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Nurburgring Recap

The Nurburgring in Germany welcomed the SBMRL for the 6th round of the 2016-17 season.  Given the 9 race schedule for the season, this would be the final race of the middle third of the season.  “Sector 2”, if you will.  In short, the season was about to enter the stretch run so there was a lot at stake.  Here’s how the starting grid looked:

P1 – Nero (Geoff)
P2 – The Stig (Jason)
P3 – Captain Slow (Jason)
P4 – Ice (Frank)
P5 – Mater (Jason)
P6 – Danger Wheel (Frank)
P7 – Launch Bornado (Frank)
P8 – Jamonito del Verde (Geoff)
P9 – Jaap Snellrijder (Frank)
P10 – Jaronimus Maximus (Geoff)

Nero got off the line quickly, reading the lights perfectly, but the Stig and Captain Slow were right there with him into the Castrol S.  Jaronimus was the one driver from the back half of the grid to take advantage of the longer run up into the corner.  He took the risk of carrying a bit of extra speed and it paid off with a few spots gained in the process, albeit only temporarily.

The Stig and Captain Slow at the front early

The rest of the first sector saw Ice, the Stig, and Captain Slow edge ahead of Danger Wheel and the rest of the field.  Jaap worked himself up to mid pack.  As the cars moved into sector two, the Stig and Captain Slow managed to keep Scandinavian Blitz out front.  The big move came from Nero, who found his line through the corners perfectly, timing the RTL and BIT Kurves just right to slingshot himself into contention near the end of the lap.

A lot of jockeying for position was going on in the midfield.  Jaap had fallen back and his teammate Launch Bornado was instead on the move.  Danger Wheel and Ice continued to stay in the thick of things, while Jaronimus had worked his way back up the order as well.  The one car that appeared to really be falling behind was Jamonito, who sadly looked completely lost.

Danger Wheel leads the chasing pack

First across the line for the start of lap 2 was the Stig.  He’d had a clean run in the first lap and sailed on past the pits without stopping.  Captain Slow did the same, but Nero and Jaronimus, now up to 4th, both pitted for fresh tyres and repairs.  The rest of the field eventually followed them in, except for Jamonito whose interest lay more in catching up with someone… anyone!

The start of the second lap was where the Stig stretched out enough of a lead that it became clear no one was going to catch him.  Nero and Captain Slow were left to fight over second place.  Jaronimus and Ice were in the hunt behind them, but Ice couldn’t keep up and soon found himself watching Jaronimus get progressively smaller in the distance.  Launch and Danger Wheel followed, with Jaap and Mater holding off Jamonito at the back.

The Stig takes charge on lap 2

For the front runners, things became clear again at the RTL Kurve.  With the Stig well out in front, the very spot where Nero had made his move on the first lap proved to be his undoing on the second.  This time, Captain Slow found the perfect line into the corner and Nero was unable to match it.  The lead over Jaronimus was so great that there didn’t appear to be any chance of losing out on 3rd place, but Captain Slow now had the upper hand on 2nd.

Nero comes up short in battle with Captain Slow

For his part, Jaronimus did well enough to nearly catch Nero, but the fact is that his second lap was ultimately without any excitement.  He wasn’t leading the race like the Stig, but he also didn’t really have any cars he was properly battling with for position.  In the end, the top 4 were decided mid way through the second lap and there wasn’t anything beyond catastrophe that was going to alter that order.  Given that he started last on the grid, Jaronimus wasn’t going to complain too much for a lack of drama.

That left the interest to lie with the challengers for 5th on down, and to understand how that developed it’s worth heading back to the first sector of the second lap.  Danger Wheel, Ice, and Launch found themselves heading into the Dunlop hairpin in vain effort to catch Jaronimus, and this was where Jaap made his characteristic second lap charge.  He flew recklessly into the corner with such speed that he nearly crashed into the back of Ice.  Mater, taking things a bit more cautiously, conceded for the time being, with Jamonito heading off in the distance.

Jaap make his move at Dunlop Kehre

Jaap’s valor earned him 5th position heading into RTL Kurve, with Launch neck-and-neck and Danger Wheel following closely.  Ice wasn’t quite as smooth, allowing Mater to haul him in.  The previously cautious Red Bull driver saw RTL as his chance to imitate Nero’s lap 1 heroics, a feat which he accomplished with aplomb.  That left both pairs of Red Bull and Regency Motors drivers in a four way scrum.

Launch was particularly slow in the BIT Kurve, allowing Jaap to eke by.  Danger Wheel was caught off guard by the effort and nicked Launch along the way, causing damage to Launch’s car.  The car with real speed, however, turned out to be Mater.  He was able to slingshot around the outside of everyone.

