The Apex Online Racing League (commonly known as AOR) opened a new championship last season using the Star Mazda (AOR Pro Mazda Championship) which featured some fantastic racing week after week, and with a shake-up in the rules (and some changes to the car between seasons) the second season kicked off at Interlagos in Brazil for a 36 lap race.  The inaugural champion, Kerry Knowlden, couldn’t manage pole position though, as he lost out to new-comer (and only American in the league) Justin Brunner.  At the start, Brunner held his advantage into the first corner while Knowlden did the same with his teammate Phil Reid right behind him in third.  Knowlden didn’t wait long though, stealing the lead less than two minutes later at the start of Lap Two with the slipstream advantage down the Start/Finish straight and the inside line for the first corner.

The first corner of the new season.

Knowlden held off Brunner until Lap Seven, when Reid got in the mix and forced Brunner into a side-by-side battle through Curva do Sol.  Brunner lost to Reid, and then again to fifth place starter Jamie Fluke who had already passed Patrick White for fourth earlier.

Brunner loses out to Reid, and then Fluke.

Brunner’s troubles continued just a couple of laps later when White grabbed the inside line at Bico de Pato and dropped Brunner to fifth.

White on Brunner for fourth on Lap Nine.

Toward the end of Lap Ten, Reid was pressuring Knowlden for the lead.  Knowlden took the inside line for the first corner but amazingly Reid stuck it around the outside, completing the move at the exit of the Senna ‘S’.  Knowlden had more exit speed though, and fought back through Curva do Sol until the teammates made contact.  Reid was sent off the track, he clipped the barrier, and started to spin at over 120mph.  Knowlden, White, and Fluke all managed to avoid Reid but Brunner wasn’t so lucky.  Thankfully, the resulting damage was only aerodynamic and not mechanical, and all three cars were able to continue racing (although White was now first, Fluke second, and Brunner third).

Contact between teammates drops Reid to fifth and gives Brunner wing damage.

A handful of laps later Fluke made an attempt on White for the lead, but when he got in the grass at Curva do Sol he lost a position to Knowlden who was already back in his second place starting position, and hot on White’s gearbox.

Fluke tries for the win, drops to third.

Just one lap later, on Lap 17, Knowlden dove into the pits for a surprisingly early stop, not even half way through the race.  White pitted three laps later on Lap 20 and came out with a nice gap to Knowlden.  Knowlden began hunting down White, while Fluke and Brunner continued to battle during their long first stint.  Both Fluke and Brunner pitted on Lap 29 with only eight laps remaining in the race.  Amazingly, the two of them exited the pits with White in between them and the battle for the lead was once again well and truly on for the threesome.  Knowlden wasn’t far behind, in fourth, at this point but would need the top three to start battling for any real shot at winning.

White slots in between Fluke and Brunner after everyone’s made their pit stop.

Fluke held the lead for a few laps until Lap 35 (the penultimate lap) where White went around the outside at Turn One to grab P1.  Fluke didn’t flinch, however, and used the slipstream on the run down to Descida do Lago to grab the inside line and retook the lead with less than two laps remaining.

Fluke takes back the lead after a thrilling battle with White.

At the start of the final lap White pressured Fluke on the inside of Turn One, but didn’t complete the move.  Fluke’s run through the Senna ‘S’ was compromised though, and he wasn’t able to carry much speed through Curva do Sol.  On the other hand, White carried a ton of speed and pulled alongside Fluke into Descida do Lago.  Fluke had the inside line but White stuck around at the outside, earning himself the inside line for Ferradura and the lead of the race along with it (and with only five corners remaining basically).

White makes his move while Brunner lurks just behind.

Fluke had one more real shot at taking back the lead if he was close enough to White coming out of the final corner; instead Fluke came under attack from Brunner at Bico de Pato which cost him time to White, securing all three of their finishing positions with White ahead of Fluke and Brunner (with Knowlden only one second behind them).

Brunner makes a move on Fluke, giving White a gap to both of them.

In the end Reid held on to fifth but was almost 15 seconds behind his teammate Knowlden.  The full race highlights with commentary (by your truly) can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV3mXefT2-w

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