Next race we go to is in Belgium. Legendary Spa has provided some amazing racing every season, and don’t expect anything else this time either. Ballast provided us amazing race last weekend, and it is more spread out. Top speed will be critical, but as seen last season, cornering speed can be bigger factor.
Lexus got their 10th win last weekend as NWR_Spookyluki took dominant flag to flag win, his 5th win. It was total opposite for NWR_Bottlejob, who was coming from 2nd place in Round 1, struggled in Sardegna. He kept it clean though and got solid 4th place in the end. Lexus has not great history in Spa, past 4 races in Belgium their best result is 4th place, from last season. NWR_Spookyluki might struggle again due success ballast he earned from his win, and there is some doubts he can even take the start. If that is the case, it will all be on NWR_Bottlejob to get points. His ballast is not as bad, but he does not sound optimistic for great result: ‘’On one hand I have the ballast advantage, not being one of the heaviest cars but on the other hand I have a terrible track record at Spa, both in GT-MES last season and in other championships so overall I think a podium should be on the cards but I can't be too certain’’.
Honda got back on track in Round 2, as sota59 got second place. It was not easy though, he started only 4th due accident late in qualifying and he was struggling on first stint. After that he got groove on and made his way to 3rd and then 2nd place late in the race: ‘’Qualifying made it really tough for me but I have to say, second place might been best there was in offer’’. sota59 has raced in Spa 5 times and been in top 2 every time, including win last season. With ballast not being problem for him, he is one to watch again: ‘’Goal is to be on podium, top 2 hopefully again. Win would be welcome, but this is tough field of drivers’’. It is looking like jonimestari91 will miss 3rd race in a row due technical issues and rumor is, replacement driver will be confirmed in couple days…..
Nissan was 3rd best in Gr2 in Sardegna, but Round 1 winner and reigning champ TSR_JoeToGuy got third place and good points. He qualified 3rd and ran behind his teammate TSR_Tomsoft first few laps. Traffic proved to be issue for pair, and during all that TSR_JoeToGuy jumped to second place. TSR_Tomsoft eventually dropped down to 4th after first round of pitstops and later in the race he had accident with Gr3’s and dropped 5th place. TSR_JoeToGuy was doing well holding on to second place with heavy car, but eventually was overtaken and settled for 3rd place. He has now good championship lead but lot of ballast, and despite doing well in Spa with heavy car last season, expect hard race: ‘’I think I may end up 4th at Spa, but I have to target a podium. I think Tomsoft will be fighting for the win with Bottle and Sota, and Luki around me with his ballast’’. His teammate TSR_Tomsoft won in Spa last season in Gr3, and he has one of the lightest cars. But his accident in Sardegna earned him penalty, and he will start 5th place. Overtaking should be quite easy though and he needs to make his way quickly past slower cars to fight for his first Gr2-win: ‘’ Will be interesting to see how I'll perform at Spa with Gr2s, as I'm absolutely not used to them there. Obviously not wanting to crash into someone again, but the track seems better for lapping cars in comparison to Sardegna’’.
Toyota-camp was happy with 4th place in Round 1, and then de-luck4 made it splash in Sardegna. He took pole and then ran away with race win with consistant laps all race long. It his 3rd win, and he has been saying for weeks that he has found pace in that Supra. It is time to take him seriously. But his major issue last season was adjusting to heavier car and Spa. He now heads to Spa with heaviest car: ‘’ Everybody is fast here, but i know that some cars will have chalange with fuel. So i will try to stay close and use mistakes from cars in front’’. If he wants to be title contender, he needs consistency and podiums to add to his win, and in season that we cant expect anybody to dominate, de-luck4 could go long way. Supra should be one of the fastest cars in Spa, and it was last season, so look out for GTO250GTO. He struggled first 2 races, crashed in first lap in Sardegna, but he has light car and had solid pace last season, can he repeat that this season? ‘’ Car feels good around Spa, but compared to the times I heard the other guys are doing it's not particularly fast’’ – GTO250GTO said.
Biggest surprise in Sardegna was speed of BMW-drivers. thunderpigeon came to season with big expectations, he had good start to season in Nurburgring and then was setting great pace in Sardegna. He did not have ultimate speed to win the race, but he was not far off, qualifying 2nd and keeping it until the end. Gap to leader end of the race did not make his performance justice. His teammate doc-shipman was expected to struggle first half of the season after long break, but he was great in Round 2 already, finishing 4th after eventful race. On paper, Spa should again suit BMW, but after early testing thunderpigeon is not so sure: ‘’ I'm not feeling as confident as I did in preseason for spa. My pace doesn't appear to be there, and I think the car isn't best suited to this track. Hopefully a clean and consistent race will get me a good result. I'd be happy with top 5’’. doc-shipman goes in to race with lightest car and is hoping to have another great race: ‘’ Off the back of a strong performance last weekend and some promising consistency in practice I'm hoping for a similar result this weekend, although that might be optimistic!’’