Mater makes his move on the outside

Mater’s speed on the straight meant that he would be the first to reach the Veedol S, and from there he comfortably cruised home with 5th place.  Danger Wheel got the edge on both yellow cars, leaving Jaap and Launch in a drag race between teammates for 7th.  Jaap would come out just ahead, but it was the first time neither car has finished at least 5th.  Ice, who had been in 5th place or better for the first half of the race came home a disappointing 9th.  Jamonito, sauntered home well behind the others for the final spot.

Final Results

Driver Start Lap Finish
The Stig (SB) 2 1 1
Captain Slow (SB) 3 2 2
Nero (CO) 1 3 3
Jaronimus Maximus (ORC) 10 4 4
Mater (RB) 5 10 5
Danger Wheel (RB) 6 7 6
Jaap Snellrijder (RM) 9 8 7
Launch Bornado (RM) 7 6 8
Ice (CO) 4 5 9
Jamonito del Verde (ORC) 8 9 10

The Stig’s win is his first this year and second overall, having previously won at Monaco last season.  It moves him up from 9th to 7th in the driver standings, a welcome change after two consecutive DNF’s.  Captain Slow’s second place finish is his best of the year and the first time he’s ever finished in that position.  Nero’s third place finish was his first podium of the year, but it still wasn’t enough to pull him up out of last place in the standings.  Given his four podium finishes last year, this could be a sign that he’s turning things around.

On a side note, this is the first time the top 3 finishers in an SBMRL race also all started in the top 3 grid positions.

Lower down the order, Jaronimus extends his lead over Jaap for first place in the driver standings, while Danger Wheel’s 6th place coupled with Jamonito’s last place finish was enough to put the Red Bull driver up to 4th in the standings.

On the team front, the 1-2 finish for Scandinavian Blitz sees them stay in 4th place, but with a lot less ground to make up on those in front of them.  It’s just the 3rd time a team has finished with the top two cars.  Regency Motors took home the fewest points, but no team scored even half of what the Stig and Captain Slow combined for.  Given that the top two teams in the standings scored the fewest points, one can look at this race as a great example of how the reverse starting grid rules are intended to aid those at the bottom.  Everything’s a little bit tighter now.

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Nurburgring Preview

Last season, the SBMRL race in Germany at Hockenheim, but this year the event moves from there to the Nurburgring.

Originally built in the 1920’s the Nurburgring is best known for the Nordschleife, which orginally was over 28 km long.  It has since been shortened significantly, but still proved too dangerous for the fastest cars in motorsport.  Formula 1 grand prix racing ended on that course in the 1970’s after Nikki Lauda nearly lost his life there.  Instead, the GP-Strecke was built and designed with modern F1 in mind, and that is the course that we will race.

The run up from the pit straight isn’t particularly long before heading into the slow right-left combination of the Castrol S.  Cars toward the back of the grid will be at a severe disadvantage heading into this corner as the temptation to catch up with the front runners early on will likely lead to some hard braking on approach.  Those at the front will hope to gain an early lead and avoid the mess behind them.

A short straight leads into the second corner, a short left hander, which is then followed very quickly by another sharp right, the Ford Kurve.  There is then a moderate straight followed by the Dunlop hairpin.  This second sector will have some of the better opportunities for overtaking so getting the right line through this area will be key.  The kink on the way to the RTL Kurve can almost be ignored, but only if in the right gear and without traffic in the way.

Sector three starts just after the Bit Kurve and opens with the longest straight on the course followed by the tricky Veedol S and Coca-Cola Kurve.  High speeds into this last series of corners will certainly make coming out of them at pace even more challenging.

Overall, the Nurburgring will be quite a different experience than Interlagos was.  There aren’t any particularly long straights which will allow drivers to open it up.  Instead, the course will require technical agility in managing the ebb and flow of corner and straight combinations.  Whether or not this means the field will stay tightly compressed or spread out remains to be seen.  While it appears that passing opportunities will be hard to come by, there are some key spots where a mistake will likely mean losing several positions.

Starting Grid

The top 6 positions on the grid remain unchanged from Brazil in large part due to the bottom three drivers in the standings all failing to complete the race.  The bottom four see the Osito Racing Company and Regency Motors drivers swap slots.  In practice, this probably won’t mean much since they’ll still be in the same row.  Launch Bornado and Jamonito del Verde are the only two current drivers never to have won a race, and will start alongside each other.

