COVID Cup Round 7 - Intense Battles Create Thrilling Race

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

The next round of the Covid Cup was at Spa, and after a few races with limited racing action - the fans were ready for some intense battles. Practice set the theme for the race when Truswell caught up with a cruising Bradley at Pouhon.


Bradley was spurred on by the challenger and both got into full-speed duel. Truswell would go down the inside at the entrance to Piff-Paff. Bradley observed before overtaking on the Kemmel straight the following lap.


This was a rare occurence when Truswell, who normally hangs around the mid-to-tail of the field was on pace with a front-runner like Bradley.


Lap by - they'd trade positions - until Bradley had a bout of bad luck - first spinning at Les Coombes, before returning to the pits and collecting Constanduros at Pouhon on his out-lap. He'd return to the pits once more, and on exit he'd cruise very slowly waiting for Truswell (a couple corners behind) before they'd have another half-dozen lap battle.

It was an absolutely thrilling battle

This would unfortunately end in tears as Truswell would make contact with Bradley on his 13th lap. The whole battle can be found here:



It Didn't End Well For Either Driver

With pole-man Daniel Handover starting from the pits, Bailes (2nd) would line up at the front of the grid with Gary Dodds along side.


Sibbald would share row 2 with Wood with Constanduros rounding out the top 5 with an impeccable qualifying time.


Truswell would qualify in 9th - one of the best qualifying sessions of his season.

Drivers Outside 107% Rule (3:00.843)

No Time - Jm L No Time - Ronald Verweij

No Time - Teammie Van Weert

No Time - Chaz Cleland




It's lights out and away we go, through La Source all 17 cars cleanly went. After cleanly managing to survive the first few corners (Eau Rouge and Radillion included) it was the Kemmel Straight where the slipstream would pay off Bailes would lead from Dodds followed by Sibbald who'd get run at the top of Radillion and get the move done before the end of the straight Behind Sibbald, Gaffney had made an excellent start from 6th, and now had the slipstream of both Wood and Constanduros in front. Wood would lose two positions before reaching Les Coombes.


Bradley and Honeyman were on their own behind the trio ahead before it was Truswell who had a tough start already losing a position from Honeyman, and soon to lose more as Herring and Verweij behind managed to gain - Veweij managing to pass all three using the slipstream collected through the opening corners, by splitting through the middle of Truswell and Herring. With Verweij and Daman storming up the inside of Herring, he was not able to pass Truswell who was on the inside of the Verweij-Daman train.


Of all those on the grid, Verweij had the best start - From 14th, he passed (Adje) Koster at La Source, before going side by side with Riddles down to Eau Rouge, where Riddles would sensibly back off - this momentum would then bring him onto the back of Truswell, Herring and Daman, who were all in close proximity of each other. yet he just slithered his way through. Going into Les Coombes, Gaffney, Constanduros and Bradley would all lose the back end of their skippies - Gaffney would escape by drifting on the inside Kerb, whilst Constanduros and Bradley would trap Wood as they would both simultaneously spin to the inside of the circuit.


Wood In A Spin Sandwich

With Wood having to avoid cars coming from both his front and rear, he had to massively slow down, allowing Honeyman and the charging Verweij to storm past leaping into 6th from 14th.


Verweij - Unstoppable Directly behind him however, Daman wasn't as lucky and only just missed his braking point, going wide onto the field of the Les Coombes chicane. Also on a roll was Chaz Cleland who in a rare turn of events would not be able to set a valid qualifying time, putting him on the last row of the gird alonside Jm L. He'd orginally line up on 18th, but with two drivers missing/starting from the pit-lane would be promoted to 16th before the lights even went out.


Van Weert ahead would have a poor start, and after latching onto the back of Verweij - was able to pick off Koster and Riddles too.


The shinanigans at Les Coombes only further helped Clelands push to the front - more positions were imminent, and before the corner before No Name (Speakers), Cleland managed to pass Herring too with Verweij all over hist ail.


Behind him and Teammie, Jm L's race was only about to get worse following Daman's rejoin, Jm L would opt to pass on the other side of Daman opposed to the traffic (to avoid Van Weert battling with Cleland) - this choice would ultimately end his race. He caught the back of Daman's right rear wheel which pitched him airbourne...



Upon the rear landing, the car would snap to the right, dangerously close to Daman's head.




TL: The car veers towards Daman TM: The Halo-less Skippy almost costs a life. TR: The camera catches how close a miss it was

BL: Daman Was Well Protected BM: Jm L's unfortunate sponsorship led to a rather awkward moment....


To top it all off Jm L's engine exploded.


As the leaders headed into No Name (Speakers) everything seemed to have settled down.



