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Vol. 1 No. 13
Motorsports News

Costa Ciugas Grand Prix

Two major stories occupied the majority of media attention in the run up the Costa Ciugas Grand this weekend. The first was a continuation of the financial woes of Force Pukhgundi Works and absent team principal, Viswanathan Chandhok. Despite assurances from team personnel that the team would continue to operate, a number of Pukhgundi banks have begun procedings to repossess assets of Chandhok's estate following his legal difficulties with both his chemical plant as well as a number of fraud cases which have since come to the fore. Rumours circulated at the end of last week that the Grand Prix Racing team would be shuttered before the next race, but ultimately this turned out to not be the case. On Monday ahead of this week's Grand Prix, Force Pukhgundi driver Odashi Kimi, a Mutsutori expat who has resided in Pukhgundi for close to a decade, filed an administration suit conceited on Pukhgundi probate law. In the absence of Chandhok, the distribution of assets in the team's bankruptcy case can be undertaken by an arbitrator who can ensure the assets remain whole. This means that the team can avoid immediate liquidation and continue to function while the arbitrator seeks a buyer or until it is determined that one cannot be located, which would likely extend past the rest of the season at least regardless. While the fate of the team is ultimately uncertain, their continued presence in the Grand Prix paddock is assured at least for the year.

The second story in the lead up to the Costa Ciugas Grand Prix was more local regarding the entry of Cronzcovinic automobile manufacturer Nerivas Nitro. While the team was slated to enter at the beginning of next year alongside Target Motorsports, the early entry of the latter allegedly prompted demands from the Nerivas Nitro board of shareholders to demand an early entry as well, at least for the company's home Grand Prix. While the team arrived and has taken up the tenth slot in the paddock, a number of concerns remain, especially regarding the power unit. While the automobile manufacturer has planned to build its own engine, the significant alteration in the deadline made that plan impractical and the team has instead opted to purchase an Amazon Motors M09 EQ Power+ Unit. While all power units have demonstrated relative parity over the season, as the chassis of Nerivas Nitro's car is not optimized for the Amazon engine (unlike the Target cars which had anticipated purchasing Hermès engines) the team principal has tempered expectations for the team, publicly drawing the ire of company shareholders. With a lineup of two drivers, #66 Alte Diatise and #26 Saul Fleto, who performed strongly in the Cronzcovinic junior series, Formula Nitro, the prospects of the team, entering late into the current season, are also uncertain.

Continuing on to the Grand Prix this weekend, the weather was calm in the northern city over the whole weekend with the exception of winds which were both heavy and erratic. Attendance was also strong over the weekend, filling out most of the grandstands around the 15 turn circuit while general admission tickets on race day were sold out.
On the Friday practice sessions, speed differentials are often difficult to determine as teams may be running different practice programs, though the new Nerivas Nitro team did suffer failures on their first outlaps as their rear wings became stuck open following the main straight. Grand Prix Racing cars have drag reduction systems (DRS): movable rear wings which can create an opening to reduce drag on long straights and increase speed, though in races this is only permitted to help in overtaking if the driver is within one second of the car in front. The decreased drag also decreases downforce which means less grip which, as Alte Diatise surely found out, renders cornering exceptionally difficult as he skirted across the grass in turn 2. Despite both cars suffering these failures on the first respective laps out, both drivers were able to avert total disaster and bring the cars back to the garage, hopefully rectifying the issue permanently. Practices were otherwise uneventful.

On Saturday, the qualifying sessions took place following the third and final practice session. With a grid of twenty cars for the first time this season, qualifying ran for the full three sessions with all cars starting in the first session. the top sixteen in the second, and the top ten ultimately determined the grid order with the conceit that the top ten must begin the race on their used Q2 tires. Unfortunately, the Quicksilver cars and the Nerivas Nitro cars failed to make it through Q1 and only just managed to fall within 107% of the ultimate pole time, a margin which is required to start on race day. More surprisingly, in fact, was that Jacob Asana and Brigida Alba failed to make it through Q1, though at least they had the benefit of free tire choice for the beginning of the race. Ultimately, the Q3 session saw Helvet take pole position alongside Silva, with the two O'Shea cars making a surprising leap to qualify 4th and 6th after an aerodynamics upgrade which flew under the press radar in the busy news week.

