A beautiful day in Shanghai welcomed the SBMRL for race 8 of 2017-18 season. With just two races to go, the event in China presented the possibility for one of the front runners to give themselves a leg up on the rest of the field. The drivers lined up as follows:
P1 – Captain Slow (Jason)
P2 – Stevie Wondertyres (Jason)
P3 – Whiplash (Frank)
P4 – Bubba McQueen (Barb)
P5 – Sheila Dinkum (Frank)
P6 – Jaap Snellrijder (Frank)
P7 – Launch Bornado (Barb)
P8 – The Stig (Jason)
A clean start saw the field jockeying for position into the long, winding turn 1. The top four on the grid lead the way into turn 2, with Whiplash keeping ahead of Captain Slow and Bubba. Stevie fell in line with Jaap and Launch, while the Stig and Sheila took their place at the rear.
Throughout the second sector, Whiplash and Captain Slow battled for supremacy at the front. Bubba hung back in a lonely third place, while the rest of the field struggled to keep up. Stevie was able to hold onto the fourth position until the long, winding turn 5, where the Stig was able to get past him.
Whiplash was the first through the hairpin coming off the long back straight. He proceeded cleanly through the final corner and into the pits. Captain Slow also had no trouble with this section, but behind them, much of the rest of the field was not so lucky. Bubba couldn’t handle the hairpin at all, carrying too much speed and spinning out as a result. Having seen that in front of him, the Stig had the opposite problem, failing to keep up enough speed.
The one car that navigated the mess smoothly was Jaap’s. He watched Captain Slow and the Stig dive for the pits and decided that would be his opportunity to jump them. Unfortunately for him, the Scandinavian Blitz pit crew was up to the task, and they had both red cars back on the track right alongside him.
By the end of the first sector, Jaap had once again fallen behind both Scandinavian Blitz cars, but neither of them were yet able to catch up with Whiplash. Bubba’s misfortunes at the end of the first lap had dropped him all the way to battle with his teammate Launch Bornado, who was having a race to forget. Only Sheila was doing worse.
While Whiplash continued to drive with confidence, the Stig was doing his best to reel him in. He nearly did so on the approach to Turn 5. Whiplash was able to carry his line perfectly into the corner. He then navigated the extreme curvature of the corner expertly, flying on the straight with momentum to pull away easily. The rest of the field all found themselves piling in tightly behind.
Captain Slow and the Stig were back in front of the also rans, with Stevie starting to feel some heat from the mess unfolding behind him. Notably, Jaap’s second sector was abysmal, so despite the promising start to lap 2, he was in amongst the back of the field. As the top 3 went through the final two corners, the others barreled down the straight to the hairpin.
Despite how close the front three were, Whiplash took the checkered flag for his first victory. He actually held the lead since the middle of the first lap, but the Stig and Captain Slow both kept pressure on him all race. In the end, Captain Slow was right behind him at the finish, with the Stig taking home 3rd place, giving Scandinavian Blitz their first double podium of the year.
The remaining five cars took to the hairpin with eyes set on taking advantage of a difficult section of track. Bubba and Stevie had the line right on entry. Launch, Jaap, and Sheila not so much.
Bubba took the final corner with ease, salvaging 4th place after a difficult second lap. Stevie had no trouble holding off the others for 5th. On the other hand, Sheila’s deep dive down the inside ended in disaster. After having spent most of the race far in arrears, this was perhaps Sheila’s best chance to gain some positions. In the end, she spun out, losing any advantage she was trying to gain. She was saved ever so slightly by the sheer incompetence of Jaap, who couldn’t cleanly find his way past his compromised teammate.
|Captain Slow (SB)||1||3||2|
|The Stig (SB)||8||4||3|
|Bubba McQueen (FR)||4||6||4|
|Stevie Wondertyres (SR)||2||5||5|
|Launch Bornado (FR)||7||7||6|
|Sheila Dinkum (RM)||5||8||7|
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||6||2||8|
Not only does Whiplash get his first victory, but it’s the first time he’s even led a race. With the tight driver standings, that vaults him up into second place. In contrast, Captain Slow’s first podium of the year isn’t nearly enough to get him out of the cellar. The Stig takes 3rd place for a strong finish after struggling in Australia. Interestingly, it’s the first time he’s every finished 3rd.
From a team standpoint, Sprite Racing gets their first victory and strongest result of the year. Scandinavian Blitz gets their first double podium finish of the year, and only one outside of the Nurburgring in Germany last season. That race in Germany is also the only other time Regency Motors has a had a result as poor as this one, with neither car finishing higher than 7th.
Despite being in last place, Sprite Racing has now closed the gap to 12 points… not to 3rd place, but all the way to first! The team standings have never been this tight in any season. Scandinavian Blitz has leapfrogged Regency Motors for 2nd place, but Force Ravenswood still leads. The 12 points separating all four teams in the team standings matches the 12 point separating between the Stig and Whiplash for 1st and 2nd in the driver standings.