It’s winner takes all at this crucial stage of the V10 R-League, with Group B rivals Team Fordzilla and Williams Esports set to battle it out for a place in the playoffs.
Just a single point separates Williams in 3rd place with Fordzilla just behind them in the standings. A top-three finish in each group is the minimum requirement for the teams to reach the playoff phase; but only one of these two teams here will make it!
Williams were beaten finalists in Season 1 and, despite an inconsistent showing this term, remain one of the favourites to challenge in the latter stages this season. But can Fordzilla - the underdogs here, who’ve yet to win a match in Season 2 - cause an upset?
Team Fordzilla: Shaun Arnold, Emre Cihan, Gianmarco Fiduci
Williams Esports: Kuba Brzezinski, Nikodem Wisniewski, Martin Stefanko
The showdown began in Spa, with Williams’ Kuba Brzezinski getting the jump on Shaun Arnold into the first corner of the relay race.
The much-loved Belgian circuit has been a good setting for fast, high-drama racing in the R-League this season, and we very nearly saw our first bit of action when Arnold lost grip on the exit of Eau Rouge and edged alarmingly close to the barrier. Although the Fordzilla driver was able to avoid a hefty collision, it did allow Brzezinski to pull away.
After Lap 1, nearly a second split the two drivers as Brzezinski opted to complete another lap. Meanwhile, Arnold switched places with his teammate, Emre Cihan. Brzezinski, now in clean air, kept it fast and clean on Lap 2 to maintain Williams’ lead, before he pitted for Nikodem Wisniewski.
Wisniewski was able to make his pit exit just ahead of the speeding Cihan, with around a second still splitting the two teams as they headed for the final lap. This set it up for Martin Stefanko in the Williams to take on Gianmarco Fiduci for Fordzilla.
More flawless driving from both racers the one-second gap maintained throughout the final lap, with Stefanko crossing the line to win for Williams!
Having narrowly lost out in the relay race, Fordzilla was keen to level the score with a win in the team race at Spa.
Things started well for the London-based team as pole-sitter Cihan kept his lead into the hazardous first corner, with his teammate Arnold just behind him in 2nd place. The Welsh driver took full advantage of a poor getaway from Williams’ Stefanko, who ran wide on turn one and, as a result, entered the fast Raidillion section at the very back of the six-car pack.
There was chaos ahead of him though, as Arnold and 3rd-place Brzezinski both spun at the entrance of Les Combes. Fiduci narrowly avoided a collision with his stricken Fordzilla teammate Arnold, but there was further drama for the Italian when he was hit from behind by Brzezinski.
With it all kicking off behind him, Cihan was able to stay ahead and keep himself out of harm - although Wisniewski was hunting him down. By Lap 4, there was less than a second between the front two, but some smooth and composed driving from the Turkish star saw him come through and win the team race for Fordzilla.
Two much-needed points were up for grabs as the teams went to Silverstone, as Brzezinski and Cihan got things going in the relay race.
The pressure was certainly on as both drivers fought for the lead; with Brzezinski defending brilliantly round the tricky Village and Aintree corners. Less than half a second separated them by the end of Lap 1, and they each opted to stay out and complete another lap with everything still to play for on Lap 2.
Weaving through the corners and using every part of the track, nothing separated the drivers as they headed to the pits. Here's where the tactical side of the V10 R-League would come heavily into play.
Brilliantly, Fordzilla was able to get the jump on Williams in the pit, with Arnold diving in front of Wisniewski and Williams. Fortunately for Williams, Stefanko made up for Wisniewski's tardiness, with the Czech driver elbowing his way back into the lead on the final lap.
There was nothing Fiduci could do but watch in horror as Stefanko sped off ahead of him, taking the victory for Williams - and the all-important point they needed to book their place in the playoffs!
Last Lap Outrage
Buoyed by their guaranteed place in the next phase of the R-League, Williams would now want to complete their rout over Fordzilla with a win in the Silverstone team race.
A front row lockdown for the British outfit saw their Polish duo of Brzezinski and Wisniewski lead into Abbey and Farm. Cihan, though, no doubt keen to score a consolation point for Fordzilla, challenged the pair from 3rd place into Village.
Although the Williams cars looked dominant in the front two places, Cihan was heartedly gaining on them. By the end of Lap 3, he was less than half a second behind Wisniewski. But on Lap 4, Brzezinski, the leader, bizarrely appeared to slow down and allow Wisniewski through; giving Cihan an opportunity to pounce.
Wisniewski’s lead was short-lived though, as the Williams driver dramatically lost grip at the end of the Hamilton Straight, hit the barrier on the right-hand side and barrel-rolled across the track. Brzezinski took back the lead but on the final lap came under even more pressure from Cihan.
Finally deciding to make a lunge, the Turkish driver clumsily clipped the back of Brzezinski on the Aintree corner. His William spun round and unbelievably allowed Fordzilla to occupy the front three places of the pack. Cihan, Arnold and Fiduci kept it together for the final corner to win the race for Fordzilla!
Sadly for them, the win was later handed to Williams and Stefanko. The stewards, angry at Cihan for his dangerous driving, decided to disqualify the Turkish driver and prevent his teammates from taking the win.
So, Williams no doubt finish Round 5 the happier of the two teams here. Last season's runners-up have secured their place in the playoffs, and will hope to challenge for a place in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, it's commiserations for Fordzilla, who finish Season 2 without winning a single match in Group B!