21/09/23: Sideways GT3 – A New King

A New King.

It was the turn of Sideways GT3 cars to take centre-stage this week, once again producing some great racing. It wasn’t close at the front – Julian’s driving and car-building skills have combined to make him almost unbeatable in the class – but in the midfield the racing was very tight.

Julian’s quest for class dominance has seen him race a succession of different cars this year: three races with a BMW M6, then one with a McLaren 720S and now his current Aston Martin Vantage, each car faster than its predecessor. He’s now several tenths quicker than anyone else, an impressive margin. He’s been the king of Sideways Group 5 forever and, unless someone else can find more speed from somewhere, looks likely to be crowned king of Sideways GT3 too.

It wasn’t just Julian’s car that was showing an improvement. The club’s timing system had been upgraded too and was now able to cope with heat restarts in the event of a mass pile-up at the first corner, something we’ve seen plenty of this year. It’s never fair to persistently blame just one driver for mass crashes, so we’ll blame a few: Terry, Terry, David and Terry. As ever, Sod’s Law intervened and neither of them caused first-corner carnage this week, nor did anyone else, so Neil went home disappointed, unable to test his improved system. Don’t fret, Neil. The culprits race week in, week out, so you’ll get your chance soon…

With Julian long gone at the front, it was left to Simon, Terry, Alex and David to squabble over the remaining podium positions. Despite setting the fastest lap of the quartet by almost two tenths, Simon struggled in the first three heats to pull clear. At half-distance it was Simon in second place, two seconds ahead of Alex, then Terry at seven hundredths, with David just about hanging on to the tail of the pair.

Simon pulled away in Heat 4 to secure second place, but third spot would be decided by crashes. Alex crashed in Heat 5 and dropped five seconds behind Terry. David was eight tenths further back, so the final podium place was all to play for in the last heat.

So to the final heat. Despite the timing system wishing desperately for a first-corner pile-up, Terry didn’t cause one, but he did crash early in the heat and lost just under half a lap, giving both Alex and David a sniff of the podium. The pair were neck and neck for several laps, but, with only two laps remaining, David tried too hard, crashed and threw away his chance, so it was down to Alex to capitalise on Terry’s crash and beat him to the line by five seconds. It wasn’t to be, Terry holding on to third place and the podium by just 0.99 seconds.

It had been an excellent race, with one big problem: the yawning gap to Julian at the front. There must be an answer, but nobody’s found it yet.