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Sunday night was the final round of season 2 for the CM Security AMF Development GT3 series.  With the overall and Pro class title already wrapped up last week by Fusion SimRacing driver Trent Thomas, it was still all to play for in the Amateur and Rookie classes as the drivers set out to take on the mother of all Aussie tracks: Mt Panorama, Bathurst.

Qualifying was a messy affair with drivers jostling for track position. Race stewards took to the air waves to calm down the shenanigans of some drivers.  It was an unusual scene for the series as qualifying is normally a much more relaxed and gentlemanly affair.

After the dust had settled and the clock hit zero, it was FSR driver Craig Edwards who set the fastest time to claim pole position.  Thomas was the next FSR driver and he would be starting from 4th place on the grid.  Andrew Gaines, fighting for the Am crown, struggled through internet issues to claim 6th spot, Alexander Bird and Scott Stephens would start from 8th and 9th respectively.  In 12th place was Joshua Burdon, and Warren Pickering who was uncharacteristically further back starting from 29th position.  The final 2 team drivers to take the grid were Matthew Barron in 38th and Brock Cremer in 40th.  A total of 9 FSR drivers were taking on the mountain in the massive 57 car field.

A perfect start for Edwards up front who headed into turn 1 unchallenged with a good 2 car length gap to 2nd place.  6 of the top 10 cars after turn 1 were FSR cars. The inevitable happened on lap 1 into the cutting when a car spun and blocked the track bringing out the Safety Car.  Cremer a big loser and innocent bystander in the incident, falling all the way back to 54th position. The Safety Car was only out for 1 lap, Edwards taking control the field on the restart.  

Cremer made light work of the field working his way forward to 37th by lap 5, a gain of 17 places in 4 laps.  Barron went the opposite direction after making huge ground in the opening laps and had to pit for repairs after car contact on lap 4.  Another incident a few laps later required use of his second and final fast repair and sealed his fate as his race ended over the top of the mountain on lap 14 with a huge incident into the concrete wall, the car deemed unrepairable.  Pickering also made big moves after the restart and was in 12th place by lap 7, jovially commenting post race, “Can’t quali, Can race!!.” Luck appeared to lend a helping hand to Pickering, missing several spinning cars by mere millimeters during his charge forward.

Stephens settled comfortably into a race rhythm with Burdon right behind.  An unfortunate mistake on lap 7 at the cutting, after a massive understeer moment, allowed Burdon through on his team mate.  Stephens became caught up with lapped traffic a lap later resulting in contact to the right side of his car and damaging the steering.  Losing time but managing to hold those behind him at bay, Stephens struggled on for 2 more laps before deciding to pit for repairs and fuel up to the finish.  Burdon continued a solid run sitting in 6th place for a majority of the mid part of the race.

Bird made a few positions on the start with a heart in mouth moment coming into turn 1 and having to take the grass on the inside going 3 wide.  No contact was made and all cars gave racing room and continued to battle up mountain straight. Lap 7 is where things took a bad turn when Bird was clipped from behind into the elbow and spun.   Cars continued to stream into the corner at pace until the inevitable crunch happened. The extra contact helped Bird straighten the car but the damage had been done and had to pit for repairs.

Thomas had a solid start but was boxed in and could not make any ground.  Stuck behind 3rd place, Thomas was finally able to get the move done into the chase on lap 6 but the gap to the Edwards in the lead had blown out to 5 seconds.  It was a night of what could have been for Am class leader Gaines. He only had to finish the race in order to score points and take the title, but the internet dramas that dogged his qualifying also struck during the race.  On lap 2 under the Safety Car Gaines dropped from the server. After multiple attempts to rejoin the race, he was unable to do so and finished unclassified completing only 3 laps.

Thomas continued his hunt of the 2 leaders slowly getting the gap down to just over 3 seconds before his pitstop on lap 15, traffic playing it’s part on the top 3 cars.  Edwards pitted on the same lap and after the stops, the gap was now down to under 2 seconds. The time gained on pit lane proved pivotal for the battle at the front as it got Thomas close enough to capitalise on a mistake by 2nd place at the cutting.  

The ensuing battle for 2nd place gave Edwards the breathing room he needed for a clear run to the flag and was never seriously challenged for the win.  A faultless run for Edwards claiming pole position, fastest race lap and the race win leading all but 1 lap. Thomas narrowly held onto 2nd place, moving up 2 spots from his starting position.  The top 3 cars separated by just 2 seconds.

Burdon brought home a strong 4th place, 20 seconds back from the leaders.  Stephens recovered to 7th place with solid pace after his pitstop but ran out of laps to catch the 2 cars just ahead.  Pickering completed his most fun race of the year in 10th place after starting in 29th. An impressive jump of 19 places.  Bird, having dropped back to 28th after his earlier incident, managed to bring home 13th place. Cremer was no doubt the biggest mover and shaker of the race after starting 40th and dropping all the way back to 54th at the end of lap 1.  Bringing the car home in 21st place is a massive achievement, effectively gaining 33 places.

9 drivers started.  7 drivers finished. 7 drivers in the top 21.