The Calm Before The Storm

But this wouldn't last long as Verweij's phenomenal start was about to be totally undone. Through Pouhon, he braked a little too hard and late, losing the back of his Skippy he'd over-correct once, but it was no use... he'd spin towards the inside of the track - thankfully not hitting anyone or anything but losing all progress made instead. Cleland also found his way past Truswell at this corner.



By this point Bailes had stretched the field out very far - as he exited piff-paff, the tail of the field as just leaving Pouhon.


Approaching the end of the first lap, Sibbald made an incredibly brave move around the outside of Bailes at Blanchimont for the lead.


Sibbald's (1) impeccable move around the outside was definitely one of the moves of the season

Bailes tried to get around the outside of Sibbald for the Bus Stop Chicane, but Sibbald on the racing line was just too strong.


As they started the second lap, the top 3 remained close - In 6th, Wood would use the start finish to get past Honeyman to get into the top 5.


In a miraculous 7th place Cleland was also on the gearbox as they headed down to Eau Rouge with Van Weert managing to get down the inside of Truswell for 8th place.


Rounding up the tail of the field was Bradley and pit-starting Handover.

The leaders returned to the Kemmel Straight for the second time, with the slipstream since La Source, Bailes was able to storm past Sibbald....but this was short lived...Bailes would out-brake himself for Les Coombes, and run straight across the middle of it, before giving the position back for The Corner Before No Name.

Start chaos mixed up the grid...

In 3rd, Dodds ran wide at the top of Radillion, and with no slip-stream he was left in the dust....but all hope was not lost..


Bailes was a little slow coming out of No Name, Dodds as well as Gaffney would utilize this perfectly, putting himself up intoo 2nd and 3rd respectably Down in 7th, Cleland wasn't hanging around either... taking 6th away from Honeyman under braking and taking Wood by slithering past at the apex of the Les Coombes Chicane.



Bailes would latch onto the back of Gaffney as they headed towards Blanchimont and down this straight (before Blanchimont Corner) Bailes passed Gaffney to re-take 3rd place.


Next up was Dodds.


The lead had grown exponentially - Daman and Riddles at No Name as Sibbald crossed the line to start lap 3, but despite this, there were many battles up and down the grid forming - and the Kemmel straight was the perfect place to light these battles - Bailes using the straight to re-claim 2nd place off Dodds.


In addition to the leaders, further back there were some changes too - Van Weert would get past Honeyman for 7th and Herring would pass Truswell for 9th as both Koster and Handover managed to attach themselves to Truswell's gearbox - a three-way battle was imminent.


With Bradley only stone-throw away from this Battle, he too would be getting involved in less than a lap.


The battle for 10th escalated immidately - on the exit of Les Coombes, Handover quietly slipped past Koster. Truswell leaving the door ajar meant that Handover could get on the outside for the run into No Name, before pulling the move off at the corner as Truswell had to take the tighter line - Truswell slowing to avoid a collision or going wide meant that Koster too could slip by.


By Blanchimont, Bradley had caught up with the slip-stream of Truswell - whilst fighting Truswell can keep up - however in outright pace Bradley has the advantage - and with Truswell indulged in a three way battle, it gave Bradley a great oppertunity to slip by.


Finished with the battle, Handover passed Herring who was also not too far ahead At Blanchimont.


After being in a train for Blanchimont - the Bus Stop Bunched all four cars (Herring, Koster, Truswell and Bradley) up - this was great for entertainment, but not so much for a clean, easy overtake.


Koster would manage to get past Herring in the chicane but behind him it was a drag-race between Bradley and Truswell.

The Bus Stop Chicane bunched up the pack as Koster (yellow, 17), Herring (62), Truswell (2) and Bradley (111) have an exciting battle

Bradley would win the Drag race and even get a position off Koster after he had a very sideways La Source. Following La Source is a long straight leading to Les Coombes (with Eau Rouge in the middle of course) which meant Truswell could get a healthy dose of Slip-Stream.


Bradley too would get slip-stream, and was able to pass Herring down the Kemmel Straight as Koster too would get slipstream from the duo ahead and pass Herring for 11th.


Unfortunately Truswell would have to deal with 13th for a little longer - but Herring would go wide at Pouhon, allowing Truswell past. Shortly after this, Daman's race would come to an unfortunate end after losing the back end at the top of Radillion. Despite looking down the inside at Blanchimont, Truswell was not able to complete the move into The Bus Stop Chicane, but it bunched the trio up. Lap 5. Back up front, Bailes would finally have the slipstream to be able to pass Sibbald at Eau Rouge


Brave Bailes Boldly Takes Sibbald At Eau Rouge

Further back, in 5th - Cleland ticked another driver off his list - 4th placed Gaffney....but this wouldn't last long.