Porsche had another solid race as y_bearr_ kept it clean and once again crossed line in 3rd place and with some nice points. It was not easy race but he kept nose clean. amuda54 was fighting for 7th place all race long, but was taken out late in the race. He was found breaking tire-rules after the race and his 8th place became DSQ. Spa has been good race for both drivers and Porsche. y_bearr_ took one of 3 Porsche wins in Spa in Season 12, and although win might be unrealistic with his ballast, expect to see good race from Indonesian: ‘’ I think Spa will be even more exciting than Sardegna. Rotary, Wesley and Swablu will looking for retaliation. Supra, Jaguar, subaru and Porsche will fight for podium’’. This has always been one of the strongest circuit for amuda, last season he was even leading one point before dropping to 4th. But he is not optimistic for great result, even with light car: ‘’ I haven’t been very happy with my setup for this track as I have in previous races, but I think I can challenge for a top 5. I am just hoping for a trouble free run and hopefully I’ll get some good points’’.
After great start to the season in Nurburgring, Subaru had race to forget in Sardegna. RLH_Wesley99 had technical problems and could not start the race, he was set for good race. That left RTA_SAFFA as only Subaru-driver and with ballast from his win in Round 1, he struggled. With error during pitstop, he finished 6th, promoted to 5th after penalties. Atleast he did not have technical issues like expected, but those same issues might happen this weekend. He can only hope for best and start the race, pace again does not look like it will be enough for fight in the top, so we look to the other Subaru. RLH_Wesley99 has no ballast, and with Subaru being winning car here last season, expectations are big: ''Hope I can get in the lobby this week and I have the feeling I can battle for the win''.
Jaguar was one of the hottest favorites coming to the season, but race in Sardegna was hard one. TRS_Swablu did not have pace to win, but looked like podium was in the cards, until crash. He finished 5th but was Disqualified after failing tire-rules. That meant that G4 Rotary, who finally was able to start the race, was only Jaguar to get classified finish, 6th. Going in to Spa, it seems certain that Jaguar will be one of the fastest if not fastest car. But issue seems to be, how long can they run with fuel? They are going to need great qualifying, and run away if they are going to struggle later in the stint. TSR_Swablu needs to get back to scoring good points after last race: ''Im quietly confident for this one, I think i have a shot at a podium as long as i race smart. I cant possibly do any worse than last weeks race so im excited to get some more points on the board''. G4 Rotary's pace in Jaguar has been disapointing, and even if he has never been luckiest in Spa, pace has always been there, often been fastest car, including last season: ''It's probably my best track so far and it suits the Jaguar quite well, I'm not going to win but I'm just going to have fun with it''.
We go to Red Bull Ring in Austria for Round 4. It will be critical race for many, as it is mathematicly last race you can earn ballast and drop it before Le Mans Finale.
Red Bull Ring has always had tight, unpredictable and fun races. it has 3 long straights, so top speed will be critical, but also couple slow tight corners. Ballast should really be in effect here and as circuit is short, traffic will also play major part.
Lexus has had excellent start to the season, and made history last weekend in Spa. As NWR_Spookyluki could not make the race, it was down to NWR_Bottlejob to carry some points to the team. There was some concerns as he had struggled in Spa in past, but he qualified second and then took lead in lap 1. British driver pushed hard on opening stint with supersofts to build some gap to the rest. Rest of the race his gap slowly got smaller and smaller as others were in softer tires now and they drove through some thick traffic. In the end, he did just enough to take his first ever GT-MES win: ‘’ I definitely got a podium although I was expecting it to be the bottom step, not the top one. Even through the race it probably wasn't until the final couple of laps that I thought I was going to win, the Gr3s played a massive part in making the Gr2 class unpredictable as I think all 4 of us saw large losses at some point getting stuck behind them through either Pouhon or Les Fagnes’’. It means Lexus wins back to back races for first time ever, and extend their championship lead. NWR_Spookyluki will miss another race, so NWR_Hatton93 will replace him for race this weekend. He holds record for most podiums without a win, and he has quite a good chance this weekend. No ballast for him and he was very fast last season in Red Bull Ring, just missing out on podium. NWR_Hatton93 comments on his return: ‘’ No expectations really, just happy to be back for a race and at a circuit i like, hope to get a decent result for the team as they lead the teams championship, no ballast so a podium should be possible’’. Coming off from race win, NWR_Bottlejob is now carrying lot of ballast. He was great here last season with Gr3, but that does not make his job any easier this weekend: ‘’ Realistically, tomorrow is about finishing and striking off the +3% ballast gained at Round 1. At RBR, I won't be able to drive around my ballast so anything other than last will be welcome’’. With NWR_Hatton93 possibly fighting for win, if NWR_Bottlejob can have big race and finish ahead of both Nissan’s, it would be huge for championship.
Nissan could not win in Spa, but had great result. TSR_JoeToGuy defeated the odds again, and took 2nd place in Spa with very heavy car, while TSR_Tomsoft took 3rd place. TSR_Tomsoft was bit lucky, due smaller field he started 4th due his penalty and quickly made his way to 3rd and then second. Eventually it was his teammate TSR_JoeToGuy as leading Nissan as they chased leader. They ran out of laps, but still good points for both drivers and the team. ‘’ Was pretty good and wasn't too much affected by my penalty. No major issues and performance was as I'd expected it. Gr3 were a bit of a problem but I can't really do anything against that’’ – TSR_Tomsoft. In very consistant and dominant championship winning season for TSR_JoeToGuy last season, Red Bull Ring was only circuit he missed podium. That was due ballast, and again he goes to Red Bull Ring with heaviest car. He still thinks podium might be possible, but main contender in Nissan should be TSR_Tomsoft that has lot lighter car, but he is not optimistic: ''I'm still struggling around working out the car here and there, so I just hope for a clean race and nothing further, podium would be a surprise, but Red Bull Ring is one of my weak tracks so I'll just enjoy the race and hope for good battles''.
