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

 

Lee Davidson once again gives us the final wrap up on the previous weeks action, including the penultimate rounds of both the International Touring Cup and Atlantic Series. Would any of the titles be settled with a round to spare?
GPVWC Weekly Round - 23/10/2016

The past week saw the independent series take centre stage with the International Touring Cup (ITC) and the Atlantic Series heading towards their conclusions. First off we start with ITC and the penultimate round of the season, held in Abu Dhabi at the Dubai Autodrome.

Qualifying was a fantastic affair once more however it was the similar sight of a Honda Civic at the front of the grid. However the pilot of the Civic was not such a similar sight, Rudy van Buren. The Dutchman registered EVALs first pole position in ITC with a fantastic time of 1:39.313, some three tenths ahead of Epic Racing's qualifying specialist Chris Shepherd, and a further two tenths ahead of reigning champion Eric Stranne of Ice Cold Racing. Championship protagonists Niki Djakovic and Adrian Holm both enjoyed less competitive performances, with Djakovic taking fifth for Vod:Bul whilst Holm could only manage 12th for Enterprise.

However, that wasn't the end of the story for Qualifying, as both van Buren and Shepherd both carried back of the grid penalties for this event, meaning Stranne would indeed start on pole, and with few betting against him, the Swede took a comfortable victory in race one, five seconds ahead of Djakovic - further cementing his championship ambitions - whilst David Francic returned to the podium in third for Holland Racing Team. Holm managed to limit the damage made to his title challenge with fourth place just ahead of Adonis racer Sven de Vries and Enterprise team mate, Bart de Vos. Second to sixth were covered by a remarkable three and a half seconds at the chequered flag!

With Stranne again starting on pole for race two, few would bet against a double victory. However this was to be denied, with that man Van Buren once again taking the chequered flag for his third win of the year in only his fifth start. Djakovic once again took the runner up spot whilst Stranne was at least able to stay on the podium in third. Shepherd made good on his qualifying pace to take fourth whilst de Vos took home some more valuable points for Enterprise in fifth as they continue to fight with Vod:Bul for the team's title. However it was a disastrous race for Adrian Holm, who after starting in fourth could only finish twentieth in a bruising encounter, meaning he would not be able to take advantage of the reverse grid draw for race three.

Aurora's James Wilson was the lucky racer to be drawn onto pole position for race three but it was a familiar face on the top of the podium once the dust had settled, with early season pace setter Adam Taylor reminded everyone of his talent by converting his front row start position into a win for Vod:Bul, meaning more points and in turn, more money for Cancer Research. Behind him was a brand new face on the ITC podium with Nico Barclay securing his first ITC podium of the year, the first for STAX Racing in their debut season. Lewis McGlade rounded off the podium, making sure Aurora's race three did not go all to waste after Wilson could only manage seventeenth. Djakovic managed to climb up to eighth before the chequered flag but once more it was a disappointing race for Adrian Holm, again missing out on points down in nineteenth.

After a frantic race meet, the drivers championship sees Niki Djakovic back ahead of Adrian Holm, but only by a mere five points. With seventy five still available from the final round, David Francic and Bart de Vos still have a mathematical chance of the title but would require a lot of fortune to head their way! In the team's standings the same five points separate first placed Vod:Bul Racing from Enterprise GP with the two head and shoulders above the rest. Whilst Ice Cold Racing are still alive in the championship mathematically, they would require three 1-2's to have any chance of the title!

Moving onto to the Atlantic Series, the Pan-American series also had its penultimate round of the year take place on Road America for the Wisconsin Grand Prix. Qualifying was dominated by one team and indeed one driver with Wopke Hoekstra leading team mate Dino Paolini in a fantastic 1-2 for Measuric Racing, with the Dutchman over four tenths of a second ahead of the field. Measuric manager Mike Schroten had even more to cheer about with his brother Roy taking third on the grid, joined on the second row by fellow compatriot Menno Klont. Championship leader Borjan Millan rounded out the top five for YTF1.

However, the Spaniard will have to wait until the final round of the season before claiming the title as Hoekstra took his second victory of the season, albeit by the smallest of margins with a lead of nine tenths of a second ahead of Roy Schroten. It was a fantastic drive from two experienced GPVWC veterans and showed just what championship qualities Hoekstra possess in the Atlantic Series. Millan took home a valuable third place, ensuring Hoekstra didn't eat a huge amount into his championship lead, ahead of Paolini and Klont, the five of them being in a class of their own for the entire event.

Therefore, Millan takes a seventeen point lead into the final race to be held at the Circuit of the Americas, meaning he just needs to finish on the podium to secure the title. Meanwhile over in the team standings, Measuric have one hand on the trophy with a fifty three point lead over the only team who can snatch the title away from them, YTF1.


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