The GT Challenge series arrived at the seven kilometer Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the final round of the season.  Championships in all three classes were still in doubt and if any circuit were to host a decisive finale, Spa would be the best choice.  The circuit is home to the Grand Prix of Belgium and also endurance races such as the Spa 24 Hours.  Drivers love the circuit and always classify it as one of their favourites.

Fast, flowing and wide, Spa allows for easy overtakes in traffic.

The C6R GT1 Corvettes arrived at Spa with two main drivers in the hunt for the championship.  Richard Avery had been leading Ricardo Goncalves Silva by a little over 60 points heading to the Ardennes, but Silva would be able to drop his lowest score if he could get a good one here.  Silva was able to race in the largest strength of field for the week and looked to take home the highest points.  Although Silva started second behind driver Kay Kaschube, he never had a chance to challenge for the win.  Kaschube stretched out to a commanding lead early, leading all 21 laps and basically running a second a lap faster than the entire field.  The performance earned him top week honors at 228 points, while Silva was barely able to hold on to second position, out- running Marcel Wiemers and scoring 195 points.

Avery had a much easier time in his online race.  Starting on pole, he was able to lead all laps and finish with a healthy gap over drivers Roland Orza and Bernhard Berger, scoring himself a steady 182 points.  Silva was the beneficiary of having the bigger drop with more points gained, however, Avery scored just well enough to claim the Corvette championship by 27 points over rival Silva (Avery 1488, Silva 1461).

Richard Avery heads into La Source en route to the Corvette class championship

The McLaren championship had been commanded by driver Patrick Valente Ferro, and with a 125 point lead going into the final round of the season, he seemed the sure pick for the title.  However, unlike previous weeks, he was not near the top scoring for the week.  That honour belonged to sim-racers Rocco Barone, Julian Rodriguez Moreno, and Paolo Muià.  All three drivers were in the same race and battled nose-to-tail for the duration of the event.  Muià started directly behind Barone and snatched the lead on Lap Three, but Barone was able to come back with a hard charge and grab it back.  Moreno started last on the grid but within five laps was right on the back of both Barone and Muià.  After getting past Muià, Moreno set his sights on Barone.  However, Barone defended his way to victory, with Muià directly behind him every single lap.  Barone won by only half a second and took home 260 points, with Moreno and Muià taking 234 and 208 respectively.  As for the big picture, while Ferro earned just 150 points toward the championship, fellow contenders Csaba Volyka Jr and Juan Jose Sanchez Cuadrado were only able to score 165 and 141 points respectively.  The net result is that Ferro captured the McLaren championship by 124 points over Volyka Jr, who snatched second place by one point over Cuadrado (Ferro 1538, Volyka Jr 1414, Cuadrado 1413).

McLarens flying into one of Spa’s most famous corners, Eau Rouge.

The Ford GT class came down to the absolute wire with championship contenders Kevin Duwel and Matthias Reuner both going over the four race limit in the quest for maximum points.  The top three drivers of the week were Richard Sobolewski, Ief Vangenechten, and Burkhard Maring with 219, 214, and 202 points respectively and, not unlike, the McLaren class, the contenders for the Ford title were not in that list.  Instead Duwel finished the week with 171 while Reuner was only able to get 157.  Reuner had the largest drop which helped his cause as he scored less points for the week.  However Duwel was able to score 171 points in two separate races, which meant that when he drove over the four race limit, the average of his two best races was 171 points.  This allowed Duwel to safely get more races in, and in the end, take the Ford GT Championship by just six points over Reuner.

Corvette C6.R, Ford GT and McLaren MP4-12C race together for perhaps the final time.

So as the GT Challenge Series comes to a close this season, it also comes to a close on iRacing.  Next season the three cars will not be together.  Instead, the Prototype and GT Series will support the C6R GT1 and the Ford GT, while Grand-AM will run the McLaren MP4 GT3.  This may be upsetting to some, but it should promote larger fields.  A final congratulations to the championship winners Richard Avery, Patrick Valente Ferro, and Kevin Duwel; also best of luck to the other championship contenders for the future!

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