Powell powers ahead at Watkins Glen
Wave Italy ARL GT Championship – R1 Watkins Glen
Hot on the heels of a thrilling fourth season, the Apex Racing League GT is back. Thanks to the wonderful support of Wave Italy, ARL GT returns with an all-new broadcast package and a bulging grid of top drivers.
Urano Esports star Niclas Laubisch is back to defend a title which he fought so valiantly for on the streets of Long Beach. However, Laubisch will face a stern cast of opposition from numerous sim racing outfits.
Home to the prestigious Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, Watkins Glen in New York state is made for sports car racing. An onslaught of medium and high speed bends challenge any drivers ability. Furthermore, the opening round of the Wave Italy ARL GT championship would run for eighty minutes. Therefore, intense focus would be essential to reach victory lane.
Niclas Laubisch immediately signalled his intent to defend ARL GT honours by speeding to pole position for the opening round of the season. Joining Laubisch on the front row, would be championship newcomer, Tobias Ogrodnik.
Indy Autosport’s American ace, Drew Becker, took AM class pole and twelfth overall.
Back in his championship winning Porsche 911 RSR-17, Laubisch led the forty-nine-car field into a brand-new season of ARL GT competition. However, Laubisch was swiftly under the cosh from Ogrodnik and Danny Lee, who promptly swept past.
Keen to avenge narrowly missing out on the crown last season, Danny Lee surged to the front at the ten-minute mark and threatened to pull away in his Corvette C8.R. While Lee pushed on out front, Aaron Powell was on his own ascent. After thirty-five minutes of flat out running, Powell had reeled in Lee and lingered close behind in a Corvette 1-2.
After twenty minutes of stalking and studying Lee, Powell pounced at the bus stop chicane. However, Lee was in no mood to roll over. All the way around to the ‘Heel’ of the boot section, Lee and Powell flew in flying formation, side by side. Eventually, Powell sneaked ahead while Lee filtered in behind the Evo SR star.
With sixty minutes of racing elapsed, Powell blinked first and dived to the pit lane to take on a splash of fuel for the dash to the finish. Meanwhile, Lee carried on for an extra lap. Feeding his Corvette with more fuel, Lee sped out of pit lane, hoping to emerge ahead of Powell. As Lee released the pit limiter and opened up the full might of his 5.5 litre V8, Powell swooped around turn one. Despite Lee’s best efforts, Powell led by a whisker from Lee into the rapid S bends.
Now on an equal playing field, Lee and Powell engaged in an eighteen-minute sprint to the flag. However, the British pair were no longer contesting the lead. Logitech Altus Esports ace, Michael Neumeier, had played a strategical masterstroke by undercutting both of the Corvette’s in his BMW M8.
Incensed by the strategical defeat, Powell dropped the hammer and promptly reeled in Neumeier. With eight minutes to go, Powell eclipsed his Neumeier with a daring move around the outside at the bus stop chicane. Meanwhile, Lee enjoyed a grandstand view of the action in third place.
While Powell scampered off to the win. Lee hassled Neumeier intensely. Desperately looking to regain second position. However, the German put up a very stiff defence. Lee and Neumeier’s dice allowed Niclas Laubisch to sneak up to the battle and poach a podium position from the luckless Lee.
Chris van de Nesse came home fifteenth and top of the AM class.
After the race, many Wave Italy ARL GT aces joined the Apex Racing TV commentary crew to share their thoughts on the action:
Danny Lee: “That was so much fun! You couldn’t have asked for a better opening round!”
Niclas Laubisch: “The qualifying was extremely good. In the race, I knew I was very slow on the straights. Second of all, I had throttle problems. When I went to throttle, it jumped from 100% to 80%.”
Matt Chambers: “We were going to run the Ferrari but the Corvette is a much more stable car on its tyres. It worked out ok.”
Stefan Schlacher: “The start was quite frantic. Could have been much nicer. I had a terrible qualifying but my race pace was good. Unfortunately, the strategy didn’t quite work out but the race was good overall.”
Dennis Meisner: “Normally, I do a lot of endurance racing. So this was going back to normal for me.”
On Sunday the 27th of June, the Wave Italy ARL GT championship heads to Imola for round two. Tune in to Apex Racing TV at 7pm GMT for uninterrupted live coverage.