Round 8 of the 6th season of Apex Online Racings GTE league was to be an 80 minute “not quite a sprint, but not an endurance race either” cruise round the super slick hills of Interlagos in Brazil. Myself and Ben Warren have been running the whole league and whilst I have enjoyed pretty good placings in the AM Cup through most of my races, Ben has been somewhat less fortunate in the Pro/Am – suffering pretty much every issue known to the man from internet disconnects, to hardware failure to spewing in a bucket. But this was the one… this was the race that Ben had (and I quote) “…done 3 laps of practice, and Im feeling good”
So with 24 drivers showing up from all over Europe, the 20 minute open qualifying session started. Ben’s mammoth practice session had obviously paid off, posting a time of 1:31.357 to net 11th on the grid. On the other hand, I had actually practiced and it was showing with a stonking 1:32.149 good enough for 17th on the grid (of which 3 cars didn’t post a lap) FeelsBadMan
I really wasn’t feeling good about my chances to be honest. Nearest rival in the AM cup was Jake Towns who had quali’ed P14 and was looking racey. I wasn’t too worried about any of the remaining AM drivers for the overall, but wanted to finish as near as possible to Jake to minimise my losses in the league. Race started and everyone got through the T1, 2, 3 chicane without issue, but then a big pile-up in the left hander at T4 split the field. Ben managed to get round it pretty well, gaining a couple of spots and moving in to 8th. Finding himself in a scrap with Evan Imray for the majority of his race until his tyres started to die at around the 28 lap mark. Picking up 6 off-tracks in as many laps (with an incident limit of 20) Ben chose to pit and take fuel and some new boots. By this time however he was riding 19 incident points and driving on really, REALLY thin ice. It would only take one more offtrack, or one tiny little nudge to get (another :o) ) DQ…. Something Soren Kruse was to provide just 10 laps from the finish. So sadly, Ben’s bad luck continues, a run of luck I know is increasingly frustrating as decent positions are definitely within his grasp… just needs a dollop of good luck to help out.
I also managed to avoid the carnage in front of me on L1 gaining a couple of spots up to P15, Jake Towns however had been equally as lucky and had jumped to P10. I decided to chase would be a fruitless task as I clearly wasn’t as quick as the guys ahead, so settled in for consistent laps with the hope that people in front of me would die. Pitting a little early on L29 so as not to provide Knut Martinsen with the draft, I emerged behind Niclas Domino and Andrew Browne, both AM drivers and both turning decent laps. With Jake still up the road this wasn’t boding well for my overall cup lead, but thankfully, Niclas let me past pretty quickly. By this point Jake had pitted and Andrew was on his bumper…a final 15 lap battle for the AM podium was to ensue. Andrew and Jake were playing hardball – swapping places a couple of times within a few laps, so I decided to hang back slightly (the RSR was no match for the 488 on the main straight anyway) and hope that they would kill each other. I was convinced Andrew would be pitting soon but on L43 I saw a chance and made the pass. I then began to eye up where I might be able to pass Jake who seemingly didn’t have any grip left at all. 3 laps later I got a decent run on to the main straight and got along-side on the outside of T1. I managed to hold my line in to T2 where room was really tight but a small touch put Jake in to a wee slide before T3…. I was past, but it wasn’t the cleanest ever! (Sorry Jake) From here, I got my head down for the last 5 laps or so, ending up about 4 seconds clear of Jake, with Andrew actually taking a push across the line (turns out he hadn’t pitted at all!) for 15th overall, and the final step on the Am podium.
Congrats to the overall podium Valtteri Alander, Christoph Holstein and Djawad Karoni.
In the overall standings, I have strengthened my lead over Jake by 31 points with Stephen Kamke in 3rd a further 43 points back. Ben’s run of bad luck continues and he really out of contention for the Pro/Am cup…and as for the Team champs…well…lets not talk about that ok?
Results are here.