March 03, 2014
Published on tags: Superleague CSG Racing


Superleague reserve driver Ben Warren takes a look back at the opening round of the 2014 Superleague season.

CSG Racing have celebrated their re-entry into the GPVWC Superleague with a fantastic 1-2 finish at the opening round of the 2014 season, culminating in Lewis Redshaw's maiden series win, followed home by teammate David Fidock, with Midnight Motorsport's Giuseppe Rainieri taking the final podium spot.

Everyone aside from the teams and drivers revel in the uncertainty that precedes the start of a brand new season. There is often fresh optimism from GPVWC members old and new that this new season might finally be 'their year'. Pre-season testing rarely provides much insight into the real pace of most drivers, and very few questions were answered as the Melbourne paddock was invaded with GPVWC fever. With longstanding Superleague outfit Constant Racing deciding to call it a day along with Halcyon Racing, the void was filled by three teams. Target Racing who competed in the Supercup series last season. Vod:Bul who have returned to the series after some time away, and CSG Racing.

The new season also included many driver changes, with many established Superleague drivers switching allegiances, while new drivers also graced the field for the first time. Even on the day of the race there were alterations to some line-ups, with Torrent Motorsports driver, and one of the pre-season favourites Petter Kaasa opting not to race, and was replaced at late notice by Greek driver Giorgos Manousakis, who has recovered tremendously to find himself racing in Superleague after suffering a heart attack some time ago. With reigning double champion Lukas Euler announcing he won't be competing in 2014 just a matter of days before the opening race, Midnight Motorsport also had a scramble to try and find a replacement quickly. Initially it looked like Dave Carr-Smith would return to the seat for a one-off race, but instead it was team boss Nick Rowland who would fill the void. Whether this is just a temporary arrangement or not remains to be seen. Finally, regular driver and team boss Mark Fuller was unable to race for ST Racing, and was replaced at the last minute by Sven de Vries.

Qualifying clarified most of the uncertainty heading into 2014, and it was a shock for many that CSG Racing took a stranglehold of the session, lining up first and second, with Lewis Redshaw taking his second Superleague pole position, almost three and a half tenths ahead of teammate David Fidock. Both drivers were making their CSG debuts, and both delivered, leaving many of the other teams and drivers scratching their heads. Giuseppe Rainieri lined up third in his debut race for Midnight Motorsport, alongside Superleague debutant Toby Davis, a new signing for Nordsjoen Racing. Lee Morris would round out the top five for Kernow Sport, and was joined in the top ten by Ruud Heesterbeek, Jim Parisis, debutant Gergo Baldi, the returning Agustin Canapino, and Tom van der Voort.

While some shenanigans took place nearer the back of the field during the race start, at the front it was relatively clean, with the top three clearly in their own race when it came to pace and competitiveness. Redshaw held the lead during the opening lap, closely followed by Rainieri, with Fidock keeping a watching brief just a small distance apart. Start of the race award definitely goes to Tom van der Voort for Nijo Racing, after starting tenth on the grid, he found himself up to fourth by the end of lap one, holding off the advances of Baldi, Morris and Rowland, with the Jordan Weekes of Target Racing eighth, Canapino ninth, and the other Target of Mindaugas Klumbis rounding out the top ten. On the other hand, difficult starts and incidents sent Parisis, Heesterbeek and Davis well down the order, and with a lot of catching up to do. Unfortunately for debutant Davis, his race ended as early as lap eight, and the Englishman was very unhappy with his personal performance.

As the race went on, the top three separated themselves from the rest of the field very quickly while the rest squabbled for position. The further we got, the more mistakes and unfortunate retirements happened, with Weekes merely a passenger after colliding with a stationary Tommi Koivunen after running in a strong eighth position on lap sixteen. He was joined in retirement by Gergo Baldi on lap twenty-five, and Kenney Lybeer two laps later. Despite the retirements going on behind them, the top three remained focused, and it looked like deciding the final podium positions would eventually come down to a battle in the pitstops. Sure enough, slick work from the CSG pitcrew allowed Fidock to get the jump on Rainieri after the final pitstops, and he moved himself back into second place after losing it on the opening lap.

Despite some early pressure from Rainieri, it was Lewis Redshaw who shocked the GPVWC fraternity by coming home as the winner of the opening round of the 2014 Superleague season. Fidock did indeed fend off Raineri to give CSG Racing an absolute dream result in their return back to the series, and showing that great results can still be achieved through hard work, even when starting from scratch. Despite not quite being able to beat the CSG drivers, Giuseppe Rainieri had plenty to smile about in his debut race for Midnight Motorsport by rounding off the podium, and still giving the team optimism for the rest of the season, despite losing Euler. Some great work from Torrent driver Jim Parisis saw him recover all the way to fourth position despite running as low as fourteenth due to a messy opening lap. Midnight team boss and stand-in driver Nick Rowland was beyond delighted with fifth position after just pipping Lee Morris to the spot, thanks to the Kernow driver suffering a late puncture. Tom van der Voort was satisfied with seventh position for Nijo, and was happy to beat his teammate Ruud Heesterbeek who had to settle for ninth position after an early race incident involving Toby Davis. Davis' teammate Agustin Canapino sandwiched the Nijo drivers in eighth place, with Mindaugas Klumbis rounding out the top ten. Boyd Bryson had a superb race for Phoenix F1, taking home eleventh position just ahead of new Red Archer driver Deividas Misiulis . Manousakis took thirteenth, ahead of Sam Millar for Kernow Sport, who has returned to the series after a sabbatical. Red Archer's Tommy Hagan was the last points finisher, inheriting the position after both Woods Racing drivers Danny Asbury and Roy Schroten suffered from brake failure, with Asbury running comfortably in the points before the problem began. There was also disappointment for ST Racing and Sven de Vries, who suffered an engine failure at the very last corner, on the very last lap! Certainly a difficult pill to swallow for team boss Mark Fuller considering the new limit of engine use over the season.

With the Drivers championship the same as the top fifteen at Melbourne, it's CSG Racing who take a commanding lead in the Constructors championship, with a maximum possible forty-five points to their name, with reigning Constructors champions Midnight Motorsport in second with twenty-seven points. Torrent Motorsports and Nijo Racing share third place, both with sixteen points, while Kernow lay fifth with twelve points. Nordsjoen, Target, Phoenix and Red Archer are the only other teams to get points on the board.

Will CSG Racing be able to keep up this stunning pace as we move to the constantly changing climate of Sepang, Malaysia? Or will the likes of Midnight, Torrent and Nijo have an answer for them? We'll find out on 13th March 2014!

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