A Great Send Off

Race Report: Daytona Prototypes 2019.
Round 3 (7 November 2019).
Benfleet City Circuit.

The Daytona Prototypes championship has been one of our more closely contested classes in 2019, with little to separate the leading protagonists across the opening two rounds. Indeed, going into the final round, Anthony’s lead over George was one single point. With Lee a further three points back in third place, anticipation of a classic night’s racing was sky high as free practice began at the Benfleet City Circuit. Of course, our racers were also aware that, with the crowded race schedule being thinned out next year, and following September’s vote on which classes to drop, this would be the last full Daytona Prototype championship for the foreseeable future. Everyone was keen to give this class a good send off.

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Lee got his championship challenge off to a great start, jumping into the lead from pole in race one. His charge at the front lasted less than a metre, as he clattered into the armco in turn one, allowing Steve through into the lead. Steve too enjoyed a somewhat brief moment of glory, making it as far as the Dunlop hairpin, where a faulty lane changer pitched him off the track, and dropped him to last place.

Iffy Chip?

George was now leading the race, but all was not well with his Dallara prototype. Later, during the break, and after much chin stroking and furrowing of brows, it was decreed that a lose guide-wire was to blame. Or maybe an iffy chip. Whatever it was, it was seriously effecting George’s pace, and he too dropped to the back. Then he ran out of fuel after just 14 laps; not a good start to his night’s racing.

Charge

By now, Lee had muscled his way back to the front, where he would remain until the end of the race. Scott ran second for a while, but behind him, Steve was on a charge, and passed the silver Riley with just over two minutes of the race remaining. He then set off in pursuit of Lee, but could not get close to make a challenge for the win.

Race One Result: 
1st Lee – Riley MkXX
Laps: 39; Grid: 1; Pit stops: 2
Fastest lap: 13.365
2nd Steve – Riley MkXX
Laps: 37; Grid: 2; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 13.434
3rd Scott – Riley MkXX
Laps: 37; Grid: 4; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 13.403
4th Norman – Riley MkXX
Laps: 30; Grid: 3; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 15.354
5th George – Dallara DP-01
Laps: 14; Grid: 5; Pit stops: 0
Fastest lap: 13.304

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Whatever problem George’s Dallara was suffering from, it appeared to be less of an issue in race two, with the title hopeful in the thick of things at the start. With Norman slow away from pole, the order became mixed up from the outset, with fellow front-row starter, Anthony, taking an initial lead. With George delayed behind Norman, it was Steve – starting from fourth – who leaped up into second place. By the end of the first lap, he’d made a successful move for the lead of the race and started to pull away.

Handy

Steve had pulled out a handy lead by the time he made his first stop, but he was the first of the field to come in. Short-fuelling to maintain his lead was a decision he’d likely pay for later in the race, but for now he was still out in front. Behind him, George and Anthony were having their own battle over second place. George appeared to edge the contest on raw speed, but he too was harder on his fuel tank than Anthony. By the time the final stops were done and dusted, race  leader Steve had dropped to third behind George and Anthony. The latter made one stop less than the former, and closed right up in the final moments of the race, but George had just enough to take a valuable race win.

Race Two Result: 
1st George – Dallara DP-01
Laps: 40; Grid: 3; Pit stops: 4
Fastest lap: 12.960
2nd Anthony – Riley MkXX
Laps: 39; Grid: 2; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 13.163
3rd Steve – Riley MkXX
Laps: 39; Grid: 4; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 13.312
4th Scott – Riley MkXX
Laps: 36; Grid: 5; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 13.314
5th Norman – Riley MkXX
Laps: 28; Grid: 1; Pit stops: 1
Fastest lap: 15.067

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With a win-a-piece for two of our championship leaders, Anthony got his title challenge back on track with a decisive win in race three. Meanwhile, the technical problems which had compromised George’s performance in race one returned in race three, putting a sizable spanner in his championship works.

Focus

It was Scott who grabbed the lead at the start when pole-sitter George ran into trouble at the start, dropping to the back with erratic power distribution. Scott held on at the front for nine laps before Anthony made a successful pass at the end of the flyover. He would go unchallenged for the rest of the race. The focus of the action now settled on the fight for second place. Scott held onto this position for a while, but eventually came under pressure from both Darren and Steve, who were able to find a way by.

Race Three Result: 
1st Anthony – Riley MkXX
Laps: 41; Grid: 4; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 13.020
2nd Steve – Riley MkXX
Laps: 39; Grid 5; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 13.134
3rd Darren – Dallara DP-01
Laps: 38; Grid: 2; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 13.497
4th Scott – Riley MkXX
Laps: 38; Grid: 3; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 12.972
5th George – Dallara DP-01
Laps: 37; Grid: 1; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 12.480

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Race four saw Lee convert second on the grid to a race lead at the start, and hold on to the place until the chequered flag ten minutes later. This didn’t tell the full story by any means; despite running at the front throughout, this was actually quite a close, strategic battle. Steve held onto second, running close behind Lee throughout the first stint, but was again much harder on fuel and was again first to stop. Opting for a long first stop, he rejoined in fifth, but hoped to run much longer than those ahead of him in his second stint.

Battle

It was Anthony who picked up the baton and set off in pursuit of Lee, but again, Lee appeared blessed with both a swift AND frugal car and Anthony could do no better than second here. Behind him, a fuel-sapping battle raged between Scott and Darren for third, which ultimately helped Steve, who was running a fuel saving strategy back in fifth. During the next round of stops he would leapfrog them both to take third. Third would become second for Steve in the final minute of the race when Anthony ran into trouble in his final pit stop.

