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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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