Last Sunday it was time at last to decide and discover who would be our new TSA Drivers Champion. 16 drivers were all set to give it their best shot for a win, a points finish, or even just a little bit of fun.
Everyone involved already had an inkling that it was going to be a showdown between JamboGT, our GT5 Champion, and Lee-ma, the hot new property on TSA, but you’d have been foolish to discount last year’s Champion, Manorhowze, and many of the other speed demons that had been taking part.
Qualifying was quite interesting. Lee-ma just about maintained his status as the Qualifying specialist, taking pole on his last attempt, but JamboGT was only just off his pace by three hundredths of a second, and sat in 2nd place. Even closer together were Manorhowze in 3rd, just two hundredths ahead of AshGraham. Overall the top four were separated by only two tenths of a second. Now that’s competitive!
In fact all the way down the field the margins between drivers were pretty tight. A bit of nip and tuck here or there and the grid could have lined up quite differently. If Chuggy hadn’t put himself into a wall, who knows what he might have managed!
The race got underway, and Lee ran a little deep into the first turn. Jambo, though, failed to take advantage as he preferred not to risk his position and had a clear strategy in mind. This meant he didn’t try and muscle his way into first, and soon the top 5 drivers started to pull away, Lee ahead of Jambo, Manorhowze, Ash and Tonyyeb. I’m going to focus on their races, but if you want the gory first corner details on how absolutely everyone’s races went, then lots of people have posted in the forum thread, and some have even uploaded videos.
With Jambo in 2nd place, Lee started to put in some fast laps to get a bit of a gap. Jambo’s strategy was to hold on to his fuel for a while, so he was running with his engine turned down. That allowed Manorhowze to quickly begin to reel him in, and led to the first of many incidents. Heading into turn four, Manorhowze had managed to get alongside Jambo around the outside. A difficult spot to make an overtake even down the inside, but near impossible around the outside. Jambo took his usual speed into the corner, which meant that Manor’s line around the outside was going to be non-existant and he ended wide, losing 3rd place to Ash in the process.
Manor didn’t lose much time, though, and when Ash ran a little wide soon after, he was able to get past again. He set off after Jambo once more, and this time his use of the DRS helped him get past into 2nd place. Tonyyeb got a little action too, as he also made good use of the DRS to get past into 4th.
At the end of lap 6, and not wanting to lose more time battling with Tony, Ash ducked into the pits, whilst just ahead there was a bit more action between Jambo and Manor. Jambo had been finding it difficult to pass Manor with the DRS, but at the start of lap 7 he thought he’d made it work into turn 1. There was some more contact between the two of them through the first few corners, with Jambo spinning again and losing out. So now Tony was up to 3rd place, but had the ill fortune of deciding to duck into the pits at the end of lap 8, at exactly the same time as Manor, his fellow Team Lotus driver!
Needless to say Tony lost a few seconds out of this, but Ash was now having a great time. He’d come out in the middle of the pack, who were all involved in their own little scraps and on many different strategies, but he made it work. He worked his way past people efficiently, and thanks to time lost through the accident and pit stop error he jumped past Manor, Jambo and Tony after they’d all stopped; their misfortune playing into his hands.
Lee-ma still led the race, of course, but after his first stop had a brief meeting with Chuggy, who was on a longer strategy, before Lee got past and pulled away once more. Like the real F1 from this year, the leader rarely had anything exciting happen, so doesn’t get a lot of camera time. He lapped some people later on too.
Ash was quickly caught up again by Manor, and Jambo also recovered to get close once more. The three of them pulled plenty of little overtaking moves over several laps, until once more a little disaster and drama struck. Jambo came off worst from one of the many manoeuvres, and he dropped back several places.
Ash again undercut Manorhowze at the pit stops, whilst Jambo had to switch early to replace his tyres after the spin. It wasn’t as dramatic this time, but Manor and Jambo gradually reeled Ash back in, though they couldn’t quite get close enough to do anything. The battle for 2nd and 3rd would hinge on the final stint, and Manor did himself no favours when he mistakenly put on another set of Primes for the last few laps, with Jambo ahead now in 3rd and just behind Ash.
Ash was able to pull away a little as Jambo and Manorhowze resumed their Hamilton-Massa-esque battle. Just as before the DRS allowed Manor to pass for 3rd place but when Jambo tried the same, contact occurred and, yes, it was Jambo that span. Tonyyeb was quite surprised to see himself catching Jambo at quite a rate before Jambo put his car into a wall.
The final couple of laps saw Ash put in a fastest lap before Lee, over 10 seconds ahead, put his stamp on the day, by turning up his engine and setting his own fastest lap for the hattrick.
So after that thrilling race here’s what the final standings looked like:
The final standings were:
- JamboGT – DNF (last lap)
- Stanley1664 +1 lap
- teflon6678 – +1 lap
- freezebug2 – DNF
- snakefingers13 – DNF
- camdaz – DNF
If you took part in the competition, here’s a final quick reminder that there is also a 4th award available for competitors in the championship. The Peoples’ Champion Award is voted for you, and is based on who you felt was the best sport during the championship. So head to the forum thread and lodge your vote! Best be quick, though, voting closes tonight.
Tune in later on for the unveil of a thoroughly modern competition we’ll be running next week. What could it possibly be?