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JAPANESE GRAND PRIX
Suzuka International Racing Course. 24 September 2019
February 27, 2016

 

The first instalment of this new series reviews the opening round of the Career Ladder, looking at winners and losers from Australia and the first blows in the Championship fight.
The Career Ladder started this week in Australia with three exciting rounds of Formula Challenge, Supercup and Superleague.

As always, pre-season treated us to a crescendo of expectations: which drivers would thrive and which ones would falter, how would the new teams fare - all these questions got their first, partial answers in Melbourne. Of course, it's still early days and the past teaches us that Round 1 strugglers may still come strong: but the time for talk is over and points are being dished out.

In the GPVWC Formula Challenge, things got off to a brilliant start for Geoffrey Fournier and Carlos Fernandez, who notched their first GPVWC wins; their achievement had a special taste for their respective teams, Epic Racing and Teafor, as it marked the first Career Ladder victories for the two outfits. Max Melamed made two third places out of two races for Basilea, but the team that quietly stole the show was Draig Racing. The former Superleague giants had a brilliant point haul, placed Cameron Brewster on the podium, and now occupy P1 in the Championship standings. At the other end of the spectrum, newcomers EVAL had a debut to forget, retiring with both cars in both races.

Going into Round 2, the top four drivers in the standings (Melamed, Fernandez, Brewster and Fournier) are covered by just seven points, while Scuderia Basilea and Teafor are within four points of leaders Draig.


The GPVWC Supercup went through a bit of upheaval with pre-season top tips SimCraft Racing pulling out and being replaced by GoSport International. The newcomers did well, especially considering the limited time to practice, with Adrian Holm finishing fifth in R1 and on the podium in R2 with P3. The team to stole the show, at least at first, was Proline, whose Brugman-heavy lineup claimed victory and third in R1 before adding to their points haul with a solid performance in R2. Enterprise's Scott Berrisford was the victor in the final event of the evening, holding SRS's Risto Kappet off (SRS collecting two second places in the two races).

It was a solid, if unspectacular, night for some of the debutant teams, with Evolution claiming a double points finish in R1, Racing Team Schroten getting on the points board in R2 and TG Racing celebrating P8 and P7 for Andrew Waring in the two races. There was little joy, however, for Ice Cold Racing: the FC champions' eagerly awaited debut brought a best result of seventh for Eric Stranne, with Tobias Olson also scoring on debut with 13th.

Lars Brugman leads the Championship after round 1 with five points over Berrisford. Behind the Englishman, a close fight is emerging with five drivers in five points. In the Team's championship, things are a bit more spread out with Proline 12 points ahead of SRS and tied-third placed Satellite Racing and Enterprise GP a further 19 points back. Former Superleague outfit ST Racing were the only team not to score points in the opening round.


On to the top tier of the Career Ladder, the Stormcharge GPVWC Superleague. As debuts go, few can match that of Rudy van Buren, who claimed pole position and stormed to a commanding win in his first outing for Midnight. It's been a true return to form for the 2012 and 2013 champions, who also placed Tom Parker in P7 and now lead the championship by a handsome 14 points. Lewis Redshaw saw his aim to make it three in a row in Melbourne dashed by the Dutchman, but he held off a late charge by Nordsjoen's David Fidock to claim Woods Racing's first podium since 2010.

Reigning Champion Philipp Puschke found trouble in the opening stages and could only salvage a P11, but Vod:Bul teammate Agustin Canapino saved the team's blushes with fourth. Debutant Storm impressed, Emanuel Gaczella getting a valuable fifth place ahead of fellow newcomers Wauters, who had Alex Cooper in P6 and Pedro Melim in the points as well (P13). By contrast, Nijo Racing, Red Archer VRT and Hawkeye Racing all left Melbourne empty-handed.

Behind Midnight, a mad scramble for P2 sees Woods Racing, Vod:Bul and Nordsjoen within four points ahead of Wauters and Storm.

The stage is set for more to come, with the Career Ladder returning in Bahrain in two weeks' time.


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