In February, the SBMRL field traveled to India for race six of the 2017-18 season. With only a few drivers having raced here two seasons ago, it was anyone’s guess as to how this race would play out. The starting grid was as follows:
P1 – Captain Slow (Jason)
P2 – Stevie Wondertyres (Jason)
P3 – Jaap Snellrijder (Frank)
P4 – Launch Bornado (Barb)
P5 – Bubba McQueen (Barb)
P6 – Whiplash (Frank)
P7 – Sheila Dinkum (Frank)
P8 – The Stig (Jason)
A clean start saw the field take off in pursuit of glory, with Captain Slow doing his best to cut off Stevie and solidify his pole position. Launch Bornado forced the issue as well, joining the two front runners for an early 3-car lead pack. The one car that fell behind early was Whiplash, who couldn’t quite find his lines in the early going.
The first laps’ second sector saw Stevie and Launch pull away from Captain Slow, with the former getting a leg up on his rival. The Stig, meanwhile, had a brilliant start to the race, working his way through the field such that by the middle of the first lap, he was all the way up in 3rd place. The other car on the move in the early going was Sheila Dinkum, who was trying her best to keep up with him, while Bubba and Jaap did their best not to get left behind.
Launch was able to get around Stevie in Turn 8, with the two frontrunners well ahead of the rest of the field. Captain Slow and the Stig battled it out for third place, with the Regency Motors drivers and Bubba fighting to join them. Again it was Turn 8 where a shift occurred, and this time it was Jaap Snellrijder getting it wrong and being left behind by Sheila and Bubba.
As the second lap began, Launch held the lead but the Stig had caught up with Stevie after an extremely quick pit stop. Behind them, the crowd were roaring their approval for the trio of Captain Slow, Bubba, and Sheila, who were coming around Turn 9 three abreast.
At this point it’s worth noting that for the first time this season, every car made a pit stop, and that allowed Jaap and Whiplash to once again catch up with the others. The Stig had meanwhile passed Stevie and set his sights on Launch. The two flew down the long, first sector straight while Stevie could do nothing to keep up.
In reality, Stevie had more to worry about from behind than he had hopes of catching up. Bubba was hot on his heals and Captain Slow wasn’t far behind. The three would be neck-and-neck down the straight, with Bubba getting a slight advantage. Captain Slow couldn’t quite keep up. Ahead, the Stig passed Launch at Turn 4, the Force Ravenswood driver not quite getting full cooperation from the engine.
These events resulted in a pair of pairs… with the Stig now being hunted by Launch, and Stevie and Bubba battling for 3rd place. Captain Slow’s misfortunes of the last few races continued, as he suddenly found himself surrounded by Whiplash and yellow liveries. The good news is that he was only surrounded temporarily. The bad news is that was because he was watching those cars from progressively greater distances.
The third sector for the front runners was anticlimactic. By the final corner, the Stig had pulled out enough of a lead that he nursed his engine across the finish line. Launch was a close second, but only for that.
Rewinding a bit, Bubba and Stevie battled hard in the second sector. In Turn 4 Bubba head a slight edge, then it was Stevie and Turn 5. Bubba was ahead, then Stevie had the edge coming out of Turn 6.
However, it was at Turn 7 where Stevie made a mistake and Bubba capitalized. Stevie was a bit too cautious about his line, allowing Bubba to take a commanding 3rd position with just a few corners to go. Behind them, Sheila, Jaap, and Whip were ready to pounce. Seeing the opportunity, Jaap and Sheila both made good and soon caught up. Whip, on the other hand, overcooked Turn 6 and spun out.
Stevie’s mistake proved costly in the end, with Sheila and Jaap passing him at the final corner. Whiplash’s gave Captain Slow hope to recover a tiny bit of what had been a disaster of a race. He passed Whip at Turn 8 and was all set to avoid last place when his engine blew. For the second time in the last four races, he was out with the finish line in sight.
|The Stig (SB)||8||3||1|
|Launch Bornado (FR)||4||1||2|
|Bubba McQueen (FR)||5||5||3|
|Sheila Dinkum (RM)||7||6||4|
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||3||7||5|
|Stevie Wondertyres (SR)||2||2||6|
|Captain Slow (SB)||1||4||8, def|
No SBMRL driver has ever had a run like the Stig’s, as he wins his 3rd consecutive race to take a commanding lead in the driver’s standings. Launch’s 2nd place finish is a second consecutive podium. Bubba’s 3rd place finish is his third of the year. Sheila just misses the podium, and drops into a 2nd place tie with Launch and Bubba.
Down in the cellar, Captain Slow’s poor performance this season is starting to cause some grumblings within the team. He’s not been shy about his displeasure with the car’s reliability, either, going so far as to cite preferential treatment of his teammate.
At the team level, the Stig has pulled Scandinavian Blitz into range of Force Ravenswood and Regency Motors. The former’s double podium finish is their first, and gives them an edge on the suddenly struggling Regency Motors.