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Vol. 1 No. 12
Motorsports News

Rhodennir Grand Prix

Grand Prix Racing returns to the continent of Crona with the Rhodennir Grand Prix outside Rockport City in the United Kingdom. A classic race on a classic track, the Rockport Circuit is a simple track and perhaps the ultimate example of post-war airfield race tracks, preserved in its 1954 layout when the circuit was first used, replacing the dirt circuit which had hosted the event prior. While the track is still suitable for modern racing, it is very hardware-dependent with its long straights and few turns, though drivers are tested through the hard braking sections which can determine who has the skill to make it through the race.

Despite being moved up the calendar from its typical September slot, the last race weekend of August managed to come with moderate temperatures and overcast skies on most days with a looming threat of rain. Despite the possibility of poor weather, the most populous city in the United Kingdom did not disappoint as thousands of fans made the short trip outside of town, selling out every session over the weekend.

The controversial story over the weekend, however, was that of Viswanathan Chandhok, the team-owner of Force Pukhgundi Works who, following failed safety audits at several of his chemical plants in Pukhgundi, fled his home country on Monday and is rumoured to be hiding in Caphiria. These safety audits came following a chemical leak from a plant in a poorer suburb of Pukhjabad that has killed hundreds and injured many more. Following his flight from the country, Pukhgundi authorities issued a warrant for his arrest. Following this news, the team's future is potentially in jeopardy as Chandhok's domestic assets have been frozen. However, a team spokesperson assured reporters and fans that the team would not be affected by its owner's legal difficulties and will continue to compete.
Qualifying sessions demonstrated surprising parity across the field with much of the midfield and the backmarkers standing toe-to-toe with the typical leaders. This indicated to analysts that there is still relatively equality in terms of power among the teams, but ultimately it is misleading to associate practice session pace with race pace. While the weekend looked open-ended at the start, the result would remain to be seen.

Qualifying brought a number of surprises as the Imperial Cola Racing cars came out in dominating form on Saturday and ultimately replicating their success at the Reçêpistan Grand Prix back in May with Richards starting in first just ahead of teammate Verstellus. While Drivers Championship leader Helvet and challenger Silva had strong showings in qualifying, the same could not be said for their teammates with Asana failing to complete a clean lap through the final qualifying session putting him in 10th while Hilaire was unable to qualify due to a fuel line leak which could not be fixed quickly enough for him to set a time, relegating him to the back of the grid. Furthermore, in a shocking development, Conglomo Grand Prix driver Terboven Guo succeeded in taking 3rd place ahead of the leading Corse Hermès S.A. and Anghel Octan Racing drivers. Odashi Kimi simlarly had his best performance of the season landing in 6th while Franc-Jean Hippolyte deBedecq struggled along similar lines to Asana, only in the first qualifying session relegating him to a 16th place start. Following the session, the Count was gracious but complained that qualifying was difficult when accounting for the relatively short length of the circuit in tandem with the high speeds which had ultimately led to heavy congestion.

Final Qualifying Results:
  1. RIC (Imperial Cola) 1:22.055
  2. VER (Imperial Cola) 1:22.214
  3. TER (Conglomo GP) 1:22.445
  4. SIL (Hermès) 1:22.490
  5. HEL (Anghel Octan) 1:22.842
  6. ODA (Force Puhkgundi) 1:23.400
  7. HLD (Target) 1:23.539
  8. ALB (deBedecq) 1:23.634
  9. WAL (Target) 1:24.251
  10. ASA (Hermès) 1:24.557
  11. KIM (Conglomo GP) 1:25.915
  12. CRI (O'Shea) 1:26.019
  13. SAW (Quicksilver) 1:26.078
  14. MEU (O'Shea) 1:26.438
  15. BAS (Force Puhkgundi) 1:26.868
  16. VAL (deBedecq) 1:27.522
  17. GEL (Quicksilver) 1:29.805
  18. HIL (Anghel Octan) DNQ
Sunday saw a mix of sun and clouds with little chance of rain, indicating a relatively straightforward race ahead. With a mixed grid, the race held great potential as the lights lit up sequentially and then extinguished, kicking off the afternoon's race. Both Imperial Cola Racing cars made clean getaways into turn 1 and the short straight into turn 2, however, Verstellus had a slightly faster start than Richards and by the time the cars were exiting turn 2 he had made use of his momentum to take the lead. Just behind the two leaders, Terboven in his Conglomo GP car had poor pace off the line, allowing Silva to pass him into the first corner. Helvet also managed to overtake on the next corner, dropping the Corummese driver into 5th. At the back of the grid, Hilaire was able to jump Gelema on the start, but the Quicksilver driver managed to stick with him as the with along with deBedecq passed the Force Puhkgundi of Timo Basuda. Through the latter half of the first lap. In the middle, Asana got ahead of Walsh initially, but the Kistani driver managed to pull back ahead of the Insuian driver after dogging him through the first two laps.

Through to the lap 10 mark, Cristophe managed to pass Kim Shengkun while the former's O'Shea teammate also executed a pass on Sawders, closely followed by the Valsoix-Hilaire-Gelema train. Gelema's overtake on his Quicksilver teammate was facilitated by the tow he had behind Hilaire even though he has previously struggled to follow cars safely at such a close distance - a factor which prompted a humorous radio message from his race engineer advising him to be cautious. By this point, the Imperial Cola drivers had developed a significant lead over Silva who had herself developed a 4 second lead over Helvet.

