This was it. Five fast, furious and exciting races in the previous five weeks of the Simsport Racing GT4 Championship Season 3 all now amount to just one thing – the championship decider.
And what a Championship it has been. The five races so far had taken in some of the best and most challenging circuits in the World, whilst five different winners from those previous five rounds just underline the depth of talent and competitiveness in a strong field of drivers who we have enjoyed watching across a thoroughly entertaining season.
Brands Hatch is certainly a fitting circuit to host such a finale. It’s one of the premier British circuits, one most drivers know and enjoy and importantly it poses challenges not so often asked on newer, modern circuits in that a simple mistake can be heavily punished. With no, or at least very little run-off areas, a trip off the circuit often means a trip into the gravel or the grass and in a 45 minute race, that could very easily be the difference between seeing a Championship charge fall at the wayside. It’s also a circuit which doesn’t promote easy overtaking, so drivers would certainly have to be at their best in order to make it through the field.
The final starting grid for this finale had Dave Hedges’ Maserati starting on Pole, ahead of Jeffrey Wolff and Adam Isailovic, who would have fancied his chances of a result starting so high up the field.
As for the Championship contenders, all three – Haley, Sipavicius and Browe – all lined up together in 13th, 14th and 15th, with fireworks almost guaranteed as all three look to take advantage and make it through the field and to the front ahead of their rivals. With previous race winners in Vidago and Moller just ahead however, it was a task that would by no means be easy.
With Dave Hedges leading the pack round on the formation lap of the 2.4 mile circuit, it was Hedges who made a good start when the lights went green, staying ahead of Wolff who was looking to challenge the yellow Maserati only to run wide and lose out to both Isailovic and the fast starting Reegan Mitchell. As for the Championship battle, it was Sipavicius who had put himself in the driving seat having crossed the line after Lap 1 in 10th position. Rivals Browe and Haley could only manage 12th and 14th, but with it being so early in the race, anything could happen.
And for Aiden Browe, his Championship battle would quickly be over. With title rival Sipavicius running wide on the exit of Druids, the two touched as Browe looked for the gap to move ahead of his rival, only to come off worse and spin into the barriers, thus leaving the stranded and damaged Audi at the back of the field and with all to do. For Sipavicius, still sitting in tenth, Stephen Haley only 13th and a fellow rival almost certainly eliminated, things were starting to look good.
By the fifteen minute mark, leader Dave Hedges had slipped down to fourth, whilst Zentalis, Moller and Vidago all rounded out the top three and all had an eye on the win. Sipavicius had made light of the cars ahead to sit in fifth, whilst Stephen Haley’s steady progression continued and was running in 9th, knowing a mistake or error by Sipavicius could open the door for him with half an hour still left of the race. As for Aiden Browe, he was doing a sterling and admirable job to try and get back in with a chance, having dragged his stricken Audi from the very back onto the cusp of the top 20. Charlie Crossland had also made short work of his opposition, sitting in 7th place having began the race in 35th following his previous race ban and another who would have been fancying his chances of the victory.
The battles continued throughout the field, with Dave Hedges showing his defensive prowess to hold off the challenge of Sipavicius for fourth only to eventually just lose out, as Crossland moved onto the back of the battling duo. Crossland was certainly trying to put the cat amongst the pigeons, using his additional pace to move past Hedges and then past Sipavicius who once again fell behind Hedges. Was the pressure starting to show?
With just fifteen minutes left on the clock, things had actually began to settle through the field. Zentalis and Moller were still dicing it out for the lead, regularly swapping positions, whilst Vidago and Crossland were right behind the battling pair as a four way battle for the win began to develop. Sipavicius was sitting in fifth and almost ten seconds clear of Title rival Haley who was running in eighth but with team mate Aaron Walker sitting just behind and acting as a rear gunner. Aiden Browe meanwhile had continued his fightback in stunning fashion and had worked his way to into 13th, still with all to do, but with an outside title shot still his driving force with a third of the race still to run.
As the race entered the final 10 minutes, the championship permeations began to ebb and flow and at one stage Sipavicius and Haley were both level on points as the result stood. The pressure moved to Sipavicius as Haley made his way past Adam Isailovic’s Mercedes into seventh, giving the KTM driver and reigning champion, a slender lead in the standings. And with that, the drama and suspense continued as a clash between Zentalis and Moller opened the door for Vidago to take the lead and Sipavicius to move into second, with the pendulum once again swinging in the favour of the 101 Porsche.
As Keiron Vidago crossed the line just ahead of Sipavicius to once again take another fantastic race win, Haley fought with all his might to get back into contention but eventually finished in fifth as the guys in the commentary box frantically tried to work out the points to see who would be crowned Simsport Racing GT4 Season 3 Champion. Unfortunately for Aiden Browe, who had done a fantastic job to battle back to eleventh place, his title battle was over. Jannik Moller came home in third to round out the podium, while there were great drives from Crossland and Aaron Walker. It’s also fair to make a special mention to Myles Dixon, Ranjiv Kalsi, Mark Raddenbury and Cameron Fyfe who all did a great job with some good personal results.
As for the all important Championship standings, with just four points in it, congratulations were in order to Karolis Sipavicius who took the crown and was very well deserved after a consistent and impressive season. Runner up Stephen Haley did a fantastic job in the unfancied KTM, but he will certainly be looking at regaining his title in Season 5.
As unfancied as the KTM was, it was Congratulations to Haley and Aaron Walker as they took the team Championship ahead of the Porsche’s of 1001 Racing, with the Mercedes of Apex Motorsport just pipping the Investigation Team Maserati’s into third place.
It has certainly been a fantastic season that has had it all – close racing, epic battles and all the twists and turns of a Title battle that went right down to the very wire. Simsport Racing would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the drivers involved for taking part, the fantastic commentary team of Alex Goldschmidt and Steve Proudly and last but not least, a massive thank you to all the viewers who have watched and interacted with the stream this season. Our community is continuing to grow and reach new heights and your interaction and involvement means such alot to us and makes it all worthwhile.
We hope 2021 will be a fantastic year for everybody and for our community. With a new GT4 season starting in January, we cannot wait for more Wednesday night action and we hope you can continue to join us.
Once again, massive Congratulations to Karolis Sipavicius – Simsport Racing GT4 Championship Season 3 Champion!