Sebring is an American legend. It has been the home to endurance racing in and was created from a US Air force base, now the only things that fly on raceday are the incredible machines that grace the rough surface that has seen some incredible races over the decades! Today we will be seeing how the finale of the WST Lines up.
The Miami sun is beating down on us here today, temperatures are high and tensions are too! This was an incredible qualifying session we’ve seen with the two title rivals setting themselves apart.
Top 10 Rundown
Franck Keller put himself in a prime position for tomorrow’s race as he takes pole, with his teammate Jordan Weissmuller backing up a FAAL top four. I’m sure Franck will be happy with this situation as he finds himself three spots ahead of title rival Neuwvale. Josh Greenburg backs up his teammate and completes the second row.
It’s an all Keika third row as Jason Jackie leads Michael Martins for what seems to be a typical qualifying position for the japanese manufacturer. Jason will need a good result here if he’s to overhaul the FAAL ahead of him for third place.
Trailing the Keika’s it was Aato Laakonen for Haapala, with a Six-for-six top ten qualifying for Bramhalls Karel De Lang. Word is that Karel will be leaving the sport after moving from the companies BTCC project, we wish him the best of luck out there. Filling in ninth it was the ever onward Issak Seppa, a driver who has certainly proven his worth to the Finnish team in their title battle this season
The usual suspects found themselves reeling at the bottom of the grid in qualifying, with Epoch filling out the bottom rows and Yoshiki Sato propping up the times. React and the two aussie drivers fill out the row ahead whilst Frederick Ward found himself in P26.
American sun shining down on the tarmac with clear skies all around, we’ve got some incredible weather here today as the finale of the Inaugural season of World Series Tourers bookends what is set to be an incredible title fight! Three leaders of the championship at three different points, now down to a single point splitting the two main rivals! We’re looking at an incredible finale here today.
Lights out and away we go and Neuwvale has managed to get right on the back of Keller as we approach turn one, Josh Greenburg has dropped back and Lefèbvre has jumped him! Tyler Freshner has come out of nowhere to get into the top ten as have Karima Benali and James Ratikin!
Ratikin chasing down Benalli and He’s binned it! Ratikin has thrown it into the wall at the final corner and that car is not going to finish this race here today. Ratikin has done so well over the season and he’ll be rueing this send off to what has been an incredible season for him.
Lap five and Ryan Adams has suspension failure! He’s lost control and he’s off in the grass in sector 2! Natori came in hoping to impress but instead had to take what scraps they could muster whilst other teams swooped in to take higher positions. Jamie hunter is running in twentieth and doesn’t look on pace to get into the points.
Bri comes across the line to start lap ten and she has a commendable gap to her teammate whilst Franck Keller is struggling to keep up. At this rate it looks like the championship will go to Neuwvale.
It’s heartbreak for Michael Martins! He’s lost control and he’s put it into the wall! Calamities for the young prodigy, having lead the championship earlier on in the season it seems like he’s going to drop out of the top five!
Lap twenty and it’s a huge gap for Bri over her title rival, over thirty seconds! All she needs to do is cruise it home now with three laps to go. This could be it!
Billy Manchen is in the wall on the final lap, how distraught for them! LHE have surprised sometimes with good points but today was just not their day with Fred Ward so far down, they’ll be looking to do better next season.
NEUWVALE WINS THE RACE HERE AT SEBRING AND WITH IT THE CHAMPIONSHIP! Bri Neuwvale you are the World Series Tourers Champion! Josh Greenburg leads a Blue Bull 1-2 but it’s not enough with Franck Keller taking third place and Weissmuller in fifth, FMS Take the Manufacturers championship ahead of Blue bull and Keika over 50 points down. Meanwhile Jason Jackie has done enough to put himself into third place by one point over Weissmuller by finishing in fourth, congratulations to the kid!
Sixth and Seventh are the wonderful Finns of Haapala with Laakkonen leading Seppa, Lefèbvre follows them home in eighth, whilst Benali and Freshner round out the top ten positions.
Max Porter takes eleventh, and with a Twelfth place for Robert Defoi that now means Haapala and VMC are tied for Fifth place on points. The countback will go in favour of VMC due to the higher points haul the team had in race 1. Thirteenth is Takala, followed by Parsons, Jamie Hunter doing an incredible job to work through the field and take that last point, then De Lang, Flores, Lara, Andrew Kelly, Islington, Ward, Kuznitzov, Bruce Kelly, Sharon Kelly, Sato, with Lucas Goldright rounding out the finishing positions.
Bri will be ecstatic as she takes the top step of the podium for the fifth time out of six races, she almost lost it but her incredible pace put her into a dominant position here today. And now she is crowned champion by WAM Official Test Driver and former DTM champion Daniel Adami! Lets head to the pitlane for the final thoughts from Steven Verhoeven and Eddie Austin.
Post Race Round Up
EA: Fantastic final race! Neuwvale never set a single foot wrong, she got ahead on lap two and just kept herself cool. If I wasn’t mistaken I’d say that Franck almost looked shaken once he’d stepped out the car for the post race weigh in. It seems coming so close to the title has really taken its’ toll on him. I’m sure he’ll regroup his thoughts and will come back next season stronger than ever!
AM: It was an incredible race here today and with the bright sun shining here today we must be glad that we chose such an incredible venue to race at.
SV: The endurance races here were incredible, but I must admit wasn’t expecting anything special and then we had that race. I was heart in mouth the entire time, it was incredible. I have to say well done FAAL. No matter what the outcome was they would have won, and now they’ve got a manufacturers title to boot.
AM: That will certainly make them proud. However, I have a question. All this time we’ve seen Jason Jackie being outpaced by Michael Martins, but when push comes to shove Jackie has put himself into third in the drivers standings whilst Michael has simply dropped away from his title chances. So Steven, is that all down to Keika or is there more to it than that?
SV: I think both Michael and Keika have to take some blame for the situation he’s found himself in. At times the Keika has bitten him when he’s down, but as Jason also proved if you make a mistake you have to take the blame, and Michael has made a few too many mistakes this season.
AM: Thank you for that. Eddie, we’ve seen Haapala go up and down the teams standings. Should they have been higher up the table?
EA: I think so. Aato Laakkonen is a great driver and too many times we’ve seen his engine go pop on him. It’s no wonder why as it is an extremely complex engine setup, but that low centre of mass has really helped the team also. We’ve seen that when they’ve been on pace they’re all but unstoppable, especially when Issak finds himself up the field. I really do think that Haapala have done well, but they could have done much better if they had the reliability under their belt.
AM: Thanks Eddie. And on that note we’re out of time. We hope you enjoyed the races this season, big changes will be coming next year and we hope to see you then!