Roger Grouwels and “Alex Fox” claimed the victories in Race 2 of Coppa Shell held this afternoon on the Barcelona circuit. A spectacular thrill-filled race full of overtaking which, once again, reshuffles the tight general standings.
Weiland takes the cue. Hot temperatures – with 30°C atmospheric heat and 45°C on the asphalt – sun and a light breeze set the scene for the second Coppa Shell race. Starting from pole position did not prove much of an advantage for Ernst Kirchmayr who, as the lights went out, was overtaken by James Weiland and Fons Scheltema. The Austrian driver in the Kessel Racing livery, having now blown any efforts made in qualifying, immediately set about reclaiming the top spot, but braking very late on turn five saw the driver end up in the gravel. The Baron Motorsport trailblazer was, however, able to get back in the race albeit at the rear end of the pack.
Magic. Roger Grouwels, forced to start from the back of the grid after his morning qualifying times were docked, became protagonist of a turn one manoeuvre as audacious as it was spectacular. The move allowed Grouwels to overhaul several adversaries and appear in Fons Scheltema’s rear view mirrors. The driver waited until curve 10 to pounce and from that moment on the Race Art Kroymans’ competitor had his sights firmly set on Weiland’s leadership.
Meanwhile in Coppa Shell Am, “Alex Fox” took perfect advantage of the pole position start to fend off the attacks staged by a determined Laurent De Meeus and Miroslav Vyboh, with “Boris Gideon”, Moser and Simoncic bunched up behind the leading trio all within a few tenths of a second.
While Miroslav Vyboh was in for a drive-through, which had been triggered by a jump-start, Grouwels pulled off an extraordinary overtaking manoeuvre to pass Weiland at the RACC chicane just prior to the starting straight. The Dutch driver surprised the American out-braking in the final possible moment to come up the inside of the Rossocorsa standard bearer before fighting off the reigning champion’s subsequent counter-attacks.
Tit-for-tat. Meanwhile, from the rear, Kirchmayr was setting a steady pace as he hunted down the podium position drivers ahead and by lap four had moved up to sixth position. Amongst the Am class entrants, De Meeus was having little trouble keeping up with the pace imposed by “Alex Fox”, unlike the other drivers in the category, with a rampaging Kirchmayr still in hot pursuit. Lap eight proved to be a decisive one for Fons Scheltema who had slowed up somewhat, slipping down the order and conceding his position to the Baron Motorsport driver. Behind “Alex Fox” and De Meeus, an intense scrap for the third spot was taking place between “Boris Gideon” and Simoncic, all under the gaze of Moser poised to capitalise on even the slightest of errors. The trio constantly swapped positions with only the final chequered flag freezing the final positions, which saw “Alex Fox” atop the podium flanked by De Meeus and “Boris Gideon”. At the head of the race, however was Grouwels keeping in check Weiland’s attempts to shorten the gap, while Kirchmayr was third although some distance away from the top two. Coming home in first position, Grouwels thus claims a second season win which launches the driver into top spot in the general standings with 55 points compared to the 48 of Kirchmayr and the 42 of Scheltema.