BMW M SIM Cup: URANO monopoly dispelled by Apex Racing Academy at hectic Watkins Glen

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The Apex Racing Academy duo of Owen Caryl and Patrick Wolf were able to score the overall BMW M SIM Cup victory on 4th June at Watkins Glen.

Strength in depth is often a highly sought-after quality no matter what esport your team is a part of.

From your clutch supports to that perfect substitute in case things require a little shake-up, it never hurts to have options. For URANO eSports, the options are fruitful and plentiful within the context of the BMW M SIM Cup of 2023. 

Four races, four victories in the GTP class. Though not as successful, Team Redline were enjoying some time in the proverbial sun also; sim racing’s most iconic team sporting multiple wins in the GT3 category. 

Heading towards the halfway point of the year also meant heading towards the halfway point of the championship. Round 5 at Watkins Glen signified a crucial rallying stand for any team brave enough to stop either juggernaut from wiping out any remaining competition left. 

Qualifying 

Just missing out on pole position last time, now championship leader Dominik Hofmann did not spurn another opportunity back on American soil.

His fastest time lay half a tenth ahead of his closest rival, a very impressive Arturo Melgar for Drago Racing. The Huawei outfit lay fourth in the hands of Yoep de Light just behind Valtteri Alander’s BS+Turner. 

Undoubtedly the biggest surprise yet again was the poor qualifying form of Jonas Wallmeier. URANO’s Datagroup entry suffered a miserable time of it; only good enough for eleventh.

Grid-and-Go.com were back for more spotlight action in the GT3 class – Sven Haase going one better than his last effort to claim his first pole position in the series. The #20 Redline was close to a brutal denial but found itself forced to settle for second. Chris Lulham would head up the first stint for the GT3 points leaders.

Race

Lessons had been learned from the Nürburgring, evidenced by Hofmann’s domineering getaway. Yet, in spite of early signs that the chasing pack would squabble too much, quite the opposite scenario unfolded.

Melgar gleefully broke free of Alander in third, affording himself the chance to close in on the pace setter. That chance would pay dividends just a few minutes later as traffic was unkind towards Hofmann; the German losing first out of Toe. 

Aside from Moreno Sirica crashing out spectacularly in the doomed Williams Chillblast, the rest of the opening half hour went by without major incident. On the stroke of ninety minutes remaining, everything heated up rapidly across both battles for leadership.

First came the break of Haase’s defence as Lulham took leadership of the GT3 pack. Then we witnessed disaster for Hofmann; a botched overtake around the outside of the Inner Loop entry ultimately resulting in contact with de Light and a mutilated front end. 

Much like his fellow ex-class leader, Haase’s day was also about to lot worse. Contact through Turn 10 with the lapping BS+Turner sent the Grid-and-Go.com into a spin. His car, mercifully, was still in one piece although his chances of a podium were virtually gone. Or so you would think – the rest of his opponents seemed intent to prove him wrong. 

Matters were getting personal between Gianni Vecchio and Luke McKeown. The Apex driver was frustrated at the lack of progress towards the escaping Lulham, the Redline quite happy to sit and watch that scene unfold.

It all came to a head down the back straight, Vecchio far too aggressive in his defence pushing McKeown onto the grass. Tears and bruises were inevitable. Rightly so, Vecchio came off far worse. 

Przemyslaw Lemanek had stepped into a live situation upon the completion of the first pitstop phase. Alander was breathing down his neck in the BS+Turner.

This pressure eventually caught up to the Drago driver up the hill through Turn 3 as a misread of traffic unfolded into carnage. Yet another race leader was out of the running. 

The #198 Apex Racing Academy car, piloted by Owen Caryl, had barely any merited overtaking to pull off thanks to the continuous messes in front of them.

As if on cue, the hour mark brought with it another free position as Kenneth Gulbrandsen found entanglement at the final corner. With that pass, Caryl was now into second.

Extraordinarily, their good fortune appeared limitless in its abundance. For the third time that race, the race leader found themselves heading for an early bath. Alander simply got the entry to the Inner Loop wrong, leaving him with terminal damage before Pedro Sanchez Albert could turn a wheel. 

Once in the miraculously leading Apex Academy machine, all Patrick Wolf had to do for fourty minutes was bring the car home. A seemingly impossible task on the day was one which he completed with aplomb, having the honour of putting a stop to URANO’s run of victories. 

The story was much the same for Diogo Pinto in the GT3 #20 Redline. Lulham had set him up beautifully for a rather comfortable, hour-long drive to yet another win for a duo that looks unlikely to be caught now. 

BMW M SIM CUP Round 5, Watkins Glen 2023, GTP Results

  1. Owen Caryl/Patrick Wolf – Apex Racing Academy – LEADER
  2. Niklas Beu/Fraser Williamson – Mivano Simracing Team – +11.645
  3. Jonas Wallmeier/Vlad Khimichev – URANO eSports Datagroup – +12.059
  4. Matt Farrow/Mike Partington – Williams Esports MAHLE – +36.205
  5. Carl Jansson/Kenneth Guldbrandsen – Williams Esports Fanatec – +36.452

BMW M SIM CUP Round 5, Watkins Glen 2023, GT3 Results

  1. Chris Lulham/Diogo Pinto – Team Redline – LEADER
  2. Tom Burns/Josh Thompson – Team Redline – +13.616
  3. Kody Deith/Mateusz Nogaj – Williams Esports Heusinkveld – +15.594
  4. Elias Raikaa/Felix Quirmback – BS+Competition – +20.541
  5. Luke McKeown/Elvis Rankin – Apex Racing Team – +20.685
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