2012 F1RWRS Bavarian Grand Prix
The 2012 F1RWRS Bavarian Grand Prix was the inaugural race of the 2012 Formula 1 Rejects World Race Series season, and the second Bavarian Grand Prix in total. Held at the Norisring, the race winner was Darren Older Jr - his first in his F1RWRS career, driving for CR Motorsport.
As the first race of the new season, the paddock and fans were eagerly anticipating finding out who would be coming out on top after the pre-season tests revealed a closely-bunched pack that were relatively evenly matched. Of those teams feeling optimistic, Trueba Racing Team released a statement declaring their confidence with their new T801 chassis and announced new sponsors Korean Air and LG which had joined the team in the wake of signing Korean-American Tristan Jung to the team's second seat. Drivers Barii Mori, Daniel Martins and Ashley Watkinson were more cautious in their expectations of their respective teams' cars however. Final car specifications and liveries were also revealed in the lead up to the race weekend, including those of Footwork Phoenix Honda and Team Minardi Australia.
For 2012, the pre-qualifying session was split into four separate heats, with eight drivers in each. Times from all the heats were then combined, with the fastest nineteen cars passing through into qualifying proper.
Jeroen Krautmeir demonstrated the pace of the MRT car by taking the fastest overall time of 33.47 seconds, whilst the other three heats were won by Frank Zimmer, Kay Lon and Hagane Shizuka. Of the drivers eliminated at this point, the top two drivers from the 2011 season, Daniel Melrose and Nathanael Spencer were out. Other notable examples included Chris Dagnall and 2010 champion Gary Cameron.
Due to the large number of drivers eliminated in pre-qualifying, a new contest was devised to allow these drivers to continue to participate in the race weekend. Named the Aguri Suzuki Cup, the contest pitted the eliminated drivers in a short sprint race with points awarded from first to sixth place, the system used being 10-6-4-3-2-1. Reaction to the contest was mixed, with some drivers, particularly Barii Mori and Damon Cannon openly deriding it.
Despite the criticism, the race went ahead, and using the times set in pre-qualifying to determine the grid, Daniel Melrose won the inaugural Aguri Suzuki Cup race from pole and was joined on the podium by Damon Cannon in second and Rhys Davies in third.
Krautmeir continued his excellent form over the weekend to set fastest time once again in qualifying proper and take his first ever pole position with a time of 33.52 seconds. He was joined on the front row by Darren Older Jr as the CR Motorsport team backed up its promising testing form with some genuine pace as they looked to improve on their lacklustre 2011 season.
Prior to the session, both Anglo-Manx Racing and Manx-Anglo-Nippon Racing Team had announced that their engine suppliers, Peel-DMC and MAN respectively, would be increasing their commitment, resulting in their logos being displayed prominently on their respective teams' cars. They celebrated this with an impressive qualifying performance as the two Manx teams were inside the top ten, filling 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th places.
Getting a better start than Krautmeir allowed Older Jr to pull ahead and take the lead of the race at the first corner, although by the end of the lap the German had recovered first place with an ambitious move at the final turn. The early stages of the race saw plenty of overtaking as drivers traded places up and down the field, one of the biggest movers was Tristan Jung who took eighth place by lap 4 having started 15th on the grid.
On lap 7 Kay Lon pulled off an excellent pass at the final corner to leap from sixth to first place, and a lap later, Jung's good work was undone following a heavy impact with the barriers at the hairpin. His stop for repairs dropped him to a lapped last place.
Ashley Watkinson and Resi Respati began a chain reaction of accidents and incidents between cars on lap 10 with both having crashed into the barriers - on the exit of the hairpin and the final corner respectively. T. Hemo Goblin hit the touring Respati on lap 11, putting all three drivers out of the race. A similar incident on lap 13 which saw Richie White hit from behind and involved the unlucky Jung created chaos as Lon and Krautmeir who together held an enormous lead over the rest of the field became embroiled in the mess, along with Dean O'Lauchlan and Sammy Jones. The delay for the leaders allowed Douglas Mann to take the lead of the race very briefly, before an incident forced his retirement on lap 14. Thomas De Bock inherited the lead as a result, and after a handful of laps collided with slower damaged cars as well. Shizuka was also involved, which prevented the Japanese driver from leading the race after a promising race until that point.
