Edging Closer

Race Report: Daytona Prototypes 2019.
Round 2 (1 August 2019).
Benfleet City Circuit.

Round two of the 2019 Daytona Prototypes championship saw our racers return to the Benfleet City Circuit for what turned out to be another night’s close racing. Indeed, by the end of the night, the competitive nature of the contest was reflected in the updated championship standings as the gap from first to second was reduced to a single point.

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Steve started from pole in race one, but spun off in the first corner, dropping to third. He recovered well and, by the end of the first lap, had passed both Anthony and Lee to retake the lead. Buoyed by this, he pounded round during the opening stint, pulling out a modest lead. He was, however, the first to pit and – opting for what turned out to be the wrong strategy – rejoined in third, where he would remain for the rest of the race.

Next

Anthony was next in. Having spent the opening laps either fighting with, or trying to catch Steve, he had used more fuel than third placed Lee. Able to run much later into the race in his first stint, Lee emerged from his first stop with a handsome lead, which he would not surrender for the rest of the race.

Race One Result
(Starting grid position in brackets. *Denotes out of fuel):
1st Lee (4) – 40 laps
2nd Anthony (3) – 39 laps
3rd Steve (1) – 38 laps
4th Scott (2) – 33 laps*
5th Norman (5) – 28 laps
Fastest Race Lap: Lee – 12.912

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Lee was to continue his good start to the round in race two, getting the jump on pole man George going into the first corner. Lee was to further benefit from a good start by Steve, who had lined up just behind him on the grid, as he too starting piling the pressure on second-placed George. The developing battle between Steve and George allowed Lee to pull away at the front, but it also distracted them from the growing threat from behind too.

Mistake

Anthony had made a so-so start, and had preferred to maintain a steady pace rather than get involved with the fight ahead of him. It was a strategy which was to serve him well, enabling him to leapfrog both Steve and George in the first stops. It was in the first round stops that Steve too was to make progress; a mistake in his first pit stop had delayed George and enabled Steve to emerge in third place with a handy lead.

Looking good?

Meanwhile, back at the front, Lee was looking good for the race win, but Anthony was able to creep up on him and – in the final round of stops – emerge in the lead where he would remain until the chequered flag.

Race Two Result: 
1st Anthony (5) – 41 laps
2nd Lee (2) – 41 laps
3rd Steve (3) – 40 laps
4th George (1) – 36 laps
5th Norman (4) – 30 laps
Fastest Race Lap: Lee – 12.430

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Scott, getting his first taste of the Daytona Prototypes championship, and running-in his new Racer Sideways model, started from pole in race three. Getting away well, he was able to go unchallenged for the first handful of laps after most of the rest of the field were either involved in or delayed by crashes going into the first corner. Eventually, the superior pace of the chasing cars meant Scott was to drop down the order. At the front, a battle between Darren and George was to rage for much of the race.

Cat n’ Mouse

After passing Scott, third and fourth placed Steve and Anthony had their own fight for the final podium place. This became something of a game of cat and mouse, with Steve seemingly matching Anthony’s pit strategy and staying in front, and pulling out a gap in the second stop after short-fuelling.

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Fuel was to be the telling factor in this race. First, second-placed Darren was to run out with a few laps to go, which allowed Steve through. Then, the gamble Steve took in his second stop came back to bite him, as he too ran out of fuel on the final lap, but was far enough ahead of Anthony to hold on to second place.

Race Three Result: 
1st George (5) – 41 laps
2nd Steve (4) – 40 laps*
3rd Anthony (2) – 40 laps
4th Darren (3) – 38 laps*
5th Scott (1) – 35 laps
Fastest Race Lap: Darren – 12.717

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Two out of three of the leading championship protagonists contested race four, and the race looked like it could have gone either way in the early stages. Both Lee and Anthony were in a class of their own for the first dozen or so laps, with Darren running an increasingly distant third. As the race wore on, however, Lee started to pull away until at the the end, Anthony was two laps down on the race lead. Taking on too much fuel in his final pit stop also contributed to gap between he and race winner Lee.

Lonely

Darren ran a lonely race back in third, seemingly unable to catch either Lee or Anthony. Behind him, Scott again found his new car lacked the pace of the front runners. A little more running for the silver Riley would hopefully narrow that gap. Finally, Norman found his Scalextric Ford was even further off the pace of the Racer Sideways runners, coming home fifth.