Honda has had tricky start to the season. jonimestari91 had technical issues, and missed first 3 races of the season, leaving sota59 as only Honda. He had bad race in Nurburgring finishing 5th. Sardegna he made his way to 2nd place, and in Spa he took the pole, only to drop to 4th place. Good news for them is that there is finally 2 cars on field, as 4-time champion Nils return to Honda. After two seasons in Honda, he was expected to join Jaguar for second half of the season, but possibility to return to Honda came up. With Nils and sota59, Honda not only have their most successful drivers back together in Honda first time since Season 3, but also 2 most successful drivers in GT-MES in same team. They are 1-2 in most wins, most pole positions and most fastest laps, and also have combined 9 drivers titles between them, 7 in Honda. As Nils enters midseason, he does not have any ballast, so he should be fighting for win. He has never won in Red Bull Ring, but been close several times, and if he wants to still fight for title this season, he needs to start with bang. sota59 in other car should be fast too, he does not have that much ballast and was second last time we raced here. He also needs big result to keep title hopes alive: ‘’Realistically top 2 is not possible, but 3rd place is goal, and expectation. Need to get it done, won’t be easy though’’.
Toyota took surprising win in Sardegna, and then hit home run in Spa. GT250GTO took pole position and lead early laps, but then slipped back to group behind him. As epic fight in Gr3 fired up, de-luck4 went with alternative strategy and could drive in clean air. In the end Toyota’s speed was too much for others, and de-luck4 headed GTO250GTO home for Toyota 1-2, his second win in a row. With GTO250GTO taking point for fastest lap, it was perfect race. ‘’ I'm very pleased with the result. Pole, FL, Toyota 1-2. Almost perfect. If I had not lost focus a little bit towards the end of the first stint, I could have won. Key for the good result was the awesome setup work of de-luck, though’’- GTO250GTO. In race where almost every driver got penalties for track limits, stewards made controversial decision to change de-luck4’s time penalty for grid penalty for next race, keeping de-luck4 as Spa winner. With set to start behind big group of talented driver and now with +10% weight, it will be tough race for championship leader: ‘’ Balast starts to be a big chalange, specialy at track like this. Fact that i start last, takes all pressure away from me. Interesting where i can end at finish line’’. Supra should be fastest car in Red Bull Ring, so don’t rule out top 6 finish out for de-luck4, but all eyes will be on GTO250GTO. Last season’s poleman has bit of ballast compared to last season, but lot more experience. Last season he dropped down the field quickly, will be interesting if he can reserve that and fight for podium or even win.
Subaru had difficult race in Sardegna, but they made good improvement in Spa. They could not repeat win from last season, but RLH_Wesley99 got solid 3rd place, not far off the win. Main positive was that he could start the race, and secure some points. He also was on alternative strategy compered to others, and could avoid some traffic, key to his podium. His teammate RTA_SAFFA had quite opposite race, having to battle half the grid, on his way to 5th place. He dropped down to 6th due track limits issues: ''It was good race. Bad qualifying because I got blocked but it happens! Race was going well until I used the wrong tires in the wrong stint. Also got a 8 seconds penalty which hurt a lot''. RTA_SAFFA will miss Round 4, so it will be only RLH_Wesley99 carrying team. He got his first podium last weekend, but needs more big results to fight for his second title: ''Hope I can carry the pace from last week with me to this race in the Red Bull Ring. I still don't have much ballast so I think you should be able to fight for the top step of the podium again''.
Jaguar started season as one of the favorites to win both titles, but missed podium again in Spa. TSR_Swablu was fighting for lead all race long, but ended up finishing 4th. He got +5sec penalty too, but luckily drivers behind him got penalties also. G4 Rotary was struggling yet again, and ended up finishing 9th, 10th after penalties. TSR_Swablu now heads to Red Bull Ring with bit of pressure, he has not been on podium since Round 1, and if he wants to fight for titles, he needs podiums and wins. Jaguar should suit the circuit and ballast should not be issue: ''Not gonna get much practice which isnt great since i am needing some good results. Chance at a win if i find the time to practice and dial in a good setup''. Since Nils went to Honda, driver in the second car for rest of the season will be Houdini Myers from Portugal. He has couple races under him from Season 12, but he is coming in to new car middle of the season, it wont be easy. He is hoping to just have clean race and avoid finishing last.
Porsche missed podium, but it was not all bad. y_bearr_ could fight for podium with heavy car, eventually finishing 5th after penalties: ''It was a juicy one, I had a battle from first lap with pigeon and front runners. My pace was good ( think... because I didn't see my pace due to too busy dogfighting ). At the end I spun while battling with Saffa and Swablu. But overall it was good, battling hard but fair''. amuda54 did not have pace to fight for podium, but solid midfield laptimes, but track limit issues left him 8th after penalties. Round 4 should be bit better, not his best circuit in past, but Porsche works well there and he has light car compered to others: ''A top 5 would be good, my car seems to have pace this weekend. However I haven’t been feeling well so I’ll try my best but nothing is guaranteed''. y_bearr_ still has one of the heaviest cars, but says it is not as big issue as in past: ''I don't have enough practice this weekdays, but I hope I can find some speed this weekend. I had my last season weakness solved, so like I usually do...aim for podium for Red Bull Ring''.
