ARLTC Season 1 - R4 Imola Report
Last week the infamous Imola circuit was host to the ARLTC Round 4, after round 3 was unfortunately called off due to iRacing maintenance mid-way through the evening.
The 2-week gap obviously helped George Simmons find his way around the TCR, and he made a suprising rise to the top of the scoreboards taking the early-pole position during Qualifying. However a tidy lap from Josh Thompson late on in the session nudged him off the top-spot and saw Thompson taking his first pole of the season.
Behind them Ross Balfour made it 3 cars within 0.03 of a second, just 0.028s off pole, with front-row regulars Ashley Sutton and Jack Sedgwick lining up in 4th and 5th place.
Luke Cooper was the best of the AM drivers, clearly making use of championship leader Jason Cooper’s tuition (and draft!) as the pair lined up together 7th and 8th on the grid.
In what has to be one of the worst race starts in recent memory, George Simmons completely fluffed his launch and more or less spun his wheels all the way back to 10th position in the run down to the first chicane!
This left Josh Thompson alone in the lead and able to take a deep breath through the first lap and establish his territory in the lead. Behind him, Sedgwick, Sutton and Balfour gathered together and started closing him down.
Each driver attempted to pass, but Thompson held firm until lap 6 when Sutton was able to make a pass around the outside into turn 1. It looked like Sutton was going to run away with the lead, especially as Balfour then also fought with Thompson for 2nd place, but once the pair settled their differences and Balfour emerged victorious, the chasing pack were once again able to settle down and catch Sutton in the tow.
Disaster struck for Sutton on lap 10 when Balfour was a little too optimistic into the chicane and half-spun Sutton back to 5th, however Balfour got his just-desserts as Thompson biffed him off into the gravel just a few corners later, allowing Sutton back into the hunt.
All this door-banging allowed Ross Macfarlane up into 3rd place, while Sedgwick and Thompson remained at the front to fight for the race win on the last lap.
Into the final corner Thompson tried to move around the outside of Sedgwick, however Jack is not one to give up a position lightly and masterfully positioned his car to cover the move and keep enough momentum onto the final straight to pick up the race win, while Sutton and Macfarlane drag-raced to the line for 3rd. Ashley coming away with the final podium spot.
Luke Cooper had a generally quite simple race in the lead of the AM drivers, navigating a few PRO’s who edged past him but still holding on to 11th spot at the checkered flag to collect a well deserved AM victory
Race 2 was a slightly more simple affair with David Van Broeck leading the pack from pole position and establishing a tidy lead over the first 4 laps. However, Peter Dempsey, supported by a chasing pack of CQR Club drivers was soon on the case, and by lap 6 both Dempsey and Pete Harrod were able to get past.
Harrod lead the way, but Dempsey put him under enough pressure to eventually force a mistake and cause Harrod to catch a slowdown penalty on lap 8. This allowed Dempsey through into the lead, and Ben Palmer past into 2nd place, and despite a late charge on the final lap, Dempsey did enough to hold on to the lead.
Behind them David Van Broeck was continuing to hold his lead in the AM class until Pete Newman arrived on the scene. The pair battled for 2 laps until eventually Newman was able to sneak down the inside into Aqua-Minerale and take the AM victory
Race 3 was all under control for series newcomer Nathan Davies. After a troublesome start in races 1 & 2 he found himself on pole for race 3 and took full advantage. Calling upon his previous BSRTC experience he leapt off the line and quickly pulled a large gap to the chasing pack. However unlike in races 1 & 2 he did enough to break the tow, and simply drove off into the distance. Eventually winning the race by over 10s and dominating the AM drivers.
Behind him, Tim Greven made his way through the pack from 20th to secure 2nd place. His charge to the podium helped by gaining 7 spots on the opening lap, and then a fierce battle between Robert Graham and Adam McNally for the 2nd position, which allowed him to catch up to them.
McNally eventually came out on top and completed an all-AM podium. While Graham fell back into the clutches of the PRO drivers. Jake Blackhall finally getting some good luck and finishing in p4, closely followed by Jack Sedgwick, Jason Cooper and Graham picking up p7.
Overall another good week for Jason Cooper sees him maintain his lead on the drivers standings. He is chased by Ben Palmer who moves up to 2nd overall, and Jack Sedgwick making a good recovery from Round 1 now into 3rd place.
Luke Cooper still leads the AM standings, while Simon Field gives chase to him in 2nd place.
In the teams standings, a good week for CQR Club saw them taking the most points overall ahead of Apex Racing Team. That meant CQR continued their domination of the team standings with CQR Club leading CQR Puresims at the moment, closest challengers Automek are just -66 points off the lead however.
In the AM teams, BoosTED are sharing the points out nicely between their two teams, with just a -4 point gap between BoosTED Simsport and BoosTED Motorsport in the standings. However a good week for CQR Simsports saw them chop into the BoosTED points advantage, so it’s certainly not over yet!
We are looking forward to another high-adrenaline round at Road America next week, with the high average speed and long straights sure to make the racing close and the stewards busy!
See you there!