Scuderia Leone
SRVN GT3 Round 2 at Estoril yields good points
March 13 2018

It was time for round 2 of the NK GT3 championship last sunday. Hosted by SimRace Vereniging Nederland in association with Knac Nationale Autosport Federatie (KNAF), the field traveled to Portugal for the race at Autódromo do Estoril!

Two weeks ago Scuderia Leone took a 1-2 finish at the circuit of Bathurst. A great start to the season, but it was just the beginning of a six round championship. So last Sunday the field prepared for the next event, round 2 at Estoril. The circuit of Estoril has some long and demanding corners, and as a relative short circuit you'll go trough those corners a lot during the 70 minute race. But before the race it was qualifying time!

With a shorter circuit the drivers had a couple more tries to get the most out of the car during the 20 minute qualifying session. It was rival Kevin van Dooren who set the quickest lap early on, and improved a few times, ending on a 1:33.355. Scuderia Leone drivers Arjan Veltens and Ruben Correa Alves fought for the second spot on the grid throughout the session. It was Ruben who set the pace early on with a 1:33.745, but near the end of the session Arjan took p2 on the grid with a 1:33.633.

With a very competitive field, and 21 drivers who put a 1:24 lap on the board, a few tenths could gain or lose you a few spots on the grid. A 1:34.374 and a 1:34.562 for Kevin Heijnen and Denny Mateman in the Ivory cars were good for p12 and p15 on the grid. And like last time Jeffrey Koopman managed to qualify for server 1 as well in a strong p25.

Unfortunately Jeffrey's race was over before it began. A miscommunication caused him to set off too soon causing rFactor to give a DQ. Unfortunate as some good points were within reach for Jeffrey. At the front of the field it was a cautious start for our drivers. Kevin van Dooren started from pole and pushed hard at the start. Arjan and Ruben opted for a steady pace at the start to preserve tires. Kevin van Dooren established a gap, but quickly the gap stabilized and Arjan Veltens was able to follow the same pace.

Behind them it was rival Bram Beelen, who started from p4 in his InControl Mercedes, putting a lot of pressure on Ruben right from the start. Having to defend every lap, Ruben was not able to save tires as much as planned. Entering the corners on the defensive line and compensating in the exit for the time lost caused the rear tires to wear out quicker. This caused a slight drop in overall pace in the car, as the balance shifted, and so Bram Beelen was able to overtake. Ruben Correa Alves was able to follow pace, but the damage to the tires was already done. Worn out rear tires caused the car to slide a bit more in the rear, wearing those tires out more and more.

Both Kevin Heijnen and Denny Mateman had good races. They put in the laps and kept their pace steady to stay out of trouble for the most part. Kevin Heijnen knew a moment toward the pit window, dropping a few seconds. Denny Mateman had his own scare when his Oculus Rift froze for a few seconds. Usually this means that the system crashed, but luckily this time hist Rift sprung back to life. His short fuel stop ended up just a tiny bit too short, but with 14 seconds to the driver behind Denny was able to get to the finish without any problems. Starting from p12 and p15, Kevin and Denny managed to gain a few places throughout the race to finish in p11 and p12.

Back in p4 it was Ruben Correa Alves still struggling with his rear tires. His pure pace was the same as in front, but not being able to keep that pace stable meant he had to change his tactics a bit. He went in for his pitstop a few laps sooner than planned. No tire change, but it was a good moment to let the tires cool down just a bit and to get out of the traffic that Ruben and rival Lars Koldeweij in p5 were in. A few minutes later the rest of the field got in for their stops and Ruben gained a few seconds, giving him some breathing room behind to consolidate p4.

In front it were Kevin van Dooren and Arjan Veltens pitting at the same time. And for some unexplainable mythical reason the pit crews decided to claim the same pit spot. This forced Arjan to wait 5 seconds before he could actually stop and get the fuel he needed to continue. Arjan Veltens finished some 10 seconds behind Kevin van Dooren, so the gap would have been there regardless, but it was a strong outing for the man in p2, taking his second podium in as many races.

You can take a look at the Dutch broadcast below for some of the action. The championship will go further up North next, as round 3 will take us to Spa-Francorchamps on March 25th!