After a long season of hard work while trying to adapt to the car and the new weather conditions that were implemented by iRacing at the start of the season the results are finally in. Apex Racing UK went into the 2013 Pro Series with a strong line up of 8 drivers, undoubtedly one of the teams with the most amount of drivers taking part. Apex Racing UK’s line up consisted of Alex Simpson, Antoine Higelin, Lee Thompson, Lasse Bruun Hansen, Jesper Pedersen, Pierre B Urbizu, LJ Garnett and Michael Gomen. Here is a quick sum up on how the season went for the drivers taking part.
The season began at Spa and Apex Racing UK’s drivers were all looking forward to the start of the season. Unfortunately, before the race had even begun ARUK’s bad luck had already started as Jesper Pedersen was unable to race and LJ Garnett’s power cut out just a few seconds before qualifying started meaning both were out of the race before it had even begun. Michael Gomen who had been suffering from computer related issues all week and ultimately cost him a good position in the race meaning he had to retire scoring just 1 point. Alex Simpson also had poor luck getting caught up in an incident in turn 1 on lap 1 costing him valuable points. Pierre Urbizu scored an 8th place finish giving him a great start to his Pro Season, while Lee Thompson, Lasse Bruun Hansen and Antoine Higelin all scored decent points putting them in prime positions in the standings after the first round.
Watkins Glen hosted the second round of the season and once again Apex Racing UK’s bad luck struck again. LJ Garnett decided to start from the pits to ensure he didn’t get caught up in any turn 1 incident, however his bad luck continued on lap 2 when a recovering Michele Chesini collided with him on track leaving him to limp the damaged car to the end of the race. Jesper Pedersen also suffered damage and had to retire from the race scoring just the 1 point. Alex Simpson was in a prime spot to challenge for the lead however a small mistake saw him make contact with the wall meaning he had to settle for 8th, still scoring some valuable points however. Lee Thompson’s race was also looking good until a small mistake in the closing stages cost him several positions and in the end he had to settle for 22nd position while Lasse Bruun Hansen and Pierre Urbizu had a decent race ultimately finishing in 13th and 14th.
Round 3 was held at Interlagos. The team had split decisions on whether or not to start from the pits due to the notorious turns 1, 2 and 3, also known as the Senna ‘S’, which is well known for having incidents on the first lap. Alex Simpson and Lee Thompson had decided to start from the pits while Antoine Higelin, Lasse Bruun Hansen, LJ Garnett and Pierre Urbizu all decided to start from the grid. Michael Gomen narrowly missed out on qualifying on the grid by .003 of a second, still suffering from computer issues. Lasse Bruun Hansen was the first to suffer this time as the ARUK driver grabbed damage to the rear wing meaning he had to limp the car around to finish in 25th. LJ Garnett also suffered damage after having netcode contact with the Japanese driver Ryosuke Iwasaki, he also had to limp to finish in 24th position. Antoine Higelin was the top ARUK scorer of the week finishing in the 8th position. Alex Simpson, Lee Thompson and Pierre Urbizu struggled to make their way through the pack finishing 16th, 20th and 22nd.
Alex Simpson finally had some luck at Road America where after qualifying in 3rd took full advantage of Olli Pahkala and Isaac Price’s accident and managed to score his first win of the season by a demanding 14 second gap to second place. Apex Racing UK looked set for 1st and 2nd, however a fuel miscalculation cost Antoine Higelin several positions and in the end he had to settle for 18th position with Pierre Urbizu finishing just ahead of him in 17th. Lee Thompson and Lasse Bruun Hansen yet again scored some consistent points finishing in 14th and 15th respectively. After avoiding the carnage at the start of the race LJ Garnett wedged his car on the outside curb of turn 1 on lap 9 thus meaning he was sent into the wall ultimately ending his race in 29th position.
Week 6 was at Montreal and yet again the race was filled with bad luck for the team. Antoine Higelin was the weeks top scorer for the team finishing in 13th, however he was handed some penalty points by the stewards as they felt he had caused an incident early on in the race by going 3 wide into a turn although no contact was made between the ARUK drivers and the other 2 drivers involved. Pierre Urbizu was the second highest finishing driver from ARUK finishing in 16th and scoring some valuable points. Alex Simpson had a poor finish down in 26th due to internet problems disconnecting him from the race and then suffering damage and Lasse Bruun Hansen had a bad race and finished down the order in 30th.
