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Sports Illuminated Vol. 1 No. 4

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May 2031
Vol. 1 No. 4
Motorsports News


Reçêpistan Grand Prix

Round 4 of the 2031 IRF Grand Prix Racing series began in Lezar, the capital of Reçêpistan, on a street circuit around and through Tuzla Park at the city centre. The park itself has served historically as a communal gathering place and is mostly paved with stone slabs over the old marketplace. While the circuit makes use of city streets for several segments, purpose-built segments of tarmac were laid for the track in the park and the marketplace for the inaugural Grand Prix in 2000 giving the circuit its present form.

Despite some concerns in the capital over the weekend, the race proceeded mostly without interruption as Reçêpistani security forces kept a close watch on affairs. Despite the unsually high security, attendance for the race was high. The weather was generally calm, though severe winds and blowing sand/dust ended the first practice session prematurely. The dust was cleaned up for the next day and the weekend proceeded without incident. Humidity was extremely low and temperatures were high over the weekend, peaking at 36 °C during qualifying.
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Imperial Cola Racing brought an upgraded aerodynamic package to the race and was eager to demonstrate their improved pace through the practice sessions. An unpredicted wave of dust over the track damaged the air intakes and paint on several cars in the first practice session, but there was no major damage caused. The rest of the practice sessions occurred without incident, though the Imperial Cola drivers, Daniel Richards and Maxim Verstellus, both improved their lap times relative to other races with their major upgrades.

In qualifying, Richards and Verstellus took first and second position respectively to the dismay of rival teams who would now be encumbered with the task of bringing competitive upgrades in future races. Qualifying was especially disappointing for Racing deBedecq and Force Pukhgundi who set lap times full seconds behind the leader. In a reversal of his two consecutive pole positions, the Comte de Valsoix lined up second-last for the race start. The drivers for Anghel Octan equally saw relatively disappointing qualifying results as they placed 5th and 8th coming off a 1-2 finish at their home Grand Prix. Despite the pace of Imperial Cola Racing, both Hermès drivers put in respectable times to line up behind the leaders. Armand Cristophe achieved his second-best qualifying result of the season thus far and Bo Gelema matched his own best in 7th to shake up the order of the race start.

Final Qualifying Results:
  1. RIC (Imperial Cola): 1:21.498
  2. VER (Imperial Cola): 1:21.677
  3. ASA (Hermès): 1:21.837
  4. SIL (Hermès): 1:21.911
  5. HIL (Anghel Octan): 1:22.490
  6. CRI (O'Shea): 1:22.523
  7. GEL (Quicksilver): 1:22.547
  8. HEL (Anghel Octan): 1.23.066
  9. SAW (Quicksilver): 1:23.351
  10. ODA (Force Pukhgundi): 1:23.585
  11. ALB (deBedecq): 1:23.886
  12. BAS (Force Pukhgundi): 1:24.019
  13. VAL (deBedecq): 1:24.074
  14. MEU (O'Shea): 1:24.759
Pre-race activities were somewhat muted in the capital, but nevertheless proceedings unfolded on schedule prior to the race start. Off the line, the four lead cars achieved more or less equal launches into the first corner and maintained formation through the first corners around the fountain plaza. In turn 4 however, Silva in 4th place took the inside line tight around the corner followed closely by Hilaire who came alongside her on the outside line. Cristophe likewise pulled alongside Hilaire and turned in tightly, expecting Hilaire to have room on the inside, unaware that Silva was occupying that space. This resulted in a three-car collision as Hilaire was sandwiched between the two cars. This resulted in severe damage to Cristophe's front axle and forced his retirement. Silva came away with a left-rear puncture and fell to the rear of the pack. Hilaire suffered a double puncture, losing both the left-rear and right-front tires as well as segments from the front wing, leaving him to limp through 2/3 of the track on two tires and two rims to the pit entry well behind even Silva. Both drivers changed tires onto the medium compound which theoretically could last to the end of the race, but at a slower pace than the soft or super-soft tires the other drivers planned to use.

Behind the leaders, the rest of the pack remained in order with the exception of the Comte de Valsoix who overtook Timo Basuda at the race start through the first corner. His teammate, Brigida Alba, likewise overtook Odashi Kimi resulting in both deBedecq cars overtaking both Force Pukhgundi cars within the first lap. By the third lap, Basuda was also overtaken by Meusart as the remaining O'Shea driver showed surprising pace.

On lap 10, Bo Gelema who was in 4th after the previous incident and was running a clean race thus far suffered a power unit failure resulting in his second DNF in four races and ending his chances of scoring points for a second time. Sawders likewise fell behind Alba two laps later. At the front of the race, the leaders maintained formation, though teammates Richards and Verstellus had several close calls as they jockeyed for the lead even going so far as to rub the paint off their tires as they touched going through turn 12/13 on lap 15.

