The start of the month has been busy for TORA as they kicked off both the TEC and British GT E-Sports championships. Meanwhile, the ASCC season still continues.
The ASCC field firstly went down south to Austin’s state-of-the-art COTA raceway. Here, the very technical track would keep every entrant on their toes. The track is also unforgiving, with deceptive rumble strips that can punish millimetre-imperfect lines.
Going in, HCR Noodle was the man to beat in his Lola, having such an advantage in the corners that the other cars cannot match or equalise when it came to straight line speed. Oddly enough, the Oreca seemed to be very inconsistent here, with the HCR Scuderia squad a lot further down the pecking order. The XRS fleet of Corvette DPs were also up there.
Qualifying in the top class didn’t throw many surprises. HCR Noodle took pole with a 1:53.1, with no one else in the same second bracket. XRS Kaiser Wolf was closest with a 1:54.0 at the head of a line of three XRS Vettes, HCR Hamish went off fifth but splitting him and HCR Motorhead was Iceman in the Griptek team’s Riley. GT saw the usual triumvirate, with eSports+CARS’ Amarth and Harmonic locking out the front row with Wippermann Racing’s NVirus999 third. Davin M8 would start a solid fourth.
As the race began, a barrage of DPs chased after Noodle’s Lola into turn 1 but the XRS drivers managed to trip each other up, allowing the HCR Scuderia pair to sneak through. Motorhead got the jump on Hamish as the latter was roughed a bit by an unsettled XRS car. All of this allowed Noodle to survive the opening few laps with no pressure from behind and force an early advantage
Motorhead couldn’t keep up and his team mate was faster in the early stage. As Hamish passed, Motorhead was then mugged by the XRS armada. Then, he was second best in contact with an XRS car in the first sector. This relegated him back to seventh almost immediately after a short spell in second. Shortly after that, he was forced to retire with a problem. Weirdly, Jack Coffey in the Ford GTLM retired at exactly the same spot a lap later.
HCR Noodle kept adding small increments to an advantage that not even the talent of XRS Kaiser Wolf could do anything about and Noodle took a comfortable win. HCR Hamish was looking good in third but a rare mistake let XRS Maki through at the end. XRS Forza Jose had an uncharacteristic day as Griptek’s Iceman beat him for fifth on the road in a strong performance for him nonetheless.
In GT, it was almost metronomic out front until a persisting problem in the pit lane for CAR Harmonic’s side of the garage ultimately made it insurmountable to pass NVirus999’s Ferrari. The Ferrari had enough legs on the straight to keep Harmonic at bay and CAR Amarth would take his second win of the campaign after starting out front and keeping it there. But could he complete a hat-trick at Watkins Glen?
ASCC went up north to Watkins Glen, with many of the field keeping a busy schedule after jetting across the pond for both the British GT and TEC events.
This time around, the Oreca was the car to be in and HCR Scuderia were huge odds-on favourites to win this one. Although the addition of Raceboy77 and AMS Roadrunner might have changed the odds a bit before the race.
In qualifying, the HCR Scuderia did indeed show why they were favourites, with HCR Motorhead’s first pole of the season on a 1:32.6, teammate HCR Hamish secured a front row lockout with a 1:32.8 and F4H Diablo in the Red Sonja Ford Riley was next best with a 1:33.6. Fourth was PROD Reaper and Dr Chair PHD would start fifth, both in Oreca machinery. Raceboy77 in a Lola would start just sixth. AMS Roadrunner was only eighth fastest and didn’t feature in the top split.
In GT, CAR Harmonic would take another pole position, edging out eSports+CARS teammate Amarth and leading him two to one in poles this season. Wippermann Racing’s NVirus999 would start third again, and Dr BeckX would start a solid fourth.