The carnage and confusion eventually resulted in Luca Pacchiarini taking first position, followed by Frank Zimmer and Pippa Mann in second and third. Krautmeir ended his race on lap 16 after a series of incidents with other cars, and a lap later Zimmer crashed out, giving Mann in her AMR car second place. That didn't last long though, as the Englishwoman span at the final corner attempting to pass Pacchiarini, with the incident forcing the Italian to retire as a result. Darren Older Jr negotiated his way through the mess to re-take the lead of what was rapidly degenerating into a race of continual crashes, incidents and retirements.
Eventually the drama subsided somewhat, and once the damaged cars had all retired and been cleared away, Older Jr was able to dominate the remaining part of the race to take his first victory, just edging out James Davies who had rapidly closed in on the leader having stopped for fresh tyres on lap 21. Phoenix McAllister completed the podium. Richie White, Tristan Jung, Pippa Mann and Kay Lon were the other drivers to score points, with Hagane Shizuka the final finisher in eighth, albeit too many laps down to be classified.
The high number of incidents and retirements provoked a strong reaction from drivers and team owners, with Ashley Watkinson and Sammy Jones the most vocal in criticising the driving standards of the more inexperienced drivers. Most drivers were however more philosophical, including Jeroen Krautmeir who remained positive and happy with his pole position, despite having been forced to retire, declaring that with three other German-based rounds on the calender, "there's plenty of time to entertain the home crowd!". Anglo-Manx Racing were delighted with James Davies' podium whilst both Phoenix McAllister and Tristan Jung celebrated their results, particularly the latter for which Norisring had been his debut.
The race directors were also forced to correct their initial race results which had failed to take into account that drivers who had completed over 75% race distance were still eligible for points, ensuring that Pippa Mann and Kay Lon were belatedly awarded points for finishing in sixth and seventh place.
"Well, all I can say is I had terrible luck. Still, I think I proved myself today, and there are three more German races, so there's plenty of time to entertain the home crowd!" - Jeroen Krautmeir
"I congratulate my team mate, he kept his head and got a podium at the first race, intelligent driving at it's best. I think the next race we will both qualify and score some points." - Barii Mori
"This race was an absolute farce and shows up the lack of quality in the field. I'm pretty glad that Davies put me in the wall early on because I wouldn't have wanted to get involved in the pile up later on. All these guys are far too keen and unwise and it ends up with stupid situations where we don't even get enough classified finishers to hand out the points. I hope that they have all learnt a lesson today and learn how to drive properly in time for the next race." - Ashley Watkinson
"I have to agree with Watkinson I'm afraid, there's kids in this field that still think they're in karts, and the reality is very different. There are a number of experienced drivers in this field such as myself and my teammate Chris, who often can't even make it into qualifying proper. When we do manage to get into the race, we want to be able to achieve the best possible result and reckless kids are ruining that for many of us. Having said that I'm delighted with our new RTJ-101 which ran very well in the early part of the race, and I think both myself and Chris can look forward to an improvment on last year in regard to race results. With 4 qualifying heats now the competition is even fiercer but a couple of good results may just get us into a good position when the year is out. Personally I'm gutted to have missed out on points when there were so few finishers, but hopefully there'll be more chances so I can enjoy a much more successful season than last year." - Sammy Jones
"Ha! Why do you want to be fast if you end up crashing? I knew this circuit was very dangerous, so I opted to stay cool and try to avoid any incidents, which has reaped a sizeable reward as I see!" - Phoenix McAllister
Pre-qualifying and qualifying
|2||31||Darren Older Jr||CR-Ford||0:33.62||0:33.56||+0.04|
|8||15||T. Hemo Goblin||Hemogoblin-Porsche||0:33.74||0:33.94||+0.42|
|9||18||Thomas De Bock||ENB-Gillet||0:33.76||0:33.95||+0.43|
|14||37||Resi Respati||Flying Fish-Ford||0:33.89||0:34.26||+0.74|
Standings after the race
- Bold text indicates who still has a theoretical chance of becoming World Champion.
- Drivers' Championship standings
|1||Darren Older Jr.||16|
- Constructors' Championship standings
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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