Round 3 of The SOP Motorsports Sprint Cup Series was alive and kicking on Wednesday as always. The drivers had been practising all week with heavy changeable conditions forecast. Who was going to gamble on setups? Who was going to pull off something genius? The weeklong wait was over, and it was time for another race day to begin where we would see 45 drivers take to the grid.
With two rounds now complete, it was still too hard to see who was the standout favourites in either class, as no two winners had been the same, and only 1 repeat person had featured in a podium position. They say the cream always rises to the top. Let’s find out who poured the perfect cup of coffee here.
Round 3 – Silverstone
The rain had threatened all week, but qualifying turned out to be a somewhat overcast and humid day with no rain in sight. The Silver class was up first as always but things were much closer today than previously at Circuits of the Americas. Perhaps the success ballast was playing its part, perhaps the manufacturer balance of performance was much better, or perhaps the drivers themselves were accustomed to the Silverstone circuit better than they were at COTA. As 1 second separated the entire top 18, 5 tenths separated the top 10, 3 tenths separated the top 5 and the difference to pole was a mere 0.060 of a second. Pole was taken by Andre Dixon-Chen with Nelson Abrunhosa on the front row with him followed by Marjan Koderman.
In the Pro class it was deja vu as 1 second separated the top 20 here also. But the top 10 were even tighter. Less than 1 tenth separated 6th to 10th and less than 1 tenth separated 2nd to 5th. It was Luca Tavernari who took pole position, finally some luck was on his side after two poor rounds by his standards. Peter Brett lined up second place and Thomas Mourant lined up third. One interesting fact is that Luca and Thomas are the only two drivers to share the top 3 together in qualifying at every round so far.
There hasnt been a closer qualifying all season and the commentary booth and spectators alike would be waiting in the wings in anticipation to see this race start. It was primed to be a thriller and it certainly delivered.
Something that seems to be accustomed to an SOP Motorsport race lately is how frantic the race ends are. After an always action-packed start and pitstop window, you get the usual mid-race calm before the storm and as soon we get to the final 10 minutes, it’s like a volcano erupts and all hell breaks loose below it. It was very much like that again here, with battles erupting all through the field and positions changing right until the flag.
Rewatch the entire race for yourself below:
Luca Tavernari did Luca Tavernari things in the Pro class. Something we saw all too much of in previous championships. After taking pole, he defends his position well and then as soon as he has a small chance to break from the pack he does so, streaking away at the front. He finished 14s ahead of the rest.
The rest being an SOP Esports train containing Thomas Mourant, Liam Page and Matt Comelio. All was not as simple however as it was Peter Brett who held second for 45 minutes of the race until his tyres decided to jump off a cliff, never to be seen again. He would drop from second all the way to eighth at the flag.
Eli Po, Mateusz Kaczyński, Jon Reid, Rok Kopse and Michał Filipiak made up the rest of the top 10 in an improved team performance from Simunation E-sports drivers featuring twice.
The race in the Silver class was just as crazy then, but there were no issues on board the pole man of Andre who was able to do ‘A Luca’ and pull away from the green light to lead silvers for every racing lap, to even lead the entire race during the pitstop phase, although he did lose a lot of time in the pits for some reason and allowed his silver comrades to close in slightly. But he still won by 7 seconds.
James Rawlins was the man in second at the flag after having a great race, keeping his nose clean and climbing up from eighth in qualifying to finish on the podium for the first time this season. He was joined on the podium by Mitja Miladinovic who started from fifth. Nelson got demoted to sixth in the race from second in qualifying and Marjan didnt see the flag after starting third unfortunately.
James Horne, Markus Jousma, Marc Bunyan, Edo Kopse, Claus Christensen and Gustavo Fonseca being the other Silver drivers making the top 10 in class respectively.
The full standings after the race can be found below:
Round 3 was a tricky race for many with the likes of round 2 winners, Milton Tomlinson Dennis and Riccardo Malgotti both either unable to see the flag or finishing outside the top 10 in their respective classes.
This man pictured below, however, was probably the stand-out performance of the race, James Horne was sent into a spin at Maggots and Becketts on lap 1, fell to the rear of the field, but still managed to climb back into P4 in class at the chequered flag to put himself into second in the standings.
Round Up – Round 3
So that is round 3 done and dusted at Silverstone. A round where many ‘big hitters’ and championship contenders faltered. A round where we saw brand new winners in each class again. A round that has started to shape this championship and its title contenders. 3 rounds down, 4 rounds to go, with quite a few drivers needing to take their drop score into consideration already. We cannot wait to see the action-packed venue that is Watkins Glen for round 4 next.
The top 3 in each class from round 3 will now have to suffer the consequences of their success, as they will be hit with success ballast. 30kg for the winner, 20kg for second and 10kg for the third. This success ballast applies to the top three from every round and as each round passes, those that can grab good results with ballast applied to them are surely putting themselves in good stead for the remainder of the championship.