As this was the final round the class champions have been crowned.  Thomas taking the Pro and overall title with 7 wins from 9 races. Pickering takes 3rd place in the Pro standings.  Sheer bad luck saw the Am title slip through the hands of Gaines but still held on for 2nd place in Am class and 4th place overall.

Pro Class

Am Class

Overall Rankings

Two Fusion SimRacing drivers have decided to sweep out the cobwebs from their V8 rides and compete in Season 21 of the OSR - VRS / CPR V8 Development Series. Our drivers missed the first round of this fixed setup series so Round 2 at Watkins Glen was their first hit out. Not expecting any level of success upon joining the series, Trent Thomas and Warren Pickering were quite surprised when Thomas took pole and Pickering completed the front row ahead of 90+ cars.

Practice starts in the pitlane proved to no avail for Thomas who quickly slipped backwards at the start with nothing but wheel spin. Pickering got a great launch and was comfortably leading into turn 1.

Thomas struggled with the brakes early on and almost crashed into the inner loop on lap 2. The following lap at the same corner Thomas was pushed wide by an over opportunistic pass by an over committed driver. Thomas opened the steering to avoid contact but the passing driver over shot the entry pushing Thomas onto the grass and thereby receiving a slow down penalty which saw him drop to position 6. The other driver would receive a post race penalty for the incident.

Pickering had settled into a steady lead and was slowly building a gap between himself and 2nd place. The opening laps were filled with incidents for Thomas. Lap 4 saw the inevitable “Big One” at Watkins Glen narrowly avoided by Thomas who’s experience at this track alerted him of a car that ran wide at turn 1 wanting to come back on track. Thomas move hard right while the car ahead did not and contact occured. This then triggered a massive chain reaction crash that took out half the field.

By the half way point of the 30 lap race, Pickering had a 7.5 second lead back to 2nd place. Thomas had managed to catch up to the battle pack of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th thanks to lapped traffic and chose to pit at the end of lap 15 to try the undercut. The strategy worked and Thomas was able to get ahead of the car that was running 2nd.

At lap 20 the pit stops of the front runners had been completed and FSR were now running 1st and 2nd on track. Pickering was still running excellent pace lapping a tenth or 2 faster than Thomas. Consistent pace of the 2 drivers saw them stretch the lead to 3rd place and Pickering took the win 5 second ahead of Thomas and 10 seconds ahead of 3rd place.

A happy and unexpected result for the team on return to the V8. 1-2 in qualifying which translated to a 1-2 in the race. Next week we race at Sebring International Raceway. A bumpy concrete canvas which will prove testing for all drivers.

Three Fusion SimRacing drivers took part in round 3 at Silverstone of the GT-Leagues Australia run Oceanic Sprint Championship broadcast by V8sonline. One word would describe qualifying for drivers Craig Edwards and Blake Neck in their Amazon Web Services Audi GT3’s, “Dominating”. Edwards with a 1:42.509 time, 5 tenths clear of 3rd place and Neck’s 1:42.623 some 4 tenths clear. Trent Thomas was the third driver, struggling through brake pedal issues and coming to terms with the track, managed to qualify 9th with a time of 1:43.533 in his Amazon Web Services Mercedes.

Edwards got the jump at the start and managed to clear Neck easily before Copse. Neck was pressured by 3rd place but held the outside line and was easily ahead before coming into Maggots. Thomas made a solid start and was able to avoid a strong attack from behind with enough room on the outside to avoid contact from the attacking car on the inside. Edwards and Neck continued to stretch their lead until misfortune struck Neck on the entry to Priory when the rear end stepped out and he spun. Although able to get manage a quick recovery, the damage had been done and he slipped back to 16th place.

Lap 2 did not start much better when Neck had to avoid an accident in Chapel and again found the grass and spun. Neck rejoined the track in 25th position and his race would be focused on solid a recovery drive. Thomas, meanwhile, was in a battle for 8th position and managed to fend off a solid move with some side by side racing through Stowe and held onto the spot with a defensive line into Vale. By the end of lap 2, Edwards had created a 2 second lead, which extended to 3 seconds at the end of the next lap as the 2nd place car pulled over and retired.

At the end of lap 5, Thomas had a slight slide exiting Luffield and lost a position but managed to stick with the car that got by him. Neck chose to pit early after 7 laps to complete the required fuel stop to make it to the checkered flag. Thomas started to lose about a tenth of a second per lap to the car ahead and decided to pit after 15 laps. Edwards continued to build his lead out to almost 8 second before pitting after completing 21 laps. A slight moment in the pit lane avoiding an unsafely released car did cost Edwards some time.

Edwards cruised home for victory after 26 laps with a margin just under 7 seconds. Pole, fastest lap and victory for the AWS Audi GT3. Thomas almost compromised his 7th place with his early stop by coming out in traffic but managed to hold off a fast charging challenger in the final laps. Neck had managed to fight back for a solid 10th place finish after falling back to as low as 28th place after his pit stop.

4 different manufacturers filled the top 4 places, going some way in proving that iRacing’s latest BoP updates to the GT3 field has been quite successful in creating closer competition between the cars. A mixed bag of results for the Fusion SimRacing drivers but overall a very successful event. Round 4 of OSC will be held in a fortnight’s time and Donington Park Racing Circuit.

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