2018-19 Season In Review

It’s almost time to get starting on another season of the SBMRL, so it’s a fitting time to look back on the fourth season now that we’ve had some time to reflect. it’s time to take a look at the ups and downs of what was an incredibly competitive year. Season 3 saw the driver’s championship won by 12 points and the team championship won by 4… this past year was even closer on both accounts.

The season began with a return of all of the teams from last year, the first time that has been the case. There were, however, some changes from the perspective of driver lineups. Force Ravenswood fired Bubba McQueen and saw him join on with Sprite Racing, bringing in Delilah Whipplefilter. Scandinavian Blitz replaced Captain Slow with Rask Sjofar. Both rookies would go on to have moments of brilliance and moments where they looked like… well, rookies. In the end, they would play a significant role in both titles.

Just under way at Road America

The first race of the year took place at Elkhart Lake, Wisoconsin, on the famed Road America circuit. After qualifying second on the grid, it didn’t take long for Scandinavian Blitz rookie Rask to take the lead from Whiplash. The newcomer then proceeded to dominate the rest of the race. No one even got close to him, and he soon had Scandinavian Blitz fans dreaming of their first title

Next up was a return to Austin, Texas, for the SBMRL’s annual trip to the home of the United States Grand Prix. Circuit of the Americas is one of the SBMRL’s two evergreen circuits, being on the calendar for each season of the league. The Stig started on pole position but stalled his car when the lights went out, dropping all the way to 5th place before he was fully back up to speed. In the meantime, Sheila took the lead, which she held for much of the race. The Stig was able to fight back and eventually reel Sheila in to give Scandinavian Blitz back-to-back wins to open the year.

Delilah and Whiplash battle for first

A race under the lights in Singapore was next on the schedule. It had been a few years since the SBMRL visited the city state, and most of the drivers had not raced there before. Whiplash started on pole and would win from there, but the more interesting stories were behind him. First, Delilah fell from 2nd at the start to last place before battling back and nearly wrestling the victory out of Whiplash’s grip. Only a last minute burst of speed saw Whiplash emerge victorious. Second, the Stig cause a double DNF for standings leader Scandinavian Blitz when he collided with Rask at Carlton Millenia. In an extremely tight standings race, that dropped the team from first to last.

A two team fight in Monaco

Redemption was in the cards around casino filled Monaco, as the Stig took his 3rd career victory there. He dominates the circuit, having only failed to win when he crashed out in 2016. Furthermore, Rask crossed the line in 2nd place, giving Scandinavian Blitz their second ever 1-2 finish and victories in three out of the first four races. The Stig also tied Jaap atop the leaderboards with 7 career wins, a number that would surprisingly not change the rest of the year.

The SBMRL’s first visit to Argentina saw the most competitive race of the year, with 5 different drivers holding the lead at some point or another. All but one of them had multiple stints in the lead, with 12 lead changes throughout. The race winner came out to be Whiplash, with the Stig in second place after both drivers started in the bottom half of the grid. Whiplash earned a grid penalty in the following race after taking Jaap out, but the victory was probably worth it. It was also his second in three races, putting some pressure on standings leader the Stig.

Early race action at Kyalami

Another first time track on the calendar was Kyalami, South Africa. While the race didn’t have the same number of leaders as Argentina, it did come down to a final corner battle between Jaap and Delilah. The former champion and the rookie were neck and neck, but it was Delilah who crossed the line just in front. Behind them Sprite Racing’s duo of Whiplash and Bubba McQueen (who was not having a good year) took 3rd and 4th place.

While it wasn’t obvious at the time, Kyalami represented a turning point in the season. Scandinavian Blitz had established a fairly healthy margin at Monaco, but now Sprite Racing took over the top spot, and the other two teams were closing the gap.

Like Singapore, Magny-Cours represented a return of a previous track that was absent last year. Like Argentina, it was a tight race with lots of leaders and lead changes, but a better distribution among those leaders. Launch Bornado, who started on pole, dropped back to 5th on the first lap, found his way back to the lead on the second lap, but was back in 3rd when the race ended. Similarly, Jaap started in 5th, found his way to the lead, dropped back to 5th, and finished 2nd. It was Whiplash who was the on point driver, though… he started last on the grid and gradually throughout the race worked forward, taking the victory only in the final sector. His run of a win in Argentina, 3rd at Kyalami, and the win here gave him a 22 point lead with just 2 races to go.

