COVID Cup Round 10: Cleland Closes The Gap At An Disapointing Laguna

Updated: May 31, 2020



Heading into the 10th round, there was only 75 points to fight for left in the season, so both Bailes and Cleland needed the best results they could get.


Cleland and Bailes both lining up on the front row was certainly a good start.

Behind them, were Sibbald, Teymourian and Wood - all three in the top 10 in the championship standings - Wood, starting in 5th, 3rd in the championship points.


Truswell would qualify 13th.


Drivers Outside 107% Rule (1:44.469)

17th: Adam Christodoulou - 1:57.543

18th: Michael Proper - 2:01.591

No Time Set: Jeff Bucknum

No Time Set: Nicholas Daman

The red lights came on, Money would creep forward an inch, before stopping, before the lights would go out and another COVID Cup race was underway, Sibbald would get mobbed off the line after a poor start as the championship fighters went side by side as they headed into turn one.


Bailes (42), and Cleland (13) fight once more...

After a clean start by all, by the "MOTHERS" bridge, the field had sorted themselves out into single file - Cleland would lead, followed hotly by Bailes, Teymourian a little further back with Roodenberg chasing.


Wood would follow in 5th, Bradley would be in 6th and after an a strong start start (Achille) Gaubert would be 7th place after starting from 12th!



Rounding out the top ten behind Gaubert was Riddles, Conway and Sibbald- as they went through "Mothers Corner" (Corner after Mothers Bridge) Sibbald would put a wheel too wide and lose the position to Money behind.


Behind the recovered Sibbald was Honeyman, Christodoulou, Truswell and then JM L. Following Jm L, Proper and Taylor were making a very late debut to the COVID Cup series in front of Herring, Daman and Bucknum bringing up the rear.


Truswell would go wide at the exit of Turn 8, shortly allowing Jm L past, before Jm L would spin at the next corner. Behind him, Herring's day would only become harder. As Truswell had done, Taylor went wide at turn 8, but he wasn't so lucky...the loose surface pitched him into a half-spin and at the speed he was going, Honeyman had no way to avoid the spinning car and collected into Taylor - doing extensive damage to both cars.

Herring (62) collected the spinning Taylor (71)

At the end of the lap, Christodoulou would pass Herring into the final corner as Money pitted to serve his jump-start penalty. Cleland was strong at Laguna - very strong - and despite Bailes looking to get past a couple of times, Cleland held him off.


At the start of lap 2, Bailes looked to get around the outside of Cleland for turn one, but couldn't make it work, even though he was later on the brakes.


The final nail in the coffin for Bailes was at turn 4, when the back end stepped out. With Cleland taking the optimal line Cleland only further extended the gap

By the start of the third lap, all the gaps had broadened out - and with nobody having a particular advantage over anyone else, the race turned a little stale....but would pick up later on.

Sibbald and Christodoulou were the only one to make a move during that lap and both passed Conway. Sibbald was almost going to pass Riddles too, but locked up at the final corner, allowing Riddles to escape.


At the back of the grid, Bucknum managed to pass Daman.

Laguna suffered the same fate that VIR Did - long straights and massive gaps...

On lap 3, Gaubert continued to steal the spot-light, making one of the fair few moves on that lap, passing Wood for 5th place.

High or not, it was an impressive performance from the (4)20 car

Sibbald and also managed to get past Riddles before the braking zone of turn one, before Christodoulou did the same a few corners later at turn four.

Money's day wouldn't get any easier as he would hit the barrier after putting a wheel too wide at the penultimate corner.

The start of lap 4 saw Herring emerge from the pits after getting repairs on the opening lap.


Sibbald wasn't hanging around, as later on in this lap, he'd pass Bradley too, putting himself into a comfortable 6th place.


Outside of the top 10 - Jm L would gain two positions on this lap after passing Daman on entry to turn 8, and Bucknum (who spun, before retiring from the race) at the exit of the same corner.


