Townend’s Suspenseful Silverstone Success
February 11th, 2014 by JaimeB
Over 50 Skip Barber F2000s arrived at the international circuit configuration of Silverstone, one of the home tracks of the UK&I Skip Barber League, for a highly anticipated 16 lap race. After a respectful yet exciting 2014 season opener in West Virginia it was Marc Mercer with the early championship lead over Paul F. Grillo and Wojciech Swirydowicz. For much of qualifying the top times were posted by the Adcocks — Tim and Stuart — respectively, until Blake Townend posted a 1:34.447, the fastest lap of the entire day (including Practice and Race). Mercer could only manage P5 with Swirydowicz just behind in P6.
The start was clean for Townend who was able to go through Turn One without the company of another car, but Stuart Adcock was soon harassing him for the lead with LJ Garnett just behind. Meanwhile Tim Adcock was struggling to keep up and dropped to P9 after the first three laps.
The sim-racers seemed to insist on breaking up into groups of threes as the trio of Mercer, Swirydowicz, and Sebastian Job began disputing P4 only a few seconds behind the battle for the lead. It was Stuart Adcock who cracked first, when on Lap Five he braked a bit too late and made contact with Garnett sending him into the grass at the outside of Turn Five and out of the race entirely and dropping Stuart to P5.
In the chaos, the trio who had been fighting for fourth were suddenly just behind Townend and hunting him down for the lead of the online race, although Job started dropping back from the podium positions soon after. Townend was able to fend off the cars behind until Lap Nine when Mercer made a textbook move to the inside of Turn One to take the lead, where he would stay, but only temporarily.
After dropping back to second, Townend seemed to really come alive, refusing to let Mercer get away with the race he had been leading for over eight laps. A fantastic exit out of Turn Four, coupled with some good slipstreaming, enabled him move to the inside of Mercer for Turn Five and attempt to retake the lead. Some oversteer at the exit of the corner, however, meant the two of them would be going side-by-side into Turn Six, with Mercer grabbing the inside line. Townend kept his wits about him and hung it around the outside of the high-speed corner at almost 100mph (a maneuver he would use to good effect more than once in this race), grabbing the inside line for Seven and with it, the lead of the race once again.
After several more position changes, the penultimate lap saw Mercer leading Townend when a rogue back-marker experienced technical difficulties. Not only did the resulting contact with Mercer drop the erstwhile leader to P3, it handed Townend the lead and promoted Swirydowicz to P2 after he’d spent the majority of the race less than a car length from Mercer.
In the end Townend was able to defend against the attacks from Swirydowicz and take his first win of the season., while Mercer hung-on to the final podium position with a six second lead over the next car. Tim and Stuart Adcock finished the race as they had started, right next to each other, in P10 and P11 respectively, separated by less than one second.
In the championship Townend is now tied with Mercer for the top spot, each with a race win and a P3 finish totaling 51 points. Swirydowicz moves up a place to take third with 43 points, and Marcus Hamilton proves consistent (taking P6 at Summit Point and P4 at Silverstone) and moves into fourth with 31 points, tied with Jonathan Maycock.
Next track on the calendar is Watkins Glen. As always, qualifying and the race are available to watch with commentary on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1r5oCmxc78
Thanks to Luke Ridgway for doing such a great job on the championship standings for the league.