It’s make or break time in the V10 R-League playoffs.
We’ve already had one quarter-final result, with Aston Martin booking their place in the next round after a convincing 4-0 win over Williams. Joining them, McLaren Shadow and Team Redline in the semi-finals will be one of BMW or YAS Heat.
BMW have stood out in Season 2 and only missed out on top spot in Group B after a defeat to McLaren Shadow in their final group match. Meanwhile, YAS Heat have been one of the R-League’s surprise packages, having pushed their way through to the playoffs at the expense of Red Bull.
A place in the semi-final against Team Redline awaits the winner here, so who will it be?
Surprise in Silverstone
BMW Sim Racing Team: Kevin Siggy, Michael Romanidis, Alen Terzic
YAS Heat: Manuel Biancolilla, Cedric Thome, Simon Weigang
The first relay race of the day took place at Silverstone with Manuel Biancolilla starting ahead of Kevin Siggy.
Biancolilla led into the Abbey and Farm corners and was able to fend off Siggy through Aintree, but the Slovenian was relentless in his pursuit. As the pair jostled for position, Siggy was able to hook it around the outside of Luffield to steal the lead.
With Siggy and BMW out in front, Biancolilla traded places in the pits with Cedric Thome. Siggy carried on through Lap 2 before he too pitted, being replaced by Michael Romanidis. While BMW had the advantage, a slow pit exit from Romanidis allowed Thome to power past on track and regain the lead for YAS Heat.
It all came down to the final stops; YAS Heat and Simon Weigang were the first out, marginally ahead of Alen Terzic. The strong getaway from Weigang meant he was nearly a second ahead by the midway point of the lap. Try as he might, Terzic was helpless as Weigang crossed the line to give YAS Heat the opening win!
It was fightback time for BMW as Siggy and co looked to level things up in the team race.
On pole, Siggy charged off the start line ahead of Biancolilla and defended well through Abbey, Farm and Village. But Biancolilla, eager to fight back, knocked the rear of the BMW and regained the lead. Further back, Romanidis and Thome went wheel-to-wheel in their scuffle for 3rd place around Luffield.
By Lap 3, less than a second split Biancolilla and Siggy at the front of the pack.
The BMW man was beginning to make some gains on the frontrunner, having opted for medium compound tyres. This meant he had more grip in the latter stages of the race, while Biancolilla’s softs were beginning to fade.
But the Italian was able to hold on in the final lap and claim another victory for YAS Heat.
With a stunning 2-0 lead in the match, YAS Heat were full of confidence as they headed to Monza.
But in the relay race, it was all about the BMW fightback. The German team could ill-afford a slip up here, and Siggy looked determined from the start; taking pole during qualifying and racing ahead into an early lead over Biancolilla.
On Lap 3, with Romanidis battling Thome, there was a gap of just under a second between the teams. Romanidis, who'd clearly learned his lesson from Silverstone, was able to keep Thome behind him as they headed into the pits.
The pressure was on Terzic for the final lap showdown. But despite having Weigang on his tail throughout the lap, he kept it together to win for BMW.
It was all still to play for as the teams took to the team race. BMW, despite being 2-1 down, knew a win here and a superior points advantage would see them edge through.
In typical fashion, Siggy flew into the lead from pole as a trio of YAS Heat cars pursued him. Further back, Romanidis was clipped by Biancolilla as the pack went through Curva Grande; sending the Greek colliding helplessly into the barrier.
On Lap 2, Siggy had a commanding lead over the YAS Heat pair of Weigang and Thome, with Thome and Biancolilla closing in behind.
In a moment of madness, Thome, Terzic and Biancolilla went three-abreast as they entered Rettifilo. Inevitably, there was heavy contact between Terzic and Biancolilla - which sent the pair spinning down the order.
With Siggy crossing the line to win, the mayhem behind him needed to be fully analysed by the stewards. As expected, hefty time penalties were handed to Biancolilla, Terzic and Thome. Significantly, Biancolilla’s penalties meant he was demoted from 3rd down to 5th.
Amazingly, this meant that not only had the teams tied the match 2-2, but the team race scores were level, too. However, BMW were handed the win thanks to Siggy’s two pole positions in race qualifying, meaning they went through to the semi-finals by the skin of their teeth.
BMW will face the reigning champions Team Redline in the next round, while it was all over for YAS Heat. The Abu Dhabi-based team will be quietly pleased with their form in Season 2, but gutted to miss out on the semi-finals by such a fine margin.
All eyes will now be on the upcoming semi-final matches between McLaren Shadow and Aston Martin, and Team Redline and BMW!