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Vol. 1 No. 14
Motorsports News

Channelside Grand Prix

No concrete news about the ongoing financial issues of the Force Pukhgundi Works team came over the fortnight between races, though a number of rumours regarding potential buyers both surfaced and were dispelled in the intervening period. With Anghel Octan Racing, team officials remained mute on the team's championship setbacks, though in a pre-weekend press conference driver Helvet admitted that the team needed to focus in order to retake the lead with so few races left. Another team which declared its dedication was the new Nerivas Nitro team, now entering its second Grand Prix after a disappointing debut at home. Though the team has several hurdles regarding their car, the team principal stated that a goal of finishing above last, even with their late entry, was likely an achievable objective.

Continuing into the final third of the Grand Prix Racing season, the circus arrived on the island of Channelside in Pauldustllah. The winding course is relatively flat with long straights and smooth banking curves through the first sector, including the 90° right hander of turn 2 which is deceptively wide. Beyond turn 6 is the second sector which actually has a slightly more abrasive track surface and tight corners compared to the main road and plaza tarmac of the first sector. The final sector from turn 13 to the start/finish line is a tighter section providing the track with a lot of variety, though it still tends to favour powerful cars over more nimble ones.

Historically the race has had its fair share of eventful races, but also a fair number of processionary races and ultimately has a mixed reputation. Nevertheless, the venue is very popular and attracts a lot of attention. Concerns for an uneventful race were somewhat allayed by uncertain weather forecasts for the weekend with both rainy and clear patches en route to the island. What weather would hit the island and whether the dry or the wet would stick around remained unclear at the outset of the weekend.
The first free practice session on Friday was smooth sailing under a shining sun and a dry track. Moving into the second session, however, intermittent rainfall complicated several runs and some teams were caught out by wet patches on the track while on slick tires leading to a few spins, but none catastrophic. Heavy rainfall caused the session to be red flagged with only 15 minutes remaining and the session ultimately was not resumed despite the rain lessening within forty minutes. The final practice the morning before qualifying on Saturday was equally unpredictable with high winds carrying dense clouds across the track, but this time without rainfall. While not necessarily representative of race pace, Corse Hermès and the hometown team, Imperial Cola racing, set the quickest lap times across the practice sessions, though two other teams also performed beyond expectations as Quicksilver flirted with the top teams while Nerivas Nitro inserted itself among the midfield teams compared to their poor beginning last race.

In Q1 the good weather didn't hold up and caught out Count Valsoix as he spun on his second attempt to set a lap, ultimately ending up second-last. As the four slowest drivers were dropped going into the second qualifying session after a brief recess, several drivers were caught out as well as the track began to dry rapidly in a patch of sunlight. Championship challenger Carla Helvet of Anghel-Octan ended up burning out her treaded tires on the abrasive sector 2 of the circuit. Verstellus was likewise unable to reach the top 10 and was eliminated going into Q3. Ultimately, the two Corse Hermès S.A. drivers topped the timings on a bone-dry track with Alequé Silva taking pole position. Daniel Richards would have taken third at his home Grand Prix were it not for James Sawders who shocked many by putting his Quicksilver car onto the leading side of the second row. Other developments of note included a strong showing by the Force Pukhgundi drivers in the face of an uncertain future for the team. Terboven Guo also placed withing the top ten, but was dropped to 18th due to a penalty he incurred for causing a collision at the last race. This promoted Alte Diatise, who had only just missed out on Q3 by a tenth of a second, into 10th for the race start.

Final Qualifying Results:
  1. SIL (Hermès) 1:28.105
  2. ASA (Hermès) +0.138
  3. SAW (Quicksilver) +0.197
  4. RIC (Imperial Cola) +0.248
  5. HIL (Anghel Octan) +0.255
  6. ODA (Force Puhkgundi) +0.735
  7. BAS (Force Puhkgundi) +0.785
  8. HLD (Target) +0.971
  9. ALB (deBedecq) +1.099
  10. DIA (Nerivas Nitro) +1.109
  11. VER (Imperial Cola) +1.208
  12. WAL (Target) +1.251
  13. CRI (O'Shea) +1.279
  14. FLE (Nerivas Nitro) +1.709
  15. HEL (Anghel Octan) +1.905
  16. KIM (Conglomo GP) +1.917
  17. GEL (Quicksilver) +1.986
  18. TER (Conglomo GP) +0.837 +10 place penalty
  19. VAL (deBedecq) +2.330
  20. MEU (O'Shea) +2.461

While the qualifying sessions had ended in the dry on Saturday, by Sunday it was raining fairly steadily and as the clouds were heavy and the wind had died down, it seemed the rain would last the whole race. Despite the rain, a large number of spectators turned out for the event and fortunately for them there was no rain delay as the more dire conditions of the early morning let up by noon.

Nevertheless, as the cars completed the formation lap and waited for the five red lights to go on and extinguish, conditions took another blustery turn and the getaway was cautious from the start. While mostly processionary, Timo Basuda managed to slip ahead of his Force Pukhgundi teammate through the inside of turn 1 kink for 6th place. Things were less clean into the wide turn 2 as Bo Gelema and Terboven Guo made contact at the back of the pack. Henri Meusart and Count Valsoix were able to evade the two, with Meusart coming out ahead. While both cars retired, it was considered a racing incident, with neither driver being assigned blame, and didn't even necessitate a safety car due to the slow pace around the wet track and quick removal by the track marshals.

