Group B showstoppers BMW will really fancy their chances against JAESA Team Suzuki in their Round 3 clash.
The German outfit has looked dominant in Season 2 with two wins from two matches, while Jean Alesi’s team has lost their only contest of the campaign so far by a demoralising 4-0.
With lots to play for at this stage of the series, let’s see how these two teams got on.
JAESA Team Suzuki: Giovanni Del Salvo, Kamil Pawlowski, Maichol Tonizza
BMW Sim Racing Team: Kevin Siggy, Alen Terzic, Michael Romanidis
We’re back in Tuscany for the first relay race of the day, with JAESA Suzuki picking Mugello.
Kevin Siggy, racing for the BMW team, is one of the best drivers in the R-League this season and he began the first race of the day on pole position ahead of JAESA Suzuki man Kamil Pawlowski.
A poor start from the Polish driver was in stark contrast to Siggy’s blistering getaway. After Lap 1, nearly a second split the two teams. Siggy then opted to stay out and complete another lap in his BMW, while Pawlowski headed to the pits to be replaced by series newbie Maichol Tonizza.
Siggy and BMW pulled out an even greater lead over JAESA Suzuki before pitting at the end of Lap 2 for teammate Michael Romanidis. Tonizza worked on gaining back some time for his team before switching with Giovanni Del Salvo.
But the final lap proved to be a breeze for BMW’s third driver Alen Terzic, not least because JAESA Suzuki was handed a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. The Slovenian crossed the finish line some 12 seconds ahead of De Salvo - notching BMW their first point of the day!
After an error-strewn relay race, JAESA Suzuki would be hoping to fare better in the team race in Mugello.
It wasn’t a good start for them though, with BMW locking down all three of the front row positions - with Siggy in the lead. After an uneventful start, the cars rounded the sweeping Poggia Secco corner and JAESA Suzuki’s Pawlowski appeared to lose grip and spin off the track. Further down the order, De Salvo made an overtaking attempt on Terzic but clipped the Slovenian and spun off into the kitty litter - leaving Tonizza as the only JAESA Suzuki driver avoiding an incident on the first lap.
With all three of the BMW drivers occupying the first three places, the German outfit began to pull away comfortably from their rivals. By Lap 3, 4th-place Tonizza was over six seconds adrift from Siggy in the lead. However, as the cars crossed the finish line, it was revealed that Terzic would be handed a three-second penalty for his part in the De Salvo incident on Lap 1. That promoted Tonizza to 3rd place, but that was little more than a consolation for the struggling JAESA Suzuki team.
The second part of the day was taking place at Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps - widely considered one of the best racing circuits in the world.
The rampant Siggy started 2nd on the grid for the relay race here but was quicker off the line and went into the precarious first corner in the lead ahead of De Salvo. But the Italian was able to use Siggy’s slipstream to slingshot his way past on the Kemmel Straight and back in front as they rounded Les Combes - with only slight contact between the two!
Siggy aggressively hounded the back of De Salvo throughout the lap but the JAESA Suzuki driver held on as he stayed out for Lap 2, while Siggy pitted to switch places with Romanidis. De Salvo used Lap 2 to build a gap to the BMWs before entering the pits on Lap 3.
De Salvo’s hard work wasn’t enough though. As Pawlowski took his place on track, Romanidis was able to come round the first corner and take the lead as the Polish driver exited the pit lane. JAESA Suzuki’s misery was further extended when Pawlowski was handed a time penalty for a pit lane violation. BMW, in typical style, could build a comfortable lead as Terzic entered the fray for the final lap, with little the chasing Tonizza could do to catch up.
Siggy and BMW entered the final race of the day with a 3-0 lead over JAESA Suzuki, and it was BMW in front again for the team race at Spa..
Romanidis and Siggy stormed ahead of the pack but BMW weren’t having it all their own way here; as third driver Terzic lost control of his car while exiting the fast Raidillon corner under pressure from Pawlowski and De Salvo. De Salvo then took 3rd place from his teammate as he looked to chase down the front pair.
Despite some good pace through laps 2 and 3, De Salvo was too far adrift of Siggy to mount a challenge. This allowed Romanidis to control the front of the race and come through as the comprehensive winner - completing BMW’s dominant display against JAESA Suzuki.
With their 4-0 clean sweep here, BMW top Group B with an astounding 10 points. JAESA Suzuki will be licking their wounds after Round 3 and desperate to get off the mark in their next contest!