The Pro Mazda drivers during Week 1 of the new season really feasted on the Autódromo José Carlos Pace! With the official series, AOR and now BSRF1 league all heading to Brazil they really couldn’t get enough of Interlagos. Justin Brunner even put himself out by participating in all three high profile sim races!
The BSRF1 league features two races over one evening; the format goes like this: Session 1 – Qualifying is five minutes or two laps, solo; then the drivers head to the “sprint” race, which is approximately 50% of the current race length (around 15-20 minutes long). The second session is the Feature race; this is where the positions are a reverse grid from the drivers who made up the 12th to 20th positions in Race One. The feature race sees drivers battle it out over a longer time of 45-40 minutes – where a pit stop is included due to the fact fuel is limited to 20%.
Pole position was taken by the familiar face of Justin Brunner; lining up alongside him on the front row was Lukasz Rymarski. Rymarski didn’t get the best of get-a-ways which allowed for Domenico Di Menno to jump him even before they reached the Senna S. Di Menno almost had the better of Brunner come the first part of the Senna S, but this time the American held his own on the brakes to keep track position. The 17 Pro Mazdas which started the race each managed to finish the opening lap without incident. Although Brunner managed to get a sizable lead by the time they crossed the stripe, Di Menno & Co. wouldn’t be letting the hot-paced American go easy.
By the time Lap Two had come to a close Brunner could only let himself lose this race; he’d built up a lead which prevented him from handing the chasing Pro Mazdas a draft and he had already lapped a fair chunk faster than the battling drivers behind. Rymarski’s day almost came to an abrupt end as he and Michael Mitter got interlocked in the Bico de Pato complex. Fortunately both seemed to get away unscathed, although Rymarski lost a considerable amount of time in this altercation.
Throughout the field there were various tussles going on between the drivers, the most high profile ofwhich was for P2-P6. Di Menno had controlled this “chasing” (using that word lightly as Brunner had powered off in to the distance!) pack since the green flag dropped but any small mistake could hand his valued high points paying position over to his nearest competitor at the time. Rymarski had carved his way back through to third and was in the prime position to capatilize on any mistakes that his Italian counterpart made. Di Menno eventually gifted his close rival an ideal opportunity to pass; the Curva do Sol was Di Menno’s downfall and this allowed Rymarski a prime opportunity down to Turn Four in which he gratefully took. By no means was this race over though, with still more than five laps to go.
Unfortunately for Di Menno he wouldn’t see the chequered flag: The Italian got sent on a ride he won’t be forgetting anytime soon! As Tom Moreno was defending the middle line up to Descida do Lago, Di Menno veered out to the right at a sharp angle, sending the rear of his car sliding across the track and thus leading him hard in to the wall. It was all a peculiar individual crash in which no one else had any part to play!
Come the end of the race, Vortex Sim Racing’s Brunner completed a resounding win over Rymarski and the rest of the field by a large margin of 6.4 seconds. Moreno took third and Mittner managed to just pip Pete Newman on the line for fourth position!
With the feature race’s smaller grid of only 13 cars you’d expect Brunner et al to soon be at the head of the field. Di Menno was the last placed starter, but as the field headed on to Lap Six he was at the head of it. He’d managed to work draft to his advantage to breeze past Robert Plumley on the outside. Brunner was the first out of the front pack to blink, heading to the pits on Lap 12, maybe expecting a 50/50 split fuel strategy to get him to the race win. Moreno and Lindstrom followed the American down pit lane all hoping a slightly off tangent stop could aide them in their quest for victory.
Di Menno and Brian Heath stretched their first stint for the longest. However, Di Menno lost the race for himself at Juancao, going off track on the exit and losing a heap of time. The Italian fell back to seventh place once the stops had all panned out, which was a huge loss of position considering once the pit stops commenced he was the leader.
Pete Newman was a name we hadn’t heard of at all in the feature race, but the British driver’s bold strategy call had certainly paid off. He had pitted on the end of Lap Five which would mean he’d be on the brink (but have enough) fuel-wise until the end of the race. It had taken Brunner and Rymarski all the time since their stops to catch the run-a-way Brit but in the end his charge came to an end. Rymarski pulled a move off around the outside of the first Senna S which led him to having an ideal exit and the inside off the second part of the opening complex.
By the time they’d reached the final lap, Newman was more than holding his own but Rymarski looked to have it in the bag. His win was all but consolidated as the train of three headed in to Turn Eight. Newman and Brunner went side-by-side, losing valuable time if they wanted to even have a small glimpse of the Feature win. Brunner had the move completed by the time they exited Mergulho, but by no means was the fight over. Newman used the draft to great effect down the front straight but came up inches short to finish runner-up. Rymarski completed a solid day at the office by winning one and placing second in the other, as did Brunner – who accumulated the overall lead thanks to bonus points. Heath and Plumley rounded out the top five of the feature race.