The calm and breezy atmosphere of Melbourne’s Albert Park suddenly transformed with the stutter of an ignition switch as the first official races of the new Invictus Racing League season took place this week.
Pre-season had been tough for some drivers’ and successful for others but after gathering crucial race pace data it would be certain that the various Invictus formula grids would all be slowly starting to work out the early season favourites.
Australia is a tricky circuit to master and with slow tight corners in the first two sectors opening up into the fast and flowing turn 11 and 12. The track would see who was on the pace early in the calendar.
Monday night saw the opening race for Invictus as the No-Assist championship arrived first at the Albert Park track in sunny Melbourne. Pre-season had seen the battle re-ignite between Speed_Queen80 and Sargent_009 but with driver’s such as Nikki9095 and J03L-v520v waiting to engage in motoring combat with the previous dominant forces within the league there was certain to be fireworks on a Monday night.
The league saw the added bonus of the tier two driver’s who were new to no-assists and would be making their competitive debuts. They certainly wouldn’t be looking at just making up the numbers and after strong performances in pre-season from driver’s such as Scopefielder and Humbostone. There was an added element of excitement as the cars waited for the green light to officially open the season.
Qualifying was accompanied by a beautiful blue sky and perfect track conditions for the drivers but it was the tier two driver of Tony-Y in the Mercedes who took a superb pole position over four tenths of a second ahead of another new tier two driver in Humbostone in second.
It was a disappointing qualifying from the Toro Rosso driver’s in Nikki905 and J03L-v520v who ended up in ninth and eleventh respectively with Scopefielder the only driver to not set a time after crashing out on his first quick lap.
The race started with a literal bang for Tony who had a terrible launch off the line and found his car slipping down the order as the cars hurtled towards turn one. The pole-sitter ran wide at turn one and his silver arrow came back across the circuit and unfortunately started a chain reaction which saw a number of driver’s in requirement for a new wing and set of tyres but luckily with no retirements.
Only a matter of laps later, Philip_mcfc making his return to the league was running well in second position lost the car on the exit of turn 12 and it was pre-season favourite Speed_Queen80 who was the unlucky party, as his Sauber came across the track it was directly into the path of the Williams as both driver’s retired with extremely damaged cars. Phil was taken to the on site health centre as a precaution but was released later that day with just a few bruises in what was a scary accident.
It was his Sauber counter-part BoyBetterKnowSB (Scott) who made full use of Phil’s retirement as his move on Humbostone gave him the lead and ultimately he came away with a well deserved win after a superb race long battle with the Renault driver behind.
Scott picked up the first winner’s trophy and the lead in the championship as he was followed home by tier two driver’s Humbostone who had a hugely impressive first race to collect second but it was a storming drive from Scopefielder who came from the back row of the grid in 14th to third in a frenetic and highly enjoyable race.
The race saw a plethora of incidents and talking points that will no doubt bubble into interesting rivalries throughout the season but with Phil, Speed_Queen and Nikki9095 all non finishing they will certainly be on the attack in Bahrain next week.
Equal Performance F1, F2 and F3
After a postponement to the scheduled Tuesday night performance leagues it was the equal performance driver’s who would have to make up for it in style.
F1 saw a first pole position for TamworthFox as the Ferrari driver set a blistering time that saw him duck into the 1m19s ahead of Ap0ll0 in second. Whilst some quick drivers were left further down the field such as Sambamkid and Jos_Heinssie they would be looking at making a charge through the field using the perfect strategy.
The race started well for Tamworth, however a huge snap of over-steer offset the car out of the final corner and into the wall allowing the rest of the field to go on the offensive.
The grouping caused chaos on lap five as Scopefielder who had assumed the lead took to the grass at turn 11 allowing cars through as further down the grid, the recovering Tamworth spun on the exit of turn 12 and hit the wall ending what had started as a very promising race. This brought out the virtual safety car and a battle of strategic minds as pit walls decided whether to pit under the VSC or use up the life of their tyres and push harder at the end of the race.
The battle came down between the three of Sambamkid, Apollo and Aleskiller150 who with three laps left were split by three seconds. It was the Toro Rosso driver in Aleskiller who made use of the front two battling into the final sector to cruise past the Mercedes of Sam and with one lap left to go all he had to do was follow Apollo home who had picked up a time penalty but with the Renault of Apollo leading into the final corner it would be a photo finish as the cars finished just one tenth apart.