BMW had tough race in Spa after amazing trip in Sardegna. doc-shipman ended 7th after all penalties and thunderpigeon was 9th. But doc-shipman said they still had great fun: ''Excluding a couple of mistakes early on I had a great time. Not my best result by far, but a really fun fight with G4 and TP, some team tactics and communication worked well and a decent pit strategy meant I had softs at the end when the others were on mediums. Had a great time''. His teammate thunderpigeon also said he enjoyed race, but frustrated by result: ''Bad performance from me. A failed move on ybear in the early stages put me on the back foot, letting amuda by. Then on my at the end of that stint, I out broke myself into the bus stop, as I was hoping to pit. I got reset and lost 3 positions on pit entry which set me back further and lost yet more time. I had the pace on those around me, but due to the speed of the Jag and the slipstream (and driver inability) I couldn't recover. But I enjoyed battling lots of drivers in the race, so still had a nice evening despite last on track''. thunderpigeon will miss Round 4, so it will be just doc-shipman running: ''I'm not great at RBR, but I'm hoping for a good battle like last week at Spa''.
First half of the season was interesting, some great racing, some very surprising results, some drama... and all 3 championships still look tight. But now is time when some drivers can pull away from others with big result, or some need to get big points to keep up.
This weekend we race in Interlagos, races always been quite interesting, and we should not expect anything less this time. Very popular circuit between drivers.
Honda faced must win race in Red Bull Ring, and finally took their first win of the season. No surprise to anyone, it was returning Nils who took pole and win in his first race of the season: ''The first few laps I had a lot of pressure from the cars behind, especially from Tom. I received a brilliant strategy from my Honda teammate, which really helped me. I had not too many close calls, only a few close situations when lapping cars - In the end I just tried to be patient because there was no need to go for any gap there is with 8sec advantage over 2nd place''. His teammate sota59 had less simple race, qualified 4th but made his way to 3rd for few laps, before being overtaken and dropping back to 4th just before pitstops. He ultimately came home 3rd, just behind 2nd place: ''Bit disapointed to just miss out on 2nd place, but i was probly lucky to even be fighting for such position looking back''. To stay in fight for titles, both drivers need to keep podiums coming, sota59 needs to win: ''Interlagos been pretty good for me always, but field is always tight here, i dont seem to have ultimate pace this weekend. Podium seems out of reach, let see''. Nils has now ballast for his win, but not more than others around him. Back to back wins might be hard, but atleast podium should be there, even though he does not sound so optimistic: ''I think it'll be a difficult race for me because of the ballast I earned from the last round. I don't know where my pace is compared to the others so all I hope is not to be last''.
Lexus is having its best season ever, and another 2nd place in Red Bull Ring increased their championship lead. It was subtite driver NWR_Hatton93 that could benefit from having no ballast, he dropped positions start of the race for couple mistakes, but made his way to 3rd and then 2nd after last stop. His teammate NWR_Bottlejob that is doing full season, struggled with ballast and only finished 6th. He is still 2nd in championship, but needs to get results in. His ballast is non-issue this weekend, and Lexus always been fast here: ''I think it'll be interesting to say the least. With everyone bar Tom on the same 5% ballast I think we'll be seeing a repeat of Round 1 however with Tom on the lighter ballast, I think I'll be looking to fight for the bottom step of the podium. It's fair to say I'm not a fan of Interlagos but that won't stop me from trying to get as many points as I can''.NWR_Spookyluki returns after 2 races off, his previous race he won, and he needs to keep podiums coming to fight for title. GT-MES last raced here in Season 12, and NWR_Spookyluki took unlikely win in Gr2, so expectations are high: ''Hoping I can carry a bit of my previous seasons success into this round, going to be a tough battle as almost everyone is equal on ballast. Always enjoyed Interlagos, and after a win on +7 ballast before, hopefully I can do something similar this season''. If Lexus wants to stay top of the standings, results need to keep coming in every weekend.
Nissan missed podium first time this weekend, TSR_Tomsoft was running high as 2nd, but faded out in final stint to 4th place. TSR_JoeToGuy was 5th again this season Red Bull Ring, first time he misses podium. We now have to see if he can be on podium all other races, like last season. He is still championship leader, and this is most equal ballast has been since Round 1, so he is looking for big result to extend his lead: ''Now that ballast is more even, I think I should be back on the podium this week. Hoping to get the win, as I haven't won at Interlagos in any series in forever''. His teammate TSR_Tomsoft has pair of 3rd places this season, but is 4th in standings, in need of big result. He has slightly less ballast than others, so pressure is on: ''Hopes are higher than last week to be fair, quali pace looks very good, just seems to be a dreadful track for the tyres. After 4 rounds I can say that the difference from Gr3 to Gr2 is definitely noticeable and it shows how experienced and good the other drivers are. I'm hoping for at least a podium and a win would be the dream''.
