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Daytona delight for Maniti Corvette

Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx. Allan McNish and Dindo Capello. Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. Ask any Le Mans winner, fast drivers aren’t enough to win an endurance classic. A mythical chemistry and understanding between teammates, is critical to success in gruelling long-distance racing. In most forms of motor racing, the term ‘teammate’ is an oxymoron.  Staring across the garage, a driver looks at their only competitor with equal(ish) machinery. To succeed in endurance racing, there cannot be inter team rivalry. Co-operation is critical.

Competitors from the Apex Racing League GT (ARL GT) championship will now apply a fresh approach to racing in a team format. Sharing driving duties across an eighty-minute race, a whole new dynamic emerges.

Not only does the ARL GT series have a fresh format, a new challenger enters the fray. Built by engineering firm Pratt and Miller – who’s regular business involves sending satellites into space – the Corvette C8.R commands respect in both real and virtual worlds. In the first season of competition for the first mid-engine Corvette racer, the #3 C8.R dominated the IMSA Weathertech Sports Car Championship.

Many thought that a contemporary Corvette Racing machine would never make it to iRacing, but twelve weeks ago the shock news of the C8.R’s arrival was greeted with glee by sim racers worldwide.

Daytona International Speedway hosted round one of the new ARL GT team championship. Home to the world-famous Rolex 24-hour race, the circuit is no stranger to endurance racing. Back in 1999, a fledgling Corvette Racing team debuted at the Rolex 24 with Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel and John Paul Jr. piloting the C5.R. Fittingly, Daytona would host the Corvette C8.R’s debut in ARL GT.

Quick Canadian, Jesse Webb, qualified the Pacific Sim Motorsport Corvette on pole position for the opening race of the season. Joining Webb on the front row, was the Maniti Racing Corvette of Alexander Masia.

Forty-nine cars from BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and Corvette lined up at the bus stop chicane, primed for a short tour behind the pace car.

Pacific Sim Motorsport’s Corvette led for a mere four minutes before dropping down the order. iRacing’s pesky track limits stewards slapped Jesse Webb with a dreaded ‘slow down’ penalty for a breach of boundaries at the bus stop chicane. Frustratingly, Webb had to serve the penalty on the speedway banking and shed six places. Alexander Masia promptly assumed the lead in the Maniti Racing Corvette.

For the balance of the opening thirty minutes, the Wild Animals Porsche 911 RSR of Dmitry Kofanov set to work on chasing down the Maniti Corvette. Eventually, a well-planned slipstream manoeuvre along the super speedway set up a pristine move on the brakes into turn one.

Ten minutes later, Maniti played their hand, pitting for fuel and a driver change. A lap later, Dmitry Kofanov mirrored Maniti’s strategy and brought the Wild Animals Porsche into pit lane. Hopping in to the Weissach built machine, was Artem Grabow. With Wild Animals sneaking a second or so in the pit stops, Dylan Scrivens set to pursuing the Russian squad in the Maniti Corvette. Three seconds behind and by no means out of contention, was the Pure Sims Esports Corvette.

As the leaders encountered lapped traffic, Scrivens pounced. A cunning move at the International Horseshoe placed the Maniti Corvette alongside the Wild Animals Porsche. Charging through the kink side by side, Scrivens plunged to the inside at the West Horseshoe and claimed the lead.

With the chequered flag looming, Scrivens and Grabow couldn’t be separated, both drivers carving through the traffic with confidence.

Five minutes from the end, Grabow hounded Scrivens, desperate to force a mistake from the Maniti Corvette man. Ninety seconds from the flag, Artem Grabow couldn’t accept second. Moving up high at the tri-oval, the Russian ace attempted a bold move around the outside into turn one. Hauling on the brakes, Grabow couldn’t muster enough stopping power and ran wide. After eighty minutes of fiercely contested racing, Maniti Racing came out on top. Mimicking Corvette’s maiden win with the C8.R at the Weathertech 240 back in July.

Triple A Esports claimed the final spot of the podium, fourteen seconds in arrears to the Maniti Corvette.

Post Race

Immediately after the race, several of the ARL GT competitors gave their thoughts to Daniel Handover and Sam Fitzpatrick in the Apex Racing TV commentary box:

Dylan Scrivens: “Considering the amount of time we put in, it was a pretty good result. I needed to learn the Corvette, as I hadn’t got to grips with it yet.”

EJ O’Donnell: “We had a really good race. We were second in the AM class in qualifying and we were really happy with that. In the first lap, we made up a couple of positions and then kept it easy and saved for the rest of the race.”

Daniel Lee: “It could’ve been better but, on all counts, it was a clean race so I’m happy. We expected the beginning of the race to be a lot messier than it was.”

Next up, the Apex Racing League GT Team Championship heads to the home of British Motorsport – Silverstone. Tune in to Apex Racing TV at 8pm GMT on the 29th of November to catch all the live action.

Images by @Groove_Media 

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