  1. Nero (CO)
  2. The Stig (SB)
  3. Captain Slow (SB)
  4. Ice (CO)
  5. Mater (RB)
  6. Danger Wheel (RB)
  7. Launch Bornado (RM)
  8. Jamonito del Verde (ORC)
  9. Jaap Snellrijder (RM)
  10. Jaronimus Maximus (ORC)

As there is no race in Finland, The Stig opted for Germany as his home race this year, so he’ll have a slight advantage in addition to starting on the front row.

Osito Racing Company taking over the top slot of the team standings means they get first choice of pits.  Scandinavian Blitz and Cobalt are no longer tied in the standings, which breaks the tie for average start position between the two teams.

  1. Osito Racing Company
  2. Regency Motors
  3. Red Bull
  4. Cobalt
  5. Scandinavian Blitz

Nurburgring should favor those at the front of the grid, so this will be a good opportunity for Scandinavian Blitz and Cobalt to try to crawl back into the hunt.  Red Bull have been consistently the 3rd best team, but Regency Motors and Osito will be charging hard from the back of the grid.

Germany Recap

Our March race brought us to the forested Rhine valley to race the Hockenheimring.  There were a few stories to watch for in the race, including the Green Team taking up the front row of the starting grid and in desperate need of a strong showing to get back in the cGermany Starting Gridhampionship race.  At the back of the grid, Cobalt’s Nero had closed the gap in the drivers’ championship to just 4 points, the smallest of the season.

However, the biggest news of the race was the surprise announcement prior to the race that all teams were now boasting new cars with new paint schemes.  The new cars look more like real Formula 1 cars and boast liveries painted to mimic them.  Here then, is an image of the starting grid with the liveries identified:

P1 – Mater (Ryan) – 2010 Lotus (Green w/ Yellow)
P2 – Danger Wheel (Ryan) – 2011 Caterham (Green w/ white stripes on nose)
P3 – The Stig* (Jason) – 2016 Williams Martini (White w/ black rear wing)
P4 – Captain Slow* (Jason) – 2016 Williams Martini (White w/ white rear wing)
P5 – Ice (Lonny) – 2015 Red Bull (Blue w/ purple rear wing)
P6 – Launch Bornado (Frank) – 2016 Ferrari (Red w/ white engine cover)
P7 – Nero (Lonny) – 2016 Red Bull (Blue w/ blue rear wing)
P8 – Jaap Snellrijder (Frank) – 2015 Ferrari (Red w/ white rear wing)

*Note that The Stig and Captain Slow actually should have been switched on the grid.  The race stewards got this wrong, but it didn’t ultimately matter and there was nothing that could be done after the race started.

As the lights went out and the race commenced, Ice became the first car of the season to get a quick start off the line, splitting the Scandinavian Blitz drivers right out of the gate and getting the jump on Captain Slow.  As everyone moved through the first corner, the cars remained tightly bunched, allowing Ice to move all the way up to 2nd place in nearly no time at all.

Germany Lap 1 Turn 2 Approach

This quick advance from Ice would’ve been the story of the race’s early going if not for what befell his teammate.  As Ice followed Danger Wheel into the Bernie Ecclestone Kurve, the rest of the field found themselves vying for position on the approach to that corner.  The Stig and Mater were leading the charge, with Captain Slow close behind them.  This effectively closed off the preferred outside line entry for Nero, who recklessly tried to take excessive speed into the corner.  In his efforts to cut them off, he instead found himself clipping them, resulting in a one way trip into the barriers and out of the race.  Fortunately, neither the Stig nor Mater were thrown into the same situation, and both were able to continue on.

Germany Lap 1 Turn 2 Nero Crash

Unaffected by the chaos behind them, Ice and Danger Wheel continued on down the track’s longest straight, with Ice gaining the temporary advantage.  The Stig and Mater battled it out for 3rd place behind them.  At the back, the Regency Motors cars both passed Captain Slow, who was living up to his name.  The rest of the second sector saw Danger Wheel get the upper hand on Ice, while Mater was caught by a hard charging Jaap Snellrijder.  The Stig sat comfortably in 3rd place.

Germany Lap 1 Spitzkehre

Launch Bornado suffered a damaged front wing after following Mater a little too closely into Mercedes Arena, but it appeared a gamble that paid off, as he was able to pass the green car shortly thereafter.

With the first lap drawing to a close, Danger Wheel and Ice both went for the pits, where Ice gained an advantage with a smoother pit transition.  Behind them, Jaap and Launch had both pulled ahead of the Stig.  Jaap opted for a quick pit, but Launch needed to repair his front wing.  In the end, the Stig wasn’t able to take advantage.  Mater and Captain Slow would round out the pack, with everyone eventually pitting.

