The first race of the Spa-Francorchamps round of the 2015.1 SA simSS3 Series was won by Jonathan Bentz (Squadro GhostworX)
Bentz started from second position to follow teammate Basheer Jadwat into La Source for the first time. The battle for third proved fascinating between Jason Holden-Jones (H-J Motorsport) and Mark Henebury (HRT), Holden-Jones was enjoying a much higher top speed, however Henebury was significantly quicker through the fast left and right handers of Spa-Francorchamps. Running alongside Jones, Henebury swooped around the outside line into Compass, his gearbox narrowly missing the nose cone of Holden-Jones’s car.
While under braking for The Chicane, Bentz claimed the race lead from Jadwat only to loose it exiting the same corner, this after over steering his way off the racing line.
With an ever closing Henebury, Jadwat remained in the front until the very last corner of the race. Bentz used a better run out of Stavelot, to firstly run alongside Henebury and then also Jadwat to make it a three-way wide run into The Chicane.
Bentz slipped passed Henebury to then also out-brake Jadwat to snatch victory at the death of the race.
Squadro GhostworX race report:
“The lights go out and it’s a good start all round. The drivers feed through turn 1 in order and head for Eau Rouge and the biggest slip stream straight on the calender!!!! Bash leads the way and with low aero has no worries. Jono tries to hang onto his slip to keep ahead of Mark who is now fighting with Jason H-J. This fighting would allow Bash and Jono to break away a bit.”
“Lap after lap Bash and Jono hold position. Bash would pull a gap from the pit straight to the top chicane and then Jono would real him in super fast for the rest of the lap. But could Jono overtake on a track that doesn’t really allow overtaking? There were a couple attempts after the fast long left hander but Bash would defend well.”
“Suddenly there was a stark realization that Mark had broken free from Jason and was hunting us down. Having some clean air meant he was making massive progress on us where Bash was battling in the later half of the track. Bash was just so fast on the straights and then his tyres were not lasting so he was getting slower and slower in the turns. This hurt Jonos pace as he found himself being pushed back into a fast charging Mark.”
“This all culminated in a last lap 3-way showdown on the back straight leading to the pit straight. As Mark and Jono got a good run on Bash heading into the straight, Bash began to accelerate faster and pull the two drivers with. Mark overtook Jono but then Bash moved over and put Jono in the slip. Jono started overtaking Bash with the extra pace on the right hand side, Mark on the left!!! They all braked for the last chicane and Jono let his brakes out a bit more and sneaked his nose alongside Bash who was unaware of the attempt. They clashed as Bash turned in for the apex!!! But Jono had it! It was a hard move and saw Jono take P1, Bash P2 and Mark P3.”
HRT race reports:
“Qualifying went smoothly and I was able to get 3rd position on the grid, with Chris in 5th position. This car really did feel good here at Spa so I was excited about the race. Lights go out and I could of launched better as my revs were too low. Got through the first corner perfectly when I realised Jason was right behind me and he was running a lot less downforce and with a long straight coming It was going to be tough. We go down the straight with Jason getting way more speed and he gets me going into Turn 5 @ Les Combes. Jason was showing great pace in front, with myself barely being able to catch on the straights but I had way more grip in the corners. Meanwhile Chris was battling with Yasteel for 5th Position. I was behind Jason up until lap 5 when I made a alarming move going into the first Campus right hander. I was able to outbreak Jason and just take back the racing line and use the downforce to get the speed in the corner. It succeeded woohoo. Now was the time to start hunting the Ghostworx crew of Jadwat and Bentz. I was now quite worried about Jason catching on the next straight but I was able to maintain the gap. Then I go into the last chicane all wrong and almost loose my position, thankfully not. By the time I got to the next couple of bends I had secured that position unless I made a mistake. I now had a clear view of Jadwat and Bentz and I was catching pretty fast. By the beginning of Lap 7 I was right behind Bentz. I had to concentrate on not making a error and not to push to hard. All 3 of us stuck together for the remainder of the race with Jadwat in 1st, Bentz 2nd and myself 3rd. On the 2nd last lap I was realing them in each corner until the last lap we were close, very close to each other. I was starting to get excited but I had to chill not to make a mistake. By the middle of the last lap we were neck and neck it could be anyone’s win. Drifting through Campus corners I was right on the back of Bentz, with Jadwat running slightly wide @ Stavelot allowing Bentz and Myself to close the gap to practically nothing. It was soooo close going down the last straight barely any space between all 3 of us, going 3 wide into turn 18. The last chicane came and the Ghostworx crew slightly touched with Bentz taking the lead and finishing first. Jadwat 2nd and myself 3rd. That had to be the closest race end I have ever been in. Adrenaline was pumping after that.”
“Lights went out and I had a good start off the line and was gunning for the inside gap on Jason going into the 1st corner. I couldn’t hold my line and ran wide towards Jason and had to back off to avoid contact. Behind me Yasteel took advantage of my slow exit and got around me easily toward “Eau Rouge”. I made sure to stay with Yasteel and took advantage of his slip stream down “Kemmel Straight” and got around him and from there had to defend almost every corner against him during the rest of the lap.”
“By the end of lap one I realized that I had some major grip issues that wasn’t due to cold tyres but lack of rear wing. On lap 2 Yasteel was all over me running down Kemmel Straight but I made sure to stay on the inside going into Les Combes. My car thought it would be better to go into the corner sideways with Yasteel just missing me and going pass. I pushed hard to catch up again but made a mistake on lap 3 again at Les Combes (I don’t like this corner now) by touching a curb and went backwards into the kitty litter, but kept my cool the get the car in 1st gear before I stopped and managed to miraculously spin myself out of the sand.”
“On lap 4 I was really struggling for grip and spun for the 3rd time at Bruxelles and made contact with the wall on the inside. Now I was just frustrated and decided not to push and just to get the car to the finish line in one piece. Just then I saw a glimpse of a car in the distance and I guess my instinct to race kicked in and a couple corners later I saw it was Jason. I guess he had a problem too and so I set my target for the rest of the race ”
“I quickly noticed that Jason had massive speed down the straights and that I was quicker in the corners. This is going to be a very interesting battle! Jason was defending like a beast and for every move I made he had a counter move. Lap 8 came along and I had to throw the dice and hope it lands in my favour. I made sure to stick with Jason and to get a better drive out of “Stavelot” heading through the long fast sweeps at the back end of the track towards “Chicane” I knew Jason was going to block the inside line so I went on the outside through “Blanchimont” right next to Jason, but this will give me the inside line into “Chicane”. I made the move stuck and went in front of Jason with 1 lap to go. Jason was not going to lie down and he was all over my mirrors checking both sides out and putting massive pressure on me, but it was my time to show that I can defend. Jason was faster than me on the straights so I had to make sure I go into corners 1st were I was faster. We both braked as late as we possibly can at the end of “Kemmel straight” with me covering the inside line. Jason went a bit wide and then came fast inside to make the corner. We made contact that send me into the wall. Jason showed excellent sportsmanship and waited to give me the position back. We both pushed i crossed the finish line very close together in 5th place.”