The penalties came back to bite Apollo as he dropped from a first place on the road to third but it was a first win of the season for Ales who had a magnificent race to make it from tenth on the grid to the win. Sam took second on the podium as he bids for another successful season behind the wheel of the Mercedes and Apollo who looked set to win the race brought his Renault team eight points for third.
F2 was already shaping up to be a superb season even before the teams arrived in Australia but it was the newly promoted Betrayer46 who high on confidence after his championship winning campaign in F3 last season started with a flag to flag victory.
Having put himself on pole he ran a superb race to take the honours and another 1st place trophy to add to his growing collection. He was chased home by Humbostone, however as it was looking likely the lead would swap with two laps to complete Humbostone spun and allowed Betrayer a free run to take the chequered flag and the compliment of 12 championship points.
Kieran (FabulousChicken) came home in third in his return to Invictus whilst newly promoted WaveIntel drove to a well deserved forth position after hitting thr wall in qualifying meant he started the race in 11th.
The battle for between NickLJThomson and mj_coop was the highlight of the race as the two had a superb fight over fifth place with coop finally getting the move done on the final lap. Unfortunately for last seasons F3 driver a time penalty demoted him back behind Nick as the two engaged in an embrace after the race and jovially laughed that they couldn’t wait to re-engage what looks like a strong line up to this seasons championship.
F3 may be the final of the leagues but after last season it proved that it offered some of the most competitive and exciting racing anywhere and that certainly was the case in Melbourne for round one.
Qualifying saw the Toro Rosso team mates of Fascone and Mike take home a one-two which delighted the pit wall. The betting odds on the title were wide open at this early stage but with driver’s such as Tejuarr, SirSpud and Gazzaman96 all within the top 10 it was due to be an explosive start to the race.
The top nine were split by less than half a second and top 14 by less than a second in a riveting qualifying session and as the cars lined up on the grid there were a lot of itchy fingers waiting to drop the car into first gear and be in the lead heading down into turn one.
The race started cleanly but a poor getaway for xMIKExSI saw him fall from second down to sixth with the rest of the field all fighting for position.
There was a disaster for the Renault team as a stationary Nitrogash was collected by oSteven002 who then became a roadblock for his team-mate in Captain_Stiff as the unlucky driver was a passenger and endured an early end to his race. Whilst Nitro and Steven would carry on and try to recover some distance after lap two pit stops.
He was joined in the media pen early on by one of the pre-season favourites in SirSpud72 who lost control on the exit of turn 12 and hit the wall resulting in an early blow to the Mercedes driver title chances. He was upset about his mistake but with Bahrain being a famously strong circuit for the Brackley team they will have their eyes firmly on the race in the desert next week.
On circuit after the stops it was Paul0_Pabl06 who had assumed the lead with a superb first stint which gave him prime opportunity going into the second half of the race. The Mclaren of FerociousDan and the pole-sitter fascone who had lost time after a long stint on the ultras sat behind him in second and third. However, a late mistake from Dan saw him drop out of the top three and well down the order.
The race came to an exciting conclusion as Gazzaman96 who had closed down Paulo superbly in the final laps but it was a tenth too far as the two were split by 0.118s at the line. Allowing Paulo to breath a sigh of relief and celebrate a excellent victory.
Fascone came home third with a strong race for the Toro Rosso driver and Tejuarr started to feel the rhythm early as he picked up fourth after a disappointing pre-season.
Credit was due to xMIKExSI who spent 26 laps on a set of soft tyres to come home seventh.
F3 joined the rest of the leagues by offering up some incredible races and with a near photo finish for the win in round one, it only sets the rest of the season up as must watch.
That rounds out Invictus’ visit to Australia for this season and it couldn’t have been a more impressive start.
The leagues were on top form and with unbelievable racing, overtakes and incidents galore it only proves that next week in the desert that you cannot miss a second of action as Invictus Racing League goes to the gulf state of Bahrain.
Join us next Monday at 8pm (UK) for No-Assists who wait for the five red lights to go out and start round two.
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