The SBMRL’s first visit to Bahrain would see the drivers taking to the track in the evening so as to avoid the heat of midday. Fresh off a victory in Austin, Jaap Snellrijder was in the lead of the driver standings and on form. Scandinavian Blitz struggled through the first two races and were looking to get into a groove.
The starting grid lined up as follows:
P1 – Luigi (SM)
P2 – The Stig (SB)
P3 – Rask Sjofar (SB)
P4 – Delilah Whipplefilter (FR)
P5 – Mario (SM)
P6 – Whiplash (RM)
P7 – Launch Bornado (FR)
P8 – Jaap Snellrijder (RM)
Clearly a bit over eager after starting from the back of the grid, Jaap stalled his car and got to a very slow beginning. Luigi, in contrast, timed the lights perfectly and got off to a fast start.
The long lead up to Turn 1 mean that Luigi’s hot start didn’t gain him much. The Stig, Mario, and Whiplash all fought for position in the first corner, but it was Luigi who took the early lead in Sector 1.
The second sector saw the Stig and Mario join Luigi at the front. While Jaap’s slow start kept him behind the others, the midfield was hotly contested. Whiplash and the two Force Ravenswood drivers drove wheel to wheel through turn after turn.
While Luigi and the Stig battled up front, Jaap made his move. He found speed to burn over the second sector’s long straight and was soon joining Launch and Whiplash in the chasing pack. Rask was the driver left wanting, with Delilah also struggling.
The Stig pushed hard through the third sector, which gained him the lead, but he also lost control around the final bend. His car spun out and the momentum nearly carried him past the pit entrance, however, he was able to get himself turned around just in time to duck in.
What the Stig’s spin did mean, though, was that Luigi would once again take the lead in the race. The grit of sand on the track and the challenging nature of the circuit meant that every car would take on fresh rubber, which narrowed the field down greatly.
Luigi held on to his lead through the first sector, but it was never by much. Rask had caught up and was battling Launch and Mario in the race for second. Behind them, Whiplash, Jaap, and the Stig fought to join them, and it was Delilah’s turn to look like she had no chance.
Rask would be the first to make a move, charging forward and passing Luigi around the outside of Turn 4, the Switch driver being unable to find his rhythm in the second sector. Jaap would come next. He was able to take Luigi’s teammate Mario on the inside of the very same corner.
Luigi got everything wrong at Turn 5, allowing both Mario and Jaap to pass him by on the long straight that followed. Rask didn’t get his breaking right into Turn 6, and the engines behind were roaring. Through all that chaos, it was Jaap that took the lead into sector 3 with Rask behind him and nearly everyone else vying for the same piece of real estate.
The third sector was full of heartbreak and joy. Starting with joy, Jaap essentially cruised to an easy victory from this point. He showed his experience by calmly navigating the final three corners en route to a second straight win.
On the heartbreak side, Mario put a charge into his engine and pulled into second place, only to find that his engine gave out before the finish line. It couldn’t have been come at a worse moment. That opened the door to Whiplash for a Regency Motors 1-2.
The fight for third place was anything but simple. None of the remaining cars were able to manage the third sector well, with Delilah and Luigi both suffering minor body damage on the approach to the final corner.
Launch wound up being squeezed out, having been passed by the others on the straight. Instead it was the Stig, Delilah, and Rask that would come out with just a drag race to decide between them.
In the end, the Stig had what was needed, and Rask was able to summon a bit more than Delilah. Luigi’s miserable second lap would come to an end in 6th place, with only Launch still running behind him.
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||8||7||1|
|The Stig (SB)||2||4||3|
|Rask Sjofar (SB)||3||2||4|
|Delilah Whipplefilter (FR)||4||8||5|
|Launch Bornado (FR)||7||5||7|
Jaap’s 9th career victory is his second of the year and second in a row. It’s the first time he’s won back-to-back races, and, among winners, ties Jaronimus at Interlagos in 2016-17 for the most number of positions made up on the second lap.
Whiplash’s 2nd place finish makes him the only driver to have scored a podium in all three races this year. The Stig got his first podium of the year, and 14th of his career.
Regency Motors, who already held a slim lead in the team standings, have really pulled away in the early going. Their second 1-2 gives them a significant lead that will take some doing to catch up. Despite a poor showing Force Ravenswood is in the best position to do so. Scandinavian Blitz and Switch Motorsports are very close. The good news for all three of these teams is that there are still a lot of races in which they can make up the early deficit.