Invictus Racing League – Round five in review – Mixed conditions in Canada

 

 

Montreal in Quebec, Canada has seen numerous action filled races on the Invictus calendar in recent seasons. The circuit is home to the infamous “Wall of Champions” on the exit of turn 13, and is an ever present reminder of how unforgiving the final chicane can be.

The six leagues have all so far this season provided some thrilling action, and with five of twelve rounds completed the championships are now starting to take shape.

 

No-assist

Williams driver Samuthepito had taken race victory in the last two outings in the no-assist league, and after a superb start to the season for the Spaniard he led the way in the title race ahead of Scopefielder, but with the likes of BoyBetterKnow and Speed_Queen80 still in with a chance of the title, the race would be highly competitive and really put the field to the test.

Although the drivers’ enjoyed a dry qualifying session, the prospect of a fully wet race was well on the minds of the fifteen cars that took to the track on Monday evening. The majority of the field all elected to use the Hypersoft tyres, and it was the McLaren of Phil_mcfc who continued his impressive one lap pace in qualifying as he blew the field away and set a time in the 1m7’s comfortably ahead of championship leader Sam who dragged his Williams into second.

However, it was a poor session for BoyBetterKnow who could only place his Mercedes in thirteenth, whilst team-mate Joel V520 even lower in fifteenth. The Renault team were delighted as their driver’s would start fourth and fifth behind Speed_Queen, but wary that the pair would have championship challenger Scopefielder for company early in the race.

As expected it was a treacherous and difficult track for the race, highlighted by pole-sitter phil hitting the wall on the formation lap, and with standing water across the track, it would make the early stages very spray heavy and difficult to pass  with the danger of aquaplaning a real threat.

Sam took the lead off the line and from there looked in a class above as he stretched a four-second gap in first five laps, whilst behind Phil, Scopefielder and Speed_Queen all tried to keep up with the Spanish driver.

The battle for fifth had been close in the early laps, and after team-mate Nismax had struggled in the opening lap and dropped down the order, the second Renault of Gavpig struggled to keep hold of the top five place, and on exit of turn thirteen hit the “Wall of Champions” and with GP1_Alex and Humbostone in close quarters behind, all three were caught in the accident and retired, not only strewing car parts and carbon fibre across the track, but in turn bringing out the Safety Car.

Even under the neutralised race there was controversy, as race leader Sam hit the “Wall of Champions” and lost a significant portion of his front wing, whilst BoyBetterKnow came into contact with team-mate Joel and picked up a big penalty.

Staying out on a broken wing Sam masterfully kept the field behind until his stop, but even with the added time to repair the wing, it never deterred the current leader as he fought his way back through the pack, and moving into second place he knew that then leader Nikki9095 would be receiving a post-race penalty for track extension, therefore with Nikki crossing the line first after a very good race for the Ferrari driver, he was inevitably jumped by Sam, who apart from his own incident under the safety car drove a flawless race.

Nikki held onto second and a much-needed podium after a long time away from the rostrum, whilst SJD recovered after a similar wing change to Sam after contact with Speed_Queen, and after his victory in the wet in France last season proved that he seems to enjoy the rainy conditions.

Sam now takes a 17 point lead to Silverstone ahead of Scope who only placed in ninth after a disastrous mistake from the Red Bull pit-crew held him in the pit-lane for almost 90 seconds. His second place is now under threat from Speed_Queen who’s fourth place finish moved her within four points of Scope.

 

Performance 1

Captain_Stiff had assumed the Performance One lead after victory in Austria, but it’s his team-mate AaronJSpence who’s the one looking more likely for a title run this season, and as both came to Montreal in the Renault and Force India cars respectively, the two would be looking to pick up solid points for both drivers and constructors championships.

It was a pleasant day in Montreal for qualifying, and it was the Alfa Romeo Sauber’s of LoZac97 and Benjym214 who would end up battling over pole position, and after early season bad luck for LoZac, he finally managed to grab pole position after a stunning lap on the ultrasoft tyres ahead of rivals on the faster hypersofts.

It was a good session for WaveIntel who has seen his season not yet left first gear and sits way off the pace on the standings, but after a third place in qualifying would give himself a good shot for a good result. Whilst the current champion SkyZii who is still awaiting that elusive first win in the Performance league managed fifth in the Williams.

The race started well for LoZac as he built an early lead over Ben in second, whilst SkyZii was managing remarkable pace in the Williams and by lap seven was running well in third.

