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Vol. 1 No. 16
Motorsports News

Kiravian Grand Prix

The last race of October sees a dash back westward to the island of Kiravia for the third last race of the season, coming in just before Grand Prix Racing returns to Ixnay Proper for its conclusion. With a tight points race at the front between the Automobili Hermès S.A. and Anghel Octan Racing teams, any misstep could mean the difference between ultimate victory or defeat. With a maximum of 60 points up for grabs in the last three races, Alequé Silva's lead is unassailable from all except her teammate Jacob Asana and rival Carla Helvet as the drivers vie for their fourth, second, and first title(s) respectively.

The Strathannan Circuit which has hosted the Kiravian Grand Prix through its entire history is a high-speed circuit with great elevation changes. The track is also notably narrower than the average, owing to its age and the great size of modern cars compared to the ones raced historically in Grand Prix Racing. This has led some to refer to the track as "Levantx without the walls" though in reality, the narrowness is not typically as much of an impediment for passing as it is on the famously tight street circuit. Nevertheless, the best passing opportunities are at the end of the lap in the final corners before the start/finish straight: the only straight that is unaffected by elevation changes.

With clear weather forecasted for the weekend and no clear team advantage, the Kiravian Grand Prix promised to excite its large crowds of fans, even though the titles cannot be decided here as it so often has been in the past.

Practice sessions went by smoothly and quietly, though the typically slower teams appeared to perform strongly, with the top four teams of Corse Hermès S.A., Anghel Octan Racing, Imperial Cola Racing, and Racing Grand Premi deBedecq coming in with the 8-16 fastest laps rather than taking the top 8 cleanly. In all reality, this was likely due to the frontrunning teams turning down their engine power to prevent excessive wear as the teams near the end of their engine allocations. Certainly a DNF or grid penalty due to an engine failure or unallocated component exchange could prove disastrous for any driver. Come the third free practice session, the championship leading teams reasserted their positions, taking the top 8 with the Anghel Octan cars in front closely followed by Imperial Cola and deBedecq, with the Hermès cars notably a few tenths behind the rest on the timing charts.

As Q1 was underway, both O'Shea cars, as well as the Nerivas Nitro cars, succeeded in escaping the first cut. More disappointingly, Imperial Cola driver Daniel Richards suffered a brake failure on his first outlap, failing to set a time, though he saved Jacob Asana of Corse Hermès from being cut as the Insuian driver complained of odd balance issues. Q2 was not much better for Asana as he failed to enter the top 10 for Q3. Both Target cars also failed to break into Q3, though many were surprised as the Nerivas Nitro cars did, having apparently fixed some balance issues in the chassis over the past few weekends and perhaqs having transferred their bad luck to Asana and Richards. To further add insult to injury for Richards, his teammate Verstellus topped the charts in Q3 and took pole position, though only just, ahead of the two Anghel Octan cars which were then followed by Silva and the two deBedecq cars. The Nerivas Nitro cars managed to slot into 7th and 9th, ahead of Gelema's Quicksilver and Cristophe's O'Shea respectively.

Final Qualifying Results:
  1. VER (Imperial Cola) 1:17.619
  2. HIL (Anghel Octan) 1:17.681
  3. HEL (Anghel Octan) 1:18.363
  4. SIL (Hermès) 1:18.498
  5. VAL (deBedecq) 1:18.722
  6. ALB (deBedecq) 1:19.250
  7. DIA (Nerivas Nitro) 1:19.725
  8. GEL (Quicksilver) 1:19.756
  9. FLE (Nerivas Nitro) 1:19.835
  10. CRI (O'Shea) 1:20.347
  11. TER (Conglomo GP) 1:21.326
  12. ODA (Force Puhkgundi) 1:21.873
  13. HLD (Target) 1:21.979
  14. ASA (Hermès) 1:22.455
  15. MEU (O'Shea) 1:22.693
  16. WAL (Target) 1:23.159
  17. KIM (Conglomo GP) 1:23.961
  18. SAW (Quicksilver) 1:24.329
  19. BAS (Force Puhkgundi) 1:26.172
  20. RIC (Imperial Cola) DNQ

As nineteen of the twenty cars lined up on the grid, the lights went out and they went off with Richards following from the pitlane after the nineteenth car of Basuda rounded the first corner. Off the line Richards's teammate Verstellus had had a poor start, managing to cover off Helvet who had started right behind him but failed to pull ahead of Hilaire who came out ahead in the first corner. Silva also had a reasonably poor start and found herself overtaken by the eponymous deBedecq driver behind her.

