Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Going into the penultimate round of the first season of the COVID Cup at Philip Island, Bailes and Cleland matched points - 165 a piece. With the amount of points 3rd-placed Joe Bradley had, even if he'd win the final two races of the season, it'd still not be enough to take the championship - even with dropped scores.
The Philip Island race didn't start well as the qualifying session lasted a mere 5 minutes - as opposed to the extended 10 for a track of this size (allowing for multiple hot-lap runs) This caught drivers out as they thought they'd have lee-way for an error on hot-lap - but unfortunately this was not the case.
With no sign of Cleland anywhere near the track - this was a perfect opportunity for Bailes to bring home some solid points. Taking pole position was already a massive step in the right direction. Behind him, Wood completed the first row.
The second row would comprise of powerhouses Bradley and Sibbald whilst Roodenberg and Teymourian finished up the top 6.
Truswell would share the rear row of the 15-car grid with Christodoulou. Drivers Outside 107% Rule (1:54.728)
No Time Set - Adam Christodouolou
The lights went out and away the field would go.
Into turn one, Truswell would be caught out by Daman who slowed more than Truswell expected - allowing the field to escape.
Gaffney would go wide at turn two, putting him at the back of the pack, he'd shortly get past Truswell not two corners later.
By the second lap, the squabbling mid-field manage to sort themselves out. After Bailes, with a sizable lead, Sibbald followed, chased closely by Wood. Rounding up the slip-stream train was Bradley and Roodenberg.
Behind him, Christodoulou got another amazing start - launching into 6th from 15th on the grid!
Rounding out the top 10 was Pearson, Teymourian, Honeyman and Herring.
Riddles would be behind.
As they went onto the second lap, the battle from 4th to 2nd would fan out (picture) Roodenberg would pull alongside Bradley as he did the same to Wood - not three corners later, this would turn into a six car scrabble. Watch onboard with multiple drivers as an incredible gaggle forms...(Video starts at the ed of the opening lap)
Following the events of this video, Christodoulou would pass Teymourian for 6th.
Just behind Wood, Pearson had the slipstream, and on the start of lap 4, would take second place. Outside of the top three, Roodenberg would catch up to the fighting duo - Bradley would escape in 2nd, but Wood would fall into the clutches of Roodenberg - a battle ensuing shortly after.
Christodoulou would make one move on Herring before another battle from 2nd to 6th place was all lined up and ready to go.
The cars would all close up before pulling into a two-by-two formation on the run down into turn one of lap 5.
Honeyman intently watched on from 7th place as Wood and Christodoulou would complete their overtakes in synchronisation.
Christodoulou would sneak past Pearson at turn five - temporarily getting the final podium spot before going for - and passing Wood.
Wood would drop another position as Pearson would get past at the penultimate corner.
A click behind this monumental battle, Bradley managed to pass Riddles for 9th place.
Out of the final corner, it'd be a fight for traction as many found the dirt on the outside of the circuit, Roodenberg (5), would get a much better run out of the final corner than Wood Would - putting him in 4th behind the drag-racing duo of Pearson (17) and Christodoulou.
Pearson would try to hold it around the outside, but Christodoulou had much more grip on the inside.
Pearson would once again try again at turn four - but with no luck.
Having some luck however was Teymourian who found his way past Wood for 5th place.
Outside this battle, Bradley managed to pass Sibbald for 8th - exactly the move Sibbald completed a lap earlier.
Lap 7 and disaster struck the lead (best of the rest) battle.
After Pearson spun trying to avoid contact with Roodenberg, those behind him scattered to avoid hitting the spinning Skippy.
Teymourian (04) would be alright to start off with before running out of track and skittering off wide.
Wood (black) would recieve a punt up the rear by Honeyman who too locked a wheel and span out.
This is just what Bradley in 9th needed.
Starting the 8th lap (and with 9 laps to go) Bailes would lead by a landslide, followed by Christianodoulou - who'd be passed at turn one by Roodenberg behind. Pearson would follow a fair way back following his spin. In an impressive 5th would be Bradley with Sibbald shortly attached to his gearbox, Sibbald too passing at turn one
before Teymourian, Honeyman, Riddles and Wood would round out the top 10,the latter in close proximity to one another a little further behind.
Sibbald was on a roll, and before turn 4, he'd pass Pearson too - now putting him in 4th place. With Truswell just hanging on to 6th in the championship, and only in a position during this race to score 1 point, Truswell would need a miracle to happen at Silverstone - or later this race.
Using a late braking manouvre at his favourite corner, Wood would pass Riddles for 9th - Riddles spinning on exit handing his position to Gaffney behind, whilst Wood quickly got onto the tail of Honeyman, before passing him at the first turn of the next lap.
As Christodoulou went onto his 9th lap, he'd get the slip-stream on Roodenberg, and like the many before him, would too pass his competitor at turn one - putting Christodoulou into second position with 8 laps to go.
Christodoulou would get on the dirt on entry to the final corner and with an unstoppable slipstream the inevitable was about to happen....
But first, Bradley and Pearson would collide on the exit of the 4th corner, they'd bang wheels before Bradley would pitch Pearson into a slide...Bradley would launch over Pearson's front right wheel putting him into a series of terrifying rolls.
Lap 9 was one to forget for Truswell and Daman. After lasting 10 rounds with a fierce rivalry whilst never coming together...during round 11 this finally changed...