Just behind a lonely Herring, Taylor would pass Proper for 16th - the first of the non-scoring positons, they'd have contact the following lap - allowing Taylor to escape.


Lap 5 came quicker than expected, and after Wood left the door open for turn one, Sibbald would slip down the inside...this group would stay together for the remainder of the lap.


the battle was a nice break...

In other news, Proper would brake too late at turn four and heftily smack into the barrier - retiring from the race not long after.


It was a day to forget for Proper

The battle for 5th would remain close, but the same as the group headed onto the 6th lap...little did Sibbald know that his race was about to be ruined.


As Sibbald started his 6th lap, he pulled out of the slip-stream of Gaubert and pulled alongside. They'd stay this way until the braking zone, when Sibbald would drift ever so slightly to the left, and Gaubert would drift ever so slightly to the right...the pair's wheels would touch, sending Sibbald into a spin far off into the turn one gravel bed, Gaubert only just continuing without losing any positions or putting it into the gravel.


In avoiding the spinning Sibbald, Wood would also go a little deep into turn one, allowing Bradley to slip up the inside.



Back up front, Bailes made his first proper lunge for the lead...at the top of corkscrew. Bailes would unfortuantely out-brake himself and do everything he could to get his Skippy stopped, but it just had too much momentum and cut the second half of the corkscrew. After getting back in control of his Skippy, he'd let Cleland back past.


It was an honest attempt from Bailes - corkscrew is just a near impossible corner to make it work...

Bradley couldn't find a way past Gaubert for the rest of this lap, and despite a small tap at the final corner knocking Gaubert's rear wing off, the battle raged on.


It was a bloody battle - Gaubert's (20) rear wing the latest to be dislodged...as Bradley (111) runs without a nose

Bradley and Gaubert would make more contact on the run down to turn one on the following lap (lap 7) before Christodoulou would part them both and storm down the middle of them.


The 5-car battle was thrilling for fans and drivers alike



Christodoulou would out-brake himself into turn one, going incredibly deep, allowing Gaubert and Bradley past and Wood to have a look - but not get past.


Later on in the same lap, Christodoulou would slip past Bradley at Mothers Corner, putting himself behind Gaubert.




Into the final corner they went on lap 7, and the unthinkable happened. Gaubert went into the corner slower than any of thos in the train behind him expected. Christodoulou jammed on the anchors, as hard as Bradley tried to brake the closing distance was much to fast and Bradley ploughed into the back of Christodoulou - in turn Wood would plough into the back of Bradley, spinning him round. Riddles would slightly tap the back of Wood before Sibbald would slide into the back of Riddles.


TL: The group of five comes into the final corner TM: Gaubert catches Christodoulou out

TR: Bradley rear ends Christodoulou

ML: Wood rear ends Bradley MM: Bradley spins as Riddles gets involved MR: Sibbald slides into the accident BL: many cars were left badly damaged after the accident.

Wood was left with front left suspension damage,

Upon passing the accident scene, Conway, who was a distance back from Sibbald disconnected - the same happened to him at Brands.


Riddles would suffer right rear suspension damage, this would worsen collapse at turn one, sending him into a single roll. Many repairs would be needed.


Sibbald would have front right suspension damage, the severity unknown...


Down at turn one, more chaos would ensue as Christodoulou would once again get caught out by Gaubert's early/hard braking - Christodoulou rear ending into Gaubert.


Gaubert would retire immidiately after - Christodoulou with little to no damage would escape.


The pile-up shook up the standings

The next lap, lap 9, the extent of the damage could be seen by the varied grid. Despite Sibbald gaining a single position, it was Truswell who's prayers were answered.

All of this chaos was just what Truswell needed - from 13th he sky-rocketed up the field - passing the disconnected Conway, remains of Bradley, limping Riddles before nipping down the inside of Honeyman (who had to take some serious avoiding action) at turn one as well as the hindered Wood who'd gone wide to let the faster cars past..


