ONE LAST DANCE
WHAT WENT DOWN IN SIX ROUNDS
For round two at Silverstone, who should finish on top but the Finnish Tuomas Tähtelä! He had to build a gap early and hold—a tough order—as Valentin Manderbach, only 16-years-old, kept him nervous and on his toes. All this resulted in a rare show of emotions that we would never have expected from a Finnish driver, as Tähtelä did his best to stabilize that gap. He’s now got a very good chance at getting a spot in the championship.
The Red Bull Ring, round 3, was a prime overtaking opportunity for many as Jensen immediately overtook Vialatte for first place position. Following this example, a great battle soon broke out between all as they fought to overtake. But the top four (Jensen, Vialatte, Ariel, Tähtelä) broke away and shot ahead – creating a huge delta of 2.5 seconds between them and the rest. For Vecchio in 5th place, attempting to close this gap would have been a struggle and left him vulnerable. His goal was clear: to maintain his position and keep everyone else behind him. For those in the top four, the only thing that could disrupt them was if they started squabbling amongst themselves, so they were on their best behaviour for the rest of the race. This left Jensen at his comfortable number one spot for almost the entirety of round 3. Well done, Jensen!
Round 4 at Watkins Glen, we lovingly refer to as “The Incident”. The youngest in the group (Mandernach and Collins, both 16-years-old) had the coolest heads as they took lead. The rest of the lot were not as chill. Jarschel (4th position) began battling with Tähtelä (3rd), throwing him off his game and creating a break in the line – sending Tähtelä all the way to back to 13th in line. Tähtelä tried to position himself to get back ahead, resulting in a massive wreck involving himself, Melchers, Kita, Caruso, Vialatte, Jensen, Maciejewski, Giassi, Nielsen and Williams. But life goes on! Mandernach and Collins continually battled amongst themselves for the lead, only to have Marcenò overtake in the 15th lap. With everyone trying to settle their differences, Collins and Mandernach fought valiantly for a while; but in the end, Marcenò was the winner.
Round 5 at the GP track of the Nürburgring started off with some bumper-banging. Melchers slid across a corner and slammed into Sipilä. Both, somehow, recovered and remained in the race. The punches continued, but only for Ariel and Vialatte. In lap nine, Ariel tried to overtake Vialatte and they made contact, both seeming to shove each other, but were able to gain and maintain their 2nd and 3rd place by the end of the race. Despite this raucousness, Kevin Nielsen miraculously maintained first place for the entire race and even secured himself a generous gap in the final laps. Patience was clearly a virtue in this round.
Round 6. Imola. The last stand. Only on lap one, Josh Thompson and Bryn Collins got into a collision. In the fifth lap, Mandernach (12th) battled it out for a long time with Biksrud (11th). With a smile on his face, Mandernach tried to move over to the inside at the final possible moment, but he overcommitted and slipped into the corner. He paid for this dearly – dipping back to 15th and earning himself slow-down penalty. He had a lot of fun trying, though. Soon after, Lasse Bak inexplicably ended up in the middle of the track! Bak had tried to turn one of the corners, and suddenly Tähtelä was there, cutting him off, causing Bak to veer off onto the grass and stumble down from 3rd place and out of the top fifteen completely! Bak came into this series as the number one driver from the qualifiers. An incredible turn of events at only lap six.
The final eight laps were not any smoother for our racers. A tight line followed Stokbæk Jensen (1st), and Bico (2nd) boldly drew up beside him. Jensen spun out onto the gravel and dropped down to 23rd position! This allowed Nielsen to take the lead, with Ariel in 2nd, and leaving Bico as the one to fall back to 4th. In the end, Ariel won – making that two wins by Brazilians this season! Mangan took 2nd place and Bico took 3rd.