The opening race of the Formula X Championship Series in Bahrain gave us a series of stories – some feelgood and others causing disappointment. We’ve packed the winners and losers from the opening race this season.
Winner: Matt Ford
Ford didn’t show initial signs of promise for a high performance after being knocked out in Q2 with a pace of more than 2 seconds behind the leader. That all changed in the opening phase of the race though when a fantastic start moved Ford into first place after just 1 lap. The tyre strategy really paid off too, opting for a 2-stop. Starting on softs, an early pit stop onto mediums dropped him down the field and after the first round of pits saw Ford only able to retain P3. However, a lap 20 pit change back to softs while Giles in front opted to stay on mediums meant Ford had the pace to claw back his result with the overtake with only 2 laps remaining to take 1st place.
Winner: Phil Giles
Newcomer, Phil Giles was a dark horse in realm of F1 sim-racing. Not a particular follower of F1, he entered the series after showing competitive pace in ranked championships and achieving several wins. His first league series race didn’t disappoint either. Beating seasoned race veteran, Joey Attenborough in qualifying to start third on the grid, he amazingly led 21 out of the 28 laps of the race. His decision to close the race on mediums meant he’d always be under pressure from fast approaching Ford in the closing stages and a fuel issue causing a third pit stop left him unable to fight for the win.
Winner: Alistair Wright
Alistair came into the race with not many expectations. Being well accustomed to GT cars in iRacing, Wright would have to get used to a new car, new style of driving on a new simulator with a whole different feel. He didn’t let that phase him though. Wright was knocked out in Q1 being bottom of the timings and signs weren’t looking good for a positive start to his season opener. Opting for a 1-stop strategy, Wright was able to maintain the medium tyres only stopping to pit on lap 20. This move gained Wright three places up to third and an alternate strategy from Joey Attenborough behind meant even with pace dropping off, Wright was able to safely bring home the final podium place.
Loser: Neil Archer
Series favourite, Archer started things off showing he was going to be some serious competition. Topping the timings of both Q1 and Q2 and only being pipped to pole by Gideon Thomas in the final stages of Q3. With a number of ranked championship titles to his name and dominating performance, it seemed like at least one of the podium steps had his name on. A bad start left Archer in P5 at the end of lap 1 and it only went from bad to worse with a number of spins causing him to fall down the field. A come back looked on the cards after a long battle with Joey Attenborough in the middle phase of the race but he wasn’t able to make anything of it and could only come away with 6th place.
Loser: Gideon Thomas
Thomas came into the series as a One-to-Watch, showing impressive pace and previous ranked competition wins. He was dominating qualifying not achieving lower than 3rd in the timings and stealing away Pole Position to start the race on the front of the grid. However, where single lap pace was truly impressive, Thomas’ consistency showed the gap in the armour. A number of spins and environment collisions saw Thomas have to take an early second pit stop and although was able to take the fastest lap of the race, several more spins saw him out of contention and retiring from the race in lap 20.
Loser: Aaron Sparks
Sparks has always been a worthy contender in series races. Whilst not have the race pace to match the front of the field, his consistency has often proved to be a big asset being able to achieve high results by being a clean driver. The loss here was through no fault of his own. A variety of technical difficulties ran the Race Weekend long over it’s expected start time and proved too late for Sparks to start the race.