Week 6 saw the drivers in Australia at Phillip Island. Qualifying around this short circuit was always going to be close however the weather conditions made turn 10 and 11 quite tricky but even this did not spread the field out and the 35 drivers were separated by just 1 second. Alex Simpson qualified in second position, and after the polesitter Tommy Nilsson had an incident the Brit looked sure to win his second race of the season. However, this was not the case as PJ Stergios came through from 6th to win by over 7 seconds. Simpson had to settle for second, while Antoine Higelin finished 5th after gaining six positions on his grid slot. LJ Garnett was the third highest ARUK driver finishing in eighth and in the process finishing his one and only race of the season without damage or internet related issues. Pierre Urbizu just missed out on a top 10 finishing 11th after tailing his ARUK team mate for most of the race while Lasse Bruun Hansen and Lee Thompson struggled with damage but still managed to finish in 14th and 17th scoring decent points in the process. The return of Jesper Pedersen was short lived after he was caught up in an incident before the drivers had even crossed the line for the first time.
Round 7 was held at the Japanese Twin Ring Motegi. Once again the weather conditions played into affect, as did to the teams luck. Not one of ARUK’s drivers finished the race without damage after being caught up in incidents due to the slippery conditions that caught out the whole field. LJ Garnett was the teams top scorer in 17th however slight contact with a driver cost him a top 10 and in the process ended his hopes of securing a license to compete in next years World Championship Series. The next ARUK driver was Lasse Bruun Hansen who finished in 21st, with Lee Thompson and Antoine Higelin behind him in 22nd and 23rd, all taking a blow as some of their rivals scored some decent points. Alex Simpson was caught up in an accident in the early stages of the race and ultimately had to retire due to damage and finish in 30th position.
With a relatively small field of just 28 drivers taking part, Silverstone hosted round 8. Another strong showing in qualifying from Alex Simpson saw him start in 3rd, however he had an incident during the race and finished in 13th. Antoine Higelin maintained his grid position of 8th throughout the race giving him another strong points showing, while Lasse Bruun Hansen and Lee Thompson finished yet another race next to eachother in 19 and 20th. Pierre Urbizu retired from the race and finished in 24th positions.
By now Alex Simpson and Antoine Higelin were locked in the top 25, meaning they had earned their WCS licenses for next season, while Lee Thompson and Lasse Bruun Hansen had to ensure that they finished the remaining races of the season in order to secure their licenses and Pierre Urbizu just needed a couple of points in order to secure his license.
Virginia International Raceway held the penultimate round of the season. Alex Simpson had to sit out the remaining two races of the season due to an injury, however he was already locked in the points as was Antoine Higelin, however this didn’t stop the Frenchman from finishing 6th in the race and in the process overtaking Alex Simpson in the standings. All eyes were on Lasse Bruun Hansen, Lee Thompson and Pierre Urbizu. Lasse Bruun Hansen and Lee Thompson ensured that they finished the race and in the process finished well due to the high attrition rate of the difficult circuit, both finished in 12th and 14th respectively. Pierre Urbizu also did what was needed and finished in 21st position meaning he only needed to show up and complete a few laps in the final race of the season.
The final round saw the drivers back in Japan, this time at the Suzuka Circuit. With Alex Simspon still out due to injury, Antoine Higelin scored yet more points by finishing 8th meaning he finished 28 points ahead of Simpson in the overall standings and in the process claimed 8th overall with Alex Simpson finishing 10th overall. Lasse Bruun Hansen and Lee Thompson ensured that they finished the race and took no risks that could ultimately end their race. It was close in the standings, however both drivers managed to secure their WCS license and finished in 22nd and 24th overall. Pierre Urbizu did not show up to the final round and missed out narrowly in the overall standings finishing 26th, however the Frenchmans reasons for not showing up became clear as he had decided to leave simulated racing and concentrate on other things in real life.
Apex Racing UK managed to secure 4 of their drivers into next season World Championship Series to compete among some of the best drivers and teams in simulated motorsport. Those drivers are Antoine Higelin, Alex Simpson, Lasse Bruun Hansen and Lee Thompson and together make up a strong line up and are looking forward to taking part in the 2014 Season.
The team would also like to wish Pierre Urbizu all the best in the future as he departs from the team and iRacing and would like to thank him for representing the team at the highest level of iRacing. The whole team will miss him and if ever he decides to return there will be an open door for him here at Apex Racing UK.