07/03/24: Slot.it DTM – Blame Game

Blame Game. 

Slot.it DTMs returned this week for their second outing. Julian, runner-up last week to Lee, had swapped his Alfa 155 for a Mercedes C-Class he hoped might be more successful. Josh had arrived looking for victory in his first go at DTM 2024, David had glued his Opel Calibra back together after its destructive encounter with the clubroom wall in the first race, and Simon was unexpectedly carless having entrusted his car to Lee to build properly. Lee, you see, had forgotten to give it to Neil to bring to the club. With Lee at work and only available by phone, Simon blamed Lee for forgetting, Lee blamed Simon for not reminding him, and Neil, who was quietly minding his own business, was blamed by both of them for failing to realise he was supposed to be the courier. Typical racing driver excuses: it’s always someone else’s fault! Thankfully Team Bryant never goes anywhere without at least one spare car, so was able to loan Simon an Alfa for the evening.

Once again the racing was excellent. Initially it looked like the win would be hard-fought between Julian and Josh, Josh just a second down after heat 1, but it wasn’t to be, Julian steadily increasing his lead each heat to finish two laps clear. Behind the leading pair, David and Simon had a re-run of their battle of the previous week for third place. It was a close fight, David again just holding off Simon for the final podium spot.

The battle of the evening was between Neil and Chris for fifth. After racing in separate groups last week and finishing separated by just 1.7 seconds, this week they were seeded together. Recording identical fastest laps, the two were barely separable on track, crashes eventually deciding the outcome. Neil crashed in the first heat and lost almost a lap to Chris, but Chris, rather than driving the remaining heats cautiously and doing just enough to preserve his gap to Neil, chose a win-every-heat-at-all-costs tactic. It was a big mistake, his driving best described, if we’re being kind, as scrappy, and if we’re not, as utterly mental. What was he thinking?! Whenever Neil got a car’s length ahead, Chris would drive flat out behind in his determination to get ahead, sideways everywhere but at least still just about in control, but each time Neil inched a tiny bit further ahead, Chris’s win-at-all-costs tactic would see him get evermore ragged until the inevitable crash stopped him in his tracks. You’ve got to admire Chris’s competitive spirit and congratulate him for providing a great spectacle for the spectators, but it didn’t serve him well. He crashed several times, threw away all of his first-heat advantage, and more, and finished just over a lap behind Neil. It was a poor reward for all his effort. Next time Chris. Next time.

So that’s it for DTM for now, the cars’ next appearance scheduled for May. They’ve been much more successful and enjoyable to race than pre-season testing had suggested they might be, the racing has been great and the class popular. With a bit of luck, Simon might even get his car back in time for the next race!