The first half of the season has seen Mikko Nassi dominate. Leading into this week’s race at Twin Ring Motegi, Nassi had captured pole and won four out of the five races he showed up to. However the trend of stellar fields competing each week continued and Nassi had a lot of competition to get the win here.

Nassi did not disappoint in qualifying. He captured pole by 0.107 over Arjan de Vreede with Enzo Canta a further 0.017 behind. Series regulars Jim Parisis, Rob Read, Tom Ward, Brian Doell, Philippe Leybaert, Daniel Schwonek and David Stefanini rounded out the top ten. The top 20 drivers were all within a second of Nassi’s time.

Mikko Nassi in pole position

Mikko Nassi in pole position

 

The early stages of the race saw the top nine racers pull away from the rest of the field. This front pack chose to sit back and let the race develop before fighting for position. The only changes to this train prior to the pit stops was Parisis retiring early after a minor incident. Leybaert took advantage of this incident and moved from seventh to fourth.

Mikko Nassi leads the field early in the race.

Mikko Nassi leads the field early in the race.

 

This led to the usual battle of pit stops to see who the challengers would be at the end. Read pitted first and had the fastest stop of the day. However, he would have to deal with some traffic after rejoining. Two laps later, Nassi pitted from the lead. He was followed in by Ward and the rest of the pack stayed out. Nassi rejoined just ahead of Read and Ward rejoined a couple of seconds behind. On the next lap, Leybaert and Schwonek pitted. Leybaert rejoined in between Nassi and Read. Schwonek joined Ward created a small group behind the leaders. Next to pit were de Vreede and Canta. De Vreede rejoined just behind Read at the tail end of the lead train. Canta rejoined alone behind the group of Ward and Schwonek. Doell was the last of the leaders to pit and had a good stop and rejoining with the lead pack.

Philippe Leybaert and Mikko Nassi race side by side on the final lap.

Philippe Leybaert and Mikko Nassi race side by side on the final lap.

 

This setup a battle between the top five of Nassi, Leybaert, Read, de Vreede and Doell. Entering the final sector with three laps remaining the group remained together with the only change being de Vreede moving ahead of Read. This was the end of the calm though. Coming into T11 Leybaert attacked Nassi and took the lead. However, Nassi wasn’t ready to sit back and immediately challenged Leybaert in the T12-14 complex and took the lead to setup an incredible final two laps.

Philippe Leybaert, Arjan de Vreede and Rob Read go three wide on the final lap.

Philippe Leybaert, Arjan de Vreede and Rob Read go three wide on the final lap.

 

Leybaert challenged Nassi again going into T5 and the two of them went through the entire sector side by side. At T9 de Vreede joined the fray and the three of them went side by side down into T10. The hairpin however settled this somewhat. Leybaert took the lead with Nassi falling to second. However, all five racers were lined up nose to tail. In T11 Nassi did not challenge Leybaert, but did have to defend against de Vreede but it was not a real challenge. The group was now entering the final lap and stayed in a line until the run to T5. Nassi moved to the outside to challenge Leybaert and Read moved to the outside of de Vreede to challenge him. De Vreede moved ahead of Read on exit, but was himself challenged by Doell. At the front Leybaert and Nassi again exited the corner side by side and went through turns six and seven this way. Finally Nassi came out ahead for the moment with de Vreede right behind with Read and Doell also navigating this sector side by side. Entering T9 Leybaert challenged again, this time taking the outside line on Nassi on entry. He quickly realized he wasn’t going to complete the pass and tried to setup the over under, but de Vreed was on his inside and Read was on de Vreede’s inside. Read and de Vreede touched lightly, unsettling Read’s car and letting Doell get past him heading down to T10. Heading into the final sector it was Nassi leading over Leybaert, de Vreede, Doell and a small gap to Read. In the final corner Nassi made a mistake and got a poor exit. Leybaert however got the exit perfect and quickly came along side Nassi for a dramatic run to the line. In the end Nassi held on by 0.021 seconds over Leybaert and 0.288 over de Vreede. Doell and Read finished a very close fourth and fifth.

Mikko Nassi just edges Philippe Leybaert at the line.

Mikko Nassi just edges Philippe Leybaert at the line.

 

In the next group Schwonek, Canta and Ward finished in sixth through eighth. Behind them was another great battle that saw Mickael Lamoureux come home in ninth, just ahead of Johnny Guindi in tenth.

The win was Nassi’s fifth in six tries this season and has given him a large lead in the championship. He now leads by 48 points over second place de Vreede. Leybaert is now comfortably in third place 19 points behind de Vreede. Schwonek continued his excellent season and is now at the head of a group fighting for the final places in the top five. The championship now switches gears as they prepare for the first every endurance race on the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit.

 

Race Results:

 

Pos Name Location Delta Pts
1 Mikko Nässi Finland 56
2 Philippe Leybaert Texas -0.021 41
3 Arjan de Vreede Benelux -0.288 46
4 Brian Doell Canada -0.589 37
5 Rob Read UK and I -1.679 37
6 Daniel Schwonek DE-AT-CH -3.642 34
7 Enzo Canta Italy -4.891 33
8 Tom Ward UK and I -6.392 24
9 Mickael Lamoureux France -14.809 28
10 Johnny Guindi Hispanoamérica -15.258 14
11 Paul Malokas Northwest -16.495 24
12 Greg Seitz Northwest -21.597 22
13 Simon Schulze DE-AT-CH -26.036 20
14 Barry Morrison UK and I -26.329 19
15 Will Fisher West -30.196 18
16 David Stefanini Italy -30.63 17
17 Collin van Raam Benelux -32.971 16
18 Fahim Antoniades UK and I -35.965 15
19 Martin Ascher DE-AT-CH -37.72 10
20 Emmanuel Menendez California -42.858 5
21 Mike McCormick Texas -46.287 12
22 Rob Adams Canada -47.396 11
23 Brooks Lyrette Canada -47.933 10
24 Tuan Tran Benelux -00:01:11.71 9
25 Russell Clark Australia/NZ -00:01:18.82 8
26 Jim I. Parisis International -10 L 0

 

Championship Standings:

 

Pos Name Points-2
1 Mikko Nässi 280
2 Arjan de Vreede 232
3 Philippe Leybaert 213
4 Daniel Schwonek 164
5 Rob Read 151
6 Brian Doell 150
7 Paul Malokas 142
8 Kenneth OKeefe 131
9 Mickael Lamoureux 120
10 Jim I. Parisis 99
11 Will Fisher 99
12 Vinicius Rocha 92
13 Clarke Williams 92
14 Greg Seitz 86
15 David Stefanini 85
16 Brooks Lyrette 81
17 Adam Blocker 78
18 Eero Tuominen 77
19 Martin Ascher 75
20 Aurelien Bonnet 75
21 Ricardo Faria 71
22 Ludwig Ghidi 70
23 Gavin Marsden 68
24 Aleksi Kallio 65
25 Frank Winter 62
26 Dekota Fripp 54
27 Francesco Maggi2 54
28 Fahim Antoniades 51
29 Lionel Gamet 49
30 Emmanuel Menendez 47
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