Such is the stark difference in the cars, grid position even on a rolling start didn’t help any of the Orecas, as F4H Diablo’s Ford Riley surged to the lead with better acceleration. But he had a herculean task ahead to stay in front. HCR Motorhead dropped to third as HCR Hamish had a go at passing Diablo. Early on, Motorhead had to cover off a fast starting V12 Forza Jose (formerly XRS) in the Corvette DP. Then he moved forward again carrying momentum in the middle sector to not only pass Hamish but challenge Diablo again. In the end, the move for the lead was sealed on the downhill run to the boot section after an exchange of elbows and paint.
Hamish had poor luck after only minor contact forced him off but that was the start of what would be an eventful but ultimately disappointing afternoon where he easily had pace for second place but couldn’t use it. Also, the Oreca machinery seemed to be worse on fuel than all the other cars, so Hamish ended up doing one more stop than those around him. Also, forced to stop an extra time was Dr Chair PHD in the same machinery. The other Oreca of PROD Reaper was a halfway retirement, the Puerto Rican outfit seemingly not having much luck in the first half of the campaign. F4H Diablo was involved in an incident that meant he had to pit to change the front bodywork. This put him to third behind V12 Forza Jose briefly but he had enough pace to catch, pass and pull away.
Another mid-race casualty was Raceboy77 in the Lola, with quite a hefty shunt at the ultra-fast bus stop complex. GT pole sitter CAR Harmonic witnessed it, saying “It happened right in front of me, his car snapped loose at the bus stop and he was just a passenger going into the wall.” Amazingly, he was able to recover to the pits and managed to stay on the lead lap, albeit with leader Motorhead hunting him rather than the other way around.
HCR Motorhead controlled the second half of the race and had enough fuel to just make it to the line for what was in the end a comfortable victory. F4H Diablo came home second ahead of V12 Forza Jose. HCR Hamish tried to conserve fuel but he wasn’t able to, instead losing more ground and he was closer to the clutches of Raceboy at the end, although he managed to pull away with a natural pace advantage and secure fourth. Raceboy77 came fifth despite the nasty accident, spared from going a lap down by the clock. Dr Chair PHD’s Reddit Oreca was sixth.
HCR Motorhead told reporters, “I’m glad I finally got one. We had the pace overall but you still have to go out there and do it and you know there’s a million things that can happen. We knew Diablo would get the jump on us at the start so we did what we could. It sucked that Hamish had a rough time in the pack; he’ll come back at Indy.”
Even if it wasn’t the one-two they hoped for, the result puts HCR Scuderia back at the top of the Prototype Teams championship. It was also Hamish’s third fourth place in a row but he might look back at Watkins Glen as a missed opportunity and a lot of bad luck. The XRS team lost their lead in the teams’ standings after a poor points haul, XRS Maki a retirement in a lower split.
In GT, CAR Amarth’s hopes of a GT hat-trick were under threat as not only his teammate in front held out at the start, but Dr BeckX in the Reddit Huracan also got in front in the first sector using superior straight line speed. But the eSports+CARS ace found a way back round and was following his teammate up front.
Overtaking was difficult as the fast-flowing nature of the track obligated most GT cars to one single optimum line, making it hard for the faster class at times. Sure enough, a couple of mistimed passes affected the GT lead, and CAR Amarth took advantage of this to get in front. CAR Harmonic was audibly annoyed, venting frustrations on the radio.
The top three remained unaltered after this, NVirus999 was a safe third and Dr BeckX opted to run longer into his stints. NVirus999’s teammate GTR K4mi stayed on fresher rubber for longer and used this to his advantage at the end to gain fourth, which is where he would finish.
CAR Amarth grabbed his hat-trick in the ASCC ahead of CAR Harmonic, who couldn’t convert another pole. However, this means that the eSports+CARS team have a huge points lead, only dropping eight points from the maximum possible after Harmonic’s third at COTA. Wippermann Racing got a decent points haul after NVirus999’s and GTR K4mi’s third and fourth respectively gives them a very healthy margin over the rest of the field.