TBR Pink do it again!
Round 2 of the incredibly popular and equally competitive Apex Online Racing GTE league was held last night over 80 minutes at the draft fest that is Autodromo Nacionale Monza in Italy. With a win for Joris Thielen and third for Dan Sosulski in the last round at Road America, the hopes for a repeat performance for the TBR Pink pairing were slightly muted by the fact that the BMW M8 was not expected to be marque to beat on this circuit, where the ability to smash through kerbs as if they didn’t exist definitely favored the Ferrari 488.
Having an open qualifying session and with a track so heavily reliant on straight line speed, finding space among the 50 car grid whilst also getting a good draft from other cars around you was going to give you a great advantage, and so it proved for Dan as he utilised the draft of Joris and Michael Dreschler to set a pole time of 1.44.362 That said, it was only 2 thousands of a second ahead of Revolution SimRacing’s Jason Dyer with Enar Marinsky in 3rd. Joris wasn’t so fortunate “only” managing a time of 1.44.99, good enough 16th place on the super tightly packed grid – top 20 covered by less than a second, top 40 covered by less than 2 seconds! Notable challengers for the overall were all there or there-abouts. Holstein in 4th, Gadermayr 5th and Geodesics Claudiu Clima in 6th.
So with 80 minutes of intense racing ahead of them, the full field rolled away behind the iRacing Pace Car. Dan timed his jump perfectly and the full field got away cleanly in to T1. Talking after the race, Dan said he initially tried to break away from the pack behind him however this proved to be fruitless as Jason Dyer never dropped more than half a second behind. Behind Dyer, Clima was making moves of his own, quickly climbing in to third place by the end of lap 4. Behind him, Holstein was having a less than perfect race, dropping to 8th place by lap 10 and then dropping out of the race after a coming together with Geodesic’s Nathan Parkinson on lap 21. Joris was making steady progress and was up to 13th by lap 5 before clipping the inside wall on Lesmo 2 and taking a small amount of damage. Pitting early in an effort to take any optional repairs he may have, Joris dropped down the order to 22nd before climbing back up to 13th again through the pit cycle.
Lap 30 and things started getting very interesting at the front of the race. Jason Dyer decided he’d had enough sat behind Clima and put a move in to the T1 chicane which caused Caudiu to outbrake himself and get a slowdown penalty in the process. This allowed the next 4 cars through dropping Clima down to 6th in the process. Dan decided to take the initiative on the very next lap and pulled the same manoeuvre of Dyer, passing him cleanly in to T1 before pitting at the the end of Lap 32, along with Schepers and Clima while Dyer, Gadermayer and Marinsky chose to stay out. By the time the cycle had finished, the order had shuffled with Dan now firmly in the lead but the next 5 places switching and swapping continually over the next 10 laps or so. Meanwhile Joris had found himself in a scrap for 11th place with another Geodesic driver, Andrew Langham-Service and Kevin Guilleux – a scrap which would continue for the last 7 laps before Joris finally crossed the line in 11th, just behind Andrew in 10th.
By the end of 80 minutes of highly tactical and at times incredibly tense racing, Dan came out on top, with Dominik Gadermayer 2nd and Jason Dyer taking the final spot on the podium. Clima had recovered after his off to a fine 4th spot with Schepers and Marinsky in 5th and 6th respectively.
A great race to watch, from the fuel saving tactics of the first 2/3rds of the race to the nail biting scraps of the last 10-15 laps all captured by the excellent team on the AOR YouTube Channel.
The result places Dan in the lead of the championship, 13 points ahead of Mike Schepers and a further 13 ahead of Joris in 3rd. In the Team Cup, TBR Pink have a commanding lead over Geodesic and Comrade Gaming. Next round will be Silverstone in a weeks time, how well will the big M8 manage the pan flat former airfield? Tune in next Monday to find out.
Official Results are here.
AOR coverage is here.