Careening around Outer Loop at the Glen

Watkins Glen played host to the penultimate race of the year, and it was the 4th new circuit for the league. The number four would feature prominently as there were 4 different race leaders, but also only 4 lead changes (if you count the start), meaning that no driver who lost the lead returned to it. That was good news for Delilah, as she was 4th driver to take the lead, earning her second win in three races. Incidentally, there were three drivers to win two races this year, and all of them did it in the span of three races. Whiplash’s string of good fortune came to an end with a 7th place finish, and suddenly there was everything to play for in both standings.

Barcelona saw some of the largest spreads in the field we’ve seen to date

Entering the final race in Barcelona, only 17 points separated all four teams in the standings. Whiplash’s driver standings lead was down to 5 over Delilah, with Jaap just 12 back after three consecutive 2nd place finishes. The race was riveting through the first lap, with Sheila, Launch, and Rask fighting for control. By the second lap, it was down to Launch and Rask, the rest of the field never challenging the two front runners. Rask would take the win with Launch in 2nd, which then put the onus on their teammates to determine the out come. As fate would have it, the battle for 3rd place would see Delilah in front of the Stig around the final corner, but the Stig had the momentum to pass on the straight.

Final Standings

While all three SBMRL driver champions participated in the 2018-19 season, and all three would demonstrate the form that won them those titles, none of them had a season to be particularly proud of. This was seemingly a year of transition, with rookies finishing 2nd and 3rd and an outsider winning the title.

Despite all the drama of the final race, Whiplash’s 7th place coupled with Delilah’s 4th was enough to give him a 1 point victory in the driver standings. It goes without saying that it couldn’t have been any closer, and it made for a truly dramatic end to the season. Rask’s early season success was followed by a period of learning, but he finished strong to take 3rd place.

The team standings saw some highs and lows, but by the end of the season, things averaged out to make them incredibly close. Scandinavian Blitz… blitzed through the first four races to make them the team to beat, but Sprite Racing came on strong in the middle. What got lost during that time was that Force Ravenswood was also charging. While Sprite Racing got headlines for passing Scandinavian Blitz, Force Ravenswood scored more points than any other team over the final five races. In the end, Rask’s win in Barcelona was enough to pull Scandinavian Blitz just ahead of Force Ravenswood by 3 points at the end.

Fun Facts

  • While the Stig has won 3 of 4 Monaco races, his win in Austin was the first time in 4 races there that he has even stood on the podium.
  • Jaap’s 4th place finish in the driver standings mean that he has now finished in each of the top 4 positions.
  • Jaap’s 5 podiums were the most of any driver, however this was the first year Jaap did not win a race.
  • Sheila is the only driver to appear in multiple seasons and not win a race. Jamonito del Verde and Stevie Wondertyres both raced a full season without winning.
  • This year was our second race in Barcelona. Launch (2nd), the Stig (3rd), Shiela (5th), Whiplash (6th), and Bubba (8th) all finished in exactly the same spot as they did last year.
  • Of the 5 tracks that we raced on previously, Launch holds the career points lead on three of them: Singapore (tied with Jaap), Magny-Cours, and Barcelona. Jaap holds it for Auston and Singapore (tied with Launch), while the Stig holds it for Monaco.
  • The Stig’s 3 victories at Monaco make him and Nero the only drivers to have finished in the same position at Monaco twice. Nero has two 8th place finishes.
  • Bubba was on the podium in the first two races of the season, but never again after that.
  • Sheila was the only driver with just 1 podium.
  • Launch finished in every position but 1st, while teammate Delilah finished in every position but 6th.
  • The Stig is the only driver to have won a race in every SBMRL season
  • Jaap only had one 2nd place finish prior to this season. This season he had three in a row
  • Scandinavian Blitz had two double podiums this year. Regency Motors, winners of all three titles prior to this year, have only had 2 total.
  • Teammate Battles
    • Whiplash 7 – 2 Bubba
    • Jaap 6 – 3 Sheila
    • Delilah 5 – 4 Launch
    • Rask 5 – 4 The Stig

