Hello and welcome to a brand new season of World Series Tourers! We’re here in Spain for the season opener, we’ve got a wonderful new calendar, and these new cars are glorious to look at! Some names return both on the team side and driver side with last years champion moving on along with her team. Title rivals Michael Martins and Frank Keller return this year, whilst many new faces are looking to fight for the championship.
The grid is now a full 40 cars, and it seems that we’ll have a very interesting battle for the title this year! Pre-season seemed to say good things for most teams with a very tight midfield, many cars within the same second. A new race format might also keep things interesting, with a top ten reverse grid for a second race, overall races are the same length with the
We head over to Eddie Austin for the top ten round up from qualifying.
Qualifying was an interesting battle yesterday, with the new ten lap format taking president and proving its worth. The two Rutherford cars kept up their good pace from the practice session, claiming the top two with Ostberg leading Home. Andrew Kelley claimed third, but not without throwing his car off track and into the gravel on his first and last laps. Andrews older brother Matthew Kelley following him into fourth with similar issues, but managing to keep away from the gravel.
Newcomers Tachibana and Foster line up fifth and sixth for ART and RJ Racing respectively, followed by Manx Blaithin Riordan. She struggled with the balance on her first two laps, but third time lucky she held it together and set the seventh fastest time.
Eighth was FAAL’s new gunner Maria Bianchi, miles ahead of her once title challenging team mate Frank Keller who failed to make the top ten.
Bastien Lefebvre lined up ninth with a last minute improvement on his only other lap, whilst Brian Hernandez takes the final spot in the top ten, losing the rear through turn eight on his final lap and coming exceptionally close to hitting the wall.
We’re now in the build up to the first of two races, we’re expecting the weather to play a part soon as the conditions are very dire right now. Heavy clouds are forming above us and it certainly looks like we’re going to see rain on and off.
We’re lined up on the grid, there’s light drizzle but not enough to put them into the pits. Five red lights, and the first race of the season will begin. And they’re off and the ITM’s have absolutely shot off the line! It’s matthew leading Andrew into turn 1 and that’s a JHW up the inside of Mary Home! It’s Hernandez who’s now tailing the quick car of Home with Sam Foster and Bianchi close behind! Michael Martins and Frank Keller have both dropped back from their qualifying positions, as has Akari Tachibana, she’s now all the way down behind her teammate!
Matt Kelly makes a mistake, he’s wide at turn 3 and he’s off! The hard charging Mary Home is putting pressure on for a move, now it’s Andrew trying to defend but he’s held out wide through turn 5, Mary Home is back into the lead. Matt Kelly lost a lot of time there, he’s back on track but way down the pack!
Anders Ostberg has now passed Andrew and is making a big gap back to the young driver. This new ITM car is quick, but Andrew cannot compete for the win against the Rutherfords. They’re flying! Behind the lead pack it’s Tachibana and Matt Kelly, he’s recovered from his mistake but Tachibana is not going to make this easy, and with her team mate not too far behind Kelly she’d do well to hold him up, the battle for fourth is one to keep an eye on!
Andrew Kelly’s spun it at turn 8, he’s pushed to hard and now he’s down behind the Berry Racing cars! That now puts Tachibana into third place!
Tachibana is really under pressure now, Matt Kelly is charging hard and he’s got her lined up in his sights through the chicane! Matt Kelly’s round the outside of the final corner! As they go onto lap 11 they’re side by side but he’s through, Kelly is now on the podium! The gap to first and second has opened up to 9.5 seconds now.
Matt runs wide again, he’s lost it at turn 3 whilst trying to keep ahead of Akari! It’s now El-Tazim fourth and Riordan Fifth, Kelly is down to Sixth! Bianchi got off to a good start but the FAAL is now way down the field, not even in the top ten! Martins is under pressure from the Triton behind!