Jaguar and TSR_Swablu were favorites in Gr3 start of the season, but finally TSR_Swablu got his first win, Jaguar its first win. He took pole in Red Bull Ring, and this time lead from start to finish, keeping it calm and not pushing too much to avoid mistakes: ''For the most part the race went as expected, qualifying on pole with such a close grid definately played a big part in me being able to create a gap from the rest of the field in the opening laps. From about lap 6 i started to find a good rythm that carried over after the round of pitstops. Im also pleasantly surprised with how long my supersofts lasted compared to some others during my 2nd stint, which allowed me to cruise home to the victory on a set of mediums. Congrats the all the podium finishers and thank you to the gt mes admins for hosting another great round of racing''. His new teammate Houdini Myers had some rust, finishing 8th place after not driving for while. But now with some ballast help, and experience, he has some high hopes for Interlagos, hoping for podium, just needs to get it all right. TSR_Swablu is now in title hunt, so he is looking for another podium: ''Once again ive had limited practice due to exams all week but hopefully if i can get the car dialled in tonight there might be a chance to get on the podium''.
Toyota had another great race, as GTO250GTO took second place. He had good qualifying, but technical issues sent him back of the grid. Good pace, solid overtakes and great tactic got him fast back to second place, his second in a row: ''I could not quite get a lap together in quali, but in the end that did not matter. 2nd was probably the best I could have done anyway. Maybe I could have put a little pressure on Swablu with the right strategy, but I guess he had enough pace. So actually it was really nice I was able to get through almost the whole field and do it clean''. Championship leader de-luck4 had hard race with ballast, could manage 5th place after clean performance, and stays in the points lead. His ballast is not going to get any easier this weekend, so podium probly not coming, so he can just focus on keeping it clean: ''One of my favorite tracks. Here often chaos races happends, so avoiding accidents and tyre saving can give good result. Cars without balast will be strong here. My goal is to make clean race, without penalties''. GTO250GTO has second worst ballast in Gr3, so Toyota podium seems unlikely: ''Struggling with tire wear and pace is not good. So podium seems out of reach. Hoping for Top 5''.
Subaru had another podium, as RLH_Wesley99 made surge from back of the field to third place. He also had technical issues that meant he started from back, but smart tactics allowed him still to be on podium. He now has some ballast going to Interlagos, but needs results coming in. Subaru should be strong here, but needs to beat some lighter cars to get to podium and in past he has never been good in Interlagos. Driver that has won in Interlagos in past, is his teammate RLA_SAFFA, who is returning after missing Round 4. Missing last race means he has still ballast from his Round 1 win, but he says pace has been good in practice: ''Feeling really good to be back again. After some testing it looks quiet promising for myself but in this series there are no guarantees. Have to take the race as it comes! Gr2 traffic will be a huge decider in the race so crossing my fingers to get caught up on the straights''. He needs good results now to challenge for title in Le Mans, where Subaru is set to struggle.
Again no podium for Porsche, but amuda54 was happy with his 4th place, strongest race for him sofar, was even running on podium places early on in Red Bull Ring, circuit were he has struggled in past. y_bearr_ was also on podium hunt, before late crash left him 6th. But going to Interlagos were he has been fast in past, he has less ballast than others around him, and first win of the season is possible: ''Interlagos is my favourite track. It always been a good race in Interlagos. I plan to keep it that way this weekend. My car is good. And I hope I can win at Interlagos''. amuda54 is also hoping for big result, maybe first podium this season: ''I think a podium is possible. I seem to have good pace at this track compared to what I’m hearing others are doing. I don’t want to be overconfident, so we’ll see where the others are when qualifying begins''. Will be interesting if there will be team-orders...
BMW was running just with one car in Red Bull Ring, as thunderpigeon could not make it. doc-shipman was running the flag well, running 2nd early on but dropped down the field. Great result was still on thought, but then he made mistake in pitlane, and eventually finished 7th place. This weekend thunderpigeon is back, and needs to get top 5 result to claw back some points: ''I'm unsure as to whether the BMW will be competitive at interlagos - I expected it to be good at spa and wasn't, and got a strong result in Sardegna. Even last week, it showed promise for my teammates in Austria. As such, I'm feeling cautious about chances this week but GR3 and interlagos is not a strong combo for me as a driver''. doc-shipman is not Interlagos fan either, but hopes also for top 5 result: ''After shocking myself with P2 at Red Bull Ring - and subsequently completely botching the race - I'm not holding out much hope for Interlagos. It's not a favourite track for me, but in testing the BMW seems well suited to it. I think that if I can keep my driving clean then a 4th or 5th place might be achievable''.
This weekend we return to Blue Moon Bay for first time since Season 3. Infield-version is has couple slow tight corners, but mostly it is fast corners, testing drivers, who can carry most speed. If there is mistake, lot of time will be lost and damage can be big. We will see under 1-minute laps first time in GT-MES history, and with big performance gap between classes and short lap, traffic will be key for any success.
