The qualifiers for the pinnacle series of iRacings GT category got underway this past weekend at the “Temple of Speed” or formally known as Autodromo Nazionale Monza, situated a few kilometres away from Milan, Italy. Radicals are fielding two cars in the 2017/18 Blancpain Endurance Qualifiers, with the aim of having a total of three entries in next years Blancpain GT Series. The first car (Radicals Online AsturSimRace) is driven by Will Tregurtha, Oscar Mangan, Manu Sanchez and Ryan Littlemore, where the second car (Radicals Online JRT) will be guided by Hugo Barbosa, Josh Thompson and new additions to Radicals, Matt Bussa and Nick Ottinger.
Both teams would be using the BMW Z4 GT3, which at Monza would not be the strongest, so to get a decent points haul would be a good foundation to starting the season. Throughout the weekend, there would be three race slots, with two on Saturday and one on Sunday.
For the Race 1 slot, only the JRT car would start the race with Nick, only to retire after an early crash on Lap 8 sending them out of the first attempt. However, both cars would compete in the Race 2 slot at 19:00GMT. Will and Oscar in the Astur Sim Race car found themselves in the top split, after qualifying starting 51st on the grid. With Will starting the race and Manu spotting, the #221 car was up into P31 after just one fuel stint, with many competitors crashing out of the race early or finding themselves with heavy damage. Oscar replaced Will for the second stint in the high attrition race, and got to work on conserving tyres and fuel to make it a comfortable dash to the finish in the third stint. After another 32 laps, it was pit-stop time with the team electing not to take tyres and came out with 1 stint to go in P17. Although, there were 4 cars following several seconds back with brand new rubber that were near impossible to keep ahead of. Despite this, the AsturSimRace car found themselves finishing in P18.
“Overall, I think we had a decent start to the winter season. This is the first GT series I’ve entered, so it was a challenge adapting to heavier weight, fuel conservation and more in-depth strategy. We knew heading into this round that the BMW with the lack of top speed would struggle, but to get the finish we did was absolutely a solid way to kick things off. Between us seen a few areas of where we need to improve our approach, especially qualifying setup so for Silverstone next week we’ll definitely come back stronger.”
For the JRT car, Race 2 proved to be a challenging one with Josh and Hugo starting in P35, and being up to 15th at one point in the second split. Unfortunately, after running short on fuel and spinning once, they dropped back to P19 scoring less than ideal points. A possible Top 10 was no more for that race, however there still was one more attempt. Race 3 on Sunday would see Nick and Hugo take another stab at the 3 hour race, after some setbacks, still finishing in a strong P21 in top split. Whereas in the AsturSimRace car, Ryan and Manu would tackle the 3 hours, also being in the top place. Unfortunately an early crash would put them out.
“Our car performed pretty well for our opening round at Monza in the Blancpain Qualifiers. Our qualifying effort, simply put could have been better with more practice. Hugo and Josh had a great strategy call in race two of the week, that gained them a tonne of spots. Unfortunately, they didn’t have quite the bit of luck in our last stint. Myself and Hugo done the third and final race of the week. We qualified the car right in front of the Radicals sister car in 46th place, and after 3 hours coming home in 21st position. A finish we are not ecstatic about, but our pace was there for a top 10 finish. We will improve our qualifying pace and hopefully contend for wins the rest of the series!”
Overall, the weekend was a little disappointing for both teams. Though from this, both will surely learn their errors and come back twice as strong for the second round which will take place this weekend at the Silverstone Circuit with the same 3 time slots! You can also catch the first race LIVE on V8sOnline on YouTube at 9:00am UTC.
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