Monday night had 8 TBR members travelling half way across the world to Brazil for round 5 of the Apex Online Racing GTE League at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace – or Interlagos as it is more commonly known.
25 minutes of practice was followed by 15 minutes of open qualifying, and with the track losing temperature as the time progressed, the fast times were likely to come late in the session. Continuing his dominance of the series so far, Eero Nömm stuck his Team Buschfink Racing Ferrari 488 on pole with a blisteringly quick time of 1.28.145, although only 2 tenths ahead of Geodesic’s Claudiu Clima in second. The next 12 spots were all within 6 tenths of each other, with Joris Thielen, Dan Sosulski, Teemu Toikka and Fraser Williamson all in the top 10. Further back Joachim Ljunggren and Magnus Vallström sat in 16th and 18th respectively with me back in 24th of the 36 car field with a time of 1.29.385.
As the lights turned green Eero got a good start, quickly pulling a second or so from Christoph Holstein and Clima. Behind them Mike Schepers had got the jump for 4th on Joris who had Dan and Teemu following closely behind. Fraser was briefly in the mix, before dropping back a bit under pressure from a charging Phil Reid, however Fraser would have a small “software issue” (the brain is software, right?) on lap 5 while running in 10th, and decided to park the car. Further down the field Magnus was making steady progress through the field and by lap 6 was up to 13th spot chasing Sara Dove and Knut Martinson for a top 10 position. Jocke on the other hand had been caught in a squabble coming out of turn 3 and bumped the Armco on the exit to the pit lane, dropping himself back to last position. I had made a perfectly timed jump on the green and gained 5 spots by the bottom of the Senna Esses, climbing to 17th in the aftermath of Jocke’s issues.
By the mid point of the race, things had settled down at the front. Eero was still carving a lead out ahead of Clima and Holstein while Joris had found a way past Schepers – although it had taken the better part of 7 laps to get there – with Dan and Teemu chasing hard just behind – Teemu getting the better of Dan briefly around lap 24, until the positions were again reverted on lap 29. Magnus had continued his climb through the field plateau-ing in 10th before taking an early pit on lap 32. I was circulating in 17th, leading the AM field but with Sam Blackwood, Philippe Gaillard and a recovering Jocke in a heated chase just behind.
In the closing part of the race Eero was still leading, I won’t say comfortably, but as yet not feeling any pressure from Clima and Holstein who were still circulating closely. Dan had managed to squeeze past Mike Schepers for 5th spot behind Joris while Teemu’s fuel saving efforts on the back of Dan’s Ford had allowed him to stay out for a couple more laps than anyone. Pitting from the lead, Teemu managed to jump Schepers in the stop and come back on track in 6th spot. Magnus’s early stop had brought him out the pits just behind me in 17th place. Taking his time to get back up to speed he passed me a couple of laps later. Thankfully, I was able to stick on his rear bumper for the next 6 laps or so, pulling out a 10 second gap on the group behind – a group still containing Jocke who had managed to get back up to 19th spot after the pit cycle.
So after 80 minutes of racing Eero came out on top, again scoring the hattrick with Pole, Fastest Lap and Win from Clima and Holstein. Joris, Dan and Teemu were 4, 5 & 6 with Magnus coming across the line in 13th. I won the AM race in 17th with Jocke completing his recovery drive in 19th place.
In the overall standings, Eero has an 85 point lead in the overall standings from Schepers with just one point back to Clima and Dan equal on 85 points. Joris is in 7th with Magnus, even with 2 DNS races, rounding out the top 10 in 10th. In the team standings, Team Buschfink Racing (Eero and Jocke) are on top by 59 points, with the remaining TBR teams sitting in places 5, 6 & 7 of the table.
The next round is on the GP layout of Twin Ring Motegi next Monday evening and as ever will be broadcast on AOR’s excellent YouTube channel.
Official results are here.
Jocke’s view is here.
Highlights of the AM race are here (thanks to Merlin Cooper)