ARL - TCR Winter Series 2019/20 R12 Spa
Happy new year to all of our ARL TCR fans! On Thursday class was back in session after a nice 2-week holiday to see us through Christmas and new year. This was to allow our drivers to make the most of the festivities, without any danger of driving under the influence of too many mince pies!
So fit and ready we headed to drivers’ favourite Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, and let the TCR do it’s thing!
It was obviously a good christmas break for the Apex Racing Team, as they qualified 3 of their cars within the top 4 spots on the grid, with Jack Sedgwick leaving no time to spare with a cool +0.2s gap back to Wojciech Swirydowicz on the front row.
As the cars headed down towards Eau Rouge for the first time the lead quartet stayed in the same order, but once they were heading along the kemmel straight, George Simmons used his teammate’s tow to nip past CQR Club‘s David Baker for 3rd place, and allowing the lead pairing to breathe.
As the laps followed the ART 1-2 held a tight grip on the race, while Baker’s attempts to pass for 3rd place were unsuccesful until lap 4, allowing them a few seconds of breathing space up ahead.
Meanwhile Ashley Sutton Racing was working his way through the field, and by lap 8 he had made it onto the back of Simmons for 4th place. A simple move with the help of Baker’s tow down the kemmel straight saw him take and hold onto 4th place at the checkered flag.
It was another good race for Mark Woodhouse, who once again took the AM honors with a tidy 10th place finish overall. He was able to gain 3 places from his 13th grid slot, and finished an entire 8 places ahead of his nearest challenger David Van Broeck
A small reverse grid for Race 2 reversed the luck of Ross Macfarlane, who inherited pole after getting bashed around for all of race 1. Alex Simpson gave chase and with the help of a boost from Team MAD‘s Miguel Freitas managed to eventually pass for the lead on Lap 5.
Eventually, a good run up the kemmel straight for Macfarlane was enough to keep Simpson behind, and despite a last gasp attempt from just about everyone in the top 5 to go for the win into the bus-stop, Ross was able to come home in 1st place.
Once again Mark Woodhouse showed why he is the man to beat in the AM class. Fortunately the small reverse-grid meant he was pushed even further infront of the AM field on the starting grid. He never looked back on his way to another 12th placed finish, with David Van Broeck once again coming home the bridesmaid.
Thankfully a large reverse-grid gave some other drivers a chance at the podium spots, with Rich Warmingham taking the pole position spot and sprinting off into the lead of Race 3.
SmileTime Productions Paul Smith had other ideas though, and wasted no time making a pass for the lead on the opening lap.
On lap 2 however Warmingham returned the favour and slipped back past, with the pair then proceeding to take it in turns to swap positions each lap running down the Kemmel straight.
Behind them David Baker had a rocket in his underpants and was busily chopping his way through the field up from 17th on the grid. By lap 7 he was following Sven Glatzel on the tail of the lead pack in 5th position.
At the start of the final lap he made the most of a mistake by Glatzel to pass both him and Luke Cooper on the pit-straight, and set about catching the lead pairing.
Meanwhile Smith and Warmingham were battling hammer-and-tong for the race lead, with Warmingham using the advantage of the tow to draw alongside Smith on the Kemmel straight. The pair remained side-by-side until blanchimont, where Smith had to surrender the position.
A last corner move for the lead asked just a little too much from his tyres, and instead allowed Baker to slip past into 2nd place, but I am sure Smith would be nonetheless equally pleased with his driving in a tremendous battle and podium finish. With that said, Warmingham also showed his class once again and took arguably his best AM win to date.
Just 2 weeks left in this championship, there are still plenty of thrills and spills yet to come with the two most exciting tracks on the calendar coming up. Let’s hope all the drivers can keep it between the concrete next week at the testing Detroit Belle Isle circuit, and then the old favorite Daytona to finish off. See you there!