Final Qualifying Results:

  1. HEL (Anghel Octan) 1:11.212
  2. SIL (Hermès) 1:11.416
  3. HIL (Anghel Octan) 1:11.547
  4. MEU (O'Shea) 1:11.822
  5. RIC (Imperial Cola 1:12.200
  6. CRI (O'Shea) 1:12.544
  7. VER (Imperial Cola) 1:12.560
  8. TER (Conglomo GP) 1:12.692
  9. VAL (deBedecq) 1:12.717
  10. WAL (Target) 1:12.774
  11. ASA (Hermès) 1:13.657
  12. HLD (Target) 1:13.702
  13. ODA (Force Puhkgundi) 1:13.736
  14. ALB (deBedecq) 1:13.749
  15. KIM (Conglomo GP) 1:14.045
  16. BAS (Force Puhkgundi) 1:14.206
  17. GEL (Quicksilver) 1:14.206
  18. SAW (Quicksilver) 1:14.212
  19. DIA (Nerivas Nitro) 1:16.101
  20. FLE (Nerivas Nitro) 1:16.196

With a long run from both the start/finish line and following the first turn, maximizing the launch of the car off the start would be vital as the drivers prepared for the race to begin. Off the line, Terboven had a much stronger launch in his Conglomo GP car than Cristophe in his O'Shea - such a better start that the two cars collided as Terboven misjudged the braking of Cristophe into turn 1, removing both from the race, but fortunately avoiding other drivers. With regards to Terboven's otherwise clean record, he was awarded a 10-place grid penalty for the next race and 3 penalty points on his super license, unlike a very similar incident six years ago which resulted in a race ban due to the driver's previous reckless conduct. The race also came under a safety car immediately following the first lap, though there was enough time for some racing and changes before the race was neutralized

Following closely behind Helvet, Silva managed to position her Hermès car behind the leader through the first corner and brake perfectly behind into the short hairpin before the Parabólico bend, draft in the slipstream of the Anghel Octan car ahead and make a daring pass along the long bend, outbraking into the Horquila hairpin to take the lead on the first lap. Other first lap change ups included the advancement of Verstellus ahead of his teammate off the line followed by Meusart before the Imperial Cola driver cross the start/finish line again. Lucian Walsh likewise made a strong start, even jumping the deBedecq car ahead of him to begin drafting closely behind the Imperial Cola Racing car of Richards which started directly ahead on the row in front of him. To conclude with fist lap changes, Sawders overtook both his teammate and the Force Pukhgundi of Timo Basuda.

As the race restarted on lap 6, Helvet made several attempts to retake the lead from Silva, though to no avail. To aid in his team's bid for a better points finish, Hilaire dropped back from the leaders to stymie the rest of the field by lap 10 in order to provide room for his teammate to orchestrate an overtake. Further down the field, Basuda managed to overtake Sawders on the restart. On lap 14, Helde was forced to make an early pitstop after veering slightly off the racing line and suffering a slow puncture from a piece of debris leftover from the lap 1 incident. The stop dropped him behind both Nerivas Nitro cars.

Lap 25 saw the midway pitstops across the field. Helvet was unable to gain an advantage by undercutting Silva's lap times on fresher tires, but the true failure in Anghel Octan's pit strategy fell on her teammate Hilaire, who dropped from 3rd to 6th following a slow stop when a mechanic accidentally attached one of Helvet's just-removed tires rather than the fresh set allocated for Hilaire. The issue was rectified before the driver left the pitbox, but the car was left sitting long enough for the brakes to begin steaming without air flow to keep them cool. Upon rejoining the race, Hilaire would be overtaken by Target Motorsports's Walsh as he tried to cool his brakes. The damage would be slightly mitigated by a poor stop for Imperial Cola's Richards who dropped behind Hilaire, from 5th to 7th. Walsh's teammate, Helde, came ahead with a sub-two second pitstop and also managed to take advantage of his new pace to overtake the Nerivas Nitro of Saul Fleto ahead of him.