Atami Hanka is off! He’s off and he’s in the wall! Turn 3 claims its first victim, lets see what happened here. He’s just ran wide onto the painted white line and spun the car, from there you’re a passenger. He’s lucky he didn’t get collected by anyone else.
There a HIPI car at the side of the road, it’s Oyvind Gunnar! We’re onboard now… you can tell he’s gone for fifth and there’s nothing there, tried shifting back and found nothing, gearbox failure puts OG Slinde out of this race, he will not be happy about that. He was running ahead of some established racers there.
Karthikeyan is out, the indian driver has been struggling out on track, and it’s way down off the pace! In the end it’s another gearbox failure on that Krish Racing car. Jackson Wilson is also off, another gearbox gone! This is mad, these gearboxes are seeming to be quite fragile today.
Stanley is out, that engine has definitely gone pop! An unfortunate end of the race for the Briton. Flamers will be hoping to set the track allight this afternoon.
Mary home leads a 1-2 for Rutherford! They’ve certainly done well to put themselves high up the field and third place is Yara El Tazim, the brightly coloured Berry racing car seems to be performing well here, fourth comes Tachibana for ART, then it’s Andrew Kelly, Riorhdan, Hernandez, Foster, Cloud Jr, Matthew Kelly, Warren, Turner, Bianchi, Harper, with Michael Martins taking the final points home. Five drivers failed to finish this race, with Jackson Wilson and Narain Karthikeyan suffering simultaneous gearbox failures. We’re seeing these cars pushed to their limits, and with rain predicted for race 2, things are going to get interesting.
We’re on track once again and we’re seeing the clouds gathering over our heads here, I don’t think it will be too long before the heavy rain hits. Now, we have a reverse top 10, that puts the two Rutherfords down the pack and places Matt Kelly on pole position. It will be interesting to see how this works out for the young driver.
The cars are lined up now and the lights are coming on, five lights. And we’re off, Matt kelly keeps his cool and has a good gap Akari Tachibana but look at that! Tyler Warren from eleventh on the grid is now into sixth after firing it down the inside into turn 1 and making it stick! Brian Hernandez has already made his way up to fourth but Tachibana is being hounded by Tyler Warren as Anders Ostberg and Ciara Harper go side by side through Turn 4! Interesting thing to note, Blaithin Riordan is already up to the back of Andrew Kelly and we’re seeing she is not letting him have any room to breathe.
We’re onto lap 4 and Andrew Kelley has been making moves, he’s up to P2 now and he’s still right there in the fight, Mary Home also taking it to the leaders as she passes Akari Tachibana for the final spot on the podium.
Mary Home barges her way up and past Andrew Kelly, he’s now got Tachibana right on his tail as the 20 year old Rutherford driver chases down the race leader!
One lap later and Home takes Kelly, at the same time Tachibana ousts Andrew Kelly from third and now goes after his older brother in the number 38 ITM car.
The rain is starting to fall and it’s starting to fall heavily now, the dry tyres ran in the series are designed to take some rain but I don’t think it will be too soon before we see the full wet tyres in use here today. And Round goes Zac turner, he’s dropping down the pack now, he was twelfth but now he’s down P24 after that mistake. The rain will surely start to play a big role in this second race of the day.
Home’s sideways as she hits the kerb, she just abouts saves it but that’s now put all three of her rivals ahead of her once again as Andrew makes a brave overtake around the outside on Tachibana to take back third place!
Mary Home is dropping down the pack now, Michael Martins is now right on the back of her as Riordan takes off in pursuit of a podium, Tachibana is still fighting incredibly hard and takes second from Kelly, pushing him out wide onto the run off!
Home is attempting to make a comeback, she’s back past Riordan but there’s a six second gap up to an incredibly close top three, all of them covered by just over a second!
