A beautiful day for racing brought us to Austin, TX to race Circuit of the Americas for round 2 of the 2016-17 SBMRL season. With just one race in the books for the year, the starting grid was the reverse order of finish from Spa-Francorchamps. The only notable change was that Cobalt unveiled their official livery for the new season after having raced in a provisional livery in Belgium. The new livery would be silver with teal highlights (Mercedes AMG Petronas). Here, then, is how the cars lined up:
P1 – Mater (Ryan)
P2 – Nero (Lonny)
P3 – Jaronimus Maximus (Geoff)
P4 – Jamonito del Verde (Geoff)
P5 – The Stig (Jason)
P6 – Launch Bornado (Frank)
P7 – Danger Wheel (Ryan)
P8 – Captain Slow (Jason)
P9 – Jaap Snellrijder (Frank)
P10 – Ice (Lonny)
Starting from pole position, Mater was hot off the line with a flying start, but he couldn’t quite get the edge on the rest of the field into turn 1. Instead, Nero and Jaronimus joined him for a three car leading pack that would be virtually unbroken throughout the entirety of the first lap. Behind them, the race to the first corner was extremely tight. With both Scandinavian Blitz drivers and Launch Bornado going three wide up the straight, Danger Wheel found no room to squeeze through and had to slam on the brakes to avoid collision.
Throughout the first lap, the leading trio battled back and forth. Mater held the early advantage, Nero took charge from the esses through the middle of the third sector, and Jaro went out in front at the end of the lap. None of the three were able to find any significant advantage over the other two.
Behind the front pack, the remainder of the field initially divided into two subgroups. The challengers included Jamonito, Launch, The Stig, and Danger Wheel. The trailers were Jaap, Ice, and Captain Slow. Both groups saw their share of battles, but there just wasn’t much movement between them. That began to change as the packs moved into the second sector and onto the long back straight, where Regency Motors saw both their drivers take big gambles.
The first was Launch Bornado throwing caution to the wind, flying through Turn 6 in 6th gear. The cost was heavy wear on both tyres and brakes, but advantage had been gained as he became the first legitimate hope to catch the front three. The second charge came from Jaap Snellrijder, who managed to move up from the trailing pack to the challenging pack courtesy of some adept gear shifting that allowed him to carry speed onto the straight. The Stig found himself heading in the opposite direction, finding his engine unwilling to respond to the demands placed on it.
Unfortunately for Launch, the earlier gamble came back to haunt him around the final corner. He was forced to slow down significantly in order to safely reach the pits. The need for fresh tyres and a brake repair allowed the challengers to catch up again. His run in 4th was too adventurous, and he’d fall as far back as 9th before finishing in 6th.
The Scandinavian Blitz drivers, by now well behind the rest of the field except for Ice, both decided to skip the pits entirely. Jamonito used a quick pit stop to begin his efforts to haul in the front runners, while Jaap’s pit crew wasn’t up to the same task. The field stratified into more groups, with Mater and Nero leading the way. Jamonito was able to catch up to this teammate in the esses to form the second group, with Jaap and Danger Wheel hot on their heels in the third. The rest of the cars struggled to catch up.
Mater grabbed control of the race through Turn 4 after a mistake by Nero. Despite more than half a lap remaining, the last real shot at catching Mater proved to be the back straight, but he drove flawlessly and the others lack the speed to catch him. In the end, the third sector was a matter of simply doing what he’d done all day. Mater took the checkered flag for his first win and a well deserved one.
The battle for the rest of the podium wasn’t nearly as simple. Nero found himself in a tight drag race down the back straight with Jamonito and Jaronimus and had to give it his all to keep up. Suprisingly, the three of them all of a sudden found themselves with a hard charging Danger Wheel in their rear view mirrors. Mater’s teammate caught the challengers in Turn 6 to make it a 4 car battle. Jaap and Launch had meanwhile taken a commanding lead over the rest of the field and were ready to pounce should anyone falter.
As a quick aside, it should be noted that the battle at the back of the field wasn’t any less intense. Ice didn’t win any friends when he cut in front of the Stig on the racing line in Turn 4. The shunt forced the Stig to a near stop in order to avoid a collision, but the damage was done. He found himself floundering along in last place the rest of the race.
Back to the challengers, the battle through Turns 7 and 8 proved tight. First Nero was in front, then Jaronimus, then Danger Wheel. It all came down to Turn 10, the final corner. Jamonito was the one to take charge, finding himself with the right amount of speed and tyres to burn as he ploughed onto the pit straight. Nero, on the other hand, couldn’t muster the strength to keep up. Jamonito flew past and Jaronimus followed close behind as Danger Wheel just missed getting on the podium.
Nero’s sputtering finish was to the gain of Jaap and Launch. Both drivers had managed to stay close enough behind to take advantage of his misstep, forcing him to settle for 7th. The Cobalt driver was left stunned after having been in second place just moments earlier.
In the end, all 10 cars finished the race, which given the amount of wheel-to-wheel racing that occurred was quite remarkable. Only minor body damage occurred throughout the race. Mater’s first win leaves only Launch Bornado and the two Osito Racing Company rookies as those without victories. Despite a formal protest to the race stewards from the Stig, no disciplinary action was taken against Ice for cutting in front.
|Jamonito del Verde (ORC)||4||4||2|
|Jaronimus Maximus (ORC)||3||1||3|
|Danger Wheel (RB)||7||6||4|
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||9||5||5|
|Launch Bornado (RM)||6||8||6|
|Captain Slow (SB)||8||9||9|
|The Stig (SB)||5||7||10|
Mater became the third driver to win from pole position and has proven a master at Austin. Last season, he finished 2nd in the same race. He goes from last to 3rd in the driver standings. A disastrous debut race for Osito Racing Company’s rookies in Belgium is now clearly in the rear view mirror. Jamonito and Jaronimus delivered from their high starting positions and became the first pair of teammates in SBMRL history to finish 2nd and 3rd in the same race. Jaap’s 5th place finish is his lowest ever. After two races, only 5 points separate the top 5 drivers.
On the team front, Red Bull takes over the top spot from Regency Motors thanks to the 3rd highest scoring race ever. It’s the first time Regency Motors has had to look up at another team. Osito Racing Company jumps up to 3rd place, while Scandinavian Blitz earned the minimum possible 3 points to put them in the cellar.