The man on the mission in the early part of the race was current championship leader Captain_Stiff, the Renault had started in eleventh, but after passing WaveIntel on lap seven had already moved up to sixth place, and as the race went on, team-tactics at Racing AaronStiff would see the two team-mates trading positions in the attempt at using slip-stream to make up ground on the top five.

As the race progressed, it looked increasingly likely that LoZac would win at a canter, but an accumulation of penalties was making the final laps increasingly intriguing, and with Benjym closing the gap it would be tight finish between the two Sauber’s.

LoZac was able to hold on, and even with 12 seconds of penalties managed to pick up his first Invictus Racing League win in a fantastic result for the Swiss driver.

Behind, the battle for the podium had gone down to the wire, and the Toro Rosso of WaveIntel and Force India of AaronJSpence traded positions across the final two laps. The Toro Rosso eventually crossed the line ahead of Aaron, but penalties would demote WaveIntel off of the podium and into fifth place. This gave Aaron another podium and the championship lead once again leaving Canada.

Racing AaronStiff build a 17 point lead in the championship, and as we almost reach half distance in the season give themselves the best possible chance at a first constructor’s championship.

 

 

Performance 2

Championship leader Megglugpy had taken the last three race victories and a dominant lead in Performance 2, and with the likes of NickLJThomson and Scopefielder unable to keep up, the Englishman is already looking well on track to win his first performance championship after missing out last season by four points.

However, it was Nick who would take pole in the Renault, but an ominously fast lap from Megg saw him join Nick on the front row on the slower ultra-soft compound tyre.

Nick started well and led the likes of Megg and third placed man Luke Bailey in the Ferrari, but it was Jos in the Sauber who was starting to make in-roads on the top three, and by lap eight Jos was able to overhaul Luke into the final corner.

Having started on the Hypersofts, Nick was the first of the front-runners to pit, but a strong first stint saw him appear in fifth and able to use the fresh rubber to lay down some blistering out laps, this would help propel him back above Megg after the Sauber’s pit-stop, and with Jos the last to pit on lap 22 Nick was able to re-take the lead and it’s there he stayed for the next 12 laps.

Lap 34 of 35, and Megg had caught the Renault ahead and superbly used the second DRS zone to zip around the outside of Nick into turn eight. It started to look like ‘de ja vu’ and that Megg would make it a fourth win in five races, but Nick was un-relenting and kept on the rear end of the championship leader.

It paid off perfectly for Nick, who found out that Megg was due to be given a penalty and only needed to stay within six seconds of his on-track rival. He did as such and finally broke the winning streak of Megglugpy who could only manage second.

It was a good race for Jos as he made up several positions to pick up his third 3rd place of the season, whilst Luke Bailey’s fourth meant he joins Jos on 30 points for the season.

Megg now owns a 21 point lead over Nick and with seven races left it will be a hard task for the others to catch him.

 

Equal Performance

F1

It’s three wins in five for Scopefielder as he picked up victory in Canada on Wednesday in mixed conditions. After missing the last round his lead in the title race had been cut by no-assist rival Samuthepito, but with the two looking over their shoulders at the likes of Nikki9095 and mdoran09 who are still not out of the fight.

Scope was looking for a much more positive result after Monday’s disappointment, and that only spurred him onto taking a great win in Canada.

However Sam is only four points behind in the championship, and his second place on Wednesday keeps up the pressure on the Swedish driver and maintains intrigue heading into the sixth round of the championship.

After Nikki9095 picked up the win in Austria, he added another podium and a glimpse at challenging for the F1 championship. Whilst mdoran09 had a gutting retirement, which will really harm his chances at catching the likes of Scope and Sam.

 

 

F2

GooDStuff had maintained his excellent form in qualifying as he claimed another pole position; he was joined on the front row by Tony-Y who was delighted after a difficult start to the season saw him on four points from four races.

White-fountain already has a race win to his name this season, and his lap on the harder ultra-soft tyres was superbly rewarded with a fourth place start.

Rookie driver Victor had made a lightning start from seventh, and by lap seven was starting to put GooDStuff under intense pressure for the lead, he made the move stick into turn twelve and looked in great shape to take a debut podium in F2.

However, the shock of the round was the stunning start of mj_coop, who after starting sixteenth found himself passing the pole-sitter for second on lap eight. He would seemingly be a man on fire as he then passed Victor for the race lead of lap eleven as the Red Bull flew around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The race had started in the worst possible way for championship challenger NickLJThomson, who after picking up wing damage on lap two found himself tumbling down the order as he came in for a stop on lap three that effectively rule him out of a podium chance.