Further up the field, Both Maxim Verstellus and Lucian Walsh managed to pass the Nerivas Nitro of Alte Diatise for P10 and P11 respectively by lap 7. Despite pressure from cars behind, Sawders held onto third position due in part to the mitigated advantage of engine power in the wet as well as increased difficulty in passing due to the spray coming off of the cars from both air intakes and tire treads. Through the first part of the race, the spacings between cars remained relatively close, but eventually gaps did form and at the back Kim Shengkun fell into last on lap 12 behind the two Burgundian drivers from different teams who had evaded the lap 1 crash. Carla Helvet also found room for activity, making passes on Saul Fleto and Armand Cristophe on laps 11 and 14 respectively. Despite this setback, Fleto was able to take advantage following in the wake of the Anghel Octan car and execute an overtake on Cristophe himself. After several frustrations, Count Valsoix managed to pull his deBedecq car ahead of both Meusart and Fleto on laps 18 and 20.

Despite close action between cars in the treacherous wet, the race remained static going into the midway point as teams began to pull in drivers for fresh tires as treads began to wear down. In particular, two incidents marked the pit stops as Armand Cristophe was released from his pitbox with a loose right-rear tire, forcing a retirement as he had exited to the pitlane before the issue was communicated. Both deBedecq drivers lost time as the team made a gaff, bringing out the tire allocated to the Count in preparation for Alba's arrival, remedying the issue before the tires went on, but forcing Alba to wait in the box. When Count Valsoix came into the pitlane, he was forced to wait behind his teammate and ultimately lost the positions he had gained on Meusart and Fleto while Alba dropped behind Helvet.

Following the pitstops which lasted from lap 22 to lap 24, pace across the field remained relatively constant. At the back, Helvet continued to try to salvage her poor qualifying result, executing overtakes on Diatise and Walsh on laps 30 and 33 respectively, pushing the latter out of the last points position.

Conditions did not remain constant through the second phase of the race, however, and rainfall intensified further complicating the race and a safety car was brought out to guide the cars around the track until conditions improved on lap 35. While conditions had only moderately improved by lap 50, the safety car was brought in for 5 more laps of racing. This move was controversial as problems arose once the cars began racing again. While many cars skidded and slid in the heavy rain, Brigida Alba and Saul Fleto both slid off the track in opposite directions at turn 7. This necessitated another safety car which guided the cars across the finish line on lap 55.

With her second victory in a row and the second 1-2 finish for Corse Hermès S.A. of the season, Alequé Silva extended her lead in the Drivers Championship while a disappointing 10th further hampered the chances of Carla Helvet as her teammate also made ground on her with a 5th place finish. Further down the grid, the reaction of both drivers of the deBedecq team was one of intense frustration after a poor result. Two successes in different magnitudes were those of James Sawders who secured a shocking podium, more than doubling his own points over the last twelve races and that of Alte Diatise who, while ultimately failing to secure points, was more definitively able to stand toe-to-toe with many of the midfield cars. Sawders's success was yet another setback for the Cronzcovinic team as it furthered the gap between Quicksilver and Nerivas Nitro, along with the gap to Force Pukhgundi Works after a strong conversion from their qualifying position. Nevertheless, the team principal of Nerivas Nitro Racing maintained that with four races to go in the season there would be ample opportunities for them to improve and take some points away from other teams.

Final Classification:
  1. SIL (Hermès) 1:21:51.614
  2. ASA (Hermès) +0.812
  3. SAW (Quicksilver) +7.328
  4. RIC (Imperial Cola) +9.700
  5. HIL (Anghel Octan) +10.594
  6. BAS (Force Puhkgundi) +13.079
  7. ODA (Force Puhkgundi) +16.943
  8. HLD (Target) +17.309
  9. VER (Imperial Cola) +27.295
  10. HEL (Anghel Octan) +28.420
  11. WAL (Target) +29.218
  12. DIA (Nerivas Nitro) +30.940
  13. MEU (O'Shea) +31.651
  14. VAL (deBedecq) +35.378
  15. KIM (Conglomo GP) 35.783
  16. FLE (Nerivas Nitro) DNF
  17. ALB (deBedecq) DNF
  18. CRI (O'Shea) DNF
  19. TER (Conglomo GP) DNF
  20. GEL (Quicksilver) DNF

Championship Points:

Drivers Championship:

154 Alequé Silva
144 Carla Helvet
136 Jacob Asana
100 Gion Hilaire
093 Maxim Verstellus
092 Daniel Richards
076 Franc-Jean Hippolyte deBedecq
065 Brigida Alba
034 Bronn Helde
028 Timo Basuda
025 Armand Cristophe
023 Lucian Walsh
021 James Sawders
015 Henri Meusart
014 Bo Gelema
012 Odashi Kimi
009 Terboven Guo
008 Kim Shengkun
000 Saul Fleto
000 Alte Diatise

Constructors Championship:

290 Corse Hermès S.A.
244 Anghel Octan Racing
185 Imperial Cola Racing
141 Racing Grand Premi deBedecq
057 Target Motorsports
040 O'Shea HIS Motorsports
035 Quicksilver Racing
030 Force Pukhgundi Works
017 Conglomo Grand Prix Team
000 Nerivas Nitro Racing

As Alequé Silva and Corse Hermès S.A. solidify their leads in the Championships, Grand Prix Racing departs from Crona for the year to Levantia for the Spetsford Grand Prix in Kistan.
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