April Fools Races at Barcelona
As a one-off special event, in celebration of April Fools Day, drivers were met with a unique challenge: two 30-minute sprint races. What made this event so unique was that the drivers did not know what vehicle they would be racing in until the race server went live.
In the run up to the event, drivers were attempting to guess the race combination. Guesses ranged from thunderstorm weather to drivers using non-GT3 vehicles (which don't always have driver assists), to a wild accusation of Monza secretly being the track we'd race.
Event organisers kept their lips sealed, not giving away any secrets about the event.
The server went live, and it was revealed the drivers would be using the Porsche 991 II GT3 Cup. No TC. ABS was the car’s only redeeming feature.
Some drivers hit the track early to adapt to the car; however, a prank was played on drivers by limiting the number of tyre sets available to just one for the entirety of practice, qualifying, and the race. The result was half the grid starting without having done any practice to save the tyres and half the grid starting the race on fairly worn tyres.
It was an extremely tentative first lap, as no drivers wanted to be the first to have a spin. Brown was the first to fall, with a helping hand from Lipponen. Valtonen showed great pace and led all 17 laps. Lipponen was able to bring it home in 2nd after having a spin early on and recovering well. Brown rounded out the podium. Banana took an early retirement after sustaining steering damage, and Bartocci finished the race beached at the hairpin.
Perhaps Race 2 would go better?
The server opened, and drivers were forced into the Maserati GT4. The event organisers upped the ante with a car without both TC and ABS. To make matters worse, the weather was set to thunderstorm. Drivers attempted to qualify, but no drivers were able to set a valid lap within the 5-minute time frame.
Drivers lined up on the start/finish straight as one final twist was discovered: 5 mandatory tyre changes within a 30-minute race.
Banana started the race on pole and led some of the pack through turns 1 and 2, after which Banana picked up the throttle too quickly, and spun in the middle of turn 3. Unable to avoid the stricken car, Brown plowed into the side of Banana. Brown was forced to retire whilst Banana limped around the track for the remainder of the race.
As most drivers dived into the pits to begin their 5 mandatory stops, Banana opted to follow a very unorthodox race strategy. Instead of pitting, he elected to stay out for the whole race and take the post-race penalty, ultimately equating to less time than spent in the pits.
It's a hollow victory, but officially, not yet disqualified.
Lipponen served all 5 stops on back-to-back laps before putting the hammer down to chase Banana. But, the lead was too great. Valtonen came home to secure 3rd position.
With this special event now in the rear-view mirror, our next event takes place on Sunday, April 4th, once again at Catalunya for round 7 of the GT Challenge 2021 season. Check back Tuesday for that race recap.