So this was it. The final 2 rounds of the Virtual Racing School Sports Car Open Sprint Masters championship.
VRS SCO Nürburgring Race 1
After two 4th place finishes and a 5th last week at the VRS SCO Sprint Masters at the Red Bull Ring, what would the shorter Sprintstrecke layout of the Nürburgring serve up? Another rarely used layout to test everyone’s adaptability.
Up first for qualifying was Zac in the #99 car and Maxime in the #98. In his last competitive race for Apex would Zac still have the fight and will to push? Of course he would. He’s a professional , and duly put the car into P2 for the first race. Maxime brought the #98 car up to 9th for the start, so things had started well.
Due to the Qualifying/race driver switchover in the rules, it meant Kevin Ellis jr would have the first stint and needed to avoid any drama in the opening laps in what could be a tricky position going into the Yokohama-S’s. It went well, and with that successfully navigated, he settled down to a battle with Tommy Ostgaard in the Coanda Lego Technics car. Swapping places between 9th and 10th several times through lap 2, before claiming the 9th spot back and setting up to charge down the Inex Ferrari in 8th.
Jamie was having a quieter time at the sharp end , albeit with no less pressure. He kept his P2 position handed to him by Zac’s great qualifying and along with Antti Ahola in the Kova esports BMW (1st) , and Charlie Collins in the Coanda Porsche (3rd) started to pull a gap on the rest of the field by Lap 5. This was how it would stay until the driver swaps.
Kevin had caught the Inex Ferrari by Lap5 and began his stalking, looking for his moment to pounce. Lap11 the attacks started. Down the inside into the right hand Yokohama-S looked like it had worked, but Jarl Teien had the line for the left hander and managed to hold him off. L12 came and again Kevin put the same move, but again Teien kept his line and held his place
L14 mixed things up, the Arnage BMW found themselves on the grass due to an unforced error, promoting the battling Ferrari and Lamborghini up a place.
Fortune would continue to play its part as Joshua Rogers made an uncharacteristic error in the last sector and found himself hit with a slow down. Another place gained as the duo sailed past on the start-finish straight.
T1 approached again, Kevin was close, the Inex Ferrari had become wise to the sends down the inside and moved across to cover this time. But Kevin had switched his attack up, electing for a move around the outside this time, looking to claim the inside for the vital next left hander. It worked, exiting the essess and heading towards the Ford Kurve, Kevin had claimed 6th.
As the driver changes loomed it was evident different strategies were at play, Coanda from P3 came in early on L18, both our cars extending their first stints to L23 and L25. It hadn’t worked for the 99 car. Zac entered the arena in 3rd, the Coanda car had stolen P2 during the pit stop turnarounds. Things fared better for Maxime, coming out in 5th, a place gained.
Zac wasn’t going to settle for that. It took one lap, down into the first corner, he slid down the inside of Dayne Warren and back into P2.
And that’s how it finished. Maxime was putting pressure on the Mantini AMG car in 4th for the remainder of the race, but this was a big haul of points and risks could have been very costly.
P2 and P5, great results and big points.
VRS SCO Nürburgring Race 2
A qualifying masterclass followed. Kevin ringing the neck of the raging bull all the way to pole position, and Jamie putting the 99 car on 4th. Best qualifying of the championship for the team by far. It was game on. Would this be the first team win ?
Maxime Brient stepped up to the green lights and a drag down to the Yokohama-S corner with Mitchell deJong, that he came out second best on. Dropping back behind in P2, it was time to play the waiting game and just hang on to the back of the Porsche. Meanwhile, Zac, on another charge, grabs P3 at turn 2 from Dayne Warren giving us a Coanda>Apex>Apex>Coanda front four. This was going to be a thriller.
For 12 more laps that’s how it stayed, the rest of the field falling off the back of the leading four, leaving them to duke it out amongst themselves. The first change came on lap13, Zac outbreaked himself slightly into the first corner and a sniff was all Dayne needed in the Coanda Porsche, straight down the inside at the Yokohama-S and up to P3.
