Turnbull, Swirydowicz and Harrison rule the Roval!
During the Apex Racing League Touring Car season prologue, the reigning king of the series mused his prediction for the upcoming season. Wise Scotsman, Ross Macfarlane, forecast a season that would be “without doubt, one of the most competitive I’ve ever seen.”
Six rounds into a frantic season of tin top tussles, a mere eleven points separates the top four in the championship standings.
David Baker, Ross Macfarlane, Wojciech Swirydowicz and Ross Balfour arrived at Charlotte for round seven of the ARL TC season, vying to claim the championship lead. Who would reign at The Roval?
Core Sim Racing superstar, Ross Balfour, drew first blood in qualifying. Lapping the superspeedway come street circuit in 1 minute and 24.318 seconds, the Northern Irishman claimed pole by 0.155 of a second from Matthew Turnbull.
Fastest of the AM class drivers was Preben Walle, in eighteenth overall. Joining the Scandinavian on the ninth row of the grid was defending champion, Ross Macfarlane.
A forty-nine-car train of Audi RS3 LMS machines snaked around the final chicane, ready for the opening encounter of the evening. Standing starts aren’t usually the order of the day at this unapologetically gargantuan facility which boasts the world’s largest HD TV screen!
Following three laps of surprising serenity at the front, Matthew Turnbull pounced at the chicane on lap three. Charging around the speedway banking, Turnbull deployed some stock car side drafting alongside Balfour. Although Turnbull had the inside line, Balfour was ahead. No matter. A slightly clumsy dive for the corner from Turnbull tipped Balfour into a spin. Cue unmitigated chaos.
In a cruel twist of irony for the innocent Balfour, Turnbull scampered into the lead unharmed. Stricken across the track and facing backwards, Balfour was a sitting duck. Jack Sedgwick arrived on the scene with nowhere to go and ploughed into Balfour’s Audi.
Balfour immediately dropped to tenth and couldn’t progress due to damage incurred in the pileup. Meanwhile, Turnbull enjoyed a blissfully comfortable cruise to victory.
Despite Balfour’s unfortunate demise, all wasn’t lost for Core Sim Racing. Following the melee, Carl Jansson and Oscar Mangan held second and third place to the finish line.
Adrian Campfield scrubbed his name from Ross Macfarlane’s Christmas card list after barging the Scot into the wall at turn one. Nevertheless, the Fiercely Forward star claimed the opening AM class win of the day.
With no time to cry over spilt milk, the ARL TC pack assembled for another fraught encounter around the high banks of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Following the grid inversion, Lee Berridge started from pole position with several of his BoosTED Simsport colleagues close behind.
At the drop of the green flag, Berridge bolted to an early lead with John Roberts in hot pursuit. By lap five, the BoosTED Simsport stronghold was under threat. On a mission, Wojciech Swirydowicz and Damien Harris closed down Berridge and Roberts and plotted their attack.
Two laps later, the pack shuffled once again. Mistakes from Roberts and Swirydowicz allowed Damien Harris through to second and Ross Macfarlane – who had quietly snuck up on the leaders – to third.
On lap eight, Harris barged by Berridge for the lead at the first chicane. Macfarlane followed suit and moved to second place a lap later and then past Harris shortly after. However, the battle for the win was far from sealed. Particularly, when a surprise challenger emerged.
Racing towards the final corner Harris dived for the inside on Macfarlane. On the exit, with the finish line agonizingly close, the duo clashed and speared towards the wall. Lurking in the background, was Wojciech Swirydowicz. Completely off the radar of Macfarlane and Harris, the Polish ace swept past and stole the win at the line. An all-time classic finish in the ARL TC series.
Hesketh Racing’s Mark Johnston finished fourth overall and top of the AM class.
Race three’s reverse grid lottery placed Mark Woodhouse on pole position for the final contest of a drama filled evening. In the opening laps, Woodhouse resisted the snarling pack of PRO class drivers behind him, led by Michael Evdoka.
Eventually, Evdoka’s advances allowed the Pure Sims driver to squeeze past. Kieran Harrison and the rest of the PRO class mob also made their way through when Woodhouse spun at the first chicane on lap three.
Evdoka’s reign was short lived. Harrison, Rushworth, and Breuer all slipped by in yet another brutal exchange for the lead. Shortly after, Evdoka’s fate was sealed by the Audi TCR shaped bowling ball of Marius Breuer clattering into several drivers at the final chicane.
With clean air ahead, Kieran Harrison pressed on to a convincing win. Carl Jansson booked his second podium finish of the evening with Jack Sedgwick in third. In fourteenth overall was Marcel Fritsch, the top AM class runner in the field.