscher and Madsen negotiated the pack and joined Larne for a triple threat bout for the win. Larne enjoyed brief respite while Laubscher nipped at the heels of Madsen. Eventually, the Dane escaped the Swiss ace and set off in pursuit of Larne.
Seven minutes from the flag, Madsen made his move. An audacious attack around the outside at Tamburello gave Madsen the lead, just. However, the excitement was far from over.
On the entry to the double left of Rivazza, Madsen and Larne clashed. Larne spun and Madsen carried on. Perhaps aware of the wrath of the stewards, Madsen halted his Porsche to allow his stricken adversary to reclaim the position. Meanwhile, Max Wolf and Ivo Laubscher unexpectedly arrived on the scene. Suddenly, two became four in this calamitous battle for the lead.
However, the battle concluded immediately, at Tamburello. As Laubscher and Larne tangled, Madsen escaped to the win with Wolf following behind. With no one left in the leading quartet to claim third, Roberto Ferrari gladly stepped up to pinch the final spot on the podium.
Following the race, several ARA Porsche Cup drivers offered their reflections to Sam Fitzpatrick and Dane Baird in the Apex Racing TV commentary box:
Nick Madsen on a qualifying lap that set up a double victory: “I had a few off-track penalties in qualifying and knew I really had to concentrate on the last lap, and it was just enough to get pole position” revealed the Danish star.
Max Wolf on the last lap melee: “I was expecting there to be contact, so I backed off a little bit. When the contact happened, they spun in front of me. I could either slow down or bash my through, so I just planted the throttle!”
Pete Wadsworth: “I’m buzzing! That was really good and a lot better than the nightmare I had in race two last week at Oulton Park.”
In a fortnight’s time, the Apex Racing Academy Porsche Cup heads east, to the land of the rising sun. Although not as famous as Suzuka, Fuji or Motegi, Okayama presents a highly technical challenge. Tune in to all the action at 20.10 GMT on the iRacing Esports network and Apex Racing TV.