While the rest of the field held off the line, over the first lap there were still some changeups. Richards emerged from the pitlane with strong pace and soon caught up to Basuda and Sawders, managing to overtake both before crossing the start/finish line for the first time. Sawders found himself in oddly familiar territory drafting behind the Pauldustllahani driver and was once again able to carry enough pace to stay glued behind the Imperial Cola car but not enough to reovertake, muttering over the radio about "weirdly complementary aero or something." Further ahead, Henri Meusart was finding himself stymied by Jacob Asana, the Burgundian driver somehow able to carry more momentum into the corners while the Insuian was able to pull ahead down the straights and over the hills. By lap 4, however, the Corse Hermès driver's fortunes turned as he was overtaken in turn 14. While Asana hoped to pull ahead along the main straight, he could only manage to pull alongside the O'Shea car; which took the inside line into turn 1 and defended its lead and relegating the driver who was third in the championship to fifteenth in the race thus far. The situation for the previous world champion grew even more dire as Lucian Walsh managed to cut down the gap and pass both cars on lap 8.

On lap 11, the Count of Valsoix managed to eke his gap to Helvet into an overtaking opportunity, trying first to pass along the turn 3-4 straight, but was promptly shut down by the Monteangeline driver. Holding close, he seized a second opportunity and succeeded in passing on the outside of turn 9. However, Helvet was able to pull ahead in the exit of turn 14 yet doing so compromised her angle of exit and the Count was able to power past her along the start/finish straight to complete the transaction. Meanwhile, Hilaire was extending his lead at the front of the race, steadily pulling ahead of Verstellus. Meanwhile, Asana finally found an opportunity to pass Meusart as the two battled for a strong exit through turn 11 and the straight to turn 12. While Asana ultimately nosed ahead, the two cars came extremely close to one another and contact was made wheel-to-wheel. The bump of the impact dropped the Insuian but as the spinning wheel returned to the pavement the car jolted forward and the Corse Hermès's front wing slammed into the front left tire of the O'Shea leading to a puncture. Both drivers came off poorly and limped back to the pits where Asana had his front wing and tires changed while Meusart only required the latter. While both cars dropped to the back, Meusart's quicker changer returned his lead over the Insuian for lap 14. Following review during the race, the stewards found the contact to be a racing incident and neither driver was penalized.

A single lap later the race saw its first DNF. Despite running strongly in the points, Alte Diatise lost drive mysteriously along the main straight, dropping out of the race as the two Target drivers switched places with Walsh making an overtake on Helde next to the stricken car before a virtual safety car was called, nullifying the race for a mere three laps as the Nerivas Nitro car was hauled over the barrier into the pitlane. When the race was resumed on lap 18, Alequé Silva was caught napping by Brigida Alba and was overtaken for fifth place. Nerivas Nitro's hopes once again waned as the other O'Shea driver, Armand Cristophe, overtook Saul Fleto, dropping the team to the final points position, tenth. The strong pace of the O'Shea cars surprised many as Cristophe proceeded to catch and overtake Gelema while Meusart further behind managed to maintain a steady gap from Asana, even as the latter two overtook Timo Basuda.

Lap 30 saw the initiation of the first rounds of pitstops with most teams on a single stop strategy, though Meusart and Asana stayed out having already pitted following their incident, theoretically hoping to complete the full race distance. Even so, the pair were unable to come out ahead, ultimately slotting behind the remaining Nerivas Nitro car. All other cars completed their stops but a particularly fast stop from Cristophe gained him two places over Alba and Silva placing him in fifth. The Target pitcrew likewise made quick work with Lucian Walsh who also jumped two places through an overcut, emerging last among the pitting cars on lap 37. This overcut was enabled by an incident on lap 36 in which Odashi Kimi hit the wall on turn 1 due to a lack of grip from his fresh but cold tires prompting another virtual safety car. While the rest of the field was beyond taking advantage of the situation, Walsh came out ahead.

Following Odashi's DNF, the race remained mostly constant following the resumption of racing. By lap 45, however, the tire situation for Meusart and Asana, who had both pitted on lap 13, was beginning to show signs of being untenable as both cars were fighting for grip with visible graining on their tires as the treads wore down to the inner carcass of the tire. Following a heavy slide from Asana in turn 3 on lap 48 which rubbed a large flat spot onto the tire as the wheel locked, Meusart and O'Shea took the initiative and pitted for fresh tires, both alleviating his own issue and covering off Asana who naturally followed him into the pits. While they were in position to finish the race on fast, soft tires, the pair fell all the way behind Sawders as most of the field passed them while they were pitting.

