Renders raced to victory at the Nordschleife, Gluscic to the lead in the championship, Brumby back to Brands Hatch 2021 and Ruiz to shatter his and Bebb’s chance for the victory.
NURBURGRING. Last sunday the Nordschleife was the proud host of the fifth round of the WTEC 2021. After a long Xmas-break, the Green Hell let the field arrive in 2022 and marked the middle of the ongoing season.
Qualifying saw Alfonso Ruiz (Martini) take pole position with a 6:25.910 – four seconds clear of Bebb’s fastest lap in FP1 on Thursday. Colin Wynn (Red Bull) managed to secure himself P2, with a respect distance of nearly 9 tehnths of a second to Ruiz, but just one thousandth clear of Charlie Bebb (Cambrian Sim Racing) on P3. The threee were followed by Brumby (Gulf), Renders (Den Kaap), Bremer (Martini) and Brown (Red Bull) – all whtin 7 tenths on a 6:27 lap.
Wynn made perfect use of his starting position at the first row and immediatelly snatched away the lead from Ruiz. And while Bebb and Bremer fell back at the end of the field in lap 1, the race was quickly split up into four groups. Wynn leading the race in front of Brumby, Ruiz and Renders at the front – fighting a slipstream battle for the first third of the race. A little gap behind them Graeme Brown (Red Bull) and Nihad Gluscic (Marlboro) were trying to get involved in the battle at the front. Then came Frederique Rijsdijk (Guest), Sandro Kapeller (Gulf) and Len Venne (Guest) chasing each other for P7. Meanwhile Joost Simkens (Den Kaap), Charlie Bebb, Iwan Bremer and David Wilkinson (Sunoco) were on a mission to roll up the field from behind after a subopitmal first lap.
FIRST PIT STOPS
Like in round 1 of the season, Wynn’s pit crew chose the safety strategy, filled his Radical all up to have the strategic flexibility to react to whatever happens on track during the rest of the race. But every strategy has it’s downside, and the weight disadvantage made Wynn lose time against his rivals during the following laps.
Ruiz took over the lead, followed by Brumby and Renders, with a Colin Wynn now on P4 – and getting relegated to P5 by Charlie Bebb towards the end of the second stint. In addition, Graeme Brow’s fantastic ride made him reach P3 at lap 6 and even to hold position after his pit stop. Wouldn’t it have been for an incident throwing him back to the end of the field in lap 8, he would have had his say in the race to victory.
In the back, Sandro Kapeller took over Len Venne in the pits, but struggling too much in the second half of the track, he had no chance keeping Venne behind him for more than a lap. It’s been an incident of Venne toward the end of his second stint, which put Kapeller comfortably in front again.
Going for an earlier pit stop than Brumby and Renders, Ruiz fell behind the two and into a fight for position against a flying Charlie Bebb. Getting on the curb a little too much made Ruiz’s Radical turn into Bebb and put an end to his fight for the win at the Nordschleife. Renders just managed to keep himself out of the drama, and was left alone against Brumby in the battle for the victory.
It’s been two laps remaining for the checkered flag when Brumby let the whole field think of Brands Hatch 2021, as he lost control of his Radical, threw away the lead – and in the end important points for Team Gulf – to Thomas Renders (Den Kaap). Renders kept his feet chilled, his wheel in control and never let slip the lead out of his hands, that he had worked to get for 80 minutes. In a straight line he let his Radical see the checkered flag in P1, just 1.2 seconds in front of Nathan Brumby.
15 seconds later, Nihad Gluscic crossed the finish line on P3, just 0.182 seconds in front of Colin Wynn, making himself the man to beat in the championship. Charlibe Bebb and Joost Simkens finished the race on P5 and P6, showing a remarkable race from the back of the field into the big points.
Kapeller kept his mind cool for nearly the whole race, but a seemingly dreaming driver threw his car into the barrier during the last lap. His desperate fight to cross the finish line in P7 came to an end, when he lost control of his damaged car again under heavy breaking, just corners in front of the main straight. And he would have made it to P8, wasn’t there a Len Venne, who stopped in front of the finish line and let Kapeller pass in an act of respect and compassion.
Graeme Brown made it to P10 in a race that could easily have seen him on the podium. Alfonso Ruiz DNFed in a race that has clearly shown him to be able to beat everyone in the championship. Rijsdijk, Bremer and Wilkinson DNFed.
Just weeks ago Renders was talking about the field being close at the front, and now he has written his name in bold letters into the books of FBL. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be the first two-time winner of this season.
Meanwhile Gluscic’s marvelous drives have put him on top of the standings, and he is clearly the man to beat. But one can not estimate what effects the new dynamics within Team Marlboro might have on the Team Championship. So despite throwing away a win and luckily making it to P7, Team Gulf looks strong again, as long as they get their focus back.
And then we are looking forward to a Colin Wynn not being sabotaged by his pit crew, a Graeme Brown having a flawless race and being at the front, where he obviously belongs to be. And as a wish to Santa, we finally want to see Joost Simkens finishing lap 1 a position ahead of his position on the grid.