In the penultimate round of the Sports Car Open 2018/19 season, the championship headed to Interlagos. The GT title had already been decided, but this would be a crucial race for the Prototype and Prototype Challenge classes. In the LMP1 prototype class thus far there has been no repeat winners, leaving all to play for, whilst in the HPD field AVA and CoRe have thus far shared the victories in a two car shootout for the title.
For Legends Racing, the white car would once again been absent from teh starting grid due to driver unavailability, whilst Adam Parle paired up with Paul Searle in the #36 car.
Conditions in the free practice sessions were very warm, pace varying dramatically with the temperatures. This was anticipated to carry through to qualifying and the race.
In the Prototype Challenge, times were very close in qualifying. The class pole was a 1:22.764 for CoRe, with Paul Searle placing 8th for Legends with a 1:23.192.
With qualifying duties completed, Paul Searle handed over to Adam Parle for the race start. The start was clean, and the opening minutes saw strings of cars running nose to tail, before chaos ensued when the classes started lapping each other. Multiple incidents occurred as the three classes all sought a way past each other, but Adam managed to successfully navigate round the incidents and continue without issue.
Having started 8th, there was a loss of position when on lap InSim Sailor’s Pereira got by. The InSim driver had been driving in an extremely aggressive fashion, nearly causing a number of incidents before finally causing one with the Inertia GTE which put both cars out of the race.
With Pereira out, Adam set about reeling in World of SimRacing. Whilst the gap was successfully closed, the Legends #36 was unable to pass. The two teams had wildly different setups, leaving the Legends HPD by far the faster on the infield, but with their low downforce setup, the World of SimRacing car was untouchable on the start/finish straight. As such, despite costing the Legends time, their unmatched top end speed allowed them to retain their position lap after lap. This caused many teams issues throughout the day, as the majority of the field had adopted a similar setup strategy to the Legends.
It had been hoped that World of SimRacing would have to pit before the Legends, but they ran longer than #36, who run a lap longer than most of the front runners.
Through his second stint Adam continued to keep it clean, keeping out of trouble, and this time going a lap further, before the team rolled the dice with strategy – no new tyres. Opting for a single full stop and driver swap meant that suddenly Adam was running wheel to wheel with cars on different race strategies. At this point it was crucial to pick the right battles to fight – to focus on the finish rather than losing time fighting theses cars on different strategies.
With a triple stint in the bag, Adam handed over to Paul Searle on lap 85, who started as Adam finished; careful, clean, consistent driving. This paid dividends, when he inherited 6th after Inertia got involved with an incident, and 5th with CoRe suffering a disconnection issues. The team were sitting pretty, and looking at a top 5 finish before being scuppered by a lap 134 disconnection.
With Paul’s disconnection Adam jumped back in – but with just over a stint left to run, another visit would be required, leaving Adam having reeled in and passed the TFR HPD all for nothing. This pain was compounded by a comedy of errors in the final minutes, leading to two splash and dash stops and surrendering 9th place to SRN.
Bad luck, combined with errors late on once again combined leave the team wondering what might have been, and with chances of top 5 championship finish all but gone.
The #36 dropped to 8th in the Prototype Challenge championship, 4 points back from Inertia in 6th. Heusinkveld look to be safe in 5th (but in a fight for 4th with Buschfink). The no longer No Name team – now Riley SimRacing – sit in 3rd all alone in the championship, where they will likely remain. 4 points separate leaders CoRe and AVA, AVA dropping to 2nd after their non-finish.
Back in the Prototype championship it remains a 2 car fight in LMP1, 5 points the margin between Radicals and Pure, with Buschfink and Mivano tied for 3rd.
Behind the runaway GT winners, CoRe look likely to remain 2nd in the GT championship, Pure GT not having started the last 2 rounds.
The 8 hours of Silverstone will be the final event of the season. The #36 still has a chance to get back to 6th, but will need to avoid the mistakes from the last 2 races and have a little more good fortune. Hopefully the #37 will return for the finale, having missed the last two rounds.
Coverage by RaceSpot will continue to allow you to watch these title battles unfold, we’ll see you there.