It seems rather incredible to think that the last round of the America Sprint Series was practically a month and a half ago. Yet, surely nobody would need reminding as to who was leading the way. Igor de Oliveira Rodrigues had enjoyed two wins from two pole positions. Laguna Seca was a breeze whilst the Circuit of the Americas proved a much closer affair.
Had Chris Severt just found a little more pace, we might have been recapping a very different story.
As it stood, heading into Round 3 at Silverstone Circuit, Rodrigues was the only person everybody wanted to beat. In such a short championship, every strong result mattered. With a third win in his pocket, the Brazilian would surely be unreachable.
The situation looked ominous upon the completion of qualifying. Rodrigues had bagged himself a third consecutive pole with Renan Negrini alongside him on the front row. Fidel Moreira, whose campaign had been the most consistent behind the points leader to this stage, lay in third.
Previous challengers for the win were spread throughout the top ten. Jyeed Hutchinson would start fifth on the grid, Severt down in ninth. Angel Inostroza, of course, was now retired from the championship due to his recent road accident, with the paddock wishing him well.
Lévêque found himself back on form after a less-than-stellar second outing. The Silver class winner at Laguna Seca started from sixth; Hutchinson separating him from the category pole sitter Cody Sherratt.
For one of the most challenging opening sectors of the year, hardly a foot was put wrong. Sure, the legendary Maggotts and Becketts threw up a couple of scares. The commitment and respect remained highly commendable among the large majority of the field.
Of the top ten, Ed Kerstetter had moved past Lévêque giving Sherratt more of a buffer to work with in the battle for Silver class. Severt had also made up a place and was now chasing the aforementioned Lévêque down directly for position. A flash of the headlights indicated a knowing agreement between the pair. Places were exchanged without fuss into the Vale chicane.
Severt’s next target would be Kerstetter who fell by the wayside a few minutes later. Yet even just ten minutes in, the American now had to bridge a three-second gap up to Hutchinson in fifth. That quest, it seemed, would be a little too difficult on this day. Kerstetter not only kept pace with Severt but re-overtook him with a third of the race completed.
The pitstop phase unveiled some interesting modifiers for the second half of the proceedings. Sherratt had now fallen behind Hutchinson but was in close pursuit. Severt was back ahead of Kerstetter who was now lumbered with a thirty-second stop-go penalty for pitlane speeding.
Lévêque found himself under significant pressure now, chased down by Diego Paul Fimbres Casas and Koapono Patrick for second place in class. His defence was impressive and when offered the chance to pass the meandering Severt he took it with both hands.
Negrini too was facing trouble protecting second place overall. With just over ten minutes left, Moreira pounced with a mistake from Renan sealing the deal.
However, Rodrigues once again was totally unfazed. Another impervious drive had earned him a third straight victory. Another at Watkins Glen and the title would be his.
GTWCEA 2023 Round 3, Pro classification
- Igor de Oliveira Rodrigues – 1st – 1’01:38.903
- Fidel Moreira – 2nd – +9.333
- Renan Negrini – 3rd – +10.896
- Jyeed Hutchinson – 4th – +14.838
- Chris Severt – 7th – +33.013
GTWCEA 2023 Round 3, Silver classification
- Cody Sherratt – 5th – 1’01:54.324
- Mérick Lévêque – 6th – +16.074
- Diego Paul Fimbres Casas – 8th – +19.140
- Koapono Patrick – 9th – +19.861
- Estefano Barrera – 12th – +24.126