Nissan got back to podium in Brazil, and straight to top step as TSR_JoeToGuy took his second win of the season. He took pole position on last second in qualifying, and controlled the race from there: ‘’I was able to slowly open up the gap between myself and second place throughout the race, and was able to look after the tyres nicely. It would have been a tougher race if I hadn't retaken pole on my last Quali lap’’. Win extends his championship lead, and he is looking very good for his 3rd title in a row, and first title defence in Gr2. His teammate TSR_Tomsoft was hoping to get that first win in Interlagos, but qualifying was hard and then technical issues did not allow him to start the race. If he wants to fight for title this season, he needs top result from Blue Moon Bay, but he does not sound optimistic: ‘’ Not a great track for a new controller user so I'll just pray and get the best Result I can get. The little weight does help to get the corners done but I'm a bit sceptic in terms of consistency’’. His teammate TSR_JoeToGuy has significantly heavier car, but sounds lot more optimistic, as he aims to get another podium: ‘’ I think I've got a good pace and consistency in the car at Blue Moon, so even though I'm quite fat with ballast, I think I could get another podium’’.
It has been best ever season for Lexus. 2 wins and atleast 3rd place in every race sofar. NWR_Bottlejob just missed pole and was running good second place most of the race. NWR_Spookyluki was right behind him most of the race, he was overtaken by sota59 for 3rd place after first pitstops, but NWR_Spookyluki quickly got back past. In the end NWR_Bottlejob lost second place to his teammate in faster tires, but it was still great 2-3 for the team. Lexus holds Manufacturer Championship lead, and both drivers are still in for drivers honours, but pressure is building as we get closer to Le Mans. They need to keep podiums coming to stay in both fights, and Blue Moon Bay is set to be hardest one yet. Both cars have quite a bit of ballast, and they need to beat some faster cars this weekend: ‘’ Hoping to be able to keep the teams good results, hoping either me or bottle can have a podium this race. I'm expecting the Nissan of Tom to do well here, but anything can happen at this new track’’ –said NWR_Spookyluki. His teammate NWR_Bottlejob does not know what to expect: ‘’ Not particularly looking forward to round 6, I feel as if it will either go brilliantly, or horrifically. I'm not a fan of the circuit, specifically the transitions between oval and infield as I find them clunky and overly aggressive. Also regarding the lap times, I have a strong dislike towards short laptimes, especially those with potential to be under a minute so this'll very much be a hit or miss race’’.
It is slowly starting to look like Honda won’t fight for either title in Le Mans, what would be first time ever for Japanese Manufacturer. Nils and sota59 could not match speed of their rivals in Interlagos, finishing 4th and 5th. sota59 was 3rd for a while, but aggressive strategy did not work in the end: ‘’Our pace in qualifying was not bad at all, but we needed to do something different to make places. I tried to jump some cars in pits, and help either Nils or myself to 3rd place. Sadly it did not work out, atleast it was fun battle’’. With Nils set to miss Blue Moon Bay, his 4th race, his title bid is officially over. Success in Blue Moon Bay is all down to sota59 again this weekend, and he has ballast on his way but also won both races in Blue Moon Bay in Season 2 and 3, in Gr3 and Gr2: ‘’I should have fastest car this weekend, I like the circuit but it seems like this might be most unpredictable race of the season. Short circuit means gaps in qualifying will be incredibly small and race might be decided purely by track position. Traffic will also be massive factor, so I have no more expectations than podium. Win is possible, but hard. Thanks to Nils for help this week’’. Only win this weekend would keep both sota59 and Honda in realistic distance of titles.
Porsche got their first win of the season on the board in Interlagos, as y_bearr_ unexpectedly was man to beat. He took pole and lead most of the race, but it was race of strategy and his lead was never big to relax: ‘’ . I had my strategy organised before the race. My qualification lap was fast, I still can be faster but the field didn't alow me to do that. On the race I use SS for my 1st stint and it was a good choice because Swablu also on SS. My fuel and tires were good, always set lap under 1.31.5 across all compound. Never got issues with Gr2 cars. All of those factors made me win the race’’. His teammate amuda54 was expecting good race that has been good to him and Porsche, but despite not being far off the pace, he only qualified 9th. He made places up the field but then mistake sent him to wall, ending his fight for good points, and he ended up finishing 9th. Good thing is that he has now some ballast relieve, so good results are expected, starting this weekend in his home race: ‘’ I have the best car this weekend, there is no question about that. If I can keep my car on the road this time I think a podium is definitely on the cards’’. y_bearr_ is now on title fight, and pressure is on to keep points coming. His ballast is not bad, but podium can be tough ask: ‘’ The track layout is interesting. Easy to go fast here, BUT it's hard to go fast from start to finish. The tyre have uneven worn out rate, thus makes setup more tricky. I believe consistency is the key to win at Blue Moon Bay’’.
Subaru got another podium, when RTA_SAFFA made his return in Interlagos with second place. He was close distance to leader all race, but heavier car hold him back. It is his second podium of the season, and he needs more to build title challenge. Ballast is not bad for him this weekend, but question is, can Subaru be fast here: ‘’ After a good round at Interlagos I am feeling relatively confident. Blue Moon does not suit the Subaru and the setup for it but with only +3 ballast I am feeling relatively ok. Strategy is going to be key at this race and if my calculations are accurate it should be a good race’’. His teammate RLH_Wesley99 had surprisingly hard race in Interlagos, spend most of his race in midfield, rather than fighting for podium. Like RTA_SAFFA, he needs big results as we get to closer to Le Mans, and in Blue Moon Bay it might be difficult.
