Laubisch wins last lap thriller in California!
Apex Racing League iRacing GT Championship with Colbek – R11 Sonoma
As the Apex Racing League GT Championship presented by Colbek reaches its penultimate round, a cast of drivers sit in the epicentre of an epic struggle for the title. Niclas Laubisch, Sven Neumann, Daniel Lee and Mattia Fuligni all have the opportunity to clinch the top prize.
Sonoma Raceway in California wine country provides a hot, dusty and challenging test for the ARL GT field in eleventh round of the championship. Significant undulation and limited passing opportunities make Sonoma a daunting venue for those in the title fight.
Urano eSports star, Niclas Laubisch, pipped Mattia Fuligni for pole position by seven thousandths of a second. Immediately behind the Porsche pair on the front row, was the Core Sim Racing Corvette of Sven Neumann.
AM championship contender, Jentsen Adriaenssens started the day in vintage form with a run to pole position in class and tenth overall.
Catching the field napping, Laubisch unleashed the full might of his Porsche RSR’s 4 litre powerplant and charged to turn one with a handy advantage over Fuligni. Once into their rhythm, Fuligni and Neumann soon nestled in behind Laubisch who couldn’t escape at the front.
In fourth position, Maik Paluch played a perfect rear gunner for his Core Sim Racing stablemate, Sven Neumann. With some superb defensive driving, Paluch kept a hurried Danny Lee at bay. During the final five minutes of the opening sprint race, Laubisch hit the afterburners and pulled away confidently from his championship rivals to claim victory ahead of Fuligni and Neumann.
Converting upon class pole position, Jentsen Adriaenssens progressed to ninth overall and top of the AM class runners.
A reverse grid shake up placed Chris Prescott and Drew Becker on the front row of the grid for the forty-minute feature race. Championship contenders Laubisch, Fuligni and Neumann started at the back of the field.
After a disappointing race one, Darragh Adriaenssens burst into life from the second row of the grid. Blowing past Chris Prescott, the Belgian star hit the front early in his Indy Autosport Ferrari. While Adriaenssens began to build a healthy advantage out front, Drew Becker assumed a lonely existence in a distant second position. Meanwhile, Mathias Beer and Tom Collins sparred for third place. Thus, allowing the leaders opportunity to escape. While the leaders charged on, Laubisch and Neumann had sneaked through the field. After only ten minutes, both championship contenders had arrived in the top ten.
By lap fifteen, Adriaenssens and Becker’s advantage had eroded. Mathias Beer had finally dispatched with Tom Collins and promptly joined a three-car brawl for the lead. However, the leading trio needed to be smart as Neumann and Laubisch were on the way in a hurry. Neumann’s eagerness to surge to the front boiled over on lap sixteen when the Corvette driver unceremoniously brushed Chris van de Nesse aside, ending the Dutchman’s race.
Moments after the halfway point of the race, Mathias Beer pounced on Adriaenssens and hit the front in his psychedelic Ferrari 488. While Beer led out front, Neumann and Laubisch tripped over one another in their urgency to get to the front. With fifteen minutes to go, Neumann and Laubisch were still mired at the wrong end of the top ten. Laubisch finally escaped the melee and progressed to fifth while Neumann remained trapped back in eighth.
Back at the front, disaster struck for Mathias Beer. Clumsily reversing onto to the racing line after a crash, Andy Thompson created a Ford GT shaped roadblock which snared Beer’s Ferrari. Profiting from the leader’s misfortune, Drew Becker now led Dean Powell in this dramatic feature race in the Sonoma sunshine. Powell soon made short work of Becker and moved to the lead.
As Powell screamed past the white flag onto the final lap, the Colbek Porsche star had his mirrors full of Laubisch’s striking Urano eSports 911 RSR. A double victory was on the cards for Laubisch and the German star threw every move in his playbook to overcome Powell. Speeding towards the final hairpin Powell covered the inside line, forcing Laubisch the long way around. Unperturbed, Laubisch swept around the outside of Powell, setting up a side by side drag race to the line. As the Porsche pair unleashed their screaming flat six motors on the run to the chequered flag, a winner couldn’t be determined by the naked eye. In the end, a miniscule margin of thirty-three thousandths of a second was all that separated the jubilant Laubisch from the devastated Powell. An all-time classic finish in ARL GT history.
Rounding out the overall podium and top of the AM class, Drew Becker continued his impressive campaign for Indy Autosport.
Immediately after the drama of the feature race, several ARL GT protagonists shared their thoughts with Sam Fitzpatrick in the Apex Racing TV commentary box:
Niclas Laubisch: “It was impossible to overtake the Ferrari, I had to wait for them to make a mistake. I made some small mistakes, so Sven was very close to me. It was an incredible race. Especially the last lap! It was really exhausting, I am sweating so much, but I won by three hundredths of a second in the end and that’s incredible!”
Danny Lee: “The racing was exquisite! There was so much going on, it was like touring cars!”
Dean Powell: “Such a cruel finish, I thought I had it. It just wasn’t meant to be. I’m still over the moon to come second.”
Drew Becker: “The whole time I was trying to push Darragh to see if we could get some distance on everybody. But, it was the second week in a row I had a Colbek car bearing down on me. Then there was Mathias and Niclas Laubisch, they are just wicked fast and hard to hold off.”
On the 9th of May, a classic ARL GT season finale awaits at Long Beach. Tune in to Apex Racing TV at 7pm GMT to catch all the live coverage.