Race Four Result: 
1st Lee (5) – 42 laps
2nd Anthony (1) – 40 laps
3rd Darren (2) – 39 laps
4th Scott (4) – 33 laps
5th Norman (3) – 32 laps
Fastest Race Lap: Lee – 12.647

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Lee continued his good form in race five, dominating the first half of the race, but as the race unfolded, things took an unexpected twist. In a turn of events reminiscent of the tale of the tortoise and the hare, Lee – with seemingly an insurmountable lead – took his foot off the gas to cruise home. To his surprise, not only George, but also Darren were able to catch and pass him. His late attempt to switch on the pace was in vain and third was to be his ultimate reward.

Twist

This wasn’t to be the final twist, however, as each of the front three had gambled on fuel in their final pit stops and each of them ran out on the final lap. With Scott also running out earlier in the race, the only driver actually still running when the clock hit the ten minute mark at the end of the race was Norman, who finished a distant fifth.

Race Five Result: 
1st George (2) – 40 laps*
2nd Darren (4) – 40 laps*
3rd Lee (3) – 39 laps*
4th Scott (5) – 35 laps*
5th Norman (1) – 30 laps
Fastest Race Lap: Lee – 12.363

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Lee converted pole into an early race lead, with George also getting away well to leap from fourth to second on the opening lap. Steve had failed to make the best of a front row starting berth, spinning off in turn one. He was quick to recover, however, and ran close behind Lee in third with Darren not far behind in fourth. A big spin for Lee saw him drop from the race lead back to fourth, and with this the leading three closed up as the first round of pit stops loomed.

Temptation

Once again, fuel was to play a major role in the complexion of the race. First, Scott was to again run of fuel whilst running at the back on lap 12. Four laps later, Steve tried to squeeze in an extra lap before making his first stop. Ahead of him, George had already made his stop, so the temptation to stay out and try to take the lead was too great. His car was to grind to a halt, its fuel tank empty on lap 16.

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By half-distance, George had a healthy lead, but less fuel in his tank. With Lee closing, and with much more fuel, the black and gold car was looking very well placed to take the lead. This prognosis looked increasingly likely when George ducked into the pits for his final stop. Lee had easily another five laps’ fuel, so should have caught and not only taken the lead, but built a cushion whilst George was stationary. A spin for Lee meant his advantage was cancelled out; George retained his lead and held on to take another win. To make matters worse, when Lee did make his stop, Darren had closed up enough to take second place from him.

Race Six Result: 
1st George (4) – 42 laps
2nd Darren (5) – 41 laps
3rd Lee (1) – 39 laps
4th Steve (2) – 16 laps*
5th Scott (3) – 12 laps*
Fastest Race Lap: Lee – 12.273

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The final race of the night would decide who would leave the Benfleet City Circuit with the championship lead. With the dropped round rule taken into consideration, Anthony was looking good at the top of the table, but if George could finish ahead of him in race seven, the pendulum would swing in his favour.

Championship Tussle

From the off, both Anthony and George tussled for the lead, with the lead changing hands a few times in the opening laps. Over time, Anthony was able to pull away as one or two mistakes crept into George’s performance. Indeed, but half distance, the lead was unquestionably Anthony’s, and George was now increasingly looking over his shoulder.

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Darren had originally ran third after dropping from pole when both Anthony and George had passed him on the opening lap. Later in the race, Steve had got by the Emirates car to grab the final podium place and had, by the end of the race, closed to within a car length of second-placed George.

Race Seven Result: 
1st Anthony (4) – 42 laps
2nd George (3) – 41 laps
3rd Steve (5) – 41 laps
4th Darren (1) – 38 laps
5th Norman (2) – 31 laps
Fastest Race Lap: George – 12.507

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Round Two Result:
1st George – 165
2nd Anthony – 164
3rd Lee – 162
4th Steve – 150
= Darren – 150
6th Scott – 136
7th Norman – 130

With just one round to go, the standings are very tight; just one point separating first to second place, and with Lee not far behind in third, the racing on 7th November will be fast, furious and full of intrigue!

Standings after Round 2:
1st Anthony – 166; 2nd George – 165; 3rd Lee – 162; 4th Darren – 153; 5th Steve – 150; 6th Scott – 136; =7th Alex – 134; =7th Norman – 134

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Latest Championship Standings:

Round 1: Round 2: Round 3: Total
1
Anthony

166

164

166
2
George

162

165

165
2
Lee

162

162

162
4
Darren

153

150

153
5
Steve

146

150

150
6
Scott

XXX

136

136
7
Alex

134

XXX

134
8
Norman

134

130

134

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