Lap 20 saw the first rounds of pitstops that concluded by lap 25 as most cars battling each other managed to cover each other off and prevent undercuts. Silva and Hilaire who were still running at the back managed to overcut the field from Sawders downward, however, yet a gap remained between these two and the leaders. This was largely due to light contact between Sawders and Odashi within the pitlane as Odashi exited his pitbox as Sawders was passing. Both cars evaded contact narrowly but were greatly slowed. Odashi's car was assigned a 5-second penalty for the "unsafe release." The two drivers dropped to the back of the pack following this incident.

On lap 31 Timo Basuda impacted a barrier, shattering his front wing on turn 12 just before the pitlane entry. He was able to return to the pits for a new front wing and fresh tires immediately, but the debris left on the track prompted race control to deploy a safety car to lead the race while the debris was cleaned up. The safety car proceeded for 3 laps during which the pack was bunched up. Basuda, in last place, managed to impact a wall at turn 9 as he was swerving to pull heat into his fresh tires at low speed. This collision broke his front suspension and forced a retirement, his second in a row. The safety car proceeded to nullify the race for another 3 laps as his car was removed.

As the race resumed on lap 38, the front of the pack again pulled ahead of Alequé Silva as she was unprepared for the restart. Despite this gap, Silva and Hilaire were managing their tires well, even going so far as to avoid pitting to maintain track position behind the safety car as the leaders would have to make another pitstop before the end of the race. Like the leaders, Meusart also took advantage of the restart to jump the Comte de Valsoix, taking 8th place.

At the end of lap 45, the first of the leaders began to make their final pitstops, switching from the soft tires they had done two stints on to the super-soft for the end of the race. Silva and Hilaire had steadily managed gaps to the leaders and found themselves in the middle of the group once the pitlane times were to be accounted for. Race positions at the end of the next few laps would thusly come down to the speed of the pitstops. Believing he had more life in his tires Richards, who had led every lap of the race thus far, deferred the first stop to his teammate so that he could pull a few final fast laps out of his aged tires. Verstellus, Asana, Helvet, and Alba all pitted in quick succession and maintained their order, but emerged behind Silva and Hilaire. On lap 47, Richards pitted after setting a record lap time and definitively damaging the tires so severely that they could certainly not finish the race over the final 12 laps. After a blistering 1.9 s pitstop, Richards exited the pitlane only to slot between Silva and Hilaire, ceding the lead to the former. Despite several skilful challenges and tight battles over the final laps, the order was maintained and Silva cruised home to her first victory of the year.

Silva scored both her first win as well as her first podium of the year while Hilaire scored his second podium in a row; his second of the year. Richards likewise scored his second podium; both silvers. The standings saw several changes, of note at the front of the Drivers Championship leaderboard where Jacob Asana, scoring two points over Carla Helvet turned his single point deficit into a single point lead over the Monteangeline driver. In the Constructors Championship, Anghel Octan Racing maintains the lead, but Hermès S.A. has made up ground.

Final Classification:
  1. SIL (Hermès): 1:26:44.291
  2. RIC (Imperial Cola): +2.460
  3. HIL (Anghel Octan): +4.024
  4. VER (Imperial Cola): +5.329
  5. ASA (Hermès): +7.515
  6. HEL (Anghel Octan): +9.158
  7. ALB (deBedecq): +10.931
  8. MEU (O'Shea): +12.546
  9. VAL (deBedecq): +14.152
  10. SAW (Quicksilver): +18.030
  11. ODA (Force Pukhgundi): +18.512
  12. BAS (Force Pukhgundi): DNF
  13. GEL (Quicksilver): DNF
  14. CRI (O'Shea): DNF
Championship Points:

Drivers Championship:
Points/Driver

50 Jacob Asana
49 Carla Helvet
39 Gion Hilaire
38 Daniel Richards
31 Alequé Silva
30 Maxim Verstellus
28 Franc-Jean Hippolyte deBedecq
18 Timo Basuda
14 Brigida Alba
07 James Sawders
07 Henri Meusart
06 Odashi Kimi
06 Armand Cristophe
03 Bo Gelema

Constructors Championship:
Points/Constructor

89 Anghel Octan Racing
81 Corse Hermès S.A.
68 Imperial Cola Racing
41 Racing Grand Premi deBedecq
24 Force Pukhgundi Works
12 O'Shea HIS Motorsports
09 Quicksilver Racing

With that shakeup, we hope to see you again in another two weeks' time for the next race.
 
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