The SBMRL’s eastern tour turned south from India to Melbourne, Australia for the 7th race of the season. As a new venue for the league, it was anyone’s guess as to how it was going to play out. Despite a bit of upheaval in the standings in India, the starting grid looked exactly the same:
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)
It was clear from the get go that the drivers were anxious for this race, as both Jaap Snellrijder and The Stig got off to flying starts. The Stig, who started from the back of the grid, was going to need to pull a number of tricks like this if he was going to win his 4th consecutive race after starting at the back of the grid.
The early part of the race, then was a lot of jockeying for position among two factions. The front three on the grid were joined by Bubba, who managed to pip his teammate. This left the other four drivers battling to catch up, with a driver from each team in each group.
The first car to break away from the pack was Captain Slow, who flew through the second sector with ease. There must have been some Scandinavian Blitz team discussions on how to race this part of the track, as the Stig found himself flying past the rest of the field and up in second place. Launch Bornado also made a charge here, leaving Whiplash and Sheila as the two cars with the most work to do.
The Ascari turn saw Stevie make a move, flying around the outside of Captain Slow and taking the lead. He maintained that through the final turns of sector three, and with Captain Slow hot on his heels, dove for the pits. The Captain, on the other hand, barreled on down the pit straight. While Jaap and Launch pitted in front of him, the Stig followed his teammate in forgoing fresh tyres. Unfortunately, this may not have been the best choice, as he was quickly passed by those coming out of pit lane.
With the first lap completed, Captain Slow soon found himself being hunted down by Stevie and Launch, who had used an excellent pit stop to recharge for another circuit. The Stig’s gambit left him wanting, fighting for 4th place with Whiplash, Bubba, and Jaap.
The Stig looked poised to pull another great second sector out of his tailpipe but the key moves were happening behind him. Jaap and the Stig both managed to find speed through the Albert Road corner and carry that through into the Clark Chicane. The cruising Captain Slow barely had a chance to see them go by. Launch and Stevie, who had been fighting for 2nd place were suddenly fighting to stay out of 5th.
Jaap continued his charge into the third sector, but the Stig wasn’t able to keep up. At the same time, Captain Slow was transforming from potential race winner into, well, Captain Slow. The Scandinavian Blitz drivers were then both passed by Stevie and Launch at Ascari, the same corner that Stevie had driven so beautifully on the first lap. To make matters worse, a strong second sector from Whiplash had him making the same move. Suddently, Captain Slow and the Stig were fighting each other for 5th place. Tables turned.
Jaap made good on his run through the second half of lap 2, winning comfortably. Behind him, Stevie managed to carry enough speed through the final corner to beat out Launch. The battle for fourth place, wasn’t as easily determined. Whiplash had the edge coming out of Ascari but the Stig was pushing hard. Captain Slow also made a run for it. Coming out of Prost, all three cars were within a car length of each other. In the same way that Stevie got the edge on Launch with greater speed out of the corner, Whiplash pulled away from both red cars to take 4th place. Captain Slow had just enough to cross the line before the Stig. At the back of the field, Sheila beat out Bubba, with neither driver proud of their accomplishments.
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||3||6||1|
|Stevie Wondertyres (SR)||2||3||2|
|Launch Bornado (FR)||4||4||3|
|Captain Slow (SB)||1||1||5|
|The Stig (SB)||8||2||6|
|Sheila Dinkum (RM)||7||8||7|
|Bubba McQueen (FR)||5||7||8|
The Stig’s three race victory streak comes to an end, and it was a fine run. So much so that he had moved into a tie with Jaap as the SBMRL’s career victory leader at 5. Of course, that tie has now also been broken as Jaap won his 6th race, and second of the season. Incidentally, he’s never won more than twice in a season, so the Stig still holds that record.
Stevie records his best finish to date, while Launch’s 3rd place finish makes it three consecutive podiums. That gives Launch 13 career podiums, which is 4 better than Jaap, who sits in second place.
The Stig’s large lead in the driver standings has shrunk down to 10 points, although that is still a decent sized gap and a testament to how far ahead he was. Behind him, former teammates Launch and Jaap sit just 1 point apart. Sheila, Bubba, and Whiplash are all very close to each other. Captain Slow, who is the only driver this season without a podium finish, lost further ground at the bottom.
From a team perspective, Regency Motors did just enough to make up the ground that Force Ravenswood stole from them in India, taking a narrow 1 point lead in the team standings. Sprite Racing’s strong showing wasn’t, however, enough to get past Scandinavian Blitz, who will be looking to bounce back in Shanghai.