Barcelona Recap

A beautiful day welcomed the SBMRL to the Circuit de Catalunya for the final race of the 2018-19 season. After 9 months of racing the season’s champions were soon to be decided with one final race for glory. For one final time, the SBMRL grid lined up as follows:

P1 – Sheila Dinkum (RM)
P2 – Launch Bornado (FR)
P3 – Bubba McQueen (SR)
P4 – Rask Sjofar (SB)
P5 – The Stig (SB)
P6 – Jaap Snellrijder (RM)
P7 – Delilah Whipplefilter (FR)
P8 – Whiplash (SR)

The cars lined up and the lights went out and all but one car came off the line cleanly. Jaap found himself sitting still on the grid as the rest of the field began their race around him. He quickly found gear, but not before Delilah and Whiplash put him squarely in last place.

At the front of the field, Sheila, Launch, and Rask moved to the front of the pack as Bubba dropped back. The first sector saw the three front runners battling back and forth until Launch and Rask pulled out a narrow edge over Sheila’s yellow Regency Motors car. The real mover and shaker, though, was Whiplash. The season’s top driver continued to show the form that put him in the driver standings lead, charging past Delilah and Bubba to get in the fight for 4th place with the Stig.

Launch in the lead, Whiplash up to 4th

The Stig, feeling the charge, stepped up his race in the second sector. He caught up with Sheila and left Whiplash behind in his quest for 3rd place. With Rask at the front in a duel with Launch, Scandinavian Blitz was looking quite racy.

Rask leading in the third sector

At the very back of the field, the trio of Bubba, Delilah, and Jaap struggled along. Jaap, who’s season had been on the upswing after three straight second place finishes, looked spent. However, it was Bubba who would soon find himself out of the race. Pushing hard around the final corner of the first lap, he heard a pop and his engine had gone. Just like that, a second straight DNF to finish the year.

By this point, the front runners were already into their second lap, but to rewind for a moment, as Delilah and Rask came around the final corner, Delilah had a slight edge. In an effort to keep ahead of her rival, she skipped the pits and drove on down the straight, while Rask opted for fresh rubber.

The Scandinavian Blitz pit crew was up to the challenge, and Delilah wasn’t even into the first corner when Rask was coming out of pit lane. At the same time, Sheila and the Stig were heading in, with Whiplash trailing them.

Launch up front, but Rask is already out of the pits

Rask caught Delilah in short order, and found the fresh set of tires was more than up to the task of pulling away from her in the first sector. The Stig came out of the pits in 3rd place, and Whiplash caught up with Sheila at the first corner to round out the midfield. Jaap and Delilah puttered along at the rear.

As had been the case for most of the race, there were never any real challengers to Rask and Launch up front. Unlike the first lap, the two front runners lost touch with each other and Launch wasn’t able to mount any additional challenges to Rask. The two had rather uneventful drive to the finish line.

Rask starts to pull away

The Stig’s hold on 3rd place was a bit more tenuous, and it begins with the battle for 4th. As the midfield began the second lap, the Stig was ahead when Sheila was caught up by Whiplash. This arrangement, the Stig in front with Sheila and Whiplash fighting each other would last through the first sector until Wurth. It was there that Whiplash got the Stig within reach, and there that Sheila lost touch with both of them.

The Stig and Whiplash get distance from Sheila

What none of them fully gathered, was that behind them, Delilah was charging. The corner after Wurth is Campsa, and while Whiplash struggled here, Delilah caught him and Sheila. In fact, Delilah was charging with such speed and skill that she soon found herself in front of not just Sheila and Whiplash, but the Stig as well.

As a brief aside, Jaap’s exploits on the second lap are best left to the simple assertion that he did finish the race. The less said about his efforts to get there, the better.

The third sector, then was all that remained in the season for the four cars still hoping to claim 3rd place. Having seen Delilah’s aggression in the second sector, the Stig proceeded to tackle the third sector in kind. He charged through Banc Sabadell to get ahead of the group.

