Peter McCann - 03/11/2020
McMANUS TAKES THE VICTORY AS MALIN, DEMPSEY AND KELLY SUFFER
RA Racing’s Brian McManus became another winner in the series last Wednesday. Another star driver that has won across numerous series with Digital-Motorsports, he now adds his name to the sand here and puts himself into contention in this hotly contested series.
With the series nearing the midway point, I’ve never seen it being taken so seriously. I’ve been watching guys logging 100s of laps, myself included approaching 200. Iracing’s take on Spa Francorchamps is a serious test of track limits when compared with what we see with its real life counterpart.
Kelly would enter this round still as the series leader, with Josh Malin next in the chase. In practice Jordan was showing the pace but the Dempseys, McManus and many others were right there. It has to also be mentioned that Malin puts in very little public practice and either gets right on the pace or is doing all of his practice offline!
With us returning to the 45 minute single race format it was all or nothing as we went to the grid. McManus never really had it his own way, Turn 3’s Peter Dempsey took pole away from an always there Jordan Kelly for VRA Racing. Peter’s brother Keith was 3rd also for turn 3.
Kelly would undo all his good work in qualifying, getting a little loose out of LaSource and gifting Keith and Josh second and third respectively. It wasn’t the worst start on the grid though as early in lap one Turn 3 Motorsport lost three of their best with Peter Dempsey, Niki Meredith and Eoin Murray all succumbing to contact and damage that went along with it.
This brought Kelly and McManus together, team mates of course but there’s no team calls here as they race hard on the stream for a number of minutes, really really great watch when the racing is this good!
“THE STANDARD OF RACING WE SEE AMONGST THE PRO GRID REALLY IS JUST SO HIGH”
Kelly would come away the victor from this battle and set his sights on chasing down Keith Dempsey, no easy feat in any race and it really has to be a mistake that allows the gap to close as both drivers really are on the same pace this season. That mistake would come on the sixth lap as Keith gets himself a slowdown that brings the rest of the podium right onto his bumper. Importantly this happened just as the leaders met the main grid of M4s.
The movement through the traffic would slow Keith and Jordan and tie them together a number of times, as they both tried to gain advantage in the traffic. This would lead to contact here and there, not unlike watching some of the best bits of a BTCC season. Neither was ever impeded by the contact but they would succumb to Iracing’s incident monitoring software which gave both drive through penalties. This absolutely handed the win to Josh Malin who was now five seconds clear of McManus in seconds having been third himself seconds earlier.
On lap 15, Evan Walsh and Sergej Grabun have a coming together at the top of Eau Rouge, Sergej goes around at high speed and impacts the wall hard but does recover, an unfortunate accident for the driver that is always consistent and clean and always does great due to that!
Again now the unthinkable happens once again, on the penultimate lap, Malins connection drops and he drops down the order and out of the race. I’ve experienced this first hand and there is little more frustrating than that! Handing the race victory to Brian McManus who just had to complete one more lap to take victory which he did, keeping his victory donuts until the end of the race this time much to the amusement of the commentators Kevin Galvin and Jack Cunnane.
A massive last lap crash between classes would knock James Holman out of contention and gift Arturas Kundelis, a super fast and always on the pace driver, an epic second with Jason Cooper romping home to third.
So, Spa showed us how practice counts for nothing and anyone has an even shot when it comes to race day, especially with this grid of drivers where nobody is slow and in any given race anyone could win. Especially when we see tech issues like what happened to poor Josh Malin, or the numerous others on the grid caught out by contact or off tracks causing penalties and in some cases disqualifications.
While being fast is one thing, keeping the head and lasting the race is also just as important.
Next, we got to Silverstone. Make sure to tune in to Digital-Motorsports “Off The Grid” show on Monday 2nd November to see how the build up is going before we go to grid on the Wednesday