Wood (a few meters back) and Gaffney would both get the slip-stream as they rose to the top of Radillion - Despite the slipstream, Cleland would defend the outside, blocking Wood and allowing Gaffney to pull alongside and past before Cleland would re-claim the position by being later on the brakes.

Van Weert and Handover also had an intense battle for 7th - Handover getting a spectacular exit out of the final corner to pass Van Weert along the start/finish straight.

The rare occasion that a McLaren is in front of a Red Bull....

Try as he may, despite getting alongside Handover for the run down to Eau Rouge, Van Weert was not able to pass Handover for either Radillion or the Kemmel Straight.


Behind him, Truswell was also in a little battle with Herring who'd manage to pull alongside for the run down into Eau Rouge before pulling the move off at the corner itself. Truswell would look up the inside at Les Coombes but nothing could be done.


As the lap went on, the gaps slowly closed and several battles up and down the field were re-ignitited - most notably the one for the lead (Sibbald and Bailes) - Sibbald trying to get around the outside of Bailes at Blanchimont but failing. Also re-ignited was the battle for 5th consisting of Gaffney and Wood. On lap 5 this wood conclude with Wood managing to get down the inside of Gaffney at the same place Sibbald failed to get past Bailes. Truswell managed a carbon copy of this move to get past Herring in 13th. Whilst the duo ahead were fighting, Constanduros in 14th managed to catch up and was now ready to get involved.


Lap 6. 6 Laps to go. Sibbald managed to re-take the lead from Bailes by collecting Bailes' slipstream from La Source to the beginning of the Kemmel Straight.


In the hotly fought battle for 12th, Constanduos managed to get past Herring into La Source - but with the trio being so close together, nothing could be guarenteed. Koster ahead would spin at Les Coombes, now making it a battle for 11th place. Constanduros would be able to get past Truswell in the braking zone of the same corner - but all three would stay tightly knit.


In 4th place - Cleland caught Dodds at No Name (Speakers) but exiting Pouhon and entering Piff-Paff Cleland would be stronger on the brakes and claim 3rd position - from 18th place this was one hell of a race for Cleland.




The battle between Truswell (2), Constanduros (Yellow) and Herring (62) was intense a thrill to watch

Returning to the raging battle for 11th, Truswell managed to draw alongside Constanduros in the braking zone for the Bus Stop Chicane and momentarily was ahead for the first half of the chicane, before Constanduros pulled ahead for the second half.


Behind both, Herring wasn't fighting anybody, and therefore as able to get through the chicane at a much higher speed than the duo ahead. By slightly extending track limits, Truswell was able to get his steering straight and accelerator down quicker than Constanduros did. As they started lap 7 (above) Truswell led the drag race from Constanduros and Herring.



Track Limits? What Track Limits?

As they went into La Source, Constanduros would be the earliest on the brakes, but having shorter to go around the turn (Herring being on the outside) Constanduros was able to stay in 12th behind Truswell.


Having the slipstream, first Constanduros and then Herring would stream past Truswell before Herring would slip-stream past Constanduros for Les Coombes


The Battle Goes On

Whilst this was happening, the lead of race had also switched had - Bailes having an amazing run from La Source and with the help of slipstream Sibbald was just a sitting duck, Bailes taking the lead before Les Coombes. Gaffney would also briefly go to 5th using slipstream before Wood would be braver on the brakes.


Constanduros' next target was Herring. After getting a better run through Pouhon, Constandurous would pull-alongside (down the inside) for Piff-Paff and hold it around the outside and get it down before exiting the section. Herring's next oppertunity to pass Constanduros was Blanchimont. Herring would would pull alongside the outside of Constanduros but approaching the corner itself, Constanduros drifted into Herring's sidewalls producing contact. Herring would have to lift off to avoid any further calamity as he watched Constanduros fly off wide at Blanchimont. Constanduros would re-join much further ahead.


This was all Truswell needed and streamed past Herring as they both headed to the Bus Stop Chicane.


Time and laps were running out for Herring.


Constanduros and Herring touch as Truswell looks on

Sibbald's challenge for the lead wasn't over either as he would manage to get past Bailes under slip-stream on the following lap(lap 8) Behind them, in 6th, Gaffney tried the same move on the Kemmel straight that failed the previous lap - this time he successfully passed Wood.

Herring in the race-long battle for 11th replicated this exact move further back on Truswell - putting Herring behind Constanduros and Truswell at the back of the battle.


Following a lonely race in 15th, Verweij would pass the spun Koster who had spun at Les Coombes for the second time.


Returning to the battle for the lead, Bailes would pass Sibbald (again) for the lead at Blanchimont. As the laps ticked down each move became more and more important.

