Exactly one week ago, the lights above the start/finish straight of a cold and wet Imola went green for the penultimate round of the CrewChief GT3 Masters VI.
As they raced towards Tamburello for the first time, the drivers were hoping they made the right strategy calls. In the warm and dry commentary booth, both Martin and Jak were ready to give their insights and opinions on the drama that was sure to ensue. And the spectators following the live stream were in for a treat, as they witnessed a race that was arguably one of the best, and most exciting races of this series..
Raining on the grid, but dry in thirty minutes
Changable weather was predicted, and all drivers came prepared for both wet(ter) and dry conditions, but while lining up on the grid the fans in the grandstand could almost hear the driver's brains squeaking as they thought about their strategies. Wet now, dry in thirty minutes. But what about one hour or 90 minutes after the start? Can I take a gamble and start on dry tyres and let the race come to me? So many questions, and they all had less than three minutes to decide...
One driver took a big gamble, which almost paid off. Cliff Bulcke, last year's champion, decided to go with dry tyres and attempt to minimize the time lost in the opening laps. Should he succeed in staying 'on the black stuff', he would then be in a great position as he did not have to stop for dry tyres and could go long to stop for a 'splash and dash' in the closing stages of the race.
Could he make it stick, and would his gamble pay off? Well, when his competitors pitted for slicks, he found himself in the lead by around one minute. For a while his audacious decision made him the hero of Imola.
When Cliff finally pitted though, the others caught up with him and he came home in fourth place. A hard earned result, that made him the 'Driver Of The Day' for many.
Battles throughout the field
With the heroic drive of Bulcke, and the close fights between the front runners, one would almost forget that great battles took place throughout the field. Luckily both Martin and Jak showed these in the broadcast as well, notably the many laps Miguel Santiago Carou and Jim Britton displayed there 'formation flying skills', before the latter made a small mistake and went into the gravel trap at the exit of Villeneuve.
Max Beyer, David Dhoore and James Meade took the podium in that order. Team WRT had made the decision to pit for fuel late in the race, but it did cost them some places. After round 5 Bram Depraitere and Amedeo Dekeyser were leading the championship, but now Max Beyer has split the two Belgians.
|1||Bram Depraitere (DEP)||449|
|2||Max Beyer (MAX)||422|
|3||Amedeo Dekeyser (DEK)||419|
Time flies, and this is also true for the sixth installment of this epic series. Next week, the iconic track of Spa-Francorchamps will host the season finale. For two hours the matadors will battle on track for victory.
Who will be crowned Masters Champion this time out? One thing seems certain, the flag of the champion will have three bands, one black, one red and the other yellow.