Everyone is charging into the pits now, and Michael Martins has an incredible Pitstop it’s put him out just in front of the JHW Cars. Matt Kelly meanwhile has had an absolute magic stop and emerges four seconds clear of Tachibana, Andrew Kelly is Third. All eyes meanwhile are on Anders Ostberg who’s currently lying in sixth place, he could push his way up on those fresh wet tyres, and he’s less than a second from fourth!
Lap 19 and Yara El Tazim has lost all gears as she coasts through turn 3, The Berry racing team have been looking so strong here it’s such a shame to watch Yara go out like this. Meanwhile Michael Martins has been dropped by the Rutherford cars ahead of him, and Ahmet Korkmaz is now finding his way past as well, there’s still everything to play for up front.
Mastronzo hits the wall as Korkmaz also loses his gearbox! This will be such a disappointment for Ahmet, he was looking strong but once again transmission failure halts the progress of a strong fight through the field.
Tachibana is closing in on Matt Kelly, and Mary Home has found her way by Andrew Kelly. First and second are in a close battle with third and fourth still decently close together. I doubt we’ll see Mary make her way up now, she’s got nine seconds to the ART car ahead of her.
Bastien Lefebvre drops back down behind Riordan, he’ll need to make up that time as she’s ard on the attack now! Michael Martins has Brian Hernandez keeping him company as we race to flag now.
And Matthew Kelly wins here in Spain, Tachibana is on the podium and a fabulous recovery drive sees Mary Home take that third spot with over seven seconds to Andrew Kelly. There’s still a close battle for Sixth, Bastien goes down the inside into the chicane, he forces the space but he’s on the wide line, he’s found the grip and he’s just overtaken Riordan for Sixth, she’s comes home seventh and Martins defends his eighth place from Brian Hernandez, he finishes Ninth. Frank Keller lines up in Tenth with Cloud Jr, Foster, Harper, Turner And Tyler Warren taking that final points position.
AM: Congratulations to Mary Home on finishing first overall today, Anders Ostberg for an excellent Second overall, and Akari Tachibana for a hard fought third. The trophies presented by David Adami, WAM Representative for World Series Tourers.
AM: And Congratulations to our individual Race winners Mary Home and Matthew Kelly, with trophies presented by former World Touring Car Trophy Champion Richard O’Byrne.
AM: And now, the champagne!
AM: Well, that was certainly an entertaining event, watching those top drivers fighting through the top 10 really gave us something to be excited about. I’m here in the ITM Pit Garage with my fellow hosts Eddie Austin and Steven Verhoeven and we’re going to run down our favourite moments from this first event. I’ll start off and, wow, it has to be watching the mad scramble into the pits in that second race for me. Everyone trying to get as quick a stop as possible and some mistakes sneaking in.
SV: It was certainly entertaining and I would have never thought it would be such a crazy time for the drivers. I saw some drivers use their stops very well, making up big positions as they go through the pit lane, Martins and Ostberg in particular.
EA: It was remarkable watching that, I’m sure if we’d have had similar stops back in our day we would have been heart in mouth the entire time we were crawling through the pits on the limiter.
SV: I think my moment is the last corner overtake by Lefebvre, a show of complete trust in a rookie driver to go side by side round the outside in the pouring rain. I have never seen so much commitment around a new driver ever.
AM: That was a spectacular move and I’m sure the French fans in the stands were cheering as they were watching him pull that move on the Manx driver.
EA: Riordan has shown some incredible skill to get herself in the mix, and miles ahead of her on-loan team mate. Eric Harper was a really strong candidate in the pre-season testing but this is showing he’s still got an awful lot to learn. For my favourite moment without a doubt it has to be watching Andrew and Akari fighting hammer and tongue after leaving the pits, they were absolutely relentless for that second spot on the podium
AM: It was indeed fantastic to watch. We’re out of time now, thank you very much for watching. Tune in next week where we’ll be going to to the Ardenne forests in Belgium. Until then, I’ve been Alex McKinwell, thanks from me and my co-hosts Steven Verhoeven and Eddie Austin, Good night.