Out of turn 5, Truswell would have a slightly better run on exit than Daman, and look to his inside. Daman positioned his car directly in the middle of the track, to defend the position...time went on...Daman slowly shut the door....Truswell kept going down the inside not wanting to lift. Truswell stopped moving to the left once parallel to the white line on the left side of the track. Daman kept coming.
Daman's left rear and Truswell's front right tyre touched. This would immediately spin Daman to the inside. Truswell was pressed against his sidepod before Truswell's front wheels lifted into the air..,they both slid., Truswell riding Daman's rollhoop. There would be serious discussions after the race about the incident.
Daman would retire from the race
Truswell's race wouldn't get any better from here...upon speeding on the exit of the pit-lane, (after pitting for repairs) he'd almost take out Bradley. He'd have to come back into the pit-lane a lap later as a result of his "speedy" departure from the pitlane.
Post-race, Daman had this to say about Truswell's move.
"it was a ridiculous move. There are places on the track you can pass and places you need to follow, just because you can get your nose inside someone’s rear wheel doesn’t mean you should"
Truswell would defend himself by saying that "it was an "open corner" (one that you gain speed through) so both should have made it through side by side" as opposed to at Brands where Truswell ploughed into the side of Herring of at a "closing" (slowing) corner Truswell would bring the incident up with the stewards under "forcing another car off-track" but after a thorough review they declared it a racing incident as both drivers could have made better decisions.
Truswell could have slotted in behind Daman,
Damanperhaps giving a little more room. Pearson would also visit the pits at this time, (as the pit-lane incident) but would ahead of the incident that occured
Going onto the next lap after the accident, Roodenberg in 3rd would have the slip-stream on Christodoulou and pass him into the first corner.
Just behind, an identical move would be completed by Teymourian on Sibbald ( as well as Gaffney on Herring for 8th place.
Later on in the lap, Sibbald would get back past Teymourian at turn four before Christodoulou would get the slipstream on Roodenberg on the start/finish straight and pass Roodenberg back for 2nd.
This two would would keep swapping positions like this over the next several laps.
Truswell would emerge from the pits in 14th on lap 11, with Bradley the next car behind him, a whole lap ahead. Truswell's race was essentially decided.
After a short lull of activity, Riddles would pass Herring on lap 13, before another few laps of still led the pack to the final couple of laps. The next lap, (lap 14), Christodoulou and Roodenberg would have a little jostle at turn 4 and 5, following Roodenberg passing Christodoulou under slipstream. Christodoulou would be ahead as they ran up the hill to turn 6.
Lap 16 would see a side-by-side battle from both the Christodoulou VS Roodenberg and Teymourian VS Sibbald battles.
Before Turn five, Roodenberg had managed to make the move stick.
Just behind, Sibbald (second row, inside) had managed to make the move stick as well.
The top four went onto the final lap. It had been a strangely quiet race.
Christodoulou would once again get the slip-stream, but knowing it was the final lap, Roodenberg would hold his line - briefly getting ahead of Christodoulou between turn one and two, before Christodoulou would get him back.
Roodenberg would hold on as tightly as he could but Christodoulou just had too much momentum.
On the approach to turn four, Christodoulou and Roodenberg woul lightly touch, Chistodoulou going deep, allowing Sibbald and Teymourian past - it would be a frantic rush to the line.
With just corners to go and just Roodenberg, Sibbald and Teymourian fighting it out for second place, there was a lot on the line. Sibbald and Teymourian would go side by side on Roodenberg's gearbox as Christodoulou watched on a little further back.
But all Teymourian's work would be for nothing... Roodenberg's right rear wheel would net-code with Teymourian's front left wheel, punting him far off into the gravel.
Bailes would win by a dominant 13 seconds - the second largest margin in the entire season as Sibbald catches Roodenberg's slip-stream...it was going to be a photo-finish for second place.
After a race like this, both thoroughly deserved a podium. Christodoulou would finish a well-earnt 4th from a 15th.
Teymourian would finish 5th, and after an incident (net-code) out of his control, It'd be an incredibly hard pill to swallow for him. Wood would finish in a lonely 6th place after a very exciting start, followed by Gaffney on Honeyman's gearbox in 7th and 8th.
Rounding up the top 10 were Riddles and Herring.
Conway, who hasn't recieved a single mention during this entire blog would finish an incredibly lonely 11th, before Pearson would cross the line in 12th after his recovery drive from the earlier accident with Bradley whom finished 13th. Truswell would finish 14th - and unbeknown to him - his last point scoring position not only of the season, but to date.
Daman would unfortunately retire, as previously mentioned.
With only one race left in the season, let's have a look at how the calendar looks going into the final race
MOFO Covid Cup Championship Standings (Best Of 8)
MOFO Covid Cup Championship Standings (Standard)
All To Play For in the final round In both the "best of 8" and total standings, there are some incredibly close battles which need to be decided. After battling all season, it's come down to this - Bailes with a 25 - 26 point lead.
The only way Cleland can win is by Bailes not scoring a point, and Cleland not only winning, but scoring the fastet lap too.
A three point gap for third place (or best of the rest) is also worth a watch.
Further down the field - can Truswell stay in the top 10 of the COVID Cup Championship? Or will his competitors get away?
Find out...at Silverstone