Season 2 | Round 7 | Barcelona
Hello and welcome to sunny Spain! Welcome back to the GT World Challenge Fall Season for Round 7.
This week sees us revisit Barcelona, for a 1 hour sprint race. Those of you that stayed up to date with our pre-season testing will know that Barcalona was the home of our seasonal qualifying event, so expect many drivers to have some strong pace here - there’s been plenty of practice!
Just a short recap into the points standings so far:
Banana leads the overall with a 48 point lead over Langaard, who leapfrogged ahead after his 2nd place finish at Spa. Bartocci, Yang, Bowler and Brown are all very close for 8th position overall.
Over in the Silver Class, Bartocci continues to lead the championship, but both Bowler and Jackson are not out of the running yet!
Cockell also continues to lead the AM Class championship, ahead of Gomez, who was unable to attend last week’s race. Hopefully he can score a good finish to continue to challenge for the title.
BSKIT Motorsport-Racing for Rob were once again able to secure a front row lockout during qualifying, with Dominiak taking the pole position. Banana and Langaard were both fighting tooth and nail for the second row.
Silver driver Pozzoli put on a great performance to take the Silver Pole position in 5th position overall, just ahead of Bowler in 6th.
Season newcomer Piechotta initially brought his car to the AM pole spot, but a last minute lap from Gomez snatched the spot on the grid.
Drivers Jackson and Kingswell seemed to struggle to get the best from their qualifying, both finding themselves further down the order than they’d have liked. It will be interesting to see them move up through the grid, if they can find the pace in the race.
5 green lights signalled the start of the race, and both BSKIT Porsches led the pack toward Turn 1. A good start from Banana, aided by the slipstream brought Banana’s Bentley alongside both Porsches as they braked for the first turn. All 3 drivers bang doors as they navigate turn 1, with Kent taking to the runoff zone around turn 2, dropping back behind Langaard as he rejoined the circuit.
Kent, not happy with being pushed out of the podium, fought back hard against Langaard, as the drivers navigated turns 3, 4, 5 and 6 side by side, before Kent was finally able to complete the overtake on the brakes into turn 7, climbing back into 3rd position.
Meanwhile, Brown, Valtonen and Pozzoli also wanted some 3-wide action, as the drivers attempted Turn 4 together. Brown made contact against the side of Valtonen, which pushed the Lamborghini into the grass, dropping Valtonen toward the back of the grid.
As the drivers rounded the circuit for the first time, Kingswell had found his way from 16th up to 11th position, now behind Yang.
Things continued to heat up at the front of the grid. Dominiak was ahead, but Banana was pushing hard, filling the mirrors of the Porsche as they fought. They were side by side through turns 1 and 2, but Dominiak was able to keep ahead. The battling allowed Dominiak’s team mate to close the gap and join the fight.
As the cars exited turn 4, Kent pulled to the inside of Banana, and with a very late dive, forced the nose of his car alongside Banana. Banana was forced to avoid a collision, but conceded the position in the process.
Banana stuck to the rear spoiler like glue, but could not find an opportunity to overtake.
The chaos continued into Lap 3 as drivers suffered mistakes as they pushed hard for the best results they could. At turn 1, Piechotta braked too late into the turn, running wide of the apex, tagging the rear end of Winegarden. Piechotta pulled to the side of the circuit to allow Winegarden to take the position back, but the damage had already been done. The aero balance of Winegarden’s Audi had been damaged, and on the next lap, he pulled over by the barriers, and retired from the race.
Yang was next to fall foul to missing braking markers, as he tried to capitalise on Brown and Gomez racing side by side into the hairpin. Yang carried too much speed into the apex of the turn, spearing the door of Brown’s Bentley. Thankfully, Brown was able to keep his car under control and continued to battle Gomez whilst Yang spun and dropped further down the order.
