Full Throttle Social Race 2017
As Jackie Stewart once almost said, “to finish first, you first have to finish a stint at Full Throttle without your head falling off”. And so it was that the Motor Racing Club’s finest graced this Nurburgring-esque test of driving endurance, skill and perfection (seriously, its bloody tough), situated on an industrial estate in the quaint hamlet of Stourbridge, with their presence. Due to a higher than initially expected turnout, the number of teams was expanded to 9, comprising a fine mix of raw talent and canny experience. In order to make it a little more life-like (and less boring), teams were allowed to choose F1 team names rather than just numbers, and in order to mix up the grid a little the captains were not allowed to start the race (which also had the effect of denying them the best track conditions right at the end of qualifying). However, with one notable exception, the grid order was largely as expected from this season’s F1 standings, after a lap by Silver Arrow Michael that he described as “stunning”:
1. Mercedes - Michael Gibbins (Captain), Harrie Hama, Josh Nevett
2. Red Bull – Jake O’Sullivan (C), Oli Firth, Nick Taylor
3. Sauber (yep really) – Luca Ingrassia (C), Daniel Sawicki, Jack Powell
4. Ferrari – Rory Smith (C), Thanos Tzevelekakis, George Hayward-Meek
5. Force India – Rhianna Purcocks (C), Joe Daniels, Nick Taylor
6. Renault – Daniel Tolley (C), George Hatto, Charlie Bowes
7. McLaren Honda – Simon Morton (C), Joe Daniels,
8. Haas – Jack Joynson (C), Michael Okeke, Horace Li
9. Williams – Wilson Woon (C), Josh White, Evie Oldfield
The racing got away from grid order in the pit lane, with Josh in the Mercedes holding the lead and quickly building a lead as Daniel in the Sauber harassed the Red Bull (a sentence that will never be uttered in real life, ever). Shortly before the first pit stops, Daniel was able to get past (shortly followed by Thanos in the Ferrari) and quickly closed on the Red Bull. Further back, George in the Renault made a flying start from 6th, able to jump up to 4th as the first pit stops approached, while further back Wilson (who had been caught out in a cheeky attempt to start the race himself) in the Williams was making progress, finding himself in a lofty P7 by the end of the first stint. Stuck behind the Mercedes, Team Sauber tried to jump themselves into the lead by making an early driver change and switching in the feather-light Jack Powell. Unfortunately this backfired, as a slow driver change and heavy traffic on the out-lap not only meant the Silver Arrows maintained the lead, but gave P2 back to the Raging Bulls and P3 briefly to the Prancing Horses, while Joe Daniels in the Force India, running the longest first stint of all to briefly lead the race, was unable to rejoin higher than their initial P5 despite showing plenty of promising pace, battling with Horace in the Haas and Charlie in the Renault.
During the second stint, Mercedes started to drop back, being passed by Ferrari, Sauber and Force India to run 4th at the midway point of the race as Ferrari, benefitting from an experienced and pacy team, started to pull away. Meanwhile, the battle for P2 was hotting up, with Mercedes, Sauber, Force India and Red Bull all on the same lap and in contention, while further back, Wilson in the Williams and Dan in the Renault fought hard for 8th. As the final stint began, what can only be described as a biblical battle got under way. All nine cars were on the same piece of track, with Luca in the Sauber and Jake in the Red Bull desperately trying to unlap themselves from Rory in the Ferrari, who had managed to pull away further from the rest of the field, as Rhianna and Michael in the Force India and Mercedes respectively harried him for 2nd. The cataclysmic moment came as the leaders, setting and resetting fastest laps as they fought for the top places, came up behind lapped traffic in the shape of Wilson and Dan, who were still locked in their battle. Rory left the smallest of gaps for Luca to dive through, Michael took advantage to snatch P2, and in the melee Luca ended up in the barrier and 4th, Sauber’s hopes of a podium seemingly extinguished.
In the end, Rory brought Team Ferrari home for an excellent, controlled win with a fastest lap of 21.003, while Michael gave the Silver Arrows P2 with the fastest lap of the race (20.856). The battle for the final step of the podium, however, was not over. Rhianna was losing time trying to lap Dan, allowing Luca to close up in the dying moments of the race. Going into the penultimate corner, Rhianna tried to lunge past but just fell short, leaving the narrowest of gaps at the final corner to allow Luca to barge through and take P3 by just 3 tenths of a second after 75 minutes of racing, Sauber setting a fastest lap of 20.971 with Force India in P4 setting a 20.987. Behind them came Mclaren Honda, Simon’s solid final stint giving them a fastest lap of 21.557, while Red Bull ended u in a hard-fought P6 with a personal best of 21.186 ahead of Haas, who set a PB of 21.576. Bringing up the rear were Williams (Wilson just beating Dan to the line with a fastest lap of 21.744), with Renault in P9 with a PB of 21.108. As ever, our thanks go out to the committee members who put this event together, to Full Throttle for hosting such a spectacular race, and most of all to all the other drivers for taking part and for hopefully enjoying themselves plenty. Our next race will be at TeamWorks Electric, a track that offers great overtaking opportunities, pacey karts and good racing. If it turns out to be half as good as this one, it ought to be a cracker. Till next time!