Rounds 7&8 of the Virtual Racing School Sports Car Open Sprint Masters took us to Monza this week, well known for its T1 incidents in the sim racing world. Would we make it through the Variante del Rettifilo unscathed?
The team were riding the success of the VRS SCO Sprint Masters 24 hours of Spa a couple of weeks ago, finishing in P4, the highest placed Lamborghini in the field, it proved we can find pace in this car where others seem unable to. Things were looking promising.
Race 1 Qualifying could have gone better, with, by our own standards and expectations, starting positions that did not reflect our true pace. Maxime was unlucky finding a competitor’s car reversing into the fast lane of the pits just as he arrived.
Qualifying over for the #98 car.
(The normal ghosting that applies in the pitlane does not carry over to the fast lane, pure bad luck of timing meant the car in front of Maxime ghosted through ok, but Maxime wasn’t so lucky as the car had moved just into the ‘no ghosting’ zone as he arrived on the scene)
P12 for Jamie and Zac, P17 for Kevin and Maxime as the session came to a close. There was a lot to do to get back into the points scoring positions. By the end of the 60 mins one car had managed to do just that though, with the #98 car of Kevin and Maxime bringing it home in 9th, an 8 place position gain after some superb driving.
The #99 car of Jamie and Zac, were faring even better, until a pit lane speeding penalty at driver change put paid to any hopes of a points scoring finish due to a drive through penalty.
Not an ideal start to the weekend, but the car and drivers showed they had the speed to recover well from a poor qualifying, so a better qualy in Race 2 would surely mean better results?
Race2 was an entirely different story. Both car’s headed out onto track early in the qualifying session and pulled some blistering lap times that nobody else was able to match. The first pole of the championship for #98 by Kevin, with Jamie in the #99 car following up with a P2.
Front row lockout? Oh yes.
As the parade lap snaked its way towards the green flag, Maxime had to check up to keep his speed below 60kph for the start, unfortunately cars behind him were not so quick, and a small concertina involving 3 cars meant the race was going to start with some minor damage to the rear of the #98 car.
Zac screamed the raging bull off the start line perfectly, keeping the ever present Coanda Porsche of Charlie Collins just behind into Variante del Rettifilo. That’s how it remained until lap 12 when a missed breaking point at the first chicane opened the door to Coanda, and Charlie duly took the lead of the race. Pulling each other along through the first 12 laps meant that they had built a gap to the P3 car of Mitchell De jong and broken the all important draft, meaning this small error had only cost Zac one place.
Maxime had a rougher time caught by the traffic in the first few laps, driving defensively he ultimately succumbed to pressure from behind and found himself in P7 by the 7th lap.
Lap 15 was driver change time for the #98 car, and Kevin was back in the seat with a daunting recovery drive ahead to claw back some positions. It only took until lap 22, out braking the BS+ Competition BMW into the Variante del Rettifilo to take it back to 4th place. Ultimately this would be the finishing position for the #98 car, another stunning drive from Kevin to bring home crucial points for the team.
But it was the #99 car, now piloted by Jamie Fluke since lap 19, that had a sniff of victory. Still in P2 after Zac’s stint, and with Dayne Warren now at the wheel of the Coanda Porsche, the pair had dropped Joshua Rogers and were locked in battle all the way to the end. Jamie patiently waiting for his opportunity, not to go too early, nor too late. A game of cat and mouse ensued.
Heading into what would become the penultimate lap of the race he grasped the moment into the first chicane, down the inside of Dayne Warren, and into the lead. A nail biting 1 and a half laps was all that was left, but the Coanda car was not going to make this easy. Several attempts to pass ensued, but Jamie positioning his car perfectly thwarted each one. Half a lap to go, it looked like this was in the bag. First win for the Apex Racing Team in the SCO VRS Sprint Masters.
But Curva Parabolica had other ideas. An ultimately too defensive line into the final corner saw the door left open for a risky move around the outside for the Coanda car. Surely Dayne wouldn’t have the tyres left to make that move stick?
As they exited on to the Rettifilo Tribune, they found themselves side by side, neck and neck, this was a straight out drag to the finish line now.
A 2nd a 4th place finish on the day, it soon became evident that this hadn’t been a poor result, being a huge haul of points for both cars, highest placed Lamborghini’s even with a BOP that wasn’t in favour, showed just how strong the team is in this car.
Quite rightly the thrilling last couple of laps have been a highlight of the championship so far and cement the knowledge that a win can only be a matter of time. Confidence is high now to roll into rounds 9 and 10 at the Red Bull Ring and push even harder for it.
Post race protests have seen a penalty applied to the #98 car for the checkup on the parade lap, Maxime deemed to have braked too severely, which ultimately demoted them to a 5th place finish. However, the haul of points leaves the cars sitting nicely in 4th and 5th in the championship, with the P3 of the Kova car firmly in their sights.
Roll on RBR.
9th #98 Apex Racing Team 1 (Kevin Ellis Jr & Maxime Brient)
18th #99 Apex Racing Team 2 (Jamie Fluke & Zac Campbell)
2nd #99 Apex Racing Team 2 (Jamie Fluke & Zac Campbell)
4th #98 Apex Racing Team 1 (Kevin Ellis Jr & Maxime Brient)
Current Championship Standings
VRS SCO Sprint Masters standings correct at time of publication. For up to date standings, visit the Sports Car Open Website
After 120 mins of action in this weeks rounds of the VRS SCO Sprint Masters, the Apex Racing Team Lambourghini drivers gave their thoughts on the hard fought rounds at Monza
Jamie Fluke – Apex Racing Team 2 #99
“Very topsy-turvy day. The Lambo is not the most comfortable car around Monza due to it’s poor kerb handling, but the BOP this week looked decent for us so if we could piece things together I felt we had a chance. The first race was tricky with the qualifying strategy and trying to work out where we needed to be and when. Ended up just outside the top 10. In my stint I moved forward a few spots but lost the main pack fighting for the podium after contact with the Inertia Mercedes. Unfortunately we had a speeding penalty on pit exit, so a potential P7 or P8 was missed out on. We rebounded super well in Race 2 though, got the qualifying strategy absolutely nailed, a mistake on my best lap cost me pole but a 1-2 for the team was awesome! The race from our car went pretty much to plan,with Zac ending up working with the #93 Coanda Porsche to break clear of the chasing pack and giving me a straightforward target in my stint. All I had to do was overtake the Porsche and hold on. I managed the first bit but fluffed my lines in the last corner, being a bit too conservative on the brakes and I lost the drag race to the line. Beyond gutted to lose like that, but proud of the effort during the week. Looking forward to doing it all again at Red Bull Ring next weekend!”
Maxim Brient – Apex Racing Team 1 #98
“Great result for the team again for this 5th round. Awesome job by Kevin again and by the #99 for this P2 in race 2. For my part, i still got some work to do on my driving in close fight and I have to fix some technical issues. Onto RedBullRing”
Kevin Ellis jr – Apex Racing Team 2 #98
“Super proud of the whole squad for the pace we showed this weekend. A 1-2 at Monza in the Lambo is a massive achievement. Few things we still need to work on as a team to start converting these good Q results to R results but we win and lose as a team.
I feel like I’m driving better than I ever have so my confidence is high for the final 2 rounds”
Only 4 races stand between us and the final chequered flag of the VRS SCO Sprint Masters championship, and next week we head off to the Red Bull Ring on Saturday 21st August.
After this weeks results the team are confident of another strong performance with their eyes now firmly set on P3 and P4 in the final standings.
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