Door-to-Door in Brazil
Last weekend the V8 SuperTrucks Championship made it's annual visit to the famous Autódromo José Carlos Pace home to the Brazilian GP, and Stock Car Brazil, known to many as Interlagos. Starting in 2017, Interlagos has been the season opener for the V8 SuperTrucks Championship. Since the series inaugural year in 2016, Interlagos has provided fantastic battles thanks to its unique combination of high and low-speed corners complimented by its dramatic elevation changes. Each venue features a Track record and Lap Record. The Track Record is set under qualifying conditions ensuring the record was set without assistance from the draft. The Lap Record is set under Race Conditions. Last year Bobby Zalenski broke both records in his rookie season.
During qualifying it became clear that anyone hoping to challenge Bobby Zalenski for the 2018 Championship better bring their A-game by breaking the Track record by 0.238 seconds. That lap would be six tenths faster than newcomer Tim Claessens who would start P2. Claessens' virtual motorsport background consists mainly of GT racing, via the Blancpain Sprint Series, Porsche iRacing Cup, and IMSA Sportscar Championship iRacing Series.
Twenty-four drivers grided for round one on February 24th representing nine countries from all over the world, each from different virtual motorsport backgrounds. The front row serving as prolific imagery for all the battles that start with the drop of the green flag. Road Racing drivers, many who have honed their craft among the numerous GT Series vs the Oval Racing drivers who are find the tiers of NASCAR competition on iRacing their home. In addition, Toyota is looking to capture their second Manufacturer's title. One could feel the tension in the air as the pace car made its rounds before setting the pack thundering away under green.
Zalenski would be able to quickly get away from the field thanks to the three truck battle behind him between Tim Claessens (#451), Sven Cammaerts (#66) and Marco Mogren (#257). Cammaerts was able to use his experience from last year to quickly climb from fourth to second but things would change in the second half of the race.
The race would continue green and incident free until tragedy struck the Martin Kapal in the #64 Lempls Racing Chevy when he hit the attenuator at pit entry resulting in race-ending damage. The battle would continue between long-time rivals Torque Freak Racing, Team Buschfink Racing and Kinetic Racing (formerly Black Adder Motorsport). This battle over 5th place lasted all race and would come to an end on the final lap when the James King (#23) dives into Turn 4 on the final lap, and spining Georg Gruber (#123). Despite King's the point gain from the move, the 6 point penalty for spinning Gruber negated his advantage.
Battles were waged all the way to the mid-pack, which had eyes on Clifton Cockrell (#27) and Race Clutch's Djwad Karoni (#13). Their battle raged for many laps however on Lap 22 Cockrell misjudged the cross-over coming out of Pinheirinho sending Karoni into the grass. Cockrell would earn a 3 point penalty for the contact. Although we doubt this will be the end of this rivalry.
Zalenski would capture the first round of 2018 as he brought the #1 Virtual2Reality/Paydaygg Chevy Silverado across the line, but the battle for second would leave everyone breathless. When Claessens and Mogren rounded Juncao it looked like Claessens would take 2nd, but the Claessens lost control up Subida dos Boxes and looked to head straight into the outside wall! Claessens would be able to gather the truck, which would lead to a drag race for second. At the line, Marco Mogren captured second with the #257 Sick Sideways Toyota Tundra by a mere five thousands of a second!
With the series heading to Sonoma Raceway later this month, there is an expectation that Bobby Zalenski will run away with another win at his home circuit. However, there are rumors that a new challenger may appear which could change the dynamics of the race. Don't miss a moment of the RaceSpot live broadcast on March 24th at 2100 UTC ( 4:00pm EDT) at socksoutracing.com/live See you then!