ARLTC Championship | Round Three Report!
On Thursday night, Barber Motorsports Park hosted the third round of the Apex Racing League Touring Car Championship (ARLTC). After thrilling visits to Spa Francorchamps and Okayama, ARLTC visited the third continent in as many weeks.
Alabama entrepreneur, George Barber, was the visionary for Barber Motorsports Park. Barber dreamed to build a facility where he could house his bulging motorcycle collection. Thus, Barber Motorsports Park was born. Today, the facility holds the Guinness World Record for the largest motorcycle museum in the world, with over 1200 motorcycles on show. This undulating circuit has hosted Indy Car and Moto America, the premier categories of two and four wheeled motorsport in the United States.
Despite not being a household name like Spa or Silverstone, Barber Motorsports park provides an intriguing venue for the ARLTC schedule.
Puresims Esports ace, David Baker, mastered Barber Motorsports park’s swooping contours, to claim pole position. Kieran Harrison joined Baker on the front row, with Ash Sutton in third. Adrian Campfield was quickest of the AM class runners, in twenty first overall. Perhaps an indicator of the stiff challenge for drivers at the Alabama based circuit.
No fewer than fifty-three drivers lined up for the opening fourteen lap encounter. Harrison and Baker scampered to an early break away, along with Matthew Turnbull. However, it wouldn’t be long before Ash Sutton made it a quartet at the front. The Englishman clearly in buoyant mood after a double victory in the BTCC at Knockhill, last weekend.
Approaching the conclusion of the race, Kieran Harrison continued to lead the pack with David Baker glued to the back bumper of the HM Engineering Audi. Harrison held firm to claim the opening race of the evening. With track position proving so vital, Harrison’s launch off the start, proved pivotal. In the AM class, Adrian Campfield failed to convert on his class pole position and Swedish ace, Rickard Karlsson, stole the AM class spoils.
A reverse grid jumble put Simon Trendell and Scott Malcolm on the front row for race two. Race one leaders, Sutton, Turnbull, Baker and Harrison started outside the top thirty. On a circuit where track position is treasured, a charge through the field would require aggression. A typical trait of any leading touring car driver!
PRO class contender, Simon Trendell took the opportunity and cleared off to an early lead. Taking full advantage of the AM class drivers squabbling behind him. On lap four, Team Mad’s Mark Woodhouse and Hellracers star Rickard Karlsson, certainly couldn’t be accused of not being ‘on brand’. Following minor initial contact, both drivers refused to yield and triggered a major pile up. Amongst the many casualties, was Ash Sutton. Sadly, an occupational hazard when fighting for survival in the mid pack brawl. The Laser Tools Infiniti BTCC driver wouldn’t return to the track for the remainder of the evening.
At the front, Preben Walle held onto second place from a charging Josh Thompson. A stellar drive from the Norwegian AM class contender. However, neither could make any impression on runaway winner, Simon Trendell.
For the third and final race of the evening, Toby Ward and Jason Stehney occupied the front row of the grid. However, a group of ARLTC hot shots lurked close behind. Harrison, Macfarlane, Balfour, Baker and Mangan filled fourth to eight on the grid. A tantalising prospect for the fourteen-lap encounter.
Jason Stehney enjoyed two laps at the front before Macfarlane and Balfour cruised by. Kieran Harrison also eased past a few corners later. Stehney’s day in the sun, appeared to be over as the ARLTC drivers raced into the Alabama dusk.
Further down the field, Boosted Motorsport’s Adam Hedgecock and Shaun Gardner fell victim to friendly fire. Running wide onto the grass, Hedgecock’s Audi spun and speared across the track, and collected his teammate. Apex Racing TV commentators, Andrew Woodhouse and Adam Bath, couldn’t resist the obvious landscaping related puns.
By half distance, combat amongst the leading trio of Macfarlane, Balfour and Harrison had intensified. Yet, defending champion Macfarlane, resisted the advances of Balfour. With three laps to go, Balfour’s patience wore thin. Akin to a sales rep running late on the motorway, Balfour liberally utilised his Audi’s headlight flasher, signalling his intent to pass. Unperturbed, Macfarlane resisted and led all the way to the flag to take victory. For the Scotsman, a vital triumph for his championship defence. Balfour and Harrison finished second and third, respectively. Hesketh Racing’s Mark Johnston finished top AM class runner, in eighteenth overall.
AM class contender, Preben Walle, expressed his joy of a second-place finish outright in race two: “I’m absolutely thrilled, in that field, it’s amazing” beamed the Norwegian.
Championship challenger, Kieran Harrison, explained the importance of his launch in race one to claim victory: “That was really close. It was crucial to get the move done on the first corner. Baker was very quick behind me, I couldn’t get away” revealed the HM Engineering ace.
Next up for the Apex Racing League Touring Car Championship is the beautiful Phillip Island Circuit. A track not dissimilar to Barber but perhaps with more plentiful overtaking opportunities. Don’t miss a moment of the action and tune into live coverage on Apex Racing TV at 8pm BST on Thursday 17th September.
Images by @Groove_Media