Yang, recovering from his spin, latched onto the back of a train that was forming. At the front was Kingswell, defending his 10th position from Jackson, who was also under pressure from Valtonen. Jackson sat behind, patiently waiting for this opportunity to pass, until Lap 5, wherein Kingswell ran a little wide into turn 8, getting caught up in the sand trap and losing just enough time for Jackson to sail on by, leaving the others to continue their fight.
The race settled down somewhat, as drivers found themselves in a comfortable running order, with the exception of Kingswell, who was being pushed from behind by Valtonen, and it wasn’t until lap 14 that Valtonen was able to overcome the impressive defence from Kingswell, having set himself up for a great exit out of the final corner, and out dragged the McLaren down the pit straight, securing the position under the brakes of Turn 1.
A testament to how hard these two were battling was 2 laps later, when Kingswell was awarded a drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits on too many occasions. The driver had to admit defeat against Valtonen, and pull into the pit lane to serve his penalty.
The pit window opened, and as usual, the front runners all dove into the pits as soon as possible, donning new race boots to see them through to the end. No drivers were able to gain or lose positions through their stops, however, Jackson was able to gain on Gomez.
Jackson had steadily been gaining on Gomez for several laps, and the gap was around 3 seconds as Gomez entered the pits. Jackson stayed out for a lap longer, and pitted on the next lap. A slower stop from Gomez allowed Jackson to rejoin the circuit on the rear bumper of Gomez’s Audi. Jackson worked his tyres up to temperature, and set about reeling in Gomez. 2 laps of catching, and Jackson was able to make his move on the exit of turn 3, sealing the deal on the entry to turn 4, climbing into 9th position.
Lap 23 quickly approached, and the BSKIT team finally made a mistake. Both Porsche drivers were lapping well, until Kent ate too much kerb into the final chicane, pitching his car around. Banana seized the opportunity to climb back into 2nd position.
Banana tried to run away, but could not hold back Kent for long, as Kent made another bold move up the inside of the hairpin. Once again Banana was forced to give the space, and tried to hold 2nd place around the outside, but could not defend against the strong acceleration of the Porsche.
Kent was once again pushing his car to the limit to break away from Banana, but was punished by the stewards for exceeding track limits and was sent to the pit lane for a drive-through penalty. The penalty ruined his chances of a podium finish, and relegated him to 5th position at the finish line.
BSKIT Motorsport weren’t the only team to suffer problems toward the end of the race, as Brown, who had been running in 7th place following his pit stop, was stationary at turn 1. The crowd witnessed the Bentley hurtling toward turn 1 and rather than turning in toward the apex, the car continued straight, through the gravel trap and into the barriers. Brown’s race ended in retirement, faced with a critical failure to the steering system.
As the race wound down to the final laps, attention was focused on Jackson, who had reeled in silver driver Pozzoli. Both drivers were doing their best to get the most speed from their cars, but ultimately, Pozzoli came out on top, successfully holding off Jackson at the finish line.
BSKIT Motorsport claimed yet another race victory, with Dominiak being the first driver to take the checkered flag. Banana followed up in 2nd position, with Langaard taking 3rd.
The Silver Class saw Bowler take a class victory, with an impressive 4th position overall. Bartocci and Pozzoli brought their red ferraris home to 2nd and 3rd in class, defending well from Jackson from behind.
Gomez had a strong performance too, as he was able to finish in 9th position overall, securing his AM class victory in the process and closing up further on Cockell in the championship standings.
Following the conclusion of the race, the drivers voted for their Driver of the Day. The driver that had a great finishing position, or played their part in an exciting and clean battle. This week, the drivers unanimously voted for Bowler for his incredible pace that brought him his Silver Class victory and a fourth position overall finish. Great work, Bowler. I hope this continues into Imola, the Silver Championship is up for grabs.
Thank you for joining us again, and stay tuned for the next race, as we head over to Italy for a 1-hour sprint race at Imola, you don’t want to miss it.