The second contest from Group A in Round 2 pit two teams with reasons for optimism together. Aston Martin completed a clean sweep over R8G in the opening round, the only Group A side to do so. YAS Heat meanwhile, scored a point against Season 1 champions Redline.
This contest had huge ramifications for how Group A would play out. Let's see if Aston Martin could regain their lead at the top or if YAS Heat could thrust themselves into the automatic play-off places!
YAS Heat: Simon Weigang, Cedric Thome, Manuel Biancolilla
Aston Martin Cognizant Esports Team: Daniele Haddad, Lucas Blakeley & Shanaka Clay
Mugello in Italy was the first venue that the teams opted for, for this contest. Aston Martin's Daniele Haddad started on pole for the four laps of the relay race, with Heat's Manuel Biancolilla behind. Biancolilla though, was like a rocket off the line and flew into the lead into Turn 1.
Biancolilla stretched his advantage through the first lap, before both drivers pitted at the end of Lap 1. YAS Heat's good work was undone in the pits, as a slow stop ensured that Cedric Thome was over four seconds behind Lucas Blakeley after the first driver changes.
Both teams played their jokers with their second drivers, but only a big mistake by Aston Martin would change the complexion of the race. The green team stayed as cool as a cucumber to bring it home and Aston Martin sealed the first point.
Blakeley taking no prisoners
YAS Heat were looking to level the contest in the team race. They had a good chance of doing so, as they occupied three of the first four spots on the grid. Blakeley was looking to throw a spanner in Heat's works from P2, though.
Thome and Biancolilla both got great starts, but Blakeley threw his Aston Martin down the middle of the Heat pair into San Donato.
The trio ran three-wide into Turn 2, contact was made and Biancolilla ran wide and down to last. Blakeley then muscled his was past into P1, but would the stewards want a word?
Thome and Simon Weigang were P2 and 3, but they'd need to pass Blakeley to take the point for YAS Heat. Thome pushed as hard as he could, but couldn't get close enough to Blakeley to launch an attack.
In the end, the stewards decided against awarding any penalties and Aston Martin led the contest 2-0.
We stay in Italy for the second half of this bout, as we go to Monza.
Biancolilla started on pole for YAS Heat and appeared to hold his lead from the start. Blakeley made a late move down the inside and made contact with the Heat driver. Biancolilla took to the run-off but retained his advantage.
The gap was over two seconds, but Blakeley was showing his class by setting a blistering pace. Both drivers stayed out for a second lap and the gap was less than a second by the first driver changes.
Thome and Haddad were next in the cars, but Heat still held the advantage. It was all down to Weigang and Shanaka Clay on the final lap. Despite all the pressure on him, Weigang held firm to score Heat's first point of the tie to make it 2-1.
Demolition Derby at Monza
Blakeley started on pole for the team race, but with two Heat cars behind, he'd have a job on to stay ahead. Biancolilla got a great launch off the line from P2 and was into the lead by Turn 1. However, Blakeley kept his nose in and forced Biancolilla off the circuit.
There was more contact heading into the Della Roggia, as Weigang and Blakeley clashed for the lead. Weigang went off the circuit but Blakeley, realising his mistake, let the German past again. Behind the leading pair, Haddad and Biancolilla were fighting for P3, with Haddad coming out on top.
On Lap 2, Clay overtook Thome for fifth and he set about catching Biancolilla. On Lap 4, Haddad had a wide moment at the Ascari chicane, which put Biancolilla on his tail. Biancolilla saw his opportunity to pass into the Roggia, but was turned into by Haddad and both drivers went spinning.
Clay and Thome were promoted to P3 & 4 respectively, with Biancolilla recovering to fifth. Unbelievably though, Weigang lost the rear end through Ascari and spun off, handing the lead to Blakely on a plate! Aston Martin would keep their victory and they ran out 3-1 winners over YAS Heat.
Rachel Stringer spoke to a dejected Simon Weigang after the team race:
"Long story short, I made a mistake. The brake bias was maybe a little too much to the rear, then the rear came around into Ascari and that was it."
You can never take anything for granted in the V10 R-League, this shows that anything can happen, even when you least expect it!
In the standings, Aston Martin draw level with Team Redline at the top on seven points. YAS Heat remain in third, now on two points.
Next time out, Aston Martin have a crucial matchup when they face Red Bull. As for YAS Heat, they'll be up against R8G Esports in Round 3.
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