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Vol. 1 No. 17
Motorsports News

Caphiravian Grand Prix

The concluding round of the first season of the turbo-hybrid era brings Grand Prix Racing back to Ixnay proper with the classic Caphiravian Grand Prix. Nestled in the hills just outside of the town of Volis, the Circus Volias is the longest circuit on the Grand Prix Racing calendar at just over 7 km (4.35 mi) around with several dramatic elevation changes over the course. The most famous of these, of course, is the Aqua Rubrum: a series of three quick turns in a 20 m (66 ft) stretch of track which likewise climbs up approximately 20 m in height. The famous circuit has been a mainstay of Grand Prix Racing for decades, though it was only moved to the concluding race of the season in 2019.

Both the Drivers Championship and the Constructors Championship remain to be clinched, the former is a tight race with a negligible difference between Helvet and Silva while the latter is more decidedly in Corse Hermès S.A.'s favour as essentially only a double DNF accompanied equally by a strong finish from both AOR cars would deprive them of the top result. Clear skies over the weekend meant that the final race would be run pure and clean for the end of the year and a pleasant experience for the thousands of spectators from all across Caphiria and beyond selling out every grandstand and every general admission ticket.

Times in the first practice session were close between the two frontrunning teams as well as the Imperial Cola Racing and Racing Grand Premi deBedecq teams as drivers from all four teams exchanged the fastest times around the track which has been slightly modified this year with a larger curb at the peak of Aqua Rubrum and a slightly widened final chicane, both to discourage corner-cutting in these key sections which had become problematic over the past couple outings. During the second session, the Quicksilver Racing cars also demonstrated a strong improvement for the end of the season, both coming ahead of Target and O'Shea, their close rivals over the season. With the final practice session the morning before qualifying, AOR and Corse Hermès appeared to maintain a slight lead over the other eight teams but beyond that, it was a toss-up.

The first session of qualifying saw the trends from practice transfer over as the top four teams covered the top eight spots. Drivers who failed to pass into Q2 included Diatise from Nerivas Nitro, Odashi from Force Pukhgundi, Gelema from Quicksilver, and Kim from Conglomo who would start 17th to 20th respectively. The second session once again spelled disaster for Jacob Asana who, despite no longer being in contention for the Drivers Championship was being counted on by his team to ensure the Constructors Championship for Corse Hermès. Unfortunately for the Insuians, a fuel line puncture kept his car in the garage and he was unable to qualify higher than 16. Q3 saw the top 10 filled out with Helvet taking pole position, a great advantage to retain her lead and take the ultimate win, with Valsoix lining up alongside her in second. Silva had to be content with 4th for the final race of the season while 7th, 8th, and 9th were clinched by Walsh, Cristophe, and Sawders with Alba rounding out the last of the top ten.

Final Qualifying Results:
  1. HEL (Anghel Octan) 1:45.003
  2. VAL (deBedecq) 1:45.057
  3. VER (Imperial Cola) 1:45.063
  4. SIL (Hermès) 1:45.275
  5. RIC (Imperial Cola) 1:45.379
  6. HIL (Anghel Octan) 1:45.580
  7. WAL (Target) 1:45.616
  8. CRI (O'Shea) 1:45.746
  9. SAW (Quicksilver) 1:45.834
  10. ALB (deBedecq) 1:45.918
  11. MEU (O'Shea) 1:45.974
  12. HLD (Target) 1:46.088
  13. TER (Conglomo GP) 1:46.407
  14. FLE (Nerivas Nitro) 1:46.711
  15. BAS (Force Puhkgundi) 1:46.940
  16. ASA (Hermès) 1:47.040
  17. DIA (Nerivas Nitro) 1:48.360
  18. ODA (Force Puhkgundi) 1:49.495
  19. GEL (Quicksilver) 1:49.540
  20. KIM (Conglomo GP) 1:49.736

Just after noon on Sunday, the cars lined up for one final race for the season. As the five red lights lit in sequence and then all went out the cars lept off their starting positions in the mad dash for position into turn 1: the Fons hairpin. The top six cars got away steadily with Anghel Octan's Hilaire jumping three positions as he drove along the outside; well clear of the commotion of cars jockeying for position along the inside line. The move was mimicked by Alba who brought her deBedecq car up three positions ahead of Target's Walsh. Further down the line, Asana jumped Basuda though the latter slotted in behind the Corse Hermès to catch a ride, Sawders-style, as the Insuian cut ahead of two more cars. Alte Diatise also had a strong start and jumped his Nerivas Nitro teammate, Saul Fleto, as well as the Conglomo GP car of Terboven Guo off the line and made up even more places after slotting right into the inside of turn 1.

