Success and Heartbreak at Imola

15129473_1268466069863306_8006723950558916281_oAfter a disappointing GES season start at Road America for both TFR Sunset and Raidillon, both teams were looking forward to showing their real potential at the second round at Imola. Throughout both Free Practices, both cars were seen close to the top positions, finishing out FP2 in the Top 3 of the Proto and the GTC class.

For TFR Sunset, drivers Jake Robson and Pedro Van Baelen went into the event optimistically, only to be given a damper shortly after. Due to an offtrack in his fastest Qualifying lap, Jake was only able to put the car into 8th position on the grid, far behind the place they were hoping for.

At TFR Raidillon, hopes were high, as team manager Georg Gruber got into the drivers seat for the first time this season, supported by James Ewens. In Qualifying, Georg put the car into 10th place, also held back by a mistake in qualifying.

At the race start Jake knew he had to be patient and work his way through the Proto field with the pace he knew he had. In the first stint he worked his way from 8th to 5th. However on lap 26 disaster struck as coming through Piratella a C-Spec which already had damage from a previous incident lost control trying to hold another car off and went into the wall. The wrecking car came back onto the track, leaving Jake no time to react, resulting in a race ending hit to the left front of the TFR Sunset C7 DP. Enough for 12 minutes of repairs.

Taking over the car for the start in the C-Spec, Georg quickly showed why he likes driving the starts. Gaining some positions through overtakes, and others through crashes and mistakes of the other C-Specs. After 9 laps, he was able to get into a great 5th place in the GTC class. Closely followed by the BerlinSimSport Ruf, he was able to avoid big mistakes for the rest of the stint, constantly having to watch out for faster traffic.

After the first pitstop, the fight with the BerlinSimSport car was going slowly heating up, and looking to turn out very competitive between Georg and the opposing driver Marcel Nolte. Until lightning struck for the german team, as they got hit by the Backmarker Racing C7 DP after a misunderstanding while getting lapped. The remainder of Georg’s second stint after that was once again dominated by keeping the car clean and traffic management, so James would have a clean car after the next pit stop.

For the remainder of TFR Sunset’s race Jake and Pedro knew they just had to keep the car running and try to pick up any positions they could. After finishing his section of the race, Jake handed over the Corvette to Pedro. Pedro did a great job of turning consistent laps with the beaten car, matching Sim Racing for Holland in the lead of the race.

The first driver change for TFR Raidillon saw James hopping into the car, hoping to show off the improvements he made since Road America. However, despite showing very competitive speed, he was off to a rocky start as he soon got hit slightly by the SRN Motorsport Ruf. Driving on without damage, James’ luck was only getting worse, when the CoRe SimRacing AMG GT3 hit the back of the Ruf into T4, sending James into a spin, and damaging the front suspension over the dreaded sausage curbs. Soon, the decision was made to put Georg back into the car for the last, short stint, the extended pitstop also being a chance to make much needed repairs.

The damage on the C-Spec didn’t seem to bother Georg too much. Driving almost as fast as during the early stage of the race, all he had to do was to maintain the distance from the other teams around their position, and bring home a stellar 6th place. After finishing 10th in the opening round, both James and Georg were happy about the good performance.

Glad they could finally show off what they’re capable of, TFR Raidillon are looking forward to the next round at the Twin Ring Motegi. Phil Roberts and Georg Gruber will be sharing the Ruf for the 4 hour night race.

Sadly, Jake and Pedro could only achieve 12th after the accident, a huge blow to their championship hopes. All eyes are now on to Motegi, finally hoping for the finish they know they can have.