Toyota had another surprising race, they were not expected to challenge for podium in Interlagos due success ballast, but de-luck4 drove smart race, and slowly made his way up the field to 3rd place. GTO250GTO was not far off the pace, but could only manage 7th place. This weekend Supra should be perfect for Blue Moon Bay, but both cars are again heaviest. But as said earlier, that might not be as critical as you would think. de-luck4 getting another podium would be huge for championship, as he already has big lead: ‘’ Crazy track, walls are very close. Original circuit suits me well. If i can avoid damage, then any result above p5 is positive to me. Looking for exciting race’’. GTO250GTO says he feels ballast will hold him back this weekend after testing.
BMW has not been on podium after that great race in Sardegna in Round 2, thunderpigeon was close in Interlagos, but just came short and finished 4th. This is another circuit that might suit BMW, but we wont know for good before qualifying: ‘’ I'm a bit nervous ahead of Blue Moon as I have never raced there, and to get the best times you need to be very close to the walls - the risk of damage is high. I have been consistent in practice but no idea if I'm competitive. I was slow as spa, but quick at Sardegna, both with lots of full throttle application like Blue Moon. Let's see how I do this week’’. His teammate doc-shipman is back this weekend after missing race in Interlagos, and is excited for some close racing, even though does not have experience in Blue Moon Bay: ‘’ I've not driven BMB in anger before, so that will be interesting. It's a fun infield circuit which seems to suit the BMW well, but I've not been able to practice much this week so it could be a variable race for me’’.
Jaguar had race to forget in Brazil, they were hoping to even get double podium, but did not even get car on top 5. TSR_Swablu was looking to challenge for win after opening stint, but mistake in pits left him 8th after the race, big blow to his championship. Houdini Myers was set for 5th place after exciting race, but ran out of fuel on final lap. With Portuguese driver not traveling to USA, TSR_Swablu will be only Jaguar, and he has pressure to get top 4 result to keep title hopes alive. Circuit should be made for Jaguar, and ballast is not that bad. but he needs to get job done, and he does not sound confident: ‘’ After the horror show last race its now near impossible to win the championship. Have no pace or confidence in the car at bmb so it will be a tough race’’.
This weekend we go to most challenging circuit of the season, Autopolis. Last season we saw some accidents and errors, and now with title fights closing in, mistakes are costly as ever. We have had lot of high speed circuits this season, Autopolis is quite opposite, with lot of slow, tight corners with gravel very close if you drift wide.
Both drivers championships have narrowed down to 4 realistic drivers, and they need to keep points coming to stay in fight for Le Mans.
It was more success for Nissan last weekend, back-to-back wins as TSR_Tomsoft took finaly his first win of the season and in Gr2, and TSR_JoeToGuy drove clean race to make it 1-2 for Nissan. They had 1-2 already in qualifying as TSR_Tomsoft took pole, TSR_JoeToGuy was quickly overtaken and dropped to third place. Despite some scary moments, he kept it clean when drivers around him had accidents and finished in the end 2nd place, extending his championship lead. TSR_Tomsoft lead all race, he also had moment but did not get major damage, and took 20 points: ''It went better as expected, I thought I was gonna do more mistakes after the weird practice session before the race. Was lucky to scrape away with rear damage on my accident, so I wasn't dying as much. A bit of a shame not get the fastest lap, but it's really nice to finally get a win this season''. This great results lifts Nissan to championship lead. Autopolis is drivers track, and also TSR_Tomsofts favorite track. He dominated there in Gr3 last season, with heavy car, and this season ballast will also be challange but German is positive for good result: ''A win would be nice, a Podium is in question as I'm good on this track and actually have a good feeling for it. But similar to last Season's shenanigans in Gr2, anything can happen to my car''. He needs good result to stay in title fight, and win could make it realistic change in Le Mans Finale. Championship-leader TSR_JoeToGuy won in Autopolis last season when half the grid crashed, and even though he is strong around here, ballast is going to hold him back: ''I don't think I'll be able to get a good enough result to matter for my championship points, so I am mainly hoping that my rivals don't do well either. That should then make things easier at Le Mans''.
Honda is out of both title-fights, as they are having worst season in their GT-MES history. sota59 was challengin for win in Blue Moon Bay, but mistake caused him to have big crash, dropping him to 4th. He made his way back to third place, but not good enough to stay in title fight. Well, if he was to win in Autopolis this weekend, he could still have mathematical shot, but it seems unlikely. sota59 struggled last season badly in Autopolis, and he says pace is still lacking: ''I really had hard time here last time, and after testing, times are quite bad compered to my teammate. I will just focus on keeping it on road and see what happens''. His teammate Nils missed race last weekends race, and is out of title fight also. He can come to Autopolis with no pressure, and he was very fast here last season, before having unlucky accident. He is hoping for more luck this time: ''I hope I'll have a better race than last season, my car isn't exactly light, but Autopolis is a track I like, especially with Gr2 cars''. His pace has been good in testing, win would make Honda's season much better.
