ARL - GT Championship S1/R6 - Nürburgring
The iconic Nürburgring was chosen to host R6 of 8 of the ARL GT Championship. It’s second legendary track in a row and 2 more are yet to come. The green hell received the drivers with the nicest sunshine, so they had the best view on another challenging track after Silverstone.
The decision of who gets pole position was a close thing again. Dennis Ipenburg took pole over Eneric Andre by only 0.086 seconds. We can call it a confirmation of his great main race last round, where he finished 2nd. Tom McMahon got 3rd in front of Nick Rowland and Maik Wiesekopsieker. Daniel Lee was the quickest AM driver (again) on P6 overall.
Ipenburg had a really good start, because Andre left the gap to him a bit too big, so Andre couldn’t get into a real attacking position towards turn 1, so Ipenburg could keep his 1st place quite safely. McMahon had to defend against Rowland, who was closely follow by Wiesekopsieker. Unfortunately it was too close, because Rowland had a bit too much overspeed, due to the dip and the light bend towards turn 1. He wanted to get to the inside of McMahon by cutting across the track, had to watch out not to hit McMahon and while doing all these things he didn’t notice how close Wiesekopsieker was, so he cut infront of him and Wiesekopsieker couldn’t avoid the contact anymore. This contact pushed Rowland into McMahon, who spun and dropped down the order to the last place. The top 2 already opened a gap of 3 seconds, due to this turn 1 incident.
There were close battles in the midfield and McMahon was fighting his way through by gaining 8 places in 2 laps and we saw more side by side racing opening laps, even more than we expected on this narrow track. And due to the tracks nature we got the expected queue, but it wasn’t a boring one at all. There were still some overtakes and cutbacks showed by Brandon Warren and Paulo Preto in the Dunlop Kehre for example and also a demonstration that the slightest sliding off the line can end badly for one of two fighting cars by Harris spinning Brumfield around at the exit of the Ford Kurve.
After having a quite fixed order with Ipenburg, Andre, Rowland, Edwards and Wiesekopsieker in the first 15 minutes Edwars got into position to try a move around the outside of Rowland in turn 1 with having the inside into turn 2. It worked out until they both made contact, which handed over P3 to Wiesekopsieker and made them drop down to P10 and 11. At the end Dennis Ipenburg (aka the defensive wall) held Eneric Andre behind for the whole race, so he saw the checkered flag as being the winner. He really found some tools to keep Sattelite’s drivers behind him. Maik Wiesekopsieker brought the 3rd place home and Damien Harris and Daniel Lee finished 4th and 5th. Lee also won the AM category with this good result. Tom McMahon climbed back on P7 after his lap 1 incident, so great effort from him.
The ARL reversed grid wheel showed 15 for race 2, so Branden Warren got pole position followed by Dean Powell, Tom Stevens, Kev Copeland and Steven Brumfield. The Nürburgring showed his weahter variety by creating cloudy and much colder race conditions.
Warren managed to have a really good start by accelerating early to have a gap down the start/finish straight and seeing the field spreading out behind him made the viewers a bit afraid, but the drivers showed how quickly they can adjust to incidents happening in race 1. Only Dean Powell had some issues with the grip of his tires. Maybe he didn’t heat them up enough. The struggeling Powell caused a 4 wide entry into turn 3 wich every driver handled superbly without any issues. We already have to mention Eneric Andre, who gained 5 places in the first lap. It’s no coincidence that he’s leading the championship.
In Lap 4 Brumfield was going for the really late move to take P1 from Warren into turn 1, which sent both drivers wide, so Rowland (who had an incidentful race 1) took over the lead. Brumfield took himself a bit out of the rhythm, so he had a visit in the gravel trap, which handed over P4 to Andre, who gained another 3 places in only 1 lap. The french man showed a really aggressive side of him this without being dangerously aggressive so far. We were watching close racing from all drivers in the first laps of the 2nd race and due to this nobody really noticed that Tahj Edwards started on P21 and reached P9 in lap 6 already.
After half of the race distance Andre took the lead from Rowland and since Andre was lapping around 0.5 seconds quicker than Rowland, he had it in his hands to manage the race. Meanwhile Ipenburg (started on P15) arrived on P5 and Edwards on P6. Wiesekopsieker (3rd of race 1) was on P9 in a close fight with Warren in front and Lee behind. Warren got in trouble in the hairpin, so Wiesekopsieker could pass him. Lee couldn’t take advantage of Warren’s mistake. He even lost a position to Brumfield, who closed the gap to the group. The battle between Warren, Brumfield and Lee continued, but Warren again made a small mistake on the brakes into the Dunlop Kehre, which left Brumfield enough room to pass, so the 2 AM drivers were now fighting alone for P10 overall and the AM category’s victory.
10 minutes to the end Andre was still managing the race in the lead. McMahon passed Rowland for P2 and Ipenburg did the same to Harris for P4. The Ferraris of Warren and Lee were still glued together and it stayed so for the remaining 10 minutes. All the pressure Lee put on Warren didn’t help Lee to pass Warren. In the end we saw a brilliant drive of Eneric Andre winning the race from P14, Tom McMahon with a strong race from 9th to 2nd, Nick Rowland finishing on a great 3rd place and two great performances from Dennis Ipenburg (going from P15 to P4) and Tahj Edwards (coming from P21 and finishing P6). Of course we have to mention Damien Owen Harris to with a good race from P12 to P5 and Brandon Warren for holding against the pressure of Daniel Lee securing the win in the AM class.
We saw a really clean race 2 with these big cars on this narrow track. It shows how well the drivers now each other aftter 6 rounds and this gets us even more excited for R7 on the next sunday (april 19th) on the legendary Circut de Spa-Francorchamps, which is only a good 100km away from the Nürburgring.