The fourth SBMRL season got underway in Elkhart Lake, WI with a visit to Road America. There are always a number of changes from year to year, and this season was no exception. The first thing of note, however, was something that didn’t change. This will be the first SBMRL season in which all the teams from last year return to the grid. What that doesn’t mean is that the drivers are all the same. In fact, only Regency Motors sports the same driver lineup as a year ago.
Scandinavian Blitz naturally returned last year’s championship winner The Stig, but he will be joined by Norwegian rookie Rask Sjofar. Force Ravenswood hired another rookie, Delilah Whipplefilter to replace Bubba McQueen. The latter will pair with Whiplash for Sprite Racing.
The other news of note heading into the season opener was one rule change which may be significant. Safety concerns have prompted the league to institute a yellow flag condition whenever a crash occurs. In the event of car retiring due to collision, suspension damage, or tire failure, the rest of the field must temporarily slow to 3rd gear or lower while the stricken vehicle is removed.
THE SBMRL RETURNS TO ACTION
Track conditions were perfect for racing and the cars were eager to get going after several months away. With a blank slate and checkered flags in their imaginations, the cars lined up as follows:
P1 – Whiplash (SR – Frank)
P2 – Rask Sjofar (SB – Jason)
P4 – Bubba McQueen (SR – Jason)
P4 – The Stig (SB – Jason)
P5 – Launch Bornado (FR – Barb)
P6 – Jaap Snellrijder (RM – Frank)
P7 – Delilah Whipplefilter (FR – Barb)
P8 – Sheila Dinkum (RM – Frank)
Despite a full offseason of pent up racing agression, the entire field got off the line smoothly to start the race. Rask got a better push than Whiplash did and was through the first corner before the rest of the field knew what was happening. The rest of the field split into a leading group containing Delilah, Launch, Jaap, and Bubba and a trailing group containing Sheila, Whiplash, and the Stig. The latter group being notable as it contained a pair of cars that started on the first two rows of the grid.
The second half of the first lap was notable for the diametrically opposed fates of the Scandinavian Blitz drivers. In his first race, Rask was proving that he could put no foot wrong, as he gradually increased his lead heading into the second lap. In contrast, the Stig was struggling so mightily that he was gradually falling farther and farther behind. Perhaps it was a major hangover from last season’s victory. Perhaps he just starts the season slow, he didn’t perform well to start the season last year, either. Regardless, this was not the way to get off a title defense.
The second lap saw Rask navigating the second corner just as the rest of the field was first getting to the pits. Bubba got a slight edge by not pitting, but was soon caught up by his replacement at Force Ravenswood, Delilah. The Stig was the only other drive not to pit, and it did help him catch back up to Sheila and Whiplash.
Through the second sector, Delilah and Bubba battled back and forth, alternating in their battle for second place. There was really no hope of catching Rask aside from a failure on his part in the third sector. Launch had, meanwhile, gotten a leg up on Jaap as those two former teammates sought to demonstrate superiority. Sadly, they were both struggling enough that the case could be made that they were trying not to demonstrate inferiority.
Those waiting for Rask to stumble found themselves disappointed, as he coolly navigated the final third of the track to take a dominating victory. Bubba also thumbed his nose, in his case towards Force Ravenswood, but taking a comfortable second place. He lost Delilah in the second sector as she found herself lacking pace.
The next battle, then, became not just the fight between Launch and Jaap for fourth place but whether or not either would catch Delilah. The answer was yes, but unfortunately for Regency Motors, it didn’t involve Jaap. Launch passed Delilah around the penultimate Bill Mitchell Bend, crusing to 3rd place with Jaap trailing Delilah. The final three cars were all neck and neck through the third sector, but Sheila prevailed over Whiplash, leaving Stig to last place.
|Rask Sjofar (SB)||2||1||1|
|Bubba McQueen (SR)||3||3||2|
|Launch Bornado (FR)||5||4||3|
|Delilah Whipplefilter (FR)||7||2||4|
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||6||5||5|
|Sheila Dinkum (RM)||8||6||6|
|The Stig (SB)||4||7||8|
Rask becomes the first driver to win their first race outside of Jaap in the SBMRL’s inaugural race. He now boasts a 100% winning percentage, which likely won’t last for long but is fun to say. Not only did he win, but he did so in dominating fashion, taking control of the race from the opening straight and never looking back. Rask becomes the 12th different driver to win an SBMRL race.
Bubba finishes 2nd for the first time in his career, ahead of both Force Ravenswood drivers for a bit of revenge. Launch starts out the season with a strong showing, adding another podium to his SBMRL leading tally. Coupled with Jaap’s 5th place finish, Launch has now moved ahead of Jaap on the all time points list, 367 to 366.
From a team standpoint, the Stig’s poor showing means that Scandinavian Blitz holds a small, 2 point lead in the team standings over Force Ravenswood. Regency Motors finds themselves in the unfamiliar position of last place.