Launch rounds the final corner as the Stig, Sheila, and Delilah jockey for position

Delilah moved in front again in Europcar, with the Stig and Sheila each just a car length back. Whiplash had faded, leaving just these three to fight it out. As they rounded New Holland, the final corner, Delilah was ahead by just a nose over the Stig. Sheila was right there with them, and it would be a drag race to the finish.

The fight for 3rd place!

That drag race would see the Stig pass Delilah on the pit straight to put two Scandinavian Blitz cars on the podium for the second time this year. Sheila carried speed down the straight as well, but Delilah was ahead by just enough to pip her for 4th.

Final Results

DriverStartLapFinish
Rask Sjofar (SB)421
Launch Bornado (FR)212
The Stig (SB)543
Delilah Whipplefilter (FR)764
Sheila Dinkum (RM)135
Whiplash (SR)856
Jaap Snellrijder (RM)677
Bubba McQueen (SR)388, dnf

Rask’s victory gives him bookend wins on the year, having taken the season opener at Road America. After struggling through the middle part of the season, it’s a nice way to end it and leaves him 3rd in the driver standings, ahead of his more experienced teammate.

Launch’s podium extends his SBMRL record to 17, now two ahead of Jaap. It’s only his 3rd of the season and his best finish this year, in what can only be described as a bit of a disappointing year. He finished down in 6th place, the first time he’s not been in the top 3.

The Stig edging out Delilah for third means that he gets his fourth podium of the year. However, there are much bigger implications as well. With Whiplash’s poor showing in the race, finishing in 6th place, Delilah ended up just 1 point shy of taking home the driver’s championship. Had she edged out the Stig for the final podium spot, she’d have won it. Instead, Whiplash backs into the win.

The Stig and Delilah’s finish also determined the team championship. By earning 3 more points for the race, Scandinavian Blitz won the title over Force Ravensood by those same 3 points.

Race Gallery

Barcelona Preview

It all comes down to Spain, as the final racer of the 2018-19 SBMRL season will take place at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.

Barcelona

Formula 1’s offseason testing track, Circuit de Catalunya was built in 1991 and played host to the Spanish Grand Prix that very year. During the 1992 Summer Olympics, it hosted the cycling team time trials event.

The starting grid sits pushed back on the extremely long pit straight which means that starting position won’t be a significant factor in the race. The first corner the drivers will face is called Elf and is quick right-left combination that leads into a long, full throttle curve.

The rest of the track is simultaneously straight forward and nigh on impossible to get perfectly right. While each corner in and of itself isn’t particularly challenging, the constant acceleration and deceleration between them will result in some cars simply getting thrown off. The long straight into La Caixa is one that can make or break a lap.

This all culminates in the tight third sector, where the field can get bunched back up. The sector itself is probably the least complicated, but that will depend somewhat on having run cleanly prior. As we saw at Watkins Glen, don’t be surprised to see cars skip the pits between laps, as the long straight will tempt drivers to fly down it at top speed.

Starting Grid

With a tie at the bottom of the driver standings, by rule, pole position goes to the lower finisher at Watkins Glen. That would nominally be Launch Bornado, but Launch also has a one spot grid penalty for knocking Bubba McQueen out of the last race. Fortunately, he’ll still start on the front row.

  1. Sheila Dinkum (RM)
  2. Launch Bornado (FR)*
  3. Bubba McQueen (SR)
  4. Rask Sjofar (SB)
  5. The Stig (SB)
  6. Jaap Snellrijder (RM)
  7. Delilah Whipplefilter (FR)
  8. Whiplash (SR)

Once again, each team will have a driver in the top four.

Pit selection is order of team standings. Scandinavian Blitz and Regency Motors are currently tied, so the tie is broken by average starting position fo the team’s cars.

  1. Sprite Racing
  2. Force Ravenswood
  3. Scandinavian Blitz
  4. Regency Motors

Barcelona is the home race for Delilah Whipplefilter.

Track History

The SBMRL visited Barcelona last year for the season’s final race and it was tightly contested. Jaap pulled away on the second lap, but there were 5 different race leaders. Sprite Racing had a poor showing, but it was Bubba’s last place finish that caused him to be fired from Force Ravenswood. It’s a memory that the team has not forgotten, as it cost them the team championship.

SBMRL @ Barcelona