'Monday Mazda Madness' heads home to Okayama!
Apex Racing League iRacing Mazda Cup Round 4 Race Report
Following a brief mid-season break, the Apex Racing League Mazda Cup paddock reconvened for round four of the championship. Arriving at Okayama, Roberto Ferrari enters the second half of the season with a commanding lead in the championship.
In the AM category, Joseph Saul and Julius Goebels remain locked in a titanic tussle for class honours.
Airijus Jomantas took advantage of the qualifying bans dished out to his PRO class rivals after a chaotic meeting at Lime Rock Park. A comfortable run to pole position gave Jomantas a clear view to turn one for the opening fifteen-minute sprint race. Italian ace, Roberto Modena, joined Jomantas on the front row.
PRO class stars Roberto Ferrari, Calieb Hydes and Ronald Moons all began the opening race of the meeting from pit lane and faced an arduous journey through the pack.
In the opening encounter of the meeting, Airijus Jomantas grasped his opportunity and cruised to a comfortable win. However, the story of race one belonged to Roberto Ferrari. In fifteen minutes, Ferrari carved through the pack to cross the line in second place. An astounding drive which may prove vital to sealing up the inaugural Apex Racing League Mazda Cup championship.
Joseph Saul struck the first blow in the AM class fight by finished third overall, despite losing a drag race to the line with the aforementioned Ferrari.
With the top six finishers from race one inverted for race two, Roberto Modena rolled off from pole position for race two. Joining Modena on the front row, was Julius Goebels. Deploying one of his now typically rapid launches, Goebels leapt into the lead early on.
However, within four minutes the championship leader had waltzed into the lead. Once Roberto Ferrari hit the front, not even Airijus Jomantas could mount a challenge. By the end of the fifteen-minute encounter, Ferrari had stretched a five second advantage over Jomantas.
Capitalising on his superb launch, Julius Goebels struck back in the AM championship struggle and finished third overall amongst the PRO class contenders.
Thor Tulloh and Damien McMullen enjoyed the uninterrupted vista of Okayama’s opening curve from the front row of the grid in race three. However, neither Tulloh nor McMullen would arrive at turn one first. That honour went to Calieb Hydes. A perfect getaway gave the young Australian the clean air and a prime opportunity to deploy his blistering pace.
After only four minutes, the ARL Mazda Cup cream had already risen to the top. PRO class stars, Ferrari, Moons and Jomantas swiftly made their way through to the leading positions. Once again, it was Ferrari who would mount a challenge for the lead.
Throughout the final sprint, Ferrari relentlessly reeled in Hydes. With two laps to go, the pair engaged in yet another wheel-to-wheel fight. Despite Ferrari deploying a variety of manoeuvres, Hydes displayed canny race craft well beyond his years to keep the Italian at bay. Refusing to wilt under pressure, Hydes vanquished Ferrari in the drag race to the flag to claim the final victory of the meeting.
Thor Tulloh held off Irish newcomer Rob Parks for AM class victory and fifth overall.
Immediately after the race, several of the ARL Mazda Cup stars joined the Apex Racing TV commentary crew to share their thoughts on the Mazda Cup Round 4:
Calieb Hydes: “It’s fun coming forward from the back but its tough to get through damage free. But it’s a lot of fun!”
Damien McMullen: “Race one and race two went well but I don’t want to think about race three! In general, good racing all round. It’s great to be back!”
Rob Parks: “There was quite a few offs which I ended up inheriting from! I’m quite thankful for that. There was some close racing and it was really fun.”