The opening lap was punctuated by a dramatic turn of events as the lead cars powered out of the first corner and charged up to the Aqua Rubrum creek and the hill that lay beyond it. As championship leader Helvet crested the hill, she ran wide and clipped over the newly heightened curb, snapping the suspension of the front-left wheel and spinning off to the left of the track. Following closely behind, Franc-Jean Hippolyte deBedecq eased onto his brakes and swerved to avoid the spinning car, but behind him the other Anghel Octan driver came to the top of the hill blind to the events which had occurred within mere seconds. Swerving to avoid the slower deBedecq car, Hilaire smashed into the rear of his teammate's car which had only just come to rest half on the track and half on the grass. The impact sent Helvet spinning once again while Hilaire, now a passenger inside his hurtling vehicle, bounced to the right clipping the rear of the deBedecq car before the car crossed onto the grass on the right side of the track at which point the remains of the front-right wheel and suspension dug into the turf and upended the car, sending it into a tumble before it came to rest upright against the track barrier. An immediate double-yellow flag signal was put out and the rest of the drivers reduced their speeds coming over the hill, though this did not prevent the first few cars from picking up debris, damaging front wings and tires as carbon fibre was strewn across the track. Further up ahead the Count's clipped tire gave out and slapped the floor of the car against the tarmac, leaving a trail of sparks and flinging more carbon fibre shards across the track. Concerned that the effort of returning to the pits would impart irreconcilable damage to the structure of the car, the team ordered their boss to pull over and retire for his final race. Both Anghel Octan drivers exited from their vehicles with their own faculties, but the medical car was quickly on the scene to provide first aid and deliver the drivers to a medical examination. Once again both drivers entered the car on their own power, though after removing her helmet Helvet vomited during live coverage before entering the vehicle.

With a heavy amount of debris remaining over a blind crest, with the additional vehicles affected by the results of the incident, and with three derelict vehicles in close proximity, the race was red-flagged for the moment; to be resumed with a rolling start once the debris was fully cleared. Teams were able to bring their drivers back to their garages to repair minor damage and adjust front wing settings, but the red flag also made it more likely that the session would end under the time limit rather than running the full number of laps. After a twenty minute delay, the race was poised to restart and cars began to emerge from their garages to queue up at the pit exit behind the safety car to resume under the rolling start. However, the would-be new leader, Verstellus, was unable to take his place as the IRF scrutineers had paid an allegedly random inspection during the red flag and found the Caphirian driver's car to be over-fueled, disqualifying him from his home Grand Prix. This proved to be controversial as the scrutineers are technically not supposed to conduct inspections mid-race session, but regardless Imperial Cola had broken regulation by filling the car with more than the maximum legal limit of 100 kg of fuel.

On the reset, Silva took the lead of the race, now crucial as she only needed a seventh-place finish or higher to definitively clinch the Drivers Championship; any lower or a DNF would put the trophy in the hands of Helvet. After completing lap 2 behind the safety car, racing resumed on lap three as Silva pulled ahead to a steady lead. Behind her, Sawders made a strong showing, jumping the O'Shea of Cristophe ahead of him and climbing into fifth through the Combes chicane. Cristophe lost even more time attempting to battle back ahead of the Urcean driver and overcooked his tires in turn 10. He was subsequently overtaken by his teammate behind, Meusart, and subsequently Bronn Helde on laps 4 and 5. Shortly thereafter, on lap 7, Kim Shengkun pitted his Conglomo GP car and retired due to an Energy Recovery System issue which was preventing him from deploying an energy boost from his battery, relegating him to the back of the grid; thus making for the fifth retirement of the race.

The racing order gradually stabilized and gaps began to steadily form after the tenth lap mark, though the latter end of the first phase of the race remained focused on the battle between Richards and Alba, the remaining Imperial Cola and deBedecq drivers respectively, as the two vied for second which Richards diligently defended as Silva made a more and more convincing getaway out in the lead.

The earliest pitstops began to come in around lap 19 with Cristophe being the first to come into the pits on his roughened tires. The pair behind him of Asana and Basuda declined to respond to this so quickly however and both effected an overcut; running out the last bit of pace in their older tires before swapping a fresh pair. The two pitted only on lap 23 and 24 respectively and each came out ahead of Cristophe. The same could not be said at the front with Brigida Alba diving into the pits on lap 20 for fresh rubber and leaving Silva and Richards to respond on the subsequent lap. Putting in a new fastest lap of the race on her new tires, Alba managed to undercut the Pauldustllahani driver and momentarily challenged Silva for the lead on the pit exit before the Insuian came out ahead through Aqua Rubrum. Other cars which benefitted from quick pitstops included Sawders who overtook Walsh to slot into his usual place behind Richards and Diatise who maintained his lead over Asana, unlike Cristophe.

