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FSR Driver Warren Pickering crowned champion In the 5th running of the Australian AllStar Shootout. 

FSR Drivers Blake Neck and Warren Pickering represented Fusion SimRacing in the AllStar invitational event which pitted 20 drivers from 10 of the best Australian sim racing teams against one another in an elimination style showdown format of hosted races in the iRacing service. 

The 5th ever running of this milestone event saw the return to the Zandvoort Club circuit in the Netherlands where drivers from across Australia. simply equipped with the Riley Daytona Prototype machine in the fixed default setup, would compete on a level playing field for two highly coveted titles, Teams Champions and Drivers Champion. 

The no-frills, door to door racing style event has become a hallmark of the Australian sim racing landscape. With a simple, rubbings-racing (but don’t wreck anyone) set of rules, and a play-to-the-ref mandate the night of racing was close, exciting and unforgiving. 

It was a tough start to the night for Pickering who drew tough components and rear of grid placements early and only had one point to show for his efforts after the first two rounds. Neck on the other hand had amassed 6 after two second places, slightly unlucky to have used his secret, one-off double points selection in his first heat where finishing second netted him two bonus points out of a possible four. Two more second places and a race win saw the hard charging Neck progress to the semi finals. Pickering also made it through to the semis with three on-track wins, although he was relegated to second on points following contact in the final round of heats. Pickering fortunate to capitalise his double points during his win in round 3. 

The end of the heats saw the FSR boys finish third behind teams champions Synergy Sim Racing and runners-up Phoenix Sim Sports. FSR unlucky that Pickering’s points penalty from the final heat, the difference between FSR winning the teams AND drivers points titles.        

Pickering and Neck found themselves alongside each other, on the much-less preferred second row in the elimination semi final. Never ideal to have teammates lineup alongside, the drivers agreed that it would be no-lift hard racing as usual between the pair, despite the likelihood that contact would draw the ire of team bosses. The drivers looked set to come home 3rd and 4th, and eliminated from the event when at the second last corner the pair battling for the lead made contact and slowed up enough to let Pickering squeeze through for the dramatic race win in what was the Bradbury moment of the night. The semi final was the last event for Neck who despite finishing strongly well inside the top eight, was left wondering what might have been had he drawn a more favourable starting gate. 

After almost 4 hours of racing, it all came down to the final where bragging rights would be earnt in just 3 short laps. With four of the stars of Australian sim racing side by side - Pickering, Fawzan El Nabi, Scott Newton and Emily Jones, the final was never going to be dull.  Starting alongside the formidable El Nabi, Pickering had the best start of his night and held the lead into the first turn. The pack of three hard chargers behind were separated by inches when they all simultaneously took to the joker loop at the first opportunity, much to the relief of Pickering. The next two laps saw enough jostling for the prime spot between the three to allow Pickering to pull a gap out front in clear air. On completion of his joker loop on the final lap, Pickering had built enough of a buffer to comfortably rejoin and remain in the lead and would come home first and take out the AllStar Shootout 5!  An incredible end to an exciting night of racing, and one Pickering, Neck and the FSR team will not forget for many years to come.




Round 3 of the OSR - VRS / CPR V8 Development Series saw Trent Thomas returning to the V8 after a successful hit out last week.  Sebring International Raceway is a favourite track for the Fusion SimRacing driver and he was looking forward to the 18 lap race in his Amazon Web Services Ford Falcon FG V8.

Thomas managed another front row start, but this time around missed out on pole by 2 tenths of a second.  Once again an absolutely appalling start off the line, although better than last week, saw Thomas quickly slip back to 4th briefly before turn 1.  Holding tough around the outside of turn 1 and then again through turns 2 and 3 would see Thomas in 3rd place. A mistake from the driver ahead into the turn 7 hairpin allowed Thomas to sneak up the inside as both drivers raced side by side to turn the right hander of turn 10.  Thomas had a huge moment at Tower corner (turn 13) but managed to correct the slide and continue with time loss only.

Thomas quickly caught the leader and was within 1 second at the end of the first lap.  The famous phrase, “Catching is one thing, but passing is another.” never rang more true for Thomas as he battled to pass the car ahead.  A huge moment on lap 3 into the turn 7 hairpin had Thomas touching cloth when his car flicked sideways late in the braking phase. A huge save and the racing room given from the driver he was attempting to pass meant little time was lost and the battle continued.  After 6 solid laps and a small mistake from the car ahead, Thomas managed to pull along side down Ullman straight at the back of the circuit and held side by side through the final turn of Sunset Bend and up the front straight. The pass finally done Thomas tried to concentrate on keeping a smooth and consistent pace.  

Thomas pitted at the end of lap 8 to cover off the undercut from the car behind who pitted the lap before, and a quality inlap and outlap saw Thomas gain a 3 second advantage during the pitstop phase.  By Lap 12 the pitstops had cycled Thomas back to the lead and the gap had now grown to almost 7 seconds to the car behind.

Thomas eased off a little in the last 2 laps not wanting to push to hard and make a mistake which would cost a result.  The win eventually came and Thomas crossed the line 12 seconds ahead of 2nd place. The next round will be held at Snetterton Circuit, a challenging and skinny circuit in the UK where qualifying may prove key as passing will be difficult.

A special mention must be given to FSR team mate Warren Pickering, who was unable to attend this round, as he was competing in the AllStar Shootout 5.  Pickering took on a field of 20 top drivers from the Aus/NZ region and came home with victory in the final.

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.

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