ARL - TCR Winter Series 2019/20 R13 Belle Islle
The penultimate round of the ARL TCR Winter Series took place at the only street circuit on the calendar. The infamous Belle Isle circuit in Detroit.
Unfortunately technical issued forced the race to be delayed by a week, and it seems most drivers were quite pleased to get in the extra practise for this challenging (to say the least!) circuit!
Qualifying was close as usual, but with clean air at a premium, making those crucial laps count, and staying away from those pesky 0x’s was critical to a good result in Race 1.
The front row was shared by regular pole-sitter Jack Sedgwick for Apex Racing Team and CQR Club‘s David Baker. Just 0.15s separated them, with Wojciech Swirydowicz and Ross Macfarlane lining up on row 2, and a good qualification from Miguel Freitas saw him take 5th spot ahead of Nicol Foggie.
Jack Sedgwick lead the pack off the line and made the most of his good getaway to consolidate his lead at the end of the front straight. Behind him Baker and Woj fought for 2nd place. Baker played more conservatively and Ross Macfarlane was also able to sneak past on the exit.
This left the Apex Racing Team drivers to their own devices up at the front with Sedgwick continuing to increase his advantage, and Swirydowicz lapping comfortably behind.
Further back Ash Sutton was steadily making his way to the front of the pack having started from 8th on the grid. Sutton eventually made his way through past teammate Baker, and then Macfarlane on lap 5. However, it seemed he had perhaps asked too much of his tyres by the time he reached the head of the field, and he was unable to close the gap to the leaders.
In the Pro-AM category Rich Warmingham once again topped the qualifying, albeit with a tight margin back to his nearest competitors David Van Broeck & Mark Woodhouse. Just over a tenth separated the trio, putting them 15,18 & 19th respectively on the grid.
In the race a tough start for Rich allowed the pair behind to catch him, but they were never quite close enough to make a pass and they stayed in formation 1-2-3 for the entire race
Race 2 saw a full grid, and with it turned up the heat on the drivers. With just 5 races left in the series, championships could be won and lost here!
As expected race 2 really was all about survival on the mean streets! Small incidents could quickly escalate in the busy afternoon traffic.
BoosTED Motorsport‘s Lee Berridge made a great start to pass 4 cars on the first lap, surging into the race lead. Behind him, Pete Newman gave chase and made his own move for the race lead on the 3rd lap into turn 4.
Soon to join them up in the lead fight was Daniel Craft, who made a fantastic first 3 laps to chop his way up from 28th on the grid to 5th, and slowly picked off the remaining cars ahead of him, moving into 3rd on lap 5, and passing Berridge for 2nd on lap 7.
Nicol Foggie’s showdown was going terribly so far with an early DNF saw him looking out of the running. However, for many of his competitors for the title, this race was a big shock to the system. Sedgwick, Swirydowicz, Baker, Simmons & Macfarlane were all involved in accidents, with only Woj making it home, albeit in 20th place with heavy damage.
Suddenly Foggie was back on a level playing field, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for him as he snatched 3rd place from Berridge on the penultimate lap of the race! The championship fight is back on!
With a full reverse grid yet again, and Woj now starting on only the 2nd row, the cards were marked for the 3 BoosTED Motorsport cars that were positioned around him on the starting grid.
David Van Broeck made the best of the opportunity however and sprinted off into the race lead, with Adam Hedgecock playing rear-gunner behind him, doing his best to keep Woj at bay!
In all fairness he didn’t do a bad job against this one of iRacing’s most successful FWD drivers, but soon Woj was past and bearing down on Van Broeck for the lead
2 laps later, and with Ross Balfour starting to get larger in his rear-view mirror, Woj made the pass for the lead and never looked back again!
It was a similar story with Balfour who made a carbon-copy of Woj’s move on Van Broeck down to T4. But nobody else was able to trouble the two BoosTED drivers who came home 3rd and 4th overall, and picked up the Pro-AM 1-2.
Another incredible drive from Nicol Foggie saw him carve through the traffic and cross the line in P5! A truly remarkable achievement at this circuit!
With just one more round to go, the championships are all still wide-open! The lights at Daytona will surely give an incredible spectacle as we crown our first ever ARL TCR winners on thursday!