Lexus has had incredible season, but last weekend in Blue Moon Bay was one to forget. Both drivers had issues and they ended up outside podium first time this season. Lexus lose Manufacturers-lead, they are still in the fight, but cant lose big points again this weekend to have realistic chance in Le Mans Finale. Both drivers are still in fight for drivers-honours, and NWR_Bottlejob has maybe best chance of the two. He is second in championship and coming to Autopolis, he has least ballast. He was fast in Gr3 here last season, and is expecting results: ''I'm not really going to speak about what I think will happen but more so what needs to happen because I need to and should win. I have a significant ballast over the rest of the field so really should take the win. Anything other than a win will be disappointing and mean my championship hopes are effectively over''.NWR_Spookyluki in other car is still in title-fight, but missing two races earlier this season have put him in very hard spot. He needs good result this weekend, he had second place here last season but he now has lot of ballast: ''Not expecting a lot, car is quite heavy which is never good for a handling track like autopolis Hoping for bottle to get a podium, aiming for a reams championship over drivers and we think we have a shot''.
Subaru was not expected to be fastest in high speed Blue Moon Bay, but RTA_SAFFA prooved everybody wrong, taking his second win of the season. Before the race, he was feeling sick, and was not going to race at all. But South African decided to turn up, to try keep his championship hopes alive, and what performance we saw. He took pole position and lead opening stint confortably. He found himself second place after last round of pitstops, but he quickly caught up and passed the leader: ''The race was a total surprise. Three hours before the race I was battling to stay awake from being ill but I knew that if I wanted any chance at finally getting my first GT MES championship I would have to race. I did not expect the Subaru to do that well at this track but the speed I was able to carry through corners was insane. Well done again to de-luck for his mega fuel saving stints''. Win puts him second place in championship, and in good position to finally win his first title. Subaru is expected to be fastest, and best car on tires in Autopolis, but his ballast is going to make race hard: ''Feeling ok for Autopolis, never been one of my favorite circuits but it has its charm. With the +8 ballast the Subaru feels really sluggish but for the next 2 races it will be, at minimum, my reality. Hoping for the title to go down to Le Mans, hoping to see both BMWs and Wesley on the podium! But guess we will see!''. With Subaru set to struggle in Le Mans Finale, best for RTA_SAFFA would be to take championship advantage this weekend, to cover his back. If RTA_SAFFA cant fight for win, RLH_Wesley99 is hoping to do it. Season 11 champion has had difficult and unlucky season sofar, having to miss 2 races and start one race last, all due technical issues. He is pretty much out of title fight, win could give him small chance: ''Hoping to get a first won after a dissapointing race last week where I lacked the pace. I think I can get back up to speed in Autopolis and aiming for the first win of the season''.
Toyota was not expected to fight for titles this season, but they are now figting for both, with 2 races to go. Blue Moon Bay was another success, as de-luck4 took second place with heavy car, increasing his championship lead in Gr3. He qualified second, dropped couple positions with medium-tires, but after 2 rounds of pitstops, he found himself in the lead. He could not hold it though, and had to settle for second place, still getting great points. GTO250GTO had hard race, only could manage 7th place. Autopolis was awfull for Supra last season, expect same this season. GTO250GTO not looking forward it at all, refusing to even give comment for our journalist. de-luck4 instead said: ''Autopolis usually is very challenging track and with Supra it is even more. Do not expect podium here, unless WRX and 911 will do crucial mistakes. So, going to have fun and see what happening''. Depending what happens with his rivals, de-luck4 could miss the podium and very well still be in control of the championship when we go to Le Mans Finale.
Jaguar was supposed to be fast in Blue Moon Bay, but TSR_Swablu reported before the race that he is badly off the pace. Great slipstream from Gr2-car got him excelent third in qualifying, and in the race he did well to not drop down the field, despite starting bit out of place. He did not drag in to big battles, and this was key for him coming home solid third in the end. After disapointing Interlagos, this keeps him in championship fight. But if he wants to make it more realistic fight, he could do with some extra points from Autopolis: ''The car feels horrible to drive with the ballast but i know what i need to do to get myself back in the title fight, and best believe im going to give it my all tommorow and try to drag the car in to a podium position''.Houdini Myers missed race in USA, and wont make trip to Japan either due budget issues.
Porsche did not make it to podium, but it was good race for y_bearr_ who got 4th place, giving him valuable points. It was dog fight, but clean consistant laps got him up the road. He has bit of an accident with his teammate amuda54 tho, leaving American damaged in his home race, finishing 8th, on track he was hoping to be on podium. Porsche could be strong in Autopolis, but both amuda54 and y_bearr struggled there last season, so expectations are big. amuda54 has least ballast in the field, so he could have advantage: ''I think a top 5 is possible. A podium would be ideal. Tire wear is great too, because of the -2 ballast so we will see how everyone else is and go from there''. y_bearr_ is trying to find good setup: ''Another track that demand a good suspension setup. The car fells good even with ballast. I got consistency already but speed is another thing to work out. I hope I can find " speed " setup before race day''.
BMW was hoping more from Round 6, but instead it was race of accidents and penalties. thunderpigeon was in fight for 3rd before accident dropped him to 6th, and doc-shipman had exciting race in midfield, crossing line in 5th. But he got penalty for couple accidents, and swapped places with his teammate. With thunderpigeon not racing this weekend, doc-shipman is driving alone in Autopolis, circuit he won in Season 6: ''I have had good results at Autopolis in the past, but after a shaky couple of races I'm not sure about how well the BMW will do overall. On paper it should be competitive, but with my variable form this season I'm not so sure! I need to focus on being clean and consistent this race, which I'm hoping I can achieve''. First podium of the season coming?