Before we know it, Wednesday night comes around again and with it another race night for the drivers competing in the Simsport Racing GT4 Championship Season 3.
The two opening rounds so far have had it all – high octane action, on-the-limit close racing and plenty of drama as the drivers continue to get used to their machinery and hone their cars to their liking in a bid to battle it out and be crowned Champion.
After pitting their wits around Monza and Suzuka, the focus turned to the famous Nurburgring circuit in Germany for Round 3, with reigning Champion Stephen Haley still sitting at the top of the standings after commendably dragging his KTM into the top 10 at Suzuka, but remaining under close attention from the two Mercedes of Rich Smith and Adam Isailovic, with Suzuka winner Karol Sipavicius also remaining in the hunt.
With the grid formed using the usual top-15 reversed format, Dave Hedges in the Maserati would lead the 37-car grid away from Pole ahead of Emery and Jeal, with a number of drivers including the likes of Kieron Vidago, Stijn Paspont, Gavin Uttley and Aaron Walker somewhat out of position further down the field and the drivers to watch as they look to move their way through the pack and pick up some vital, solid points.
With the lights going Green, it was Hedges who got the jump over his rivals and kept his lead going into turn one, as Emery and Jeal jostled for second only to both lose out to the fast starting Stapleford who found himself hot on the heals of Hedges as they came to the end of Lap 1. There were also impressive starts for Browe and Haley who were also on the back of the leading train of cars ahead.
Unfortunately for Hedges, his lead would not last for long as the fast-starting Stapleford made his move to take over the race lead through the Mercedes Arena, with Jeal also moving past to take second as Hedges fell from first to third in just the matter of a couple of corners. Aiden Browe continued his forward momentum to move into fourth, as Emery began to fall into the clutches of Stephen Haley who also had Moller keeping him company in the Mercedes. Aaron Walker had a stunning first couple of laps, finding himself in 19th, while there was a poor start for Charlie Crossland who had dropped just outside of the top 20.
As the duals continued throughout the field and the race reached the 15 minute mark, Stapleford continued to lead out front by a couple of seconds, whilst Browe, who was certainly on the move and Moller both moved into the podium positions having taken advantage of an error by Ollie Jeal. Meanwhile, Haley was putting in a dogged drive to remain in the top 5 as Dave Hedges slowly begin to fall through the pack, but all eyes turned to Charlie Crossland in the Mercedes who was the fastest driver on the circuit and was rapidly moving through the pack ahead of him.
Having despatched of Paspont, Emery, Al-Alawi and Wolff in quick succession, the Fordzilla driver’s attention turned to getting past Wolff’s team mate in the sister BMW, Gerard de Baar, only to find his progress halted by some stubborn defending by the BMW driver. This was a battle worth watching as de Baar superbly dealt with everything thrown at him by Crossland in what was a close, fair and enthralling encounter between the pair only to ended by a great move around the outside of the Michelin Curve as Crossland finally made it past and set his eyes on the top 10 ahead.
Back at the front, Stapleford saw his lead being diminished at a rapid pace by the fast approaching group of Browe, Moller and Haley, doing well to hold off his pursuers until finally being beaten by a superb move by Browe. It was a move worth watching again and again as he took a strong outside line through Turn 13 which caught Stapleford out, putting himself on the inside going into the chicane to take the race lead. Unfortunately, this lead was very short lived as Stapleford tried to make amends for losing his lead by making a speculative move down the inside going into the last corner, making contact with Browe which pushed them both out wide and leaving an open door for Moller to cruise past and no doubt bemused at having such luck.
With Stapleford despatched, Muller and Browe pulled out a six second lead going into the last 15 minutes of the race, although Stapleford was doing a good job of frustrating the pursuing Haley for the final podium position. Somewhat unassumingly, Suzuka race winner Karol Sipavicius had worked his way up to fifth and was testing the defending skills of Haley, while Charlie Crossland’s fightback continued and the Fordzilla driver found himself in 8th place and right on the tail of Reegan Mitchell’s Maserati.
As Moller continued to lead the pace out front and hold off Aiden Browe who was doing everything he could to claim victory, Sipavicius took claim for the podium having made it into third place, while Crossland had moved up into 6th and joined the back of a train which included Haley and Jeal. Aaron Walker, looking to make amends for a difficult race at Suzuka was sitting in 11th having made up an impressive 22 positions and was looking to get past de Baar to get both KTM’s into the top 10.
Battles continued to rage, with Crossland seemingly attached to the bumper of Haley who was defending with all his might from the fast-paced Mercedes while Moller began to get some breathing space from Browe, extending his lead to to just over a second. Aaron Walker was developing an interesting battle for 10th with Adam Isailovic and the battle for fifteenth, and with it Pole for the next round, began to hot up as the race heading towards its conclusion.
With Ranji Kalsi holding fifteenth position, a failed effort to overtake Tim Fullbrook down the inside of the final corner for 14th ended badly for both Porsche’s as Richard Pixsley took advantage to move into the coveted fifteenth. It got worse for Kalsi as he lost another place to the advancing Gavin Uttley in the BMW as he found himself fall out of contention for the Silverstone Pole position. Credit must go to Ranjiv however, as he did give sportingly give Fullbrook the position back following the incident which is something that we appreciate here at Simsport Racing.
As the race entered it’s final five minutes, the key battle on track was now between Crossland and Sipavicius for third place and was a repeat of the enthralling dual for the win at Suzuka just one week previous. Unfortunately for Sipavicius, it was his turn to run out of luck this week as the advancing Crossland got too close to the fellow Porsche as they went through the Mercedes arena with the slightest of touches sending his rival spinning into the gravel. Stephen Haley took advantage, moving into third position, cementing a top drive by the reigning Champion.
With the clock counting down and most of the top ten settling into their positions, it was Moller who passed the chequered flag for a brilliant and well deserved victory. Aiden Browe brought his car home in second, while in the battle for third, Crossland was involved in a second drag race to the line in as many races, just pipping the combatant Haley into third position, although Haley would later regain his place on the podium following a post-race penalty for Crossland.
Throughout the field there were solid drives by Jeal and Reegan Mitchell, as the unfortunate Sipavicius had to settle for seventh. de Baar did a great job to come home in eighth as Aaron Walker just failed in his bid to reach the top 10, eventually settling for eleventh. Mike Haffenden crossed the line in fifteenth and will be leading the way at Silverstone next week as this fascinating GT4 season continues.
With three different winners so far in the opening three races, a number of different drivers battling it out for honours at the front and an eye-catching rivalry growing between Crossland and Sipavicius, you certainly won’t want to miss any of the action at Silverstone!
So don’t forget to come along and get involved by joining us on our Youtube channel for our live stream of the race with our usual commentary. We look forward to seeing you there as we enjoy some more close-knit, all-action GT4 racing.