Whilst Gaffney and Wood were fighting, 7th-placed Handover had a great run out of Blanchimont, and by The Bus Stop Chicane had caught the duo ahead, managing to complete almost the same move Truswell had done earlier on in the race by keeping it on the outside of the Bus Stop Chicane before getting a better exit (and abiding by track-limits).

~

With four laps to go, history repeated itself - after passing Sibbald at Blanchimont, Bailes would be ahead for La Source, Sibbald would then have the slip-stream from La Source to pass Bailes on the Kemmel Straight. Bailes kept Sibbald honest, but knew that he (Bailes) would catch Sibbald at Blanchimont.


Back in the battle for 5th - another battle had just brewed - Wood had caught both Gaffney and Handover using the Slipstream on the run up to the Kemmel Straight

the battle on the last laps between Wood (6), Gaffney (99) and Handover (13) was unmissable

Handover would pass Gaffney first before Wood would pass Gaffney on the inside after. Despite a good attempt up the inside, Wood would slot in behind Handover as they went into Les Coombes.


Back to the battle for 11th and Truswell was a little too far back to capitalize on the little slipstream left - but Herring was able to pass Constanduros with his along the popular Kemmel straight.


Constanduros would get him back however at the corner before No Name.


The leaders returned to Blanchimont once again. Sibbald looked in his rear-view mirrors the P-51 Skippy of Bailes filled them, before he dissapeared - Bailes was back in front.


Bailes knew the story all too well - Sibbald would get the run on him for Kemmel and pass him - and this is exactly what happend.


Bar 5th place, (with Wood temproarily passing Handover along the Kemmel Straight before Handover reversed the action) the top 5 was pretty much settled Sibbald held a momentary lead, followed by Bailes, Cleland who was much, much further back after a spectacular charge from 18th, Dodds and finally Handover.



Rounding out the top 10 was Gaffney who was watching the battle ahead from a distance, Van Weert who had an incredibly solitary race with Bradley a little further back. Honeyman rounded out the top 10.


Following Honeyman was the now spread out battle for 11th - Constanduros, Herring and Truswell with Verweij all by himself in 14th.


As the white flag was pulled out of the flag-stand on the start/finish line, Bailes opted for the lesser-known route around the outside of Sibbald for Blanchimont. He successfully completed the move and with one lap left, he needn't hold off Sibbald for much longer.


Sibbald (1) was unbelievably resilient.

Despite making a small mistake into La Source, Bailes would hold onto 1st - but he knew that Sibbald was ready for the Kemmel Straight.



As planned, Sibbald would get the slip-stream and past. It was all down to Blanchimont.


In the battle for 5th, Wood would pull alongside Handover one last time - with Gaffney having a sneaky look between them. Handover would be the bravest on the brakes, with Wood and Gaffney (in that order) on each-others gearboxes.


The Battle For Forth With Less Than A Lap To Go - Dodds (4) Leads from Handover (13), Wood (6) and Gaffney (rear)

Behind this battle, Bradley would make his final overtake of the race on Van Weert. The finale to the battle for 11th (now 12th) was Truswell getting Herring's slipstream for the Kemmel straight - after a few corners side-by-side, Truswell would get a better exit out of the corner after Les Coombes.


Returning to the battle for 4th, Gaffney would make an ambitious move up the inside of Wood into Piff-Paff as the others around him fought relentlessly for the tiniest of advantages over competitors. ~ Blanchimont. Lap 11/11. Bailes VS Sibbald. Bailes makes the move and it sticks. Sibbald can't do anything going into the Bus Stop Chicane. Bailes wins the Spa Francorchamps COVID Cup Race!! His third win of the season and quite deservedly too! Sibbald finishes on Bailes' tail with Championship rival Cleland an incredible 3rd after climbing the field from 18th - the lead duo just being a little out of reach. Behind the podium spots, tragedy. With three swarming cars behind him - holding Wood, Handover and Gaffney off through Blanchimont was going to be an incredible challenge.


Not being held up by Dodds in 6th, Gaffney gets an incredible exit into the Blanchimont Straight. Gaffney pulls alongside Handover. Three into one - let alone Blanchimont - never works.


And this was no exception.


Despite a french kiss of tyres with Handover, Gaffney pulls ahead and pulls to the inside of Dodds, right in front of Handover's nose. Handover with the slipstream of two cars now ahead pulls to the outside of Dodds. Woods looks on in terror.


Dodds notices Gaffney and drifts slightly right, where Handover is...


Seconds Before Disaster...Handover (13), Dodds (4) and Gaffney (99) pushing tothe edge

Handover rejoins the track. As his view is blocked by the interior of his skippy, he doesn't know the precise location of Dodds. He Goes Too Far. Handover's and Dodds' wheels touch once. Dodds' car slides outwards millimetres as Handover follows the curve of the track. Their rear wheels touch. Dodds spins the trio get away - all this fighting and it's come