ARL - GT Championship S2/R4 - Le Mans
Tom McMahon has started the season in great fashion. The Englishman won three out of the first four races in season 2 of the ARL GT Championship, and followed that up with another win in Race 1 last time out at Phillip Island.
So the task for the rest of the field was to slow his momentum and prevent him from gapping them too much. Something that they actually didn’t achieve in qualifying, with McMahon on pole at the historic Circuit de la Sarthe by 7 tenths of a second.
Tahj Edwards and Nick Madsen were the closest challengers, separated by less than half a tenth. Andrew Becker recovered nicely from his poor feature race in Australia to head up the AM category qualifiers in 7th, just ahead of Tom Stevens.
The start of the sprint race was fairly clean until the field negotiated the Mulsanne; Aarron Powell, Jon Derrick and the once again unfortunate Nick Madsen collided and had their races ruined. Also on lap 1 at the fearsome Indianapolis corner, Daniel Lee and Tahj Edwards came to blows, which put Mike Horder up to 5th in the Ford GT. Kevin Copeland crashed in the Porsche Curves; not the best way for him to begin his foray in the French countryside.
Throughout the race, McMahon held a 1.7 second lead over the ever-impressive Wiesekopsieker; the gap remaining pretty constant. The German was fractionally quicker than the EvoSR driver, but only around half a tenth a lap on average, ebing tantalisingly out of slipstream range until the very end of the race.
Max Wolf was in the thick of the action – the Dutchman making a fantastic pass on the recovering Lee, with Stevens joining the battle on lap 3. Lee and Wolf would battle all the way to the end of the race.
James Salt and Steven Brumfield battled, with the latter having a spin which dropped him down the order.
McMahon held on to record his 5th win in 7 races, however Wiesekopsieker did close to under a second by the chequered flag.
15 cars were reversed for the longer Feature race, with Aarron Powell taking pole as a result. The start itself was messy. Warren found it especially tricky, losing the rear and holding up a lot of cars in the process.
John Gordon and Max Wolf came a cropper in turn 1, going off the circuit, while later on in the lap Powell was off at the end of the Mulsanne Straight, while Daniel Sivi-Szabo missed the second chicane altogether, crashing into the barrier having not been able to slow sufficiently to negotiate the runoff area.
Brumfield suffered a slowdown on lap 2, losing about 3 seconds and putting him behind Edwards in the process. The Gold Racing driver then spun on lap 4, putting McMahon up to 3rd, Wiesekopsieker to 4th and James Salt 5th. Lap 5 and Tom McMahon spun, putting him down to 6th. He would later recover to 4th.
Tahj Edwards was all alone out front though; the Jamaican taking his first win of the season and the second of his career. Wiesekopsieker was again imperious in 2nd, with James Salt a great 3rd. Kevin Kittlemann took the AM category honours with 11th.
Mike Horder could arguably claim driver of the meeting, finishing in the top 6 in both races in the BoosTED Ford.
McMahon however still leads the championship as he did coming into the meeting, 18 points clear of Wiesekopsieker with Edwards 3rd in gross points – however it is James Salt who would be 3rd overall when applying dropped scores.
Tom Stevens leads the AM category after eight rounds, 48 clear of Kittelmann who vaulted above Copeland after his successes tonight.
Images courtesy of James Salt