Lap18, Maxime takes the pits to handover to Kevin from P2, Zac stays out. And stayed out. And stayed out. It’s almost as if he wanted to maximise his last drive in an Apex car. L24, last lap of the pit window he pulls into the pits for the last time and hands over to Jamie.
No changes in the running order after the driver swaps. All Kevin had to do was catch and pass Joshua Rogers for the win, who was also locked in battle with Charlie Collins for the overall championship title, so this was going to need something monumental to pass the Porsche esports World champion if the win was going to be his.
What followed was two drivers at the absolute top of their game battling for P1, door to door, feints, late braking, door rubbing, until ultimately, on Lap 28 Kevin makes the pass, straight down the inside of T1..
It wouldn’t be that easy though, and Rogers was fighting hard to regain the lead, T3 he goes for the up and under, coming up the left hand side of the Lamborghini, but Kev holds his nerve and his line into the Ford Kurve and exits just in front. Rogers was still there though, running out of road as the grass verges started, slight contact between the two as he came back to the tarmac was a heartstopper, but it didn’t alter the results of the tussle. Kevin was leading the race.
Now it was Jamie’s turn, and where else but T1. Down the inside of Charlie Collins on L34 and back into the podium finishing positions for the 99 car, this was turning out to be the best finish for the championship to date.
Kevin Ellis Jr WINS! Taking the teams first victory of the championship alongside Maxime Brient in the#98 Lamborghini.
A podium on the track slipped through Jamie’s fingers though, with 1 lap to go, a slow down on the final chicane allowed Charlie Collins move back into P3. So it would be a P4 finish for Jamie and Zac in the 99 car.
An ‘incident limit exceeded’ penalty for the Coanda car of Collins saw a 5 second time penalty hand the podium back to the 99 car.
Both cars on the podium in what had been a blue riband day for the team. Stunning drives and teamwork brought home the silverware, along with a confirmed P4 and P5 in the championship and $4000 in prize money. Incredible.
And with that we sign off for what was a fantastic championship in the VRS SCO Sprint Masters, full of drama, excitement and epic battles on the track. The Sports Car Open has delivered a championship which hopefully will be on our calendars for years to come.
One last mention must go to our departing team mate, Zac it has been an absolute pleasure driving with you and covering your achievements as part of the team. Good luck in your future career from everyone at Apex Racing.
VRS SCO Nürburgring Results
2nd #99 Apex Racing Team 2 (Jamie Fluke & Zac Campbell)
5th #98 Apex Racing Team 1 (Kevin Ellis Jr & Maxime Brient)
1st #98 Apex Racing Team 1 (Kevin Ellis Jr & Maxime Brient)
3rd #99 Apex Racing Team 2 (Jamie Fluke & Zac Campbell)
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 the Nürburgring
Jamie Fluke – Apex Racing Team 2 #99
“A pleasant surprise to get a double podium today. This is such a difficult circuit to get right, so to be right up there is a really nice feeling. So happy that the 98 car got the win in Race 2, although deep down I know if I had driven to my absolute best we had the potential to win both races. But no matter, I think we were for 4th in points today even if we did win both races, so I can’t be too mad. Thanks to Zac for an amazing job today, he was excellent in his final outing for us! 4th and 5th in points for the teams is a good season given the competition here!”
Maxime Brient – Apex Racing Team 1 #98
“Im kind of proud of the progression I made in 2 months. From being 6 tenths off during the Pre Qualification to being able to win a race with such a field was pretty tough. Thanks to all the guy at the Apex Racing Team and congrats to Jamie and Zac for P4 in the championship”
Kevin Ellis jr – Apex Racing Team 2 #98
“Man that feels good! We deserved at least one this season, to get a pole and win in the final round is exactly how I wanted to end this. Maxime’s progression this season has been mega, today really showed how good he is. So happy for the guys!!”