2021 championship contender Jack took out back to back podiums at Red Bull.
Round 2 of the Shannons Insurance NTESERIES took us all the way to the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Given the current real life winter conditions in Austria, the track temps and weather conditions were optimal for drivers, and we sure did see some quick times!
With a shortened qualifying session of twenty minutes, drivers were forced to quickly find their own piece of track to set down a flying lap and put themselves in the best position for race one. Showing his continued form, our ‘across the ditch’ buddy, Damon Mulqueen in his #642 Hyundai set the pace with a flying time of 1.39.214. In a tightly contested session, series familiar Jack Widdas in his #898 Audi parked himself alongside Mulqueen on the front row with a time of 1.39.319. Extremely closely behind was Sam Dicker in his #72 Audi with a time of 1.39.322.
Once again, the TCR cars provided exceptionally close times with the top twenty-seven drivers all within two seconds of each other. With such close qualifying times, there was sure to be plenty of action when it came to the race.
As drivers took to the grid and faced the long road up to infamous turn one, everyone eagerly awaited the green lights. With a recent update to iRacing, the dynamics of starting the underpowered front wheel drive TCR cars had changed which managed to catch a few drivers out for race one. With the lights going out, the front row of Mulqueen and Widdas struggled to start the cars, crawling off the line. Dicker who got a reasonable jump off the line he had limited room to move and ended up making contact with the rear quarter panel of Mulqeen. Jake Burgess in his #100 Hyundai also struggled to crawl his car off the line, getting swamped by a number of cars heading into turn one.
After the usual lap one incidents had mellowed, the racing was fierce throughout the entire field. With the cars all being so similar, it meant that the racing was extra close and provided plenty of great entertainment for the broadcast.
After having a poor start off the line, Mulqueen was on a charge through the field until he was met with the widest Hyundai on the track, #100 driven by series organiser Jake Burgess. Burgess parked his Hyundai in the perfect spots making it difficult for Mulqueen to make a pass stick. Mulqueen and Burgess battled for a large majority of the race, with clean door to door racing, it was quite the spectacle to watch. Burgess managed to just hang on holding out the ever-consistent Mulqueen.
Widdas proved his strengths in the TCR at the Red Bull Ring this week, bringing home his #898 Audi in first place, 3.6 seconds ahead of Worboys in second. Our Round 1 TCR winner, and current Championship leader, Nathan Norman rounded out the podium in third place.
It was time to jump back into the Ford and Holden Supercars and relearn the magic of throttle control around the fast and flowing Red Bull Ring. A number of cars were caught out early in the practice and qualifying sessions, applying a little too much throttle and finding themselves looping at some of the tight and technical turns on the track.
Returning to his usual form this week was Blake Worboys in his #63 Ford Mustang, topping the Supercar qualifying times with a blistering 1.29.485, race one winner and fellow championship rival Widdas, closely followed behind with a time of 1.29.511 and series all-rounded Mulqueen, rounded out the top three qualifying times with a lap time of 1.29.922.
As the lights went out for race two, a huge field of Holden and Ford Supercars barrelled towards turn one. Malqueen, McLean and Nathan Norman attempted to go three wide into through the first turn however Mulqueen ran out of track making contact with Mclean, sending Mclean into the fence and leaving Mulqueen with damage.
Also getting tangled up in the infamous turn 1, lap 1 incident was #27 Daniel Norris, #65 James Zeitz and #663 Neil Woodburn, all suffering significant damage, dropping them down the standings. Fortunately, with the incident occurring early on, drivers were able to put their heads down and race on for the remainder of the race.
An unfortunate steering wheel technical glitch saw Worboys pit early to try and resolve the issue and attempt to re-join the race. His time spent in the lane unfortunately cost him a number of positions, putting him a lap down and losing a big chunk of the all-important championship points.
Lap thirteen saw the deployment of the Shannons Insurance 992 Porsche Safety Car. The compulsory competition caution, deployed each round, bunched the field up for the final run to the chequered flag. A short and sweet safety car session, saw the race resume on lap fourteen with a near perfect racing restart from the field.
Once again, Widdas asserted his dominance racing away from the field all the way to the chequered flag. Returning entrant Sam Dicker managed to hold on to second place after a shaky finish to race one. Current championship leader, Nathan Norman rounded out the podium scoring himself two third place finishes for the round.
After the completion of round two, Norman leads the championship on 528 points, with 2021 championship contender Widdas in second place on 510 points and our across the ditch buddy, Mulqueen in third with 444 points.
Round 3 of the Shannons Insurance NTESERIES will return on 27 March from Watkins Glen. Tune in for the live stream coverage of all the action from 6pm NT Time.