Can anyone stop them? For the third Sprint Cup race in a row, Michael Tauscher and Maciej Malinowski took the chequered flag in the #992 Random Pasta Bowl Porsche, with a relentless display of pace around the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit. But behind them, there was still plenty of other talking points. Here’s how the race panned out:
The battle for the podium
Right from the get-go, polesitter Tauscher scampered away from the rest of the pack to make the most of the clear air ahead of them, setting the tone for the race very early on indeed. The leaders made it round the infamous turn one in more or less one piece, despite a lunge down the inside from Giuseppe Montalbano in the #340 Omega G-Performance Bentley. However, it wasn’t all plain-sailing. After an arduous qualifying session, the #7 Carbon Simsport McLaren tagged the rear of the #69 SpacePace & BITO-SimRacing.de BMW towards the back of the pack. This earned them a drive-through penalty right from the off.
Slightly under the radar, James Parker managed to elevate the #888 FFS Sendypoos Aston Martin from sixth on the grid into podium contention, while further back, Montalbano was continuing to look racey. Heading onto lap seven, the Italian managed to get a strong exit out of the final corner, allowing him to drawing alongside the #125 Carbon Simsport McLaren of Michal Nowakowski. Montalbano then took to the inside for turn one, before powering around the outside to complete the overtake for fifth at turn two.
The race was largely settled for the majority of its duration, but with 15 minutes to go, that Bentley would once again go on a charge up the order. With driver changes having occurred by this point, the Omega G-Performance car was now in the hands of Karim Mattea who was closing in on Niels van de Koekelt in the #47 UKOG47 McLaren. The pair had been running nearly bumper to bumper until Mattea ran very wide on the exit of ITT-Bogen, which appeared at the time to set the order in stone.
However, with just two laps remaining, Mattea was back in the picture once again, and so too was the #15 Unicorns of Love Porsche which had climbed up from fourteenth on the grid. Coming under increasing pressure, van de Koekelt finally buckled and ran across the kerbs at the Veedol-Schikane. This opened the door for Mattea to move up into the final podium position, but van de Koekelt was at least able to close the door on Nils Klinkmuller.
Up in front though, Malinowski brought the #992 home for a comfortable lights-to-flag victory, with Killian Ryan-Meenan securing a rather lonely second place for the #888 entry. Omega G-Performance rounded out the podium, while the cars placed from fourth to seventh all finished within two seconds of each other. That fourth position could by vital for UKOG47 though, as it keeps them just about within striking distance of Random Pasta Bowl in the race for the Sprint Cup title.
Tales of misfortune
There are two teams not mentioned above who certainly should have been, had luck been on their side. The first of which is the #27 SDL Esports by Logitech G McLaren, which had qualified in fourth place. With Hamada Erquizi and Luke Whitehead behind the wheel, the car should definitely have been in podium contention, but unfortunately, mechanical issues would strike. Before the green flag could wave, Whitehead’s racing wheel disconnected, ending the team’s race before it had even begun.
A similar fate would befall the #16 Unicorns of Love Porsche. The team had emerged as the second-fastest in qualifying, and they held onto that position until a similar disconnection struck Bastian Richter, promoting Parker and George Boothby up into second and third instead.
Meanwhile, the #125 McLaren had a different sort of problem to contend with. Namely, the #41 Simware.pro Aston Martin. On their day, the Simware.pro team can be unbeatable, but there is also an aggressive streak within them that can sometimes lead to their own demise. Having conceded fifth to Montalbano earlier on, Nowakowski had Egor Ogorodnikov right on his bumper. The Russian maestro eagerly looked to the inside of the McLaren upon entry to the Veedol-Schikane, but the nose of the Aston would sadly make contact with the rear of the 720s. The resulting crash hindered the pair of them, with Ogordonikov dropping to tenth and Nowakowski now down to fifteenth. The sparring match between these two teams wasn’t quite over yet though. On the very final lap, at the very same corner, the #41 Aston once again made contact that resulted in the #125 McLaren being spun off the circuit.
There were plenty of teams in this race who rose up the order quite impressively. Of course, the #15 Porsche has already had a mention, but the #38 Aston Martin of Dalking Community also had a race worthy of a shout-out. The team had qualified slightly off the pace down in sixteenth position but made good use of their time in this sprint race to make quick progress up the order. Naturally, they began to reach a bit of an impasse once they were further towards the pointy end of the grid, with Darren King being locked in battle for sixth place throughout much of the second half of the race. In the end though, a tidy move up the inside of Max Wohlmuth in the #71 Excel racing by RennWelten car at the final bend was enough to secure the position.
The #70 Volante Racing – Asetek Simsports Bentley was another entry which flew under the radar somewhat, but they too made good progress up from thirteenth to eighth. Rounding out the top twenty meanwhile, the #69 SpacePace & BITO-SimRacing.de BMW pulled off a fantastic recovery drive to secure the final championship point, despite facing backwards after contact with the #7 McLaren on lap one.
What the winners had to say
After another perfect event, the Random Pasta Bowl crew were feeling jubilant, and who can blame them?
“We had a really amazing evening, amazing race,” said Malinowski. “We enjoyed ourselves. We enjoyed the car and the track. We had a simple objective for today that we gave ourselves – we knew that we could be strong here so we set out to get the most of it, and that’s exactly what we did.
“From the outside perspective it maybe looked a bit easy, but I think it’s just that all of the practice that we did over the year on that track paid off. We like that track and car combination and we have done a lot of running on it.”
That experience of the car on this circuit was evident to all of us watching along. But did they ever feel any pressure from behind?
“No…” Tauscher joked hesitantly.
“Everyone knows the Porsche is super fast at this track, but it’s hard to be consistent and do that for 45 minutes, but that’s what we did. I think we were just quicker overall. Our practice paid off!” he said.
Malinowski added, “We’re in a great place right now, even before today’s race. Because we knew that we could score a lot, we were motivated to do so.
“Again, we’re coming into the next rounds with circuits that we like. I think Michael unfortunately won’t be able to drive in the next race so I’ll have to find someone else, but I like Zandvoort. I was racing in SRO there, and also with Porsche, so I know how it goes. We’re feeling really confident in the championship and we’ll do everything in the next two rounds to bring it home.”
Season 4 of the SimGrid Sprint Cup returns on Thursday the 9th of September for the penultimate round of the season at Zandvoort.