Despite the second DNF, Fleto was once again relegated to tenth as Walsh continued his charge, overtaking the Cronzcovinic driver on lap 50. After starting sixteenth Walsh's luck continued as Gelema, the hometown driver, had a gearbox issue and was forced to retire, losing out on his eighth place and promoting all the drivers behind him forward without invoking a safety car. Bronn Helde didn't share in his teammate's good fortune and ultimately spun out on turn 57 in turns 6 and 7, stalling the car as he came to a stop and rejoining the pack in sixteenth, down from eleventh, and ultimately ending his chances of taking home points.

With only four laps to go in the race, Walsh made a move to overtake the Corse Hermès of Silva along the start/finish straight, fighting hard to get ahead but ultimately failing to take the inside line through turn 1. Walsh nevertheless was able to carry a lot of momentum through the corner and effect the overtake in the first uphill climb to turn 2 - and not a moment too soon. As Walsh was finishing his overtake, Kim Shengkun was coasting along the main straight when he suffered a freak catastrophic failure of his front wing which snapped, folded under his car, and shattered, sending Kim into the barriers and littering shards of carbon fibre across the start/finish straight. Kim walked away, but the race had to be neutralized with a safety car. After the safety car led the race for a single lap, guiding the cars through the pitlane to avoid the main straight, the race was red-flagged due to the impossibility of cleaning up the track before the end of the race, leading to a premature conclusion on lap 68.

With a relatively uneventful race at the front, Hilaire took home his first win of the season which many considered to be overdue in comparison with his teammates success. The podium was completed with Verstellus in second and deBedecq in third, marking the return to form his team has had in the closing parts of the season. Fellow Burgundian team O'Shea likewise demonstrated strong pace while Nerivas Nitro took home their first points of the season, though they were once again hampered by another DNF. Despite Helvet failing to make it to the podium, her fourth-place finish over Silva's eighth allowed the Monteangeline to retake the championship lead by a nominal two points going into the final race.

Final Classification:
  1. HIL (Anghel Octan) 1:49:31.448
  2. VER (Imperial Cola) 1:49:35.560
  3. VAL (deBedecq) 1:49:43.254
  4. HEL (Anghel Octan) 1:49:44.344
  5. CRI (O'Shea) 1:49:46.480
  6. ALB (deBedecq) 1:49:49.912
  7. WAL (Target) 1:49:52.452
  8. SIL (Hermès) 1:49:53.519
  9. FLE (Nerivas Nitro) 1:50:01.239
  10. TER (Conglomo GP) 1:50:02.870
  11. RIC (Imperial Cola) 1:50:07.769
  12. SAW (Quicksilver) 1:50:13.375
  13. MEU (O'Shea) 1:50:16.776
  14. ASA (Hermès) 1:50:16.878
  15. HLD (Target) 1:50:16.908
  16. BAS (Force Puhkgundi) 1:50:29.338
  17. KIM (Conglomo GP) DNF
  18. GEL (Quicksilver) DNF
  19. ODA (Force Puhkgundi) DNF
  20. DIA (Nerivas Nitro) DNF

Championship Points:

Drivers Championship:

174 Carla Helvet
172 Alequé Silva
148 Jacob Asana
124 Gion Hilaire
118 Maxim Verstellus
096 Franc-Jean Hippolyte deBedecq
092 Daniel Richards
077 Brigida Alba
035 Armand Cristophe
034 Bronn Helde
028 Timo Basuda
027 Lucian Walsh
021 James Sawders
015 Henri Meusart
014 Bo Gelema
013 Terboven Guo
012 Odashi Kimi
009 Kim Shengkun
002 Saul Fleto
000 Alte Diatise

Constructors Championship:

320 Corse Hermès S.A.
298 Anghel Octan Racing
210 Imperial Cola Racing
173 Racing Grand Premi deBedecq
061 Target Motorsports
050 O'Shea HIS Motorsports
040 Force Pukhgundi Works
035 Quicksilver Racing
022 Conglomo Grand Prix Team
002 Nerivas Nitro Racing

With everything up for grabs between Helvet and Silva, two weeks' time brings us to the Caphirian Grand Prix and the season's conclusion where both Drivers and Constructors Championships will be decided.