OWRL F1 2011: S. Riegler charges to victory in opening round
OWRL F1 kicked off for its 5th ever annual season last Sunday, making it one of the oldest LFS league still in activity. For the 4th time in a row, the season opener was held at Aston GP. The big absent of the day was 2009 and 2010 champion Adam Wisniewski. The Polish driver is expected to come back later in the season, but he very probably won't get a 3rd title in a row.
However, the series still managed to attract a very decent field, with 20 cars overall. 11 were brought by back to back teams: 2 by reiging teams champions Redline Racing(with 2010 runner-up Quentin Benoit, alongside Stuart Newnham), 4 by Sonicrealms Racing A(Riegler and Ostgaard) and B(Hopkins and Southword), 3 by 1stBFA 1(Diop) and 2(Coronin and Juvani), 4 by Tiger Express Motorsports(Laprevotte and Jundt) and White Tiger Express Motorsports(Solfrank and Ciobanu). 9 were lined-up by new teams, including OWRL Season 18 teams' champions Playerzone Italia(Bartolotta and Naselli) and runner-ups Blur MX Team(Tkachenko and Potapov), 1 by OWRL newcomers Piri Motorsport(Räsänen), and the 2 last ones by 2010 LFS Community team of the year ineX Racing(Cattell and Iivonen), arguabily today's most successful team in LFS. The latters never got any success in OWRL so far, however.
Drama stroke OWRL legend Dave Southword before the start of Q1: the Englishman was a victim of a deficient internet connection, and didn't managed to re-join the racing server before the race. Q1 was dominated by Frenchmen Benoit, in front of his countryman Diop. However, Cattell found extra-pace in the high fuel load Q2, and managed to get in front of Benoit and Diop; all 3 being the only ones to get in the 2:08s in the session. Riegler, Naselli, Iivonen, Hopkins, Newnham, Ostgaard and Juvani round up the top 10.
At the start, Benoit overtook Cattell round the outside of T1 to take the lead. Behind, turn 1 and 2 were incidents filled at the back and midfield. Turn 3 saw an incident up front however, with 4th place runner tangling Iivonen tangling with Diop and causing a chain reaction in behind them, sending Claudia Ciobanu spinning in the grass. However, thanks to LFS' very forgiving damage model, every single driver could continue the race with no major damage.
The top 3 was Benoit-Cattell-Juvani in the first 5 laps, however, the latter 2 would spin out at lap 6 and 7, putting them out of contention for the points. This left Diop and Hopkins in 2nd and 3rd. The order stayed the same until lap 10, in which Diop dropped to 5th after an tangle with a backmarker, allowing Hopkins, Riegler and Newnham to pass him.
The big winner of the first stop window was Sascha Riegler. The German made a longer first stint than his rivals, and rejoined in 2nd place.
Leader Quentin Benoit looked unreachable at this point, but the Frenchman got a stop and go penalty for pitlane speeding during his 2nd stop, dropping him to 5th. He then clashed with Tommy Ostgaard at 2 laps to go, and lost 2 more places, to finish only 7th. The race then became a total fiasco for Redline, as 2nd place runner Stuart Newnham had to make a last lap splash and dash for fuel, dropping him to 6th.
This let Sascha Riegler take a surprise win for Sonicrealms A. The German was only 7th in the opening laps, but managed to climbed back to the front thanks to a superior strategy and other drivers' problem. Sonicrealms B driver Pete Hopkins take 2nd, while SR's triumph is completed by Tommy Ostgaard's 4th place. First non-SR driver is OWRL Season 18 runner-up Maurizio Naselli, who made a brilliant climb after being spun out at lap 1. ineX Racing's Teemu Iivonen comes in 5th after a Drive Through, then the Redline cars, then Diop, Bartolotta, and Laprevotte - the latter taking benefit from a last lap clash between his TEM team-mate Jundt and 1ST BFA 2's Coronin.
Out of the 13 finishers, 12 finished in the lead lap in this 35 laps race. A sign of great standards.
Next round will be in the streets of South City, on June 11th.
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Report by Y.Laprevotte