Sochi, Russia welcomed the SBMRL on March 17th as race #7 on the 9 race 2016-17 calendar. It was a brisk day with highs in the low 50’s, but that didn’t stop the fans from coming out. Here’s how the cars took to the grid:
P1 – Nero (Frank)
P2 – Ice (Jason)
P3 – Captain Slow (Jason)
P4 – The Stig (Jason)
P5 – Mater (Jason)
P6 – Jamonito del Verde (Geoff)
P7 – Danger Wheel (Ryan)
P8 – Launch Bornado (Frank)
P9 – Jaap Snellrijder (Frank)
P10 – Jaronimus Maximus (Geoff)
The race started cleanly, with Jamonito timing the lights perfectly for a fast start at the middle of the grid. He able to get ahead of Mater, causing the Red Bull driver to suffer minor body damage after getting sandwiched with Captain Slow. Nero and the Stig were the first into Turn 1, establishing the early hierarchy. By Turn 4, Nero had moved out front for an early advantage. The Stig and Captain Slow battled for 2nd place with a larger group following behind.
The early mover was Jaap, who caught up with the Scandinavian Blitz drivers by Turn 5, showing once again that Sochi’s track suits him just fine. By Turn 8 he would find himself up in 2nd place. It was here on the first lap that Ice, Mater, and Jamonito made their push to catch up, while Jaronimus, Danger Wheel, and Launch languished far behind.
As Nero rounded the final two corners, Mater made his move on the inside of The Stig in Turn 8. Unfortunately, he clipped his opponent and was sent into the barriers and out of the race. The Stig miraculously escaped any damage of his own, and was even able to keep up with his teammate.
Among the front runners, the key moment of the race to this point surrounded the pits. Nero dove for fresh tyres and minor repairs, while Jaap decided to press on with the car as is. Jamonito and Ice followed Nero in, but the Stig followed Jaap’s lead in skipping a tyre change. When all was said and done, Jaap found himself in the lead, with Nero in 2nd and the Stig in 3rd place.
Jaap established a small lead with smooth running through the first three corners on the second lap. Ice found speed aplenty down the pit straight and managed to catch up with Nero in a Cobalt battle for second. Jamonito kept pace with the Stig. Amongst those trailing, Captain Slow was once again living up to his name, allowing Danger Wheel by and finding Launch soon hot on his tail. Jaronimous, had a disastrous third sector of lap 1 and would never again challenge even a single car the rest of the way.
The second lap didn’t have near as much drama as the first lap. Jaap never put a wheel wrong through sector 2, and despite Nero and Ice doing their best to follow, they couldn’t capitalize on a mistake when no mistakes were being made. To their credit, the two drivers who’ve had the worst season to date proved why they were so formidable last season, pushing Jaap the whole way and keeping their challengers in the distance.
The battle of note, therefore, was for fourth position. Danger Wheel took advantage of mistakes by the Stig and Jamonito to catch up with them in Turn 3. He then passed them in Turn 4 as both were a bit slow on entry and he was able to scoot past them. This would’ve been the time that Captain Slow caught up with his teammate, but he too wasn’t able to find the right line at Turn 4.
The one moment where it looked like Nero or Ice might actually be able to catch up with Jaap was at Turn 9. Having completely worn out his tyres over the course of the two laps, Jaap had to be extremely cautious around the final two bends. Nero and Ice, on the other hand, were charging. Carefully navigating Turn 10, however, Jaap had just enough speed to cross the line ahead of Ice, who came from as far back as 8th on lap 1 to finish 2nd. Nero followed in 3rd.
Danger Wheel drove a professional second lap to take an uneventful fourth place. The battle for 5th place came to a head in Turn 8, with Jamonito and the Stig getting there first, but Launch and Captain Slow hot on their heels. Navigating through debris left on the track earlier, Jamonito found his way to the front of the group. With plenty of life left in his tyres, he was free to push around the final bend, ultimately finishing closer to Danger Wheel than those he’d been fighting with.
The final placement between the Scandinavian Blitz teammates and Launch came down to how hard they’d pushed earlier. The Stig had to take the slower, outside line to keep his car on the track, while Launch was able to sneak around him on the inside, and then bring it home down the straight.
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||9||1||1|
|Danger Wheel (RB)||7||6||4|
|Jamonito del Verde (ORC)||6||5||5|
|Launch Bornado (RM)||8||8||6|
|The Stig (SB)||4||3||7|
|Captain Slow (SB)||3||7||8|
|Jaronimus Maximus (ORC)||10||9||9|
|Mater (RB)||5||10||10, dnf|
Sochi marks the third time we’ve raced a track that we raced last year, and Jaap’s victory makes him the first driver to win twice on the same track. It’s also his second victory of the year, coming after a pair of disappointing 7th pace finishes since his win in Monaco. Coupled with Jaronimus’ worst race of the season, Jaap edges out his Osito Racing Company rival to move back into first place.
Ice’s 2nd place finish pulls him all the way from 9th up to 6th in the driver standings, while Nero gets out of the cellar for the first time since the first race of the season. Danger Wheel finshed 4th for the fourth time this year, which pushes him up to 3rd in the overall standings.
Intriguingly, the Sochi results have left us with a pair of ties in the driver standings. Launch and Jamonito are now tied for 4th place, just 3 points behind Danger Wheel, while Mater and the Stig are tied for 7th, just 4 points behind Ice.
At the team level, Cobalt’s 33 points are easily their best of the season, and second best ever. It puts them back ahead of Scandinavian Blitz. Regency Motors, meanwhile, takes back a slim lead over Osito Racing Company. Red Bull stays in 3rd.