Tempers flare in ARLTC Texas Tornado!
Apex Racing League iRacing Touring Car Championship R12 Race Report
HM Engineering star, Kieran Harrison, continues to turn the screw on his opposition for the Apex Racing League Touring Car Championship title. Throughout the season, Harrison has collected points with relentless consistency while his rivals flounder.
Arriving at the Circuit of the Americas for round 12 of the championship, George Simmons stepped into a last chance Texan saloon. Nothing but a perfect meeting would do for the Apex Racing Team ace.
Qualifying around the Circuit of the Americas west layout saw Kieran Harrison emerge on top. Joining Harrison on the front row, was HM Engineering stablemate, Romain Boeckler. Starting from eighteenth overall, Ben Gregory outpaced his AM class rivals and fired the opening shot in yet another battle with Mark Woodhouse.
Capitalising on pole position, Harrison won the rush to the perilously tight turn one and led the snarling pack into the snaking S bends. Negotiating the melee perfectly, Harrison’s teammates, Corentin Guinez and Romain Boeckler, formed an HM Engineering 1-2-3.
Desperately striving to chase Harrison for vital points, George Simmons clipped a sausage curb and triggered a chain reaction of contact with Jack Sedgwick. Resulting damage dropped Simmons down the order as Harrison sped away in the lead.
Once in clear air, Harrison was in imperious form and clocked up yet another victory to extend his championship lead. Romain Boeckler made short work of Guinez to claim second spot on a podium dominated by the red HM Engineering machines.
Ben Gregory struck another blow in his chase of Mark Woodhouse in the AM class championship with a fine class win and twelfth overall.
A nineteen-position reverse grid shake up placed Martin Shirley and Damien Harris on the front row of the grid for race two. Launching his Fiercely Forward off the line, Harris sprinted to turn one in the lead. However, Harris’ old sparring partner, Fraser Smith, soon joined in the battle for the lead.
Smith duly snatched the lead and led for the opening half of the race. Although Harris managed to retaliate around half race distance, a third party was on the way. From nineteenth on the grid, Kieran Harrison ascended through the field and joined the lead battle in the closing stages of the race. Given the brutality of the ARLTC reverse grid format, following up a victory in race one with another in race two is virtually unheard of. However, Harrison’s season has been one of many milestones.
On the penultimate lap, Harris pulled off a cunning block pass on Harris to pinch the win in the closing moments of the race. Could a historic treble be on? A very tough ask from twenty-seventh on the grid in race three.
Mark Woodhouse responded to Gregory’s AM triumph in race one, with his own in the second encounter of the meeting. Although top of the AM class in eighteenth, Woodhouse had been running in the top five until an incident sent the Team MAD driver down the order. A chance for a chunky haul of points gone begging. Nevertheless, Woodhouse could be consoled by the demise of rival Ben Gregory, who retired early on.
Race three belonged to the extraordinary Martijn Asschert. From tenth on the grid, the Impulse Racing star carved right through to the lead on lap one. However, Asschert faced an impending challenge from World Championship driver, Jack Sedgwick.
Heading onto the final lap, Sedgwick was all over the back of his Dutch rival. Yet, Asschert ensured that every possible passing place was covered. Sedgwick couldn’t prize open a gap and Asschert took the chequered flag, scoring a triumphant win.
Once again, Mark Woodhouse claimed the honours in the AM class while Gregory retired once again. This incident packed meeting in Texas may prove pivotal in the chase for the AM championship.
After the race, several of the Apex Racing League Touring Car stars joined Peter MacKay and Sam Fitzpatrick to share their thoughts:
Fraser Smith: “We quickly cobbled together a set up in practice and it wasn’t that great, so we struggled. It was probably the best we could have done. The tyres were gone at the end.”
Martijn Asschert: “Jack was so strong and I was losing tyre. My heart rate was up and I ran out of fuel ten metres from the finish line! Jack was really strong on pace and I need the extra second advantage. I’m really happy. A really amazing result.”
Kieran Harrison: “I got really lucky on lap one in race two, I was eighth after lap one. I knew I had a good chance then. I was a little unsure if I’d catch Damien and Fraser, but I just kept pushing and they thought a little bit. It was just enough in the end.”
On the 6th of May, the Apex Racing League Touring Car Championship reconvenes for round thirteen of the championship at Summit Point, West Virginia. Tune in to Apex Racing TV at 7pm GMT to see who masters those country roads!