Season Three of the Red Sox Racing Leagues 2011 F1 calendar has officially turned into the coming out party for newcomer Brad Vincent. Winner of the season’s first race at Silverstone, Vincent has reeled off five wins, a third, and a fifth place finish in eight races. Incredibly, Brad has become so dominant over the rest of the field in each of his last four starts that even defending league champion Les Turner has accepted the fact that RSR could be crowning a new champion in a few weeks.
In what started out as a very competitive season, weeks one through four saw four different drivers winning races, while nine different drivers earned podium finishes. Vincent put a strangle hold on the points race after that point in the season as he began reeling off win after win. After eight events, his lead over 2nd place in the championship battle is 97 points. Third place is a distant 196 points behind.
Australia’s Phillip Island Circuit was the host for this week’s event, the 25 lap “Bunyip F1 GP at Phillip Island”. Boasting a scenic 2.76 mile road course along the Indian Ocean on the south side of Australia, the track has a very challenging 12 corner configuration.
Vincent led all drivers in the practice and qualifying sessions, earning the pole with an impressive lap time of 1:08.749. Les Turner was 2nd on the grid with a time of 1:09.570, while Andrea Ventura (1:09.747) earned the third starting position with the only other sub-1:10 lap.
Jim Albertson (4th), Andrew Feldman (5th), John Koscielniak (6th), Divina Galica (7th), William Kabela (8th), Jeff Thomas (9th), and Ed Sutcliff (10th), filled the remaining grid positions.
As is usually the case, the RSR event got off to a clean start when the green flag dropped. While drivers can be easily distracted by the beauty of their surroundings, such inattention is a recipe for disaster at the track. Luckily, the RSR drivers kept the eyes glued to the road in the opening laps and gave each other plenty of room before settling into serious racing.
The course begins with a long straight section which leads into a slight downhill bend. Drivers stay on the gas through Doohan Corner, and then begin braking for the Southern Loop. Speeds decrease dramatically as drivers negotiate the horseshoe shaped corner, but the gearing is quickly put through the paces as the cars exit Turn Two and begin heading onto a long downhill with a gentle bend to the left.
Hard braking is required for Honda Corner. Turn Four is a favorite viewing location because racing action is fast and furious through the tight u-turn. The cars accelerate briefly before slowing again for Turn Six, and then begin a fast stretch on the back half of the course. Turns Seven and Eight require minimal effort, but the sweeping left-hand corner at Turn Nine can make or break a good lap time. Lukey Heights is appropriately named as drivers are forced to downshift and brake just after cresting the hill which leads to Turn Ten.
Getting back into the gas too quickly for Turn Eleven is never a good idea, and most of the drivers managed to avoid danger there throughout the race. A full out acceleration through Turn Twelve puts cars at optimum speed as they enter the front stretch and begin the next lap.
While most of the drivers had minor off-track incidents which didn’t result in loss of position, Galica gave up several positions during off-track excursions on Laps Five, Thirteen, and Fifteen. Thomas and Sutcliff both took advantage of the Lap Thirteen mistake, but Thomas gave the position back when he spun coming out of Turn Four on Lap Twenty.
Vincent was never seriously challenged in the race. He led every lap and finished with a comfortable 14 second lead over Turner. Turner battled hard to keep the 2nd position as Ventura hounded him until the pit cycle, and then Albertson joined the hunt after his pit stop. Albertson would hold on to 3rd place, crossing the line seven seconds ahead of Ventura.
Koscielniak finished in 5th place. Feldman (6th) was the last driver to cross the line on the lead lap. Sutcliff (7th) and Kabela (8th) both finished one lap down, while Galica managed to bring her car home two laps down in 9th place. Thomas was scored six laps down at the end of the race.
Vincent, Turner, and Ventura were the only drivers to complete the race without collecting any incident points.
RSR drivers travel to Florida next week for the “lesstuna.com Presents F1 at Sebring”.
Grand Prix Series Overall Standings after Race 8:
RASCARR Series Overall Standings after Race 8:
RSR YouTube Video Channel: