The CMS rF2 Week in Review: Maher with the Double Win in AM at LeMans
Photo Credits: Daniel Kirby, Matthew Overton
After a quiet week, all three CMS rF2 chapters were back in action. While all the attention was focused on the WSC 91 races at LeMans, the Radical series at Barber proved that it could provide some exciting racing as well.
First up was the MNRL at LeMans, with the poles in class claimed by George Angelidis (Overall and PURIST) in his Lucky Strike Mazda 787B, Brian Hall (PRO) in his Hall Brothers Jaguar XJR-14 and John Maher (AM) in another Lucky Strike Mazda.
The 14 drivers launched enthusiastically into the 2.4h race with 10x time compression for a full day/night cycle. With the special BoP for the race, some close competition on this unique circuit was guaranteed. With a small field however plenty of racing room was available and drivers took full advantage, with only 2 DNF and almost 1/2 the field finishing on the lead lap.
On Thursday, NARS continued with the Radical series with the second of the sprints events, this time at a track rarely visited by CMS – Barber Motorsports Park. With plenty of elevation changes and only short straightaways, it was a track designed to be challenging for the GT3s to either draw away from, or pass the SR3s. Qualifying proved the point, with AM championship leader Paul Ibbotson setting a time just 1s quicker than the fastest PRO, Daniel Kirby in his SR3.
R1 saw the two leading GT3s pull away from the SR3s as the PROs found themselves in tight fights for positions even as Beninca and Daniel Kirby also powered away from the rest of the field. At the checkered flag, it was Ibbotson leading from flag to flag while Eduardo Beninca claimed the PRO win after getting by Kirby in L1 and keeping him at bay for the rest of the race.
R2, with a complete reverse grid saw some very hot racing in the opening laps as the GT3s worked to get through the bunched up SR3 field at the same time that the faster PRO drivers were pushing hard to clear some of the slower traffic. The T5 complex played a major role in opening up opportunities as many drivers struggled with that downhill chicanes and to everyone’s credit, several 2- and 3-wide approaches to corners were successfully negotiated, bringing the crowd to their feet each time. In AM, Adrian Wong reversed his last place showing in R1 by streaking away from the field and taking the race and class win despite the efforts of Ibbotson and Nasella to work through the SR3s and give chase. In PRO, it was Beninca with the win again over Kirby, with some very entertaining laps of high pressure between these two highly competitive drivers as they traded race positions.
It was back to LeMans once more on Saturday as the 37 drivers took to this famous circuit in one of the highlight events of the season. PRO Liudvik Askinis set the pace in his Sauber-Mercedes C11 at 3:24.36, just ahead of PURIST Daniel Kirby in his Mazda 787B at 3:24.759. The AM pace was set by Leone Gennari at 3:30.619 in his Porsche 962C.
With storms across N America making the virtual racing conditions very difficult and providing some ‘real life’ flavoured delays in getting the event underway, it was worth the wait with some first-class racing through the 2.4 hours and full day/night cycle. Throughout the race it was the battle between Askinis and Kirby, joined for long stretches by PURIST Ahmed Abdallah, PRO Mark Jones and then in the later stages PRO Magnus Dahlgren and PURIST Ben Boorman that drew the eye time and time again.
Once it was all said and done, it was PURIST Askinis and PRO Kirby that prevailed in their classes, with Kirby taking the outright win by only 28 seconds. The AM contest also had a share of the thrills, and with the leader Gennari fading mid race it left John Maher in his Porsche 787B in the lead to hold off Eric Moinet’s Porsche 962C for his second win of the week by 10s.
This coming week, NARS continues to race the Radicals with a return to the enduro format at Toban, while the MNRL takes the Datsuns to Portland.
You can catch all the action on the race streams on our CMS Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7Kdp07PvIeW47f0_sM0emw.