Last Tuesday the division 1 drivers prepared themselves for a race on the Paul Ricard circuit in France. With a third of the season underway we’ve been able to have a good view of everyone’s capabilities and so far five drivers have been standing out from the others. Who? Well of course your championship leader Jari, winner of two races, but that could’ve been even more without some penalties. His main rivals seem to be Shaby and Chalkers, but not far away are Prins and Scotsman LTrocker. Does that mean the wins will be divided by this group of drivers only? No, not at all, because in this talented group of drivers nearly anyone can win on a good day, it just means the five mentioned are fast on every track and more consistent than the others.
So while the commentators were preparing themselves for the race, the first thing they could do was throw their predictions into the bin when they learned that Jari was unable to attend the race. Work kept him away from being able to race in France. That opened up opportunities for others and his rivals were determined to use this opportunity to close in on the championship leader.
After 18 minutes of qualifying it was also his two main rivals that put themselves on the front row. Chalkers got pole in a time over 6 tenths slower than predicted by the commentators, (but hey what do they know, right?) followed by Shaby and the excellent Blackmamba got himself a third place, sharing the second row with De Rooij, while on the third row we had quite a surprise, with Haas driver DyMx50, who finally showed some glimpse of why he’s in this high division.
His triumphant feeling didn’t last long after the start as he lost five positions at the race start while most of the drivers held on to their positions early on. In lap 4 things started to shake up a little bit when UchihaBruma crashed out and a safety car was sent on track by the race directors. All drivers who had started on soft tyres decided to use this opportunity to pit and go for fresh rubber, handing over the lead to Michael, with Brent, Bren and Prins following. Chalkers, who was leading up until this point, left the pitlane in seventh position.
After the restart the early frontrunners wanted to make up lost ground as soon as possible, but on lap 7 things went pretty bad for one of the favourites. Bossmotz, Chalkers and Shaby went three aside through turn 10 and although it seemed to go well at first a slight bit of contact between Chalkers and Shaby unsettled the Ferrari and sent him straight in the wall. Even though his car miraculously survived the crash, he still had quite some damage and had to pit for repairs, making sure he would be in last position.
In lap 11 (out of 27) we had another incident that impacted the race outcome. Coming up to the chicane, Chalkers and Kiko battled for position where Chalkers lost control of the car and spun round. This cost him some time and positions, but the biggest damage was done when he returned to track what resulted into another incident, with Marcel this time. Once again Chalkers was spun round, but this time with quite some damage to the car. Just like Shaby earlier on, he had to go for repairs and the lost time made sure he was the new backmarker.
Meanwhile up front a battle for the lead was fought out between Prins, Boompje and Blackmamba, with positions constantly changing. In lap 17 some drops of rain were falling and within no time the rain came pouring down resulting in everyone pitting for intermediate tyres. In this massive pit stop sequence Prins somehow lost five positions dropping him from second to seventh. Michael paid the price for staying out one lap too long and dropped from the lead to 12th position.
In the final 10 laps we had a fight for the win between Boompje and LTrocker, won by Boompje, which was his first win in DTR. Once again time penalties had quite an impact as many drivers got classified in a different position of what they really finished in. LTrocker lost two positions and De Rooij even moved up a few, giving him 2nd place in the race result.
With Shaby and Chalkers not soring any points Jari didn’t lose any points to his main rivals in the championship. However in the constructors championship his Alfa Romeo team did lose the lead as the AlphaTauri’s are now leading the title race.
Next week in Great Britain we are racing at Silverstone where Jari will hope to build his lead, while everyone else will be chasing him.