ARL - TCR Winter Series 2019/20 Summary
5 months ago iRacing finally answered our prayers and released the long-awaited Audi RS3 LMS TCR to the service. This proved to immediately be a popular hit with touring car fans due to its improved handling compared to the KIA and its sturdy damage model.
With a full grid queued up for the first round of the season at Silverstone, the robustness of the car helped (most of) the drivers survive their first encounter with the new car and their fellow competitors alike.
From the moment the green flag dropped for the first time, the main title competitors laid their cards out on the table. Ex. BTCC champ Ashley Sutton took the first race victory of the season at Silverstone, Ross Macfarlane won the first race at Round 2 at Snetterton and Jack Sedgwick taking the victory in Round 3 at Road Atlanta.
Notably missing from the front-runners however was defending champion Wojciech Swirydowicz. He seemed to be struggling to adapt to the new car, and could only manage one podium during the first 3 race meetings. It was only at Round 5 in Sebring that he finally found his feet, picking up his first win in Race 2 there and then following up with 3 more wins at Montreal, Mosport & Phillip Island in successive weeks. This left him missing entirely from the main-season top 10, and fortunately able to slot into the showdown on a wildcard entry with thanks to his impressive win-tally by Round 10.
The main season itself was however a tale of three with Jack Sedgwick, Ross Macfarlane and Nicol Foggie duking it out for the championship lead. The trio traded positions on an almost weekly basis and were split by just 50 points at the end. Macfarlane earnt 1937 points, Sedgwick took 1950 with 4 wins and 11 podiums, but both were bested by Foggie who was able to secure an impressive 5 race wins and 13 podiums during the first 30 races.
In the AM standings it was a close fight between Kip Stephens, Adam Hedgecock and Rich Warmingham who each finished within 20pts in the main season. It was an awful start to the championship for Warmingham, who picked up 4 DNF’s within the first 3 race meetings. However, he started a recovery drive from Round 4 and quickly made his way back into the lead fight with some great results.
Meanwhile, Adam Hedgecock had been enjoying a great start to the season, picking up 2nd place in race 2 at Snetterton and taking a commanding lead in the championship standings. However, the final meeting of the main season at Watkins Glen put a dampener on his results as a double-DNF allowed Kip Stephens to sneak into the lead. Kip had been flying under the radar so far, having finished consistently all season long.
Warmingham picked up less overall points at the end of the main season leaving him in 3rd place behind Hedgecock and Stephens, but his tally of 3 AM victories and 10 AM podiums left him with the most bonus points going into the showdown.
As the points were reset for the all-important showdown to start, Sedgwick drew first blood and took the Race 1 win in Monza, however Foggie was quick to recover and took the win in Race 2, but then suffered an unfortunate post-race DSQ in race 3 and immediately fell to the bottom of the showdown contenders.
It would be recovery mode from here on in as he fought to reduce the gap to the leaders, with every single race finish from that point onwards inside the top-10, collecting another two podiums along the way.
This was just enough to get him back into title contention, but as Foggie returned to the title fight, Macfarlane dropped out of it after awful luck at Belle isle. Ross took a double-DNF in races 2 & 3 and this well and truly dumped him out of the title chase.
Meanwhile Jack Sedgwick had been enjoying a relatively easy showdown having picked up the Race 1 win in each of the 4 showdown weeks event. However at Belle Isle his fortunes also turned, as a DNF in race 2 caused his comfortable points lead to evaporate.
This left us entering the final rounds at Daytona with Sedgwick & Swirydowicz the favourites, plus Foggie with an outside chance.
The AM showdown was turbulent with many drivers exchanging positions at the top in the early weeks. David Van Broeck took the lead early on with the AM victory in the first race at Monza, however a DNF in race 3 set him back onto the back foot.
This left Adam Hedgecock with a brief lead in the standings, but another double-DNF for him in races 1 & 2 at Spa saw his chances up in smoke. Also with trouble at the Spa round was Rich Warmingham with a DNF in race 1, however he made a remarkable recovery to collect an overall victory in Race 3.
John Roberts and Mark Woodhouse managed to keep out of trouble and found themselves squabbling for the title lead after Hedgecock’s demise. The pair both suffered setbacks at the Belle Isle round with a DNF each.
This set the playing field back level for the final round at Daytona with Van Broeck, Roberts, Paul Smith, Michael Blake, Woodhouse & Warmingham all chasing Kip Stephens, who went into the final round with a small cushion.
Woodhouse was the first to drop after an unfortunate bump in qualifying knocked him across the circuit and disqualified him from taking the race start. Roberts then took a DNF in race 2, but crucially it was at the hands of Kip Stephens & required a stewards meeting to determine the outcome.
Michael Blake was in touch for the overall victory in race 2 until contact with Jake Blackhall dropped him to the back of the pack, fortunately the reverse grid offered him a chance of recovery, but even 3rd place overall was not enough to stop David Van Broeck bringing the Pro-AM title home!
In the PRO showdown Wojciech Swirydowicz took the early advantage in race 1 until contact with Ross Macfarlane allowed Sedgwick to escape for the race win, and Foggie on the podium in 3rd. Woj nearly had to DNF after problems with his shifters almost put him 2 laps down, however he recovered just in time to claim points for last place. This meant he was able to carry a small lead into race 2.
Unfortunately Woj just missed the reverse grid, and so therefore the championship contenders were all together at the back of the grid for the start of race 2. Sedgwick once again displayed a master-class in touring car driving, cutting through from the back of the grid to the podium, with Woj only able to recover to 6th place, and Foggie hanging on in 10th.
This left Sedgwick with a 9 point advantage coming into the last race of the season, and a full grid put all 3 contenders at the back of the field together.
Contact on the first lap ruled Foggie out of the chase, and left Sedgwick and Woj to duel for the win. Sedgwick displayed his talent once again and this time made it to the front of the field, only to be hit by another car at turn 1 and dropped back to 12th place. Meanwhile Swirydowicz benefitted from the crash ahead, picking off the remaining drivers and not only taking the race victory on the last lap, but with Sedgwick only able to recover to 11th he was able to sew up the championship.
The AM teams championship never looked in any doubt with SmileTime Simmortal taking the early advantage and maintaining it throughout the championship. BoosTED Simsport and BoosTED Motorsport gave chase all the way, but were never quite close enough to topple SmileTime from the top step.
In the PRO teams, Apex Racing Team, CQR and XVR Sim-Racing fought a hard battle throughout. XVR eventually dropping from the top when one driver pulled out of the series, and CQR losing the battle at the 11th hour due to unfortunate issues causing two of their drivers to miss the final rounds at Daytona. This gifted the championship to Apex, who in all fairness seemed to have been the strongest team having lead the standings throughout the showdown.
So with the first ARLTC championship over, we look ahead to a new championship starting soon! All that is left is to thank everyone who helped make our first championship a success:
Thanks to all the admins & stewards for their efforts running the championship.
Thanks to the broadcasters for making us look good all season.
Thanks to iRacing for their platform & continued support of the series.
Finally thanks to all the competitors, without which we would have no championship at all! It has been an absolute pleasure to race with you all, and I look forward to the next one!
You can now view the final championship standings at ARL TCR Winter Series Standings