On lap 13 while trying to reduce the gap between herself and Silva, Helvet ran wide off her exit of turn 6 onto the Flight Straight. Sliding off the track, she skidded across the turf runoff and impacted the wall; ending her race prematurely and throwing the championship lead into contention between the two Corse Hermès drivers. The wreck prompted a safety car and early pitstops for drivers close to the pit entry, including Anghel Octan's Hilaire and Quicksilver's Gelema. deBedecq had passed the pit entry just too soon and missed out on a pit stop under safety car; the advantage of which is that the relative time cost of pitting is reduced due to the slower track speed. While most drivers ultimately stayed out, Armand Cristophe pulled in which was mirrored by the Conglomo GP car of Kim Shengkun behind him. Racing resumed on lap 18 after the car was removed from the side of the track, but a single lap later Terboven Guo sustained a puncture while driving over some residual debris. While he was able to limp back to the pits, he fell to a distant last place.

The race remained relatively static though Silva succeeded in cutting down the gap to the Imperial Cola cars at the front. Her Corse Hemès teammate Asana was exhibiting a similar potential but found himself stymied by the Target car of Walsh in front of him. Meanwhile, Hilaire succeeded in passing Kim Shengkun and Armand Cristophe, but more shockingly the Quicksilver car of Bo Gelema stuck with him and also executed passes on those cars. By lap 30, the first rounds of scheduled pit stops for those who hadn't behind the safety car began. The stops promoted the five drivers, largely with the exception of Terboven. This was exacerbated by slow stops from Odashi Kimi and Bronn Helde, the former far more severely which dropped them in the running.

A big incident during the pit period occurred between Walsh and Asana, who both pitted on lap 32, hoping to gain an advantage in their long duel with quick stops. The Corse Hermès S.A. garage was closer to the pit entry and with a quick 2.1 second stop Asana continued down the lane at the speed limit of 80 km/h. Walsh, on the other hand, has entered earlier but with a relatively slow stop of 3.3 seconds he had lost out. Worse still, as Walsh was released from his box back into the pit lane, he pulled into the side of Asana's car which was coasting past the Target Motorsports garage. Both cars were critically damaged and had to be retired, which was fortunately quickly completed as the incident had occurred within the pitlane. Ultimately Walsh was found to not be at fault, but his team was fined for unsafely releasing his vehicle when the pitlane wasn't clear and both drivers' races were ended.

Entering into the second half of the race, many of the gaps that had developed in the first part were being solidified and extended, though Odashi Kimi managed to pull his Force Pukhgundi car ahead of the O'Shea of Henri Meusart on lap 39. Silva for her part steadied her pace, sitting in 3rd place. With the championship leader and main challenger out of the race, Silva stood to gain the lead so long as she finished in 6th place or above, tying for first with a 7th place finish. As though by jinx Silva suffered a power failure, ending her race at the apex of turn 4 on lap 43. The top three drivers in the championship standings were now out of the race.

Hilaire continued his charge, now in 4th with Gelema still behind him. With Alba's lead over him cut down by the pit stops, the two began to duel through the closing stages of the race. Ultimately, Hilaire executed a pass with six laps to go and managed to maintain 3rd place despite ageing hard tires. For Alba's part, despite losing pace to fuel-saving measures to make it to the end of the race, was able to hold off Gelema who had thus far succeeded in shadowing Hilaire. With the checkered flag, the Imperial Cola car of Verstellus had accomplished a commanding lead with Richards dropping back towards the end but nevertheless finishing second. The fan favourite of the race was Hilaire who started last in 18th but finished on the podium in third. Alba also made a strong finish, especially in comparison to the disappointing weekend of her more experienced teammate and boss. Gelema also more than doubled his points total for the season with his strongest finish. Nevertheless, the race was disappointing for the top three drivers as well as the Conglomo GP and Force Pukhgundi teams who had strong qualifying positions but failed to capitalize on that momentum.

Final Classification:
  1. VER (Imperial Cola) 1:47:47.140
  2. RIC (Imperial Cola) +17.123
  3. HIL (Anghel Octan) +20.101
  4. ALB (deBedecq) +46.419
  5. GEL (Quicksilver) +1:00.000
  6. CRI (O'Shea) +1:13.273
  7. HLD (Target) +1 lap
  8. KIM (Conglomo GP) +1 lap
  9. ODA (Force Puhkgundi) +1 lap
  10. MEU (O'Shea) +1 lap
  11. VAL (deBedecq) +1 lap
  12. SAW (Quicksilver) +1 lap
  13. TER (Conglomo GP) +1 lap
  14. BAS (Force Puhkgundi) DNF
  15. SIL (Hermès) DNF
  16. WAL (Target) DNF
  17. ASA (Hermès) DNF
  18. HEL (Anghel Octan) DNF
Championship Points:

Drivers Championship:

123 Carla Helvet
119 Jacob Asana
114 Alequé Silva
091 Gion Hilaire
079 Maxim Verstellus
078 Daniel Richards
073 Franc-Jean Hippolyte deBedecq
064 Brigida Alba
031 Bronn Helde
025 Armand Cristophe
022 Timo Basuda
014 Bo Gelema
013 Lucian Walsh
010 Henri Meusart
009 James Sawders
009 Terboven Guo
008 Odashi Kimi
008 Kim Shengkun

Constructors Championship:

233 Corse Hermès S.A.
214 Anghel Octan Racing
157 Imperial Cola Racing
137 Racing Grand Premi deBedecq
044 Target Motorsports
035 O'Shea HIS Motorsports
030 Force Pukhgundi Works
023 Quicksilver Racing
017 Conglomo Grand Prix Team

And with the advantage of the leaders cut down along with several shakeups in the midfield, join us next time for the next race in Cronzcovina.