GhostSpeed Racing’s James Sadler grabbed his long awaited first career win in Formula Sim Racing’s PRO series, edging Avid Chronic Racing’s Georg Winter in the closing stages of the race. The German’s extra pit stop almost paid dividends, but it was too little too late as Sadler claimed the top step on the podium which had eluded him for so long.
Qualifying and grid position for round nine was not as pivotal as previous rounds; with the lack of concern due to the immense high speeds and vast overtaking opportunities that would present themselves to the drivers during the race. Most drivers succumbed to the pressure of Q2, with a comical amount of errors revealing pole position could be a decided by a qualifying session of attrition.
Championship leader Jeroen Kweekel further reinforced why he has been so dominant in 2015, catapulting himself into pole position during the closing stages of Q2 more than two tenths ahead of the next closest competitor, Georg Winter, who joined the Dutchman on the front row.
Despite a detrimental mistake to his one and only Q2 run, Christof Schgör managed to place his GhostSpeed racing car in P3 on the grid, followed by an impressive performance by Thiago Almeida in his first FSR PRO series event. Craig Baxter and Samuel Carpenter followed on the third row, whereas Sander Kallas’ sector two error still placed him 7th on the grid, due to the aborted laps from Sadler, Adrian Falcon and Dewald Nel who started 8th, 9th and 10th respectively.
The 32 lap, 60% distance event commenced with a bang, quite literally, Kweekel almost stalling as the lights went out which caused a prodigious scuffle in the mid-pack as drivers fought for position on the run down to turn one, the chain effect claiming early victims, most notably Schgör and Falcon.
Winter seized 1st place, while Sadler rocketed up from 8th on the grid to 3rd, attacking Almeida into the second chicane and moving himself up another position into 2nd. Almeida's first race came to an abrupt halt at the next corner, losing the rear end and being collected by several drivers behind including Trines NetRex's Sander Kallas. The chaotic start was far from over, as Dewald Nel's race also concluded early, retiring on the exit of the Curva di Lesmo due to a spin that severely damaged the car.
By the end of the first lap, Winter held the lead by just under a second from Sadler, the two seemingly having a trouble free start. Giacomo Ranzini incredibly climbed ten positions by the end of the first lap into 3rd, followed by Carpenter and Eugene Van Loggerenberg who also made rapid starts to climb into the top five. Kweekel’s poor start dropped him into 6th and was followed by Mihajlo Vicentijevic and Giordano Valeriano, who both took advantage of the chaos and managed to place themselves into the top ten from the rear end of the field.
Due to the chaotic start, the brake markers at the first chicane were demolished incidentally and this caused mayhem as several drivers completely missed the corner and took to the escape road. After a few laps the field started to settle into formation, however Giacomo Ranzini’s fast start was short lived as the Italian spun and hit the inside wall in the middle of the two Curva di Lesmo corners, forcing the home favourite to enter the pits for an unscheduled stop to replace his front wing and later retiring due to un-driveable damage to his Eventa by Pescara SHS vehicle.
David Cook also had a moment on the exit of the Curva di Lesmo, the incident almost a parody and resemblance of Mark Webber’s Korea 2010 moment in Formula One, almost taking out following cars as his damaged and stricken Avid Chronic Racing vehicle hit the wall and re-joined the race track travelling rearwards and out of control.
Sadler’s pursuit of the lead was showing great progress, the Brit’s pressure forcing Georg Winter to skip the second chicane on lap 9. Winter eventually kept his cool under pressure and maintained the lead as he entered the pits on lap 11 to make his first pit stop of the day. Sadler responded two laps later and re-joined the track behind the German, both electing for the soft compound rubber for the second stint.
The race seemed to evolve into a two horse battle for the win, as Kweekel’s car was too badly damaged to respond to the pace of Winter and Sadler. All eyes were now on James’ ability to close down and take the lead on slightly fresher rubber.
On lap 19, Kallas and Tyler Nyerges were involved in a catastrophic incident at the Curva Grande, colliding at high speed which sent both cars into the gravel and wall, immediately ending the races of both drivers.
Winter surprisingly entered the pit lane from the lead on lap 20 with teams evaluating that the German was electing for a two-stop strategy. He would complete the final stint of his race on the faster super soft rubber with 20 seconds to make up on leader James Sadler.
Sadler in the meantime would never look back, completing the race on a one-stop strategy and crossing the finish line less than one second ahead of Georg Winter. Kweekel rounded out the podium and an incredible effort from Giordano Valeriano saw the Twister Racing driver come home in 4th, despite being held back by starting from the back of the grid.
Samuel Carpenter and Andrea Raiconi were the last two runners on the lead lap in 5th and 6th, in a race of attrition which saw only ten classified finishers. Those finishers included Vicentijevic, van Loggerenberg, Baxter and Barnes.
The drivers championship saw Kweekel further extend his lead to 154 points ahead of Kallas, meaning if the Dutchman wins at Spa and Kallas fails to be a classified finisher and claim 10 points, Kweekel can be crowned champion.
GhostSpeed further maintains a 258 point lead of Trines NetRex, the case not the same for the Portuguese team who are mathematically unable to wrap up the teams title next round.
The next round will see drivers face the challenge of the Belgian mountains at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit for 27 laps of racing. The race will be broadcasted live and exclusive on Formula SimRacing’s YouTube channel at 13:30GMT.