On lap 38, Odashi Kimi had a gearbox failure and was forced to retire his Force Pukhgundi car - a disappointing result considering both the difficulties the team was having off the track in addition to the fact that he had been running in 10th place, just in the points. To the joy of the home crowd and to the surprise of many, Alte Diatise was managing to keep ahead of the Target Motorsports car of Helde over a period of over ten laps. However, this joy would be short-lived as once the Nerivas Nitro car approached the Quicksilver car of Bo Gelema ahead and activated the drag reduction system (DRS), the issue from the practice reoccurred and the wing remained stuck open, severely impairing the vehicle's handling. The car was pitted and moved from the pitbox into the garage as the mechanics attempted to rectify the issue, but as the car came to be lapped twice the team retired the car, ending Diatise's race on lap 50.

Into the closing phase of the race, Lucian Walsh made a move to get ahead of the O'Shea car ahead of him on lap 52, taking 4th place from Henri Meusart and securing strong points for Target Motorsports. On the same lap, Helde managed to pull ahead of Gelema, though a charge through the field into the points was nigh-impossible for the Kistani driver. By the time of the last lap, the remaining Conglomo GP driver, Kim Shengkun, suffered the second gearbox issue of the race, though it was less drastic as the driver simply lost access to 8th gear, essentially only hampering top speeds. Nevertheless, this was enough to drop the Corummese driver from 11th to 13th and dash any hopes for a finish within the points.

Ultimately, Silva crossed the finish line ahead of Helvet, having controlled the race handily after taking the lead on lap 1. With this finish, Silva retook the lead of the Drivers Championship by 3 points, in addition to several other changes through the field.

Final Classification:
  1. SIL (Hermès) 1:26:29.845
  2. HEL (Anghel Octan) +4.535
  3. VER (Imperial Cola) +6.732
  4. WAL (Target) +7.654
  5. MEU (O'Shea) +9.609
  6. HIL (Anghel Octan) +28.871
  7. RIC (Imperial Cola) +30.556
  8. VAL (deBedecq) +31.750
  9. ASA (Hermès) +32.362
  10. ALB (deBedecq) +34.197
  11. BAS (Force Puhkgundi) +34.919
  12. SAW (Quicksilver) +43.069
  13. KIM (Conglomo GP) +46.617
  14. HLD (Target) +1 lap
  15. GEL (Quicksilver) +1 lap
  16. FLE (Nerivas Nitro) +1 lap
  17. DIA (Nerivas Nitro) DNF
  18. ODA (Force Puhkgundi) DNF
  19. CRI (O'Shea) DNF
  20. TER (Conglomo GP) DNF
Championship Points:

Drivers Championship:

132 Alequé Silva
129 Carla Helvet
121 Jacob Asana
106 Gion Hilaire
091 Maxim Verstellus
082 Daniel Richards
076 Franc-Jean Hippolyte deBedecq
065 Brigida Alba
031 Bronn Helde
025 Armand Cristophe
023 Lucian Walsh
022 Timo Basuda
015 Henri Meusart
014 Bo Gelema
009 James Sawders
009 Terboven Guo
008 Odashi Kimi
008 Kim Shengkun
000 Saul Fleto
000 Alte Diatise

Constructors Championship:

255 Corse Hermès S.A.
235 Anghel Octan Racing
173 Imperial Cola Racing
141 Racing Grand Premi deBedecq
054 Target Motorsports
040 O'Shea HIS Motorsports
030 Force Pukhgundi Works
023 Quicksilver Racing
017 Conglomo Grand Prix Team
000 Nerivas Nitro Racing

After that eventful race Grand Prix Racing concludes its tour of Crona next time out with the Channelside Grand Prix.