A beautiful day in Portland saw the SBMRL take to the track for the first race of the 2017-18 season. As reported, Launch Bornado has joined a new team this year, Force Ravenswood. Launch is joined by rookie teammate Bubba McQueen. Sheila Dinkum, another rookie, joins Jaap Snellrijder at Regency Motors to take Launch’s place. Force Ravenswood will drive in white Force India livery. Sprite Racing also joins the league for their first race.
With the slate wiped clean, every car has an equal chance for the championship this year. As a result, qualifying was done by roll of the dice, leaving the cars to lineup in the following order.
P1 – Captain Slow (Jason)
P2 – Jaap Snellrijder (Frank)
P3 – Launch Bornado (Barb)
P4 – The Stig (Jason)
P5 – Stevie Wondertyres (Jason)
P6 – Whiplash (Frank)
P7 – Sheila Dinkum (Frank)
P8 – Bubba McQueen (Barb)
There was drama from the get-go, with last year’s champion Launch stalling when the lights went out. That dropped Launch down the field quite a ways, but the truth of the matter was that everyone became tightly bunched in Turn 1 anyway. This was illustrated by the fact that three different cars suffered minor body damage as the cars struggled through the tight chicane.
Turn 2 saw more of the same, with the Stig and Launch each being involved in minor collisions. For the Stig, however, the gambit was worth it, as he pulled even with Jaap at the front of the field. The big news, however, was the retirement of Launch in Turn 5. With the pace being pushed by the frontrunners, Launch’s engine wasn’t up to the task and he was out of the race before even completing the first lap.
The third sector saw Jaap and the Stig jockey back and forth for the lead with the remaining cars going what they could to keep up. Whiplash, Bubba, and Sheila formed the middle pack with Stevie Wondertyres and Captain Slow pulling up the rear. As the cars rounded the final corner, Jaap flew past the pits in an effort to shed himself of the Stig. The Stig went for fresh tires and a new front wing, giving Jaap that leg up that he was hoping for.
The rest of the field all pitted, with Sheila leading the way in and Stevie Wondertyres pulling up the rear. While Jaap ran off in the distance, the Stig stumbled through the first few corners, giving Bubba and Sheila hope of catching him for 2nd place. Stevie Wondertyres also began to make a move on the other drivers, but he couldn’t find the first line in Turn 4, ending that aspiration.
With a hard charge down the back straight, Bubba and Sheila began to put some real pressure on the Stig. The result was the Stig going into the final turn at much too high of a speed for a proper exit. Having the freshest tires allowed Sheila to get the edge up on the others and provide Regency Motors with the team’s first ever 1-2 finish.
The Stig’s inability to carry speed from the final corner onto the start-finish straight meant that Bubba was able to come home in 3rd place for a podium in his first race. Whiplash followed closely, with Captain Slow and Stevie Wondertyres rounding out the field.
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||2||1||1|
|Sheila Dinkum (RM)||7||3||2|
|Bubba McQueen (FR)||8||4||3|
|The Stig (SB)||4||2||4|
|Stevie Wondertyres (SR)||6||5||5|
|Captain Slow (SB)||1||6||6|
|Launch Bornado (FR)||3||8||8, dnf|
Jaap records his SBMRL best 5th victory and starts the season off extremely well. The rest of the podium is filled by newcomers Sheila and Bubba. The Stig’s 4th place finish is his best season opening performance, and hopefully a promising sign for the rest of the year. Captain Slow, on the other hand, can’t be too thrilled with a wasted pole position.
Regency Motors gets a huge leg up on the season with a 1-2 to start the year. Surprisingly, 1-2 has been accomplished 4 times in SBMRL history and never by the same team twice. Perhaps even more notable, it’s a more common combination than 1-anything else, with 1-8 being done 3 times. Scandinavian Blitz would have liked more given their start positions, but can’t be too disappointed with 2nd place in the team standings. Sprite Racing had a race to forget, but it’s worth remembering that Osito Racing Company had a similar first race experience last season and was extremely strong the rest of the year.