March 26, 2014

 

With first round of the Superleague season behind us, we take a closer look at the field and make a better assessment of who stands where.


We had a mind blowing amount of surprises last Thursday, and it's safe to say the field from last year got shaken all over the place.

You won't hear me complain, entropy contributes to great spectacle. A lot of teams are not where they expected to be, and we'll see the already massively competitive grid work harder and better than ever before to get back up to speed.

Let's have a look at the teams shall we!


1. CSG Racing: 45 points

Relative car strength: Fastest

Lewis Redshaw - P1, David Fidock - P2


CSG was the biggest surprise for everyone on the grid in Melbourne.

They basically came in from nowhere, established their dominance and left all other teams behind with their pants down.

The rookie team blew everyone's mind by qualifying 1 and 2, and then went on to keep this position by driving a brilliant race, with Rainieri in his Midnight being the only driver able to challenge them.

Both drivers, as well as all supporting staff in the team certainly did everything right during both the preparation to the season and the race itself.

The drivers themselves certainly did everything they could to be on top, with David Fidock reportedly completing a total of 2296 laps on the circuit, and Lewis doing a similar amount, both proving themselves skillful, committed and worthy of their victory.

When it comes to development and finances, CSG allegedly also took a big gamble. They put a lot of money and resources into getting the fastest car for the first result, to the point where they needed the prize money to stay solvent, and won't receive updates for a while now.

The big question that arises now is whether or not CSG will be able to hold up their pace or be caught by the development of teams with bigger budgets and disappear in the belly of the beast.

The opinion in the Paddock on CSG's early success is split. CSG undoubtedly worked hard for this victory, and they got a lot of fully deserved praise for their effort, but there are some parties questioning the robustness of the R&D system over this fast rise to glory of a rookie team.


2. Midnight Racing: 27 points

Relative car strength: +0,1s

Giuseppe Rainieri - P3, Nick Rowland - P5


It was a exciting sight to see Giuseppe Rainieri chasing the CSG's last Thursday. The Supercup Champion once again showed his skill behind the wheel and was the only driver in the field that could stick with the CSG guys when they tried to break free from the pack as early as lap 1.

The Italian could put the heat on their ankles for most of the race, but didn't manage to overtake the Brits, and was ultimately rewarded with his 2nd podium in the Superleague in as many races.

His teammate for the race was teamboss Nick Rowland, who took to the track with only a couple of hours worth of practice. Defending Champion Lukas Euler had left the team due to career commitments earlier this week, and a boycott from some competitors against former SL driver and race winner Dave Carr Smith prevented the team from getting the brit behind the wheel.

Nick Rowland struggled a bit during qualifying and at the start of the race, but seemed to pick up the pace brilliantly in the later stages of the event, earning him a respectable 5th place finish after overtaking a struggling Lee Morris in the last corner.

Midnight takes 2nd place in the standing, but this probably won't suffice for the defending double world champions and we will surely see them pushing for more in the coming months.


3. Torrent Motorsport: 16 points

Relative car strength: +0,3s

Jim Parisis - P4, Giorgos Manousakis - P13


Jim Parisis came home a respectable 4th and emergency driver Giorgos Manousakis managed to pick up some more points in 13th after Petter kaasa elected not to race in the first round.

This isn't a bad result in it's own, putting the team in 3rd place with 16 points on the table, but torrent clearly wasn't able to hold the momentum they accumulated at the end of last season, when the team clearly had the strongest car and started picking up podiums left right and center.

Hopefully the return of Kaasa can help them pick up the pace.


4. Nijo Racing: 16 points

Relative car strength: +0.4s

Tom Van Der Voort - P7, Ruud Heesterbeek - P9


Nijo is not where they wanna be by any stretch of the imagination. Last season, they became runner up in the championship and took wins in numerous races, but the winter stop seems to not have done them any favors. Their car lacks speed compared to the top runners, and it became clear quite quickly that the green nijo's couldn't keep up with CSG and Midnight when a gap started forming between Tom in P4 and the top 3 early on.

It has been no secret that Tom Van Der Voort was a bit disappointed with his performance relative to his teammate Ruud Heesterbeek during last season. While Championship runner-up Heesterbeek was reeling in podiums and race wins, Van der Voort didn't manage to climb the steps and was outraced by his fellow Dutchmen 18 out of 18 times.

He showed commitment and loyalty to Nijo by being the first driver in the field to resign his contract, and clearly aimed at ending this disappointing streak.

Last Thursday, he managed to do just that. And although a big part of that may be due to Ruud's bad luck early in the race, it is impossible to deny that Tom has made big strides as a driver.