Germany Lap 2 Turn 1

Back at the front, Ice’s quick pit stop gave him a margin of error over Danger Wheel, who suddenly found Jaap and Launch pushing him for 2nd place.  With some added speed, they both overtook him, and in short order, The Stig was on his tail, too.

The long straight into the Spitzkehre hairpin was where Jaap and Launch needed to make up some time to catch Ice, but it was not to be.  The two couldn’t bring enough horses to bear, and Ice began to pull away.  Launch, in 2nd, and Jaap behind him, similarly began to pull away from their challengers, too.  Danger Wheel continued to fight off the Stig’s best efforts.  In this case, it was the Stig who began to falter.  Taking too much speed into Spitzkehre, Danger Wheel was able to pull away in the following straight.  Worse yet for the Stig, Captain Slow and Mater had now caught up.

Germany Lap 2 Spitzkehre

Ice casually navigated the third sector, easily securing his first victory and Cobalt’s second in as many races.  It was an uneventful finish to a race that started out full of drama, and the racing behind him looked relatively uneventful as well.  The red Regency Motors cars of Jaap and Launch looked like they were slotted in for 2nd and 3rd place.  The Green Team of Danger Wheel and Mater, who had pulled ahead of the Scandinavian Blitz team, looked slotted in to their respective places.  And, of course, Scandinavian Blitz trailed.  Fortunately, the third sector made for some of the best racing of the day.

It was highlighted by Danger Wheel who, despite a relatively wide gap from Jaap and Launch, began to drive flawlessly.  He found the perfect line through Mercedes Arena and caught up with Jaap at Mobil 1 Kurve.  Captain Slow, was suddenly not so slow at all.  He passed the Stig and caught Mater at Mercedes Arena.

Launch and Jaap both kept in front of Danger Wheel in the Sachs Kurve, but at this point, the gap was small enough that it would be more about who could find a better line and keep their speed up.  Mater, meanwhile, had rebuffed the challenge from Captain Slow and was looking to join the fray in the fight for 2nd place.

Germany Lap 2 Sachs Kurve

As the three primary contenders headed into Sud Kurve, they were literally wheel-to-wheel.  Jaap had a slight edge on Launch, who had a slight edge on Danger Wheel.  Mater was a step behind them, but ready to pounce should anyone falter.  The final word on the matter was one of tires.  Danger Wheel’s tires were much fresher than either Jaap’s or Launches.  As a result, Jaap had to take the outside line out of the corner and Launch stuck to the middle lane.  Danger Wheel was able to get the jump on the inside and steal 2nd away from both of them.  Jaap would finish 3rd with Launch close behind.

Germany Lap 2 Sud Kurve

Danger Wheel was in no danger of losing 5th place and took it comfortably.  The Stig, who struggled mightily over the last half lap, would follow Captain Slow for an extremely frustrating finish.

Final Results

Driver Start Lap Finish
Ice (CO) 5 1 1
Danger Wheel (GT) 2 2 2
Jaap Snellrijder (RM) 8 3 3
Launch Bornado (RM) 6 4 4
Mater(GT) 1 6 5
Captain Slow (SB) 3 5 6
The Stig (SB) 4 7 7
Nero (CO) 7 8, dnf 8, dnf

Unlike other races, where most of the major position shifts happened in the second lap, this race saw the cars finish in roughly the same position as they lapped.  This was true despite a rather turbulent second lap, which saw lots of passing.

Jaap managed to duplicate his effort from last race and retain his lead in the drivers’ standings, but the big story was with Cobalt.  Nero’s crash left him wondering what might’ve been.  Ice’s ascension from 5th to victory bested his teammate’s win from 3rd on the grid in Sebring.  Launch moves back up to 3rd place in the driver standings with his strong performance.  Danger Wheel’s second place finish sees him leapfrog The Stig and Captain Slow, who are now tied with 61 points each.  Mater’s 5th place wasn’t enough to elevate him out of last place.

With back-to-back wins, Cobalt has shown just how tough they can be, but they still haven’t been able to catch Regency Motors.  The gap is now as small as it’s been since the 2nd race of the season.  The two trailing teams are now significantly behind, meaning it will take quite an effort to catch up, but it is still possible.  The Green Team passed Scandinavian Blitz for 3rd place, and they’ve shown quite a bit of promise lately.  Scandinavian Blitz, on the other hand, have been trending in the wrong direction.  They were in 2nd just two races ago.

Who Knew?

Nero’s crash at the second corner was the first time a car has been eliminated on the first lap this season.  It’s also the first time a Cobalt car has been knocked out.

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