Coanda Win Bathurst
Masters of Endurance concluded its 2014/15 season with a visit down under for the 6 hours of Bathurst sponsored by iGPmanager.com. The 6.2km Mount Panorama circuit, famous for hosting V8 Supercars’ Bathurst 1000 and the 12 hour GT3 race, would provide a challenge for the teams of sim racers. With little runoff and walls lining the circuit across the Mountain, Bathurst offers no room for mistakes in corners resembling an undulating, high speed street circuit.
Only two teams remained in contention for the championship after four rounds and 48 hours of racing. The odds were stacked heavily in ineX Racing’s favour thanks to their 56 point lead. Coanda Simsport needed to win the race and hope ineX finished lower than 17th in order to overcome the points deficit.
Team Redline’s absence from the event meant qualifying saw the first pole position of the season by a driver other than Enzo Bonito. Ibérica Racing Team rebounded from their retirement in round 4 as Jesus Sicilia put them at the front of the grid with a 2:00:089 lap. VergilRacing looked to build on their win at COTA as they lined up alongside, 0.189 seconds behind their fellow RUF team. The second row featured the BMWs of Coanda Simsport and ineX Racing Red, with the McLaren of Vortex SimRacing and Ford GT of Glacier Racing completing the top 6.
The reduced number of pit stalls at Bathurst resulted in a smaller field than other rounds, leaving 53 cars to start the race. Ibérica Racing Team converted their pole position into an early lead, yet could not break away from the chasing pack. VergilRacing kept within a second of the leader, but on lap 4 Coanda Simsport made a move under braking into the Chase.
On the next lap VergilRacing used the draft up Mountain straight to get alongside into Griffins bend. The pair made contact on corner entry which sent VergilRacing backwards into the barriers. Coanda Simsport came out of the collision unscathed but lost a position to ineX, which they reclaimed a few laps later.
Thanks to the incidents behind Ibérica extended their lead to 3 seconds midway through the first stint. Further back, CORE Motorsports started gaining positions from the green flag. A 10 place grid penalty for an incident in the previous race had moved them back to 13th. Come the end of the first hour CORE had progressed up to 4th just behind Vortex SimRacing, in contention for a podium.
A number of teams came to grief in the opening hour of the race. A chain reaction before the green flag forced Radicals Online and 8or80 to retire, while others made repairs. ineX Racing’s Yellow car lost control going down the Esses, resulting in a spectacular crash and over an hour of repairs. The most significant retirement was that of leaders Ibérica Racing Team. Pushing hard to stop Coanda Simsport from gaining, Jesus Sicilia hit the the wall exiting the Dipper on lap 24. In the end, just 31 of the 53 starters would make it to the finish.
The two championship rivals emerged less than a second apart after the first pit stops. William Levesque held the lead for ineX Racing, but Rens Broekman in the Coanda Simsport car fought his way past. That order only lasted for four laps, with ineX now back in front. Broekman overcame Levesque strong defence, taking the lead on lap 50 with a pass going up Mountain straight. Coanda would hold 1st position until the chequered flag, having done all they could to have a chance of winning the title.
A couple of near misses and incidents affected ineX Racing’s chances of keeping up with Coanda Simsport. Touching the wall at Forrest’s Elbow gave ineX steering damage when avoiding a crashed Mad Cow Racing car. They also sustained damage to the front end after colliding with the stationary R4R Motorsport at Reid Park. With a comfortable gap to the cars behind, ineX settled for 2nd knowing it would give them the championship win.
ineX Racing’s Blue car looked set for a podium position after two hours, but lost time as their third stint wore on. A stop-go penalty for speeding in the pits then cost them a further 30 seconds, dropping them to 5th. CORE Motorsports moved ahead, but suffered a setback when they crashed into a car which had spun after the Cutting.
The time lost meant CORE fell behind Glacier Racing after the penultimate round of pit stops. Despite catching Glacier, the top speed advantage of the Ford GT did not allow CORE Motorsports to make a pass. In the final stint ineX Racing closed in on CORE, who were unable to keep up with Glacier. ineX used draft from traffic to their advantage, taking 4th position as the cars went along Conrod straight.
After being in the running for the final podium position early on, Vortex SimRacing faded in the third hour. They spent the second half of the race in 6th position, before Trinity Motorsports 3 fought their way past 3 laps from the end. Behind that battle on the road but 1 lap down in the standings was the fight for 8th. Marlboro Motorsport came out on top and scored their best finish of their season, passing Flux Racing Team with 6 laps to go.
ineX Racing Red took their fifth podium in five races, staying out of trouble throughout the season. The consistent finishes making them back-to-back champions, having won previously in Live for Speed. Coanda Simsport became the first repeat winners, but will rue their 17th place at Suzuka. CORE Motorsports claimed 3rd after their nearest rivals Team Chimera retired.
Masters of Endurance wishes to thank all of the drivers, teams, commentators, viewers and sponsors for being involved with this season.
For full results and points standings, visit the mastersofendurance.net website.
The broadcast can be viewed on the MoE youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/mastersofendurance/videos