With these moves - in addition to the departure of Gaubert, both Truswell and Sibbald would benefit - Truswell managing to climb to 7th place - his highest position of the whole season after Summit Point! Honeyman would follow Truswell.


Without a rear wing, Bradley would be chasing down Honeyman,

Jm L in turn on Bradley's tail after launching into the top ten.


Outside of the top 10, Daman was in 11th, with Taylor and Money behind him.


Following Money, it was Wood exiting the pits after his repairs. Herring would round up the field in 15th amongst the leaders lapping him.


On lap 10, Money would pass Taylor for 12th place in addition to Wood passing Taylor for 13th.


~



By the 11th lap - only Bailes and Cleland remained within a second of each other, and in the closing 10 laps, only small bursts of excitement sprung up once a lap or so throughout the field Wood would start this off on lap 11 with a little spin at turn 4, allowing his fellow "Darren", Taylor past. On his 12th lap, (the leaders' 13th) Jm L would become the latest victim of Laguna Seca's infamous turn 8 - putting an incredibly sad ending to what was an incredibly solid performance.


Turn 8 saw another victim - this time Jm L

Lap 14 saw action all over the place - the lap would start of with Wood re-passing Taylor for 12th place, before Truswell spun it on exit of "Mothers Corner", allowing both Honeyman and Bradley past

Truswell watches on as Honeyman (Blue) and Bradley (White) zoom off into the Horizon

Following his overtake, Wood would pit at the end of this very lap, allowing Taylor back past.

On lap 15, Bailes got as close as he ever had to overtaking Cleland during the race - at one point being ahead of the championship leader


It was estimated that Bailes led the race for 200 meters.

This would shortly end however as Cleland had the inside and better run through turn three.


The following lap, he'd try this move again, but with even less success.

Also running out out luck was Daman, who'd go wide out of Mothers Corner, before being spat to the inside. Money would pass to claim 10th off him.


Mothers Corner is incredibly difficult in any car...

Lap 17. Money was just about to lap Herring at the top of Corkscrew. In ensuring he had passed Herring, he (Money) left his braking very late - too late. Upon losing downforce at the top of the hill, He would lock up and then spin just in front of Herring. Daman was also able to get this position back.


Riddles (62) In Fright as Daman (horizion) is in delight

~ Around the last corner Cleland comes - he will take a dominant victory here at Laguna, followed by Bailes. After a lonely race Teymourian will finish 3rd with Roodenberg will be in 4th.


Christodoulou would crucially pit on the final lap. Because of this Sibbald would finish 5th, Honeyman would finish 6th, And as they came out of the final corner Truswell would be all over the back of Bradley, before getting the slipstream on him and pulling alongside with just meters to go to the line, as he did so he'd scrape paint, suspension components bodywork and more off as he grinded down the concrete wall.


Officially, Joe would claim the position as Truswell would grind his Skippy along the barrier - but after making contact after the line, Bradley was (wrongly) given a penalty.



Christodoulou would emerge from the pits in a gut-wrenching 9th.

Sibbald takes 5th as Christodoulou looks on

Rounding out the top 10 would be Daman from 19th on the grid, with Money not far behind.


Riddles would follow after a tough day, finishing in 12th. Rounding up the finishers were:


14th: Darren Taylor

15th: Darren Wood

16th: Simon Herring

17th: Jake Conway (re-connected to finish final lap) DNF: Jm L

DNF: Michael Proper DNF: Jeff Bucknum DNF: Achille Gaubert DNQ: Victor Reyes DNQ: Harry McGovern Championship Points After 10 Rounds (Best of 8)

Going into the penultimate race, the points for the championship lead are tied

Drops Wood: 2 pts At Laguna Seca

Truswell: 1 pt At Brands Hatch

Herring: 1 pt At Laguna Seca

Total Championship Standings


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