V10 R-League: Redline and BMW face off in controversial semi-final bout
The reigning champs take on the dark horses in a thrilling semi-final clash.
The final of Season 2 of the V10 R-League is nearly upon us.
Aston Martin are already through after their win against McLaren Shadow, but who’ll be joining them?
Team Redline, the reigning champions and the winners of Group A will fancy their chances. But BMW, with their brilliant driver Kevin Siggy in tow, will be just as confident.
Team Redline: Enzo Bonito, Jeffrey Rietveld, Michal Smidl
BMW Sim Racing Team: Kevin Siggy, Michael Romanidis, Alen Terzic
This fascinating encounter started out at Monza, the Temple of Speed, with Siggy ahead of Enzo Bonito.
The Slovenian, widely considered one of the best drivers in the R-League this season, was no match for Bonito as he led into Lap 2. Redline decided to switch their driver here, with Michal Smidl taking the hot seat for Laps 2 and 3.
With a provisional gap of over a second, Romanidis came onto the track for BMW with plenty of room to breathe ahead of Smidl. He handed the baton to Terzic for the final lap, who maintained the gap to seize the win.
This gave BMW the early advantage in the tie, with the German outfit taking a 1-0 lead into the team race.
No doubt rattled by their early setback, Redline and Bonito stormed off the line in the Monza team race. Level with Siggy heading into turn one, the Italian clipped the BMW, forcing him to go through the chicane.
Recovering well, Siggy led into Lap 1 with Romanidis supporting him from behind. Bonito was the big loser here, dropping down to 4th. On Lap 3, Siggy was out in front with Romanidis still in 2nd. Jeffrey Rietveld was Redline’s closest challenger in 3rd.
But there was simply no catching the dominant BMWs, who came through to a seal one-two finish with Siggy and Romanidis.
Redline would have it all to do in the final two races, as the teams switched from Monza to Spa.
A good start from Bonito at the famous Belgian track meant he led Siggy into turn one, and he defended well through the lap. Siggy, who was closing in by the end of Lap 1, clipped the back of the Redline car on the exit of the final chicane, but couldn’t find a way past as Bonito dived into the pits.
Siggy continued into Lap 2 for BMW before handing over to Romanidis for Lap 3. Smidl, pulled ahead for Redline before making way for Rietveld ahead of the final lap. It was all down to the Dutchman, who would be challenging Terzic.
Out of the pits, Terzic was kept ahead of Rietveld, but the Redline driver pulled closer along the Kemmel Straight. In a breathtaking move, Rietveld was able to pull alongside and pass Terzic in Les Combes, before the two drivers came together on the exit.
Despite the collision, Rietveld recovered to keep his lead and hold on to the win ahead of a bruised and embarrassed Terzic.
That wasn’t the end of it, though. After the race had finished, it was revealed by the stewards that Bonito purposely braked on the exit of turn one on the first lap; denying Siggy the chance of a slipstream. This was judged to be unsportsmanlike behaviour from the Italian, and Redline were stripped of the win. This saw BMW awarded the point instead.
With a 3-0 lead heading into the final race, BMW knew they were through to the final no matter what.
Clearly Redline weren’t going to let BMW come away with a 4-0 clean sweep, and they roared into the lead of the opening lap. Smidl was ahead of Bonito, with Siggy and Rietveld fighting for 3rd.
Able to ease off, BMW’s Siggy and Romanidis kept close to the backs of the leading Redlines, but failed to mount a serious challenge as Smidl, Bonito and Rietveld finished one-two-three.
The 3-1 win here confirmed BMW’s place in the grand final of the R-League, where they’ll take on Aston Martin. Redline, who were the Season 1 champions, will be thoroughly unimpressed with the stewards decision in Spa, and will feel the result was unjustly taken away from them.