Twin Motegi triumphs for Nesov and Becker
Apex Racing League GT R4 presented by Colbek
Since the Apex Racing League GT championship (ARL GT) contenders rolled onto track at Phillip Island in January, Alexey Nesov’s Urano eSports Porsche has been the car to beat. Drawing upon real world GT experience racing a Mercedes AMG GT3, Nesov’s pace in clean air has been unparralled.
However, a select cast of challengers arrived at Twin Ring Motegi for round four of the championship, with cautious optimism. James Crouch and Brian Kroon claimed honours at Montreal one week ago, proving that Nesov can be toppled in certain circumstances.
In stark contrast to the streets of Montreal, Twin Ring Motegi in Japan provided far more forgiving terrain. Furthermore, Motegi’s long braking zones yield plentiful opportunities for overtaking. Built by Japanese automotive giant, Honda, the Twin Ring Motegi boasts both a road course and an oval layout. In 2008, Motegi became part of IndyCar history when Danica Patrick became the first and only woman to win an IndyCar race.
Utilising the scarce time available, Alexey Nesov qualified on pole for the opening sprint race. Nesov’s closest championship rival, Mattia Fuligni, joined his Russian adversary on the front row. American AM class star, Drew Becker, kicked off a red-letter day by outpacing his class foes in eleventh.
Forty-four drivers lined up for race one in exotic machinery from Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette and BMW. Unusually foggy conditions threw in an additional surprise and would reward those with superior experience of the Motegi circuit. However, poor visibility did little to hamper Alexey Nesov. From pole position, Nesov was in metronomic form and surged ahead to victory. Second placed Mattia Fuligni was the only driver to challenge Nesov and match his sub 1 minute 45 second lap times.
AM class polesitter Drew Becker ran comfortably in the top ten early on, but soon dropped into the clutches of Darragh Adriaenssens and AM class points leader, Steve Burke. Nevertheless, Becker kept his cool and held on to win the class, ahead of Adriaenssens and Burke.
With the top seventeen finishers from race one inverted, Brian Kroon started on pole for the forty-minute feature race. Jentsen Adriaenssens lined up alongside Kroon on the front row. Unperturbed by his AM class status, Adriaenssens marched past Kroon and into the lead on lap one.
Although Adriaenssens led in the opening phase of the feature race, the Urano eSports armada was on the way. Leading the Porsche squad’ charge, Niclas Laubisch carved through the field. Laubisch was in sublime form and drove around the outside of several competitors. By lap four, Laubisch had ascended from ninth to first place. However, while Laubisch performed his heroics, Nesov had been following in the shadows.
On lap seven, an unforced error from Laubisch sent the Porsche star into a spin. Worse still, Laubisch’s stricken 911 RSR collected the luckless Steve Burke and Chris van de Nesse. Laubisch eventually recovered to second place, but the Urano eSports driver left Motegi ruing his mistake.
Laubisch’s blunder handed Nesov the lead and once again, no one could touch the Russian ace. Once into clean air, Nesov sped to a double victory. Sven Neumann was the first Corvette home in third overall.
In the AM class battle, Jentsen Adriaenssens looked set to claim victory but a series of small errors threw the Belgian into the clutches of his Indy Autosport teammates. However, the day belonged to Drew Becker, who fought hard to claim his second class victory of the day.
Following two races of attrition in the Motegi mist, several ARL GT drivers joined the Apex Racing TV commentary team to share their thoughts:
Alexey Nesov: “I didn’t expect a good result today because I broke my wheelbase a few days ago and I had to find an emergency replacement. Today, was the first time I tried it and somehow, I had a good pace! But, the Porsche is so good on this track.”
Drew Becker: “That was wonderful! It’s the best result I’ve had. I was glad to get out in front and show my pace.”
Daniel Lee: “I had a conflict in my head whether to attempt an overtake on Mattia Fuligni or not. I think that indecision meant that I wasn’t on the right line with cold tyres. The foggy conditions threw me off too.”