The BSR Renault Series kicked off it’s 2017 season on Tuesday for the first of 35 rounds taking place. The opening venue would be the high speed, bump filled Sebring International Raceway, nestled into the Florida countryside and home to the famous 12 Hours of Sebring. Apex Racing fielded two very strong teams to represent into two groups, as Apex Racing UK, being the main team, and Apex Racing Academy, consisting of drivers from the academy. The 5 drivers for ARUK would be Samuel Libeert (FR), Peter Berryman (NI), Oscar Mangan (IE), Antoine Higelin, (FR) and recent addition to the team Pashalis Gergis (GR). Members of the Academy team are Josh Thompson (UK), John Godfrey (UK), Maarten Van Loozenoord (NL), Daniel McCauley (UK), and Tom Depke (USA). With the teams set, and the cars warmed up, it was go time!
Qualifying was early in the morning with cool conditions that proved tricky for the nimble Formula Renault 2.0. After the 10 minute session, it was Samuel placed his car on pole position followed by Maarten 0.1s away. The other four ARUK drivers all placed within the Top 8.
Race 1 got off with a pretty clean start. With new faces for everyone, it was important to learn the opponents and mark out their strengths and weaknesses for the rest of the series. After a tough battle between the top three, it was Maarten who took the first win for himself and of the championship. Unfortunately, Peter and Oscar were involved in a crash when Cem Bolukbasi of Radicals Online lost control of his car in Turn 1 which resulted in a DNF for all three. Despite this, the reverse grids would surely not count everyone out.
Race 2 started with a 17 place reverse grid, with many Apex drivers in the mid pack with Peter and Oscar starting at the back. The race got off to a decent start, however before the end of lap 1, there was a large pileup in Turn 16 collecting, some team members and others who limped home with damage. Although it wasn’t all doom and gloom as Samuel and Pashalis took a 1-2 and not too far behind was Peter who made an astonishing climb from 33rd to 3rd in just 8 laps! Josh Thompson, Daniel McCauley and John Godfrey all took home good points for the Academy team too sure to add much needed finishes for their team championship campaign.
For Race 3, sanity turned awry, and the spinning wheel brought on a FULL reverse grid. We all had a good laugh, then started to work out the approach. Conditions were quite cool, but everyone put the head down and got to work. The start was good for Van Loozenoord and Oscar who both started quite high up, and it wasn’t long before both drivers were quickly into the top 5 chasing down the lead. 8 laps later, it was Oscar and Van Loozenoord who took 1st and 2nd, with Antoine and Josh Thompson also finished in the Top 10 contributing to both Apex team’s well. Things did not go well for some though, as Pashalis, Peter and McCauley were caught up in unfortunate crashes that were race ending.
After a quick breather, it wasn’t long before Race 4 was soon underway. Now late in the afternoon, conditions were expected to be cold, although this was an understatement as it turned out to be overcast in a car that is quite scary on cold tyres let alone the track that everyone was facing. The grid was partially reversed and all drivers were ready. Lights out, the pack of 42 cars headed through Turn 1 okay, but absolute carnage broke out between T1 and T2 which claimed well over half the field including several drivers from this stable. Samuel and Oscar were one of the only cars to come out the otherside, although Samuel had extremely heavy wing damage and he quickly lost ground. Oscar chased after Jos Honig who by lap 2 was leading. After another lap of chase, he quickly went by and the main threat to the second win was Bolukbasi who was not far behind. Though there were fantastic battles further back with the cars that remained, not much happened for the front two and in the end it was Oscar who took the chequered flag for race 4. A full house of wins between the main team and the academy team.
In the end, it was overall a great night for both the Academy and Main drivers in terms of the Teams Championship. Apex Racing UK holds to the top spot to CQR by 66pts, with Apex Racing Academy sitting comfortably in 4th place. Josh Thompson leads the Drivers and AM Drivers Championship after a very consistent drive, with team mate John Godfrey taking 5th. The rest of the Apex drivers dot the table from 10th to 30th despite the fantastic points for the teams.
The BSR Formula Renault 2.0 Series will return next Tuesday to the Belgian tarmac of Circuit Zolder for Round 2. Be sure to catch the race LIVE on Apex Racing TV, where you can also catch up on the Sebring broadcast. You can also check out the current standings as well as all the news from BSR and even how to sign up by clicking HERE. That’s all for now, tune in next week.
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