Mid-Ohio was the location for the latest round of the Clubsport Series, and it was another IVRA race that did not dissapoint. ATRS Esports finally took their first win, with a combination of good fortune with Safety Cars and Oli Peacock’s execution of late-race restarts.
So far, Team Heusinkveld have won all three races in TCR, but have never qualified particularly well, as shown by just 93 points picked up at the halfway stage of races. Fabien Siegmann made this time different, as he would take a narrow pole position in a very close TCR session.
An even closer Sport Qualifying session would see Sven Deml take the pole for Hugh Jass, with Vince Peeters securing pole for Asetek Simsports Visceral by three tenths of a second in Cup. It was a good start for them too, and they were able to dominate the first quarter of the race.
GermanSimRacing took the lead of Sport, and Brabham Esports took over in TCR, although Team Heusinkveld were very much still in touch along with Tedline by Impulse. The relatively static race situation would soon be shattered by the first Safety Car of the day, called for Impulse Racing’s #233 TCR which made contact with the wall at Turn 1.
It came right in the middle of a stint, and so there were differences in strategy that would end up deciding the race in a few hours time. Race leaders in Cup and Sport came in, giving them a shorter final stop of the race, while their respective championship leaders stayed out in hopes of making fewer stops and keeping track position.
Orion Race Team looked like they were going to take the full 50 points at the halfway stage, but a pitstop just one lap too early gave the points to Kairos Esports ahead of Impulse Racing and Asetek Simsports Visceral. Impulse Racing took all the points in the other two categories as well, marking a good start for them.
The strategy employed by those who came in seemed to be working out. It certainly was for Visceral and Impulse, until the latter picked up damage and had to convert to the other strategy, leaving a big strategic advantage to the #96.
Those teams who stayed out at the Safety Car had already made their final stop by the time the next one came out, which couldn’t have been timed worse for Vince Peeters in the race-leading car. Those that had made their final stops and stayed on the lead lap would jump right up to the front, and Visceral dropped to 11th.
For the same reasons, long-time Sport class leaders GermanSimRacing, and TCR leaders Brabham Esports, would also drop back. Oli Peacock would restart first as ATRS Esports made their first appearance at the front of the field since the early part of the opening round, challenged by Impulse Racing’s Mario Vehlgut who had his sights on a possible championship lead.
Fiercely Forward would restart with lots of lapped cars between themselves and their nearest Sport competitors, and Team Heusinkveld would once again be first of those on the correct strategy in TCR. It wouldn’t be long until the race was interrupted one final time, the cause being a massive crash during a Cup battle that involved championship leaders Maniti Racing.
This reset would allow ATRS Esports and Team Heusinkveld to really take control of their respective categories, however a huge battle for the Sport win ensued. Fiercely Forward would be first at the restart for the second time in a row, but Sven Deml was immediately applying pressure for Hugh Jass.
Alvar Gomez, driving the leading Porsche, had clearly picked up some damage somewhere that might just have been affecting him, as with 8 laps to go, Deml battled his way through at Turn 4. Five laps later, HydroRace Geodesic Racing followed them and got up to 2nd, keeping their championship lead, albeit at a reduced 59 points.
In Cup, Asetek Simsports Visceral fought their way into 2nd behind ATRS Esports in an unbelievably impressive display from Vince Peeters. This allowed them to take a 45-point championship lead over Impulse Racing, and get 65 points ahead of Maniti Racing.
A 4th win in a row for Team Heusinkveld has earned them a 93-point lead, as their nearest three rivals failed to make the podium. They have the best chance of securing the title one race early, although it is still pretty likely for everything to be decided at Suzuka for the finale.
Arguably the most exciting round so far this season in the Clubsport Series, but there is more to come. There are still 1400 kilometres left in this season, starting with the first half of those in April at Barber Motorsports Park.