01/02/24: Sideways GT3 – So Close

So Close.

We’ve had some pretty close racing already this year, but this week’s Sideways GT3 race took it to another level with lap after lap of side by side action from the first to the very last lap.

Lee won comfortably, Simon was similarly comfortable in second place, but behind those two the battle raged. Heat 1 finished with third to ninth places separated by just four seconds; Ed third, David fourth, then Chris, Mario, Alex, Terry and Neil.

Heat 2 saw David climb to third, Alex gain three places to take fourth, Ed drop two to fifth, and Chris and Mario pay the price for some very ragged driving while trying to beat each other, both losing three places to fall to eighth and ninth respectively.

At the half-distance tea break, Lee was a lap ahead of Simon, then came David, eight tenths ahead of a recovering Ed, with Terry, Alex and Neil close behind.

Heat 4 saw the end of David’s challenge, a piece of his car’s bodywork coming loose, rubbing on a front tyre and costing him a lap and a fall to sixth.

Heat 5 was an absolute cracker, seven drivers covered by 1.3 seconds. It’s not often we wish for an eight-lane track, but this was one of those times. As it was, five of the seven were in Group 1 (Simon, Ed, Alex, Terry and David) and the remaining two in Group 2 (Neil and Chris). In Group 1, Lee was clear of the chasing pack, but behind him places were changing almost as frequently as the lap count. Alex eventually came out on top, a tiny 0.005 ahead of Terry. Just look at the heat times below. This was slotcar racing at its very best.

The final heat was almost an anti-climax after the excitement of heat 5. Despite some fierce racing there were no changes of position, but it almost wasn’t so. David, trying hard to recover from his heat 4 problems, pushed a bit too hard and crashed with only two corners of the last lap remaining, coming oh so close to losing a place to Neil. He was saved by some rapid marshalling and finished a mere hundredth of a second ahead of Neil. That just about summed up the race. Very, very close.

The only flies in the ointment? Lee and Simon. They were just too fast for everyone else, but then Lee’s Lee and Simon was second in the National GT3 series last year, so beating them is always going to be a tough ask. Still, if the racing stays like this for the rest of the year, we have an epic season ahead of us. Bring it on.