The field saw a number of different strategies in play on Wednesday, and by the time lap 22 of 35 was crossed off, it was mj_coop who was looking likely to re-take the lead from Victor, who himself had stopped eight laps prior, and into the final corner on lap 23 coop made his move for the effective race lead with twelve laps remaining.

Nismax7 had made quiet and steady progress in the Sauber from P16 on track, and with ten laps in the race remaining had made his way superbly into second place, and with the laps counting down started to become a real threat to coop for the win, with the two streaking ahead of the rest of the pack.

GooDStuff had endured a torrid evening, and that was compounded on lap 27 after an incident saw himself and GP1 Alex both retire well down the order, serving a huge dent to both driver’s championship ambitions.

As the race came to its conclusion coop had managed to stave off the attack from Nismax, but knowing that he would be due a penalty it would be a nervy and tentative end of the race, and whilst coop would cross the line ahead of Nismax, the South African driver managed to overhaul coop on post-race penalties and took what was a truly spectacular win.

Tony-Y was able to shrug off what has been an awful start to the season and picked up a very credible third place in the Ferrari. Whilst a late retirement for Nick meant his run of good results in F2 stopped abruptly in Montreal.

The F2 championship was blown wide open this week with the dramatic retirements of GooDStuff and NickLJThomson. The two had traded the lead in F2 over the opening races, but its mj_coop who now sits on 44 points at the top – three ahead of GooDStuff and five ahead of Nick.

 

F3

FerociousDan and Captain_Stiff had started the season on fire, and after the opening four rounds the two were split by five points and fifteen ahead of their nearest rivals, while going into Canada, their respective constructors were only split by two points with McLaren currently edging out their British rivals Williams in second.

It was a dark and miserable qualifying session, and with the heavy rain unrelenting for the entirety of the 18 minutes, it would be up to the drivers to get the best time out of the soaking wet track surface on the extreme wet compound.

It turned out to be a shootout between four drivers as the_willo, debutant Coloman, Booje89 and Captain_Stiff all set purple times in the tricky session. However it was the_willo who prevailed and placed himself on the front row, whilst Coloman impressed in second.

It was a good start for the front four, as all got away well and joined by SnoopMarky in fifth made an early breakaway in much sunnier conditions. The two McLarens in F1Richard and FerociousDan had both struggled during qualifying, and wing damage from Richard early into the race only exacerbated the pace issue as he struggled in the high-speed corners, as his team-mate had his own issues after starting in 12th place.

Contact between Booje and Stiff saw the latter receive wing damage and require a longer first stop, and coming out into traffic would effectively end his podium challenge, but it was willo and Coloman who would battle for the race lead over the first stint.

As the race progressed, Colo was able to move past willo for the lead of the race on lap 23, and with SnoopMarky at the time in a clear third it seemed they would romp away to this week’s podium finishes.

There was drama late into the race, and with Captain_Stiff making his second stop, he re-appeared on track directly into the battle between his team-mate Tejuarr, the Red Bull of Bren_Ons and F1Richard in McLaren as the three fought over sixth, the four cars banged wheels over lap 27 and 28 all jostling for position, but after slight contact between Tejuarr, Stiff and Bren into the hairpin on lap 29 it was the hypersoft tyres of Captain_Stiff who eventually emerged ahead.

xMIKEXSI has been making steady progress this season after a slow start, and after picking up good points last week in Austria, he found himself running a very strong one-stop strategy and by lap 32 was running in fourth, within striking distance of willo after the Haas made his second stop.

Coloman spent the final laps on his own, and subsequently came home to win his first ever race in Invictus in convincing style, he blew the field away with his pace and in the process left a number of championship contenders in his wake.

SnoopMarky drove a superb race in second, whilst penalties denied the_willo a podium as he was demoted to fourth, which in turn promoted a thrilled Mike into third and elevated him well into the championship conversation.

Captain_Stiff was able to overhaul Booje into fifth, and with championship leader Dan struggling into ninth place, the battle at the top closes to two points! Mike jumps into third ahead of Tejuarr, but with seven rounds left in F3 this one are far from over in what has been a fascinating season so far.

 

Next week we go to the “Home of British Motorsport” as Silverstone hosts round six of the championship, and the 50% distance in the Invictus calendar. The league will take a one week break where drivers’ can relax and prepare for the final run-in, and if the season continues as thus far, we are in store for another spectacular six weeks of racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gareth Hall

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