Niclas Laubisch - ARL GT Champion
Apex Racing League iRacing GT Championship with Colbek – R12 Long Beach
After eleven rounds and twenty-two races, the Apex Racing League GT Championship presented by Colbek arrived at Long Beach for a final showdown. Heading into the final meeting, four drivers could claim the overall title. Urano eSports star, Niclas Laubisch, carried a slender points advantage over Sven Neumann and Danny Lee. Mr Consistency, Mattia Fuligni, sat fourth in the standings but still in contention for the title.
Fighting for a title is a sure-fire way to get the nerves jangling. However, engaging in a title tussle on the streets of Long Beach adds another layer of intensity. Since the mid-1970s, the world’s best have raced between the walls at this Californian circuit. Any mistake is severely punished.
Colbek Porsche’s Danny Lee scored his first ever pole position in ARL GT at the most useful moment. At a circuit as tight and perilous as Long Beach, a clear view to turn one is paramount.
Leading the pack down to turn one, Lee couldn’t stave off the galloping Ferrari of James Crouch who edged into the lead at the fountain. Throughout the early stages of the twenty-five-minute sprint race, Crouch used the superior straight-line speed of his Maranello missile to pull away from Lee.
With Crouch disappearing up the road, Lee’s attentions focused behind. Laubisch was on a charge and keen to break through and chase down Crouch. On lap seven, Laubisch pounced under brakes at turn one and slipped past Lee for second.
Once into clear air, Laubisch laid down a succession of lightning lap times and reeled in Crouch. By lap thirteen, Laubisch caught Crouch and began to hassle his British rival, hoping for a mistake. Eventually, the pressure from Laubisch cracked Crouch’s resolve and forced a spin on the exit of the hairpin.
With Crouch dispatched with, Laubisch tore off to a critical race win. However, a second-place finish kept Daniel Lee in the hunt.
A post-race sanction following an incident at Sonoma forced Sven Neumann to start race one from pit lane. Profiting from a high attrition rate ahead and some superb lap times, Neumann surged to sixteenth place. Crucially, this handed the Core Sim Racing Corvette star pole position for the forty-minute feature race.
Keen not to waste the privilege of pole position, Sven Neumann disappeared to a dominant feature race victory. However, he would need Laubisch and Lee to hit problems to steal the title. Agonisingly, Lee’s challenge was thwarted before the green flag fell. A frustratingly typical Long Beach formation lap pile up formed a multi-million-dollar roadblock which halted Lee’s progress. Meanwhile, Niclas Laubisch scampered to the green flag unincumbered.
Although Neumann’s dominance out front should not go unnoticed, Laubisch’s drive from sixteenth on the grid was one of a true champion. Patiently but assertively picking his way through the field, the German ace strengthened his hold on a first ARL GT title. By the halfway point, Laubisch had ascended all the way to third place and eventually climbed to second place by the flag. This had been no cruise to the flag, Laubisch’s coronation was delivered in style.
Jentsen Adriaenssens signed off a storming AM class campaign with yet another class win and fourth overall in the Long Beach feature race. As a regular overall front runner all season, the Belgian bullet is certainly a worthy AM class champion.
Immediately after the dust settled on a dramatic season finale, several of the ARL GT drivers joined the Apex Racing TV commentary team to share their thoughts:
Niclas Laubisch: “This feels incredible! It’s my first ever championship win. I adapted a bit to the Porsche over the season, by the end I think I mastered the car!”
Jentsen Adriaenssens: “It started going well in the last couple of races. I took the lead, got a gap. So, I’m really happy.”
Danny Lee: “It’s been a good campaign but it’s been a heart braking way to end it. I’m just gutted the way this went. This track just didn’t want me to succeed!”
Kevin Kittelmann: “My goal for the day was to finish in P2 in the championship. But after what happened in race one, I thought it was gone!”