Race Four Result: 
1st Lee – Riley MkXX
Laps: 42; Grid: 2; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 12.888
2nd Steve – Riley MkXX
Laps: 40; Grid: 3; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 12.927
3rd Anthony – Riley MkXX
Laps: 40; Grid: 5; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 12.891
4th Scott – Riley MkXX
Laps: 39; Grid: 1; Pit stops: 5
Fastest lap: 12.630
5th Darren – Dallara DP-01
Laps: 38; Grid: 4; Pit stops: 4
Fastest lap: 13.376

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The championship pendulum swung back in Anthony’s favour in race five, with the championship leader overtaking pole sitter Steve on the opening lap and pulling away. Again, like Lee in previous race, the leader would again go largely unchallenged on his way to victory, though if points were given for effort, Lee’s charge from the back of the field up to second would certainly have earned a few. Even if – sometimes – his robust tactics raised a few cries of protest from his rivals!

Heavy

Behind the leaders, Steve this time lost out to Darren, with the Dallara driver making up for his heavy fuel use in race three, and outsmarting the Riley runner on strategy. These were valuable points in Steve and Darren’s battle for fourth place in the final standings.

Race Five Result: 
1st Anthony – Riley MkXX
Laps: 41; Grid: 3; Pit stops: 4
Fastest lap: 13.135
2nd Lee – Riley MkXX
Laps: 40; Grid: 4; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 12.455
3rd Darren – Dallara DP-01
Laps: 39; Grid: 5; Pit stops: 2
Fastest lap: 13.129
4th Steve – Riley MkXX
Laps: 39; Grid: 1; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 13.222
5th Norman – Ford DP
Laps: 31; Grid: 2; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 15.194

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By the time race six got underway, George’s hopes of taking the Daytona Prototypes title were looking increasingly forlorn. Granted, he’d taken a valuable win in race two, but car trouble in his other two races so far had resulted in two fifth places, while his rivals hadn’t been off the podium all night. Anthony might have grabbed an early lead once the lights had gone out at the start of the race, but George wasn’t giving up and was immediately caught up in a fight with Lee for second place. It was Lee, however, who got the better of that fight, and steadily pulled away in pursuit of leader Anthony.

Pivotal

This was to prove a pivotal point of, not only the race, but also of the championship. With one of his rivals dealt with, Lee was then able to catch up with the other, arriving under Anthony’s rear wing and then punting him off the track as they passed under the flyover. After the pit stops, Lee dropped back to third, but again fashioned passes on both George and then Anthony on his way to another race win.

Race Six Result: 
1st Lee  – Riley MkXX
Laps: 41; Grid: 5; Pit stops: 2
Fastest lap: 12.364
2nd Anthony – Riley MkXX
Laps: 41; Grid: 1; Pit stops: 2
Fastest lap: 13.048
3rd George – Dallara DP-01
Laps: 40; Grid: 2; Pit stops: 4
Fastest lap: 12.603
4th Darren – Dallara DP-01
Laps: 38; Grid: 3; Pit stops: 2
Fastest lap: 13.289
5th Norman – Ford DP
Laps: 32; Grid: 4; Pit stops: 1
Fastest lap: 15.070

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With Anthony’s racing done for the night, the final race saw George and Lee line up for a race that would decide the championship once and for all. George was unfortunately out of contention now – so it was down to Lee, who would need to finish higher than third to take the title. George undoubtedly had the pace to take the race win here, but he’d struggled with fuel consumption all night; his Dallara was much thirstier than Anthony and Lee’s in particular. But could anyone else on the grid put in a performance that would deny Lee his third Daytona Prototype title in a row?

Edge

Lee was to make the worst possible start, crashing into the first corner and dropping to the back of the field. This was exactly the edge George was looking for as it leveled the playing field in terms of fuel use. George breezed into the lead, and was able to build a huge early lead, whilst Lee got caught up in battles with Scott and Darren, using up his fuel reserves as he fought his way back up to second. By this time it was too late, George had enough in the tank to secure what was – in the end – a consolation win. Lee however had done just enough – he’d finished second, allowing him to take the title by a single point.

Race Seven Result: 
1st George – Dallara DP-01
Laps: 41; Grid: 4; Pit stops: 4
Fastest lap: 12.439
2nd Lee – Riley MkXX
Laps: 39; Grid: 3; Pit stops: 2
Fastest lap: 12.304
3rd Darren  – Dallara DP-01
Laps: 39; Grid: 1; Pit stops: 3
Fastest lap: 13.581
4th Scott – Riley MkXX
Laps: 38; Grid: 2; Pit stops: 4
Fastest lap: 12.757
5th Norman – Riley MkXX
Laps: 33; Grid: 5; Pit stops: 1
Fastest lap: 14.585

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Round Three Result: 

1st Lee – 169
2nd Anthony – 164
3rd Steve – 154
4th George – 152
5th Darren – 144
6th Scott – 142
7th Norman – 132

Fastest Race Lap: Lee – 12.304

So, Lee has taken the Daytona Prototypes championship for the third year in a row. This class will be run as a single one-off race at one of our Saturday events in 2020 – will Lee win this too?

Final Championship Standings:

Round 1: Round 2: Round 3: Total
1
Lee

162

162

169

331
2
Anthony

166

164

164

330
3
George

162

165

152

327
4
Steve

146

150

154

304
5
Darren

153

150

144

303
6
Scott

XXX

136

142

278
7
Norman

134

130

132

266
8
Alex

134

XXX

XXX

134

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