Ruud seemed to have a troubled weekend, and only managed 9th place in the end, two placed behind his teammate. Of course, we have seen what he can do last year and this first race should be a wake-up call for the Dutchman.


5.Kernow Sport: 12 points

Relative car strength: +0.6s

Lee Morris: P6, Sam Millar: P14


Kernow has always been one of the more prominent and 'visible' midfield teams in the superleague, and this year, they find themselves in exactly that same spot: up there somewhere, knocking on the door to an eventual podium, be it with little persuasion.

Just like last year, it is Lee Morris leading the way for the team and leaving his teammate far behind him. The unrestrained Brit is clearly carrying the car to positions on the grid where it doesn't really feel at home: challenging the big boys. But just as last year there just isn't enough under the hood to form a serious threat.

One could speculate that Lee could win a championship in a better car, but he has only himself and his passionate yet turbulent character to blame for not finding that top-drive he has craved for so long.

He has always been a 'high risk, high reward' investment, and it seems as if Kernow has hit the sweet spot with Lee, being able to build on a good and loyal relationship between team and driver for almost half a year.

It's up to the team now to provide him with the right tools to get better results.

Morris' teammate Sam Millar recently came back into simracing after a long break and undoubtedly will get back up to speed as the season progresses. It'll be interesting to see what he can do.


6. Nordsjoen Racing: 8 points

Relative car strength: +0.4s

Agustin Canapino: P8, Toby Davis: RET


Nordsjoen didn't get the start they were hoping for. In Canapino and Davis, they've got two extremely talented drivers, but both of them didn't get the change to really show their skills, despite a car that is quite competitive.

Nordsjoen was one of the teams that got hit hardest by the last minute removal of the KERS system from the mod, having build their entire setup around correct usage of the system to gain a lap-time advantage. With the system gone, the team was forced to come up with an alternative setup in less than 24 hours, which didn't work out in the end.

Despite the hiccup, most of the paddock expected more from Nordsjoen, especially after some pretty impressive races by Agustin last year.


7. Target Racing: 6 points

Relative car strength: +0.8s

Mindaugas Klumbis: P10, Jordan Weekes: RET


Target is another rookie team that made the jump from supercup, and managed to nest itself in a respectable position right in the midfield, with enough speed to pick up points.

They didn't came in nearly as impressive as CSG, but certainly are in a good position to further work towards the top.


8. Phoenix F1: 5 points

Relative car strength: +0.8s

Boyd Bryson: P11, Kieran Ryan: RET


Phoenix seems to have done a good job during the winter. They show good pace compared to last year, especially given the increasingly competitive environment.

The team was the only one in the entire Superleague that opted to purchase a 2013-spec engine from potentia, giving them some extra power on a budget, while forfeiting any chance on upgrades during the season.

This seemed to have served them well for the first race, as Boyd Bryson managed to pick up a respectable 11th position. The question now is if Phoenix will fall off to the back of the field as other teams start to get engine upgrades, or if they will be able to compensate with more upgrades on their chassis.


9. Red Archer: 5 Points

Relative car strength: +1.4s


Red Archer seems to struggle big time this season. Their car is seriously underdeveloped, and the completely new driver change doesn't seem to have given the team the revival they needed.

If the Greek outfit wants to compete at the level they were doing last year, they will have to seriously step up their game, especially in the R&D department. Only the ST car is less developed.


10. Hawkeye Racing: No points

Relative car strength: +0.5s


While Hawkeye certainly had some pace, with Gergo Baldi being able to challenge for 5th place early on in the race, their race went sour pretty quick.

Baldi experienced a disconnect, while Hamnett stayed pointless trough multiple crashes. The team feels it hasn't done enough and is eager to come back strongly in Malaysia.


11. Vod:Bul Motorsport: No points

Relative car strength: +0.7s


Vod:Bul is the third new team on the grid, and the only one that didn't pick up points in their first Superleague race of the new season.

They seem to have a decent car, but are still to use it to it's full potential


12. ST racing: No points

Relative car strength: +1.5s


ST are a team that has a long history in the superleague, but just like before, they seem to be one of the established back markers on the grid.

They have the slowest car, and despite Sven de Vries being able to put an ST in 6th position during qualifying, they were not able to pick up any points.


13. Green Stripes racing: No points

Relative car strength: +1.0s


After their brilliant first season in 2012, Green Stripes had a disappointing season last year, and they seem to be in the same situation now. It will be interesting to see how the team can improve relative to the other back markers.


14. Woods racing: No points

Relative car strength: +0,9s


Woods finds itself in a similar position as Vod:bul, they have a respectable & competitive team, but haven't been able to score yet. We should see them do more in the coming races.



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