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 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.
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.
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.
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’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’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.
|The Stig (SB)||2||1||1|
|Captain Slow (SB)||3||2||2|
|Jaronimus Maximus (ORC)||10||4||4|
|Danger Wheel (RB)||6||7||6|
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||9||8||7|
|Launch Bornado (RM)||7||6||8|
|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.