The opening round of the NTESERIES Dry Season cup had it all. New cars, new drivers, new race formats and a whole lot of strategy.
A key feature of the Dry Season Cup is the new two race format with progressive grids and one compulsory pit stop (CPS) required across the two races. This new format puts the race strategy back in the hands of the drivers to determine if they take their CPS in Race 1 or Race 2, spicing up the strategies and the podiums.
Over 40 Porsche 992’s took to the Brands Hatch circuit for a rapid 20-minute qualifying session to set the grid for race 1 of the opening round. NTESERIES newcomer, Gianni Lutzu showed early pace setting the fastest lap time in qualifying with a 1:24.042.
2022 Shannons Insurance NTESERIES Champion, Jack Widdas returned to form putting his Porsche 992 alongside Lutzu on the front row of the grid, setting a qualifying time of 1:24.322.
Rounding out the top 3 with a lap time difference of only .003 to Widdas was Tyson Broad who parked his SimRigs.com Porsche in the 3rd spot on the grid for Race 1 with a time of 1:24.325.
Once the grid was set, the NTESERIES Course Car led the field of 992’s around for their opening formation lap. The field lined up beautifully in double file behind the Course Car and eagerly awaited the green flag.
After an excellent start, Guy Leach made the early jump, making up four spots heading into the second corner. Lutzu and Broad got tangled on the exit of turn two sending Lutzu wide, who then got involved in a few spinning cars at turn three.
After several laps commanding the lead of the race, Leach made an uncharacteristic mistake heading into turn one, having a big slide on the exit, handing the lead to Widdas who drove on cleanly to hold onto the lead and ultimately, win the opening race of the season.
The grid for race 2 was a progressive grid, with the finishing order of race 1 setting the order of race 2. With Widdas taking out the win in race 1, he once again parked himself on the front row of the grid, alongside Maverick Benson, who was a strong finisher in race 1, crossing the line in 2nd place.
Race two once again started under the direction of the NTESERIES Aston Martin Course Car. As the course car peeled into the pit lane, the green flag was waved and we were underway again for race 2 of the championship.
Benson got the leading jump and took the early lead into turn 1, behind him however, the battle was on for second place with cars going three wide into turn one. Zack Wendt-Smith unfortunately ran out of room on the track, tagging the rear of Christopher Mitchell sending him off track.
With the leaders of race 2 yet to take their CPS, Cameron Edwards, who was the first of the drivers who had stopped unfortunately got tangled in a turn two, lap one incident which saw him drop through the order, hurting his chances of a strong result.
The order at the front of the field remained unchanged for several laps until the CPS’s from the leading drivers commenced. After the mandatory CPS’s had occurred, Jacob Brewer who had stopped in race 1, took the lead for race 2. After some smooth and clean driving, Brewer managed to drive his Porsche 992 home to victory, to what was his first NTESERIES win and podium.
If you missed out on our live stream coverage, you can watch the replay here.
After the opening round of the championship, the current top 10 championship standings are:
1. Jack Widdas (273)
2. Maverick Benson (245)
3. Guy Leach (210)
4. Paul Mansell (207)
5. Jacob Brewer (207)
6. Ray Oliver (177)
7. Zach Wendt-Smith (164)
8. Chris Mitchell (161)
9. Dean Power (161)
10. Nathan Norman (150)
Full championship results are available on the NTESERIES website.
For more information, check out www.nteseries.com.au