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Ferrari firms up title campaign at Charlotte

Apex Racing League iRacing Mazda Cup Round 5 Race Report

Charlotte Motor Speedway welcomed the Apex Racing League Mazda Cup paddock for the penultimate round of an enthralling inaugural season. Roberto Ferrari arrived at the epicentre of stock car racing with a commanding lead over Calieb Hydes in the title chase. However, Charlotte’s ‘Roval’ road course can bite at any moment.

Although Roberto Ferrari enjoys a handful of match points in the PRO class title fight, the AM class is too close to call. Heading into the penultimate round, Julius Goebels holds a slight advantage over Joseph Saul.

Despite the unpredictability of slip streaming during a group qualifying session, Roberto Ferrari stamped his authority on the field. A stunning lap placed the Italian over half a second ahead of Julius Goebels. Agonising technical issues thwarted Calieb Hydes’ chances to set a qualifying time. The tenacious young Australian eventually joined the action midway through the opening race.

Race 1

With Hydes out of the picture, Roberto Ferrari cruised to a dominant race one victory from pole position. AM championship contender, Julius Goebels, hung onto the coattails of Ferrari in the early stages and came home second overall. A mistake from Ronald Moons at the first speedway chicane meant that the Belgian star could only muster third position.

Race 2

Following a reverse grid shuffle for race two, Ismael Arreffag rocketed off the line and led confidently into turn one. As Arreffag scampered to the relative safety of the lead, unbridled carnage ensued behind. A cast of drivers including Winter, Clement, Rogentin, Parks and Bramah became snagged in incidents on lap one.

By the end of lap one, Arreffag had his hands full with Nathan Healy. At the final chicane, door to door contact sent Healy down the order. With Healy vanquished, Arreffag resumed the enjoyment of the race lead. However, Roberto Ferrari was swiftly slicing through the field from eleventh on the grid.

Within five minutes, Ferrari had completed his ascent to the front of the pack. At turn one on lap three, Arreffag opted not to resist the rapid Italian and allowed safe passage. Once into the lead, Ferrari continued to deploy his devastating pace and cruised to another race victory. Thus, setting up the chance to score a treble victory. A feat which Ferrari is yet to achieve in the ARL Mazda Cup.

Ronald Moons equalled his best result of the season with a second-place finish. Meanwhile, Thor Tulloh and Dan Parmelee duelled for the final spot on the podium and AM class honours. Eventually, Parmelee emerged as the victor of this all American contest.

Race 3

Calieb Hydes showed rapid pace early on in race two before being snagged in an early incident. However, the Australian’s determination to pit for repairs and resume the race yielded a surprise reverse grid pole position for race three.

Unwilling to waste his opportunity, Calieb Hydes vanished into the lead from pole position in race three. Even when champion elect Roberto Ferrari made his way through to clean air, Hydes’ pace was unparralled.

Whilst Julius Goebels recovered from an early incident to eighth place, Joseph Saul struck a crucial blow in the AM championship fight. A third-place finish overall and AM class win from Saul sets up a tantalising finale at Summit Point next week.

After the race, a cast of ARL iRacing Mazda Cup Round 5 stars joined the Apex Racing TV commentary team to share their thoughts:

Damien McMullen: “It was just carnage! Everyone was elbows out and pushing. It was really good racing. It was Mazdas going around an oval going mad!”

Calieb Hydes: “It was a disappointing start. I had connection issues. I tried all sorts of things and nothing seemed to work. Halfway through race one, it finally worked. I got lucky to start on pole for race three and we just went away.”

Dan Parmelee: “It was great to have a good points run and hopefully we’ll do the same at Summit Point.”

Nathan Healy: “Race one was good. Race two was fantastic as well. Unfortunately, I got taken out at the bus stop at the end, but that’s racing.”

Next Round

On the 12th of April, the inaugural season of the Apex Racing League reaches its conclusion at Summit Point. Although the PRO class championship is seemingly sewn up for Ferrari, the AM title fight between Saul and Goebels will be one not to be missed. Catch all the live action on Apex Racing TV at 7pm GMT.

iRacing Mazda Cup Round 5 Photos by Kevin Zhao

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