Through the second phase of the race, Alba remained close to Silva, occasionally vying for the lead but being relatively conservative with her lunges. On lap 35, Meusart was forced to retire from sixth place due to a gearbox failure, though he was, fortunately, able to park the car nearby an opening and the car was removed from the track without a safety car. One seventh and final DNF came as Terboven Guo likewise suffered a gearbox failure as the car became caught in second gear. While he was able to coast to the pits he, unfortunately, had to join his teammate and retire making it a disappointing double-DNF for the Corummese team and drivers. With only 5 laps to go, it was approaching a "now or never" moment for Alba who had managed to keep close to the leader. Running into the Combes chicane, Silva predicted an overtake attempt from the Burgundian driver approaching behind and moved sharply along the inside to block. However, Alba bided her time for an instant and held position, taking a superior exit on the outside of the chicane and rounded around the outside of the wide turn 10 hairpin, and cutting into the inside of turn 11 to take the lead. While Silva initially put the pedal down to come back at Alba, her race engineer radioed to remind her that her fuel level was marginal for the end of the race and that it was "more important to take 'er home for the championship." The last overtake before the end of the race came as a surprise to many as James Sawders used the rest of his ERS deployment and a final boost from a rich fuel engine mode to overtake the Imperial Cola car of Daniel Richards ahead of him to clinch the final podium place; a stark contrast with his teammate who crossed the finish line last of all the cars that completed the full race distance.

Despite the red flag period, the race had been run just under the two-hour time limit with Alequé Silva claiming the World Drivers Championship, the second of her career, on the second step of the podium. With a heartbreaking result, Helvet has to accept second place in the championship while Franc-Jean Hippolyte deBedecq likewise had to contend with a disappointing conclusion to his career, though light shone at the other end for his team as, with this final victory and the Count's DNF, Alba overtook the team's #1 driver in the championship standings, proving her pedigree for the continued success of the Burgundian team next season.

Final Classification:
  1. ALB (deBedecq) 1:21:59.122
  2. SIL (Hermès) 1:22:09.619
  3. SAW (Quicksilver) 1:22:23.320
  4. RIC (Imperial Cola) 1:22:39.708
  5. WAL (Target) 1:22:44.995
  6. HLD (Target) 1:22:45.921
  7. DIA (Nerivas Nitro) 1:22:47.838
  8. ASA (Hermès) 1:22:54.722
  9. BAS (Force Puhkgundi) 1:22:54.776
  10. CRI (O'Shea) 1:22:56.563
  11. FLE (Nerivas Nitro) 1:22:58.287
  12. ODA (Force Puhkgundi) 1:22:59.374
  13. GEL (Quicksilver) 1:23:00.142
  14. TER (Conglomo GP) DNF
  15. MEU (O'Shea) DNF
  16. KIM (Conglomo GP) DNF
  17. VER (Imperial Cola) DSQ
  18. VAL (deBedecq) DNF
  19. HIL (Anghel Octan) DNF
  20. HEL (Anghel Octan) DNF
Championship Points:

Drivers Championship:

187 Alequé Silva
174 Carla Helvet
151 Jacob Asana
124 Gion Hilaire
118 Maxim Verstellus
102 Daniel Richards
097 Brigida Alba
096 Franc-Jean Hippolyte deBedecq
040 Bronn Helde
036 Armand Cristophe
036 James Sawders
035 Lucian Walsh
030 Timo Basuda
015 Henri Meusart
014 Bo Gelema
013 Terboven Guo
012 Odashi Kimi
009 Kim Shengkun
004 Alte Diatise
002 Saul Fleto

Constructors Championship:

338 Corse Hermès S.A.
298 Anghel Octan Racing
220 Imperial Cola Racing
193 Racing Grand Premi deBedecq
075 Target Motorsports
051 O'Shea HIS Motorsports
050 Quicksilver Racing
042 Force Pukhgundi Works
022 Conglomo Grand Prix Team
006 Nerivas Nitro Racing

With a new World Champion, new drivers, new teams, and new regulations; the world of the International Racing Federation's Grand Prix Racing series is bound to be shaken up next season. So while we're all certain to languish in the offseason, be sure to tune in next season for more action and look out for updates on the teams in the meanwhile!

(Mont isn't sure if he wants to do updates like that in the meantime so who knows.)