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14 Apr 2021 ------

Champions Redline pushed to the limit by YAS Heat

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The new-look YAS Heat lineup gave the Season 1 winners a true test in this closely fought battle.

Aston Martin set the bar high for Group A in their opening match of the season. To keep pace, Redline would need a commanding performance against YAS Heat.

The UAE side has a fresh, and very competitive, lineup for the new season though, and would provide a serious test.

Could Redline continue their incredible form from last year or would YAS Heat pull off a real shock?

Undercut proves decisive

Redline: Enzo Bonito, Michal Smidl & Jeffrey Rietveld

YAS Heat: Simon Weigang, Cedric Thome & Manuel Biancolilla

Mugello was the first destination of this contest and we began with four laps for the relay race.

Manuel Biancolilla started the race on pole for YAS Heat and got off to the perfect start, leaving Enzo Bonito in his wheel tracks. Bonito decided to pit at the end of Lap 1, while Biancolilla played Heat's joker and stayed out an extra lap.

Jeffrey Rietveld took over the wheel for Redline and set about closing the gap to Heat. When Cedric Thome re-joined the circuit, he was behind.

Redline had worked the undercut to perfection. It was a shootout for the final lap, but Michal Smidl kept a cool head for Redline as they led the contest 1-0.

Bonito stars in team race debut

To round off the Mugello leg, there were five laps of action for the team race. Redline occupied the front row, but could Yas Heat draw level in the contest?

Biancolilla got the jump on Smidl and was up to P2 behind Bonito. Further back, Thome was squeezed out of by Smidl in Turn 1 and had to take to the grass.

Biancolilla had to overtake Bonito if Heat were to win the team race, but he couldn't get within striking distance of the Italian driver, who showed his raw pace to the world, and exactly why Redline added him to their lineup.

Redline lead the tie 2-0 going into Monza.

Italians come to blows at Monza

We stay in Italy, but head further north to Monza, or la pista magica as the locals call it. Would we see a magical performance by YAS Heat in the four laps of the relay race though?

Bonito started on pole but Biancolilla got the jump on his compatriot into Turn 1. However, Bonito stood his ground and got his elbows out in Turn 2, forcing Biancolilla wide. The stewards might want a word with the Redline driver after the race, but he now comfortably led on track.

Biancolilla did a sterling job to close the gap to just over a second by the time he pitted at the end of Lap 1. Thome took over the wheel for Heat as Bonito played Redline's joker.

Sensationally, Thome's pace was enough to undercut Redline. Rietveld was right on Thome's car, but it was down to Simon Weigang and Smidl to see who would win the point. Smidl pushed as hard as he could, but the rookie Weigang held his nerve to claim Heat's first point of Season 2.

Team race produces action throughout

Thome started the five-lap team race on pole but had all three Redline drivers directly behind him. Smidl got the jump on the German but cut across the first chicane while overtaking. Another incident the stewards may end up looking at.

On Lap 2, Rietveld went for P2 with a forceful move on Thome in the Rettifilo. This also allowed Weigang through into P3.

Weigang wasn't done there though, as he gave Rietveld a taste of his own medicine in the Roggia and barged past into P2. Behind this, Biancolilla got his braking wrong and plowed into the back of Thome, sending the latter into the run-off. Bonito would get past both of the Heat men into P4.

On Lap 3, Bonito was trying everything to break the tow but it wasn't enough, as Biancolilla powered past into P4. Rietveld would also pass Weigang for P2 at the Roggia chicane.

That effectively decided the race, as even with a penalty for Smidl, Redline would have more points than YAS Heat.

That's three points on the board for Redline to start Season 2. That solitary point for Heat could be huge at the end of the group stage, though.

Michal Smidl told Rachel Stringer after the race that Redline "Have nothing to prove to anybody." and that "Sometimes it doesn't work out in a way that we want it to. That's life."

Next up in Round 1, Group B continues tomorrow with BMW Sim Racing Team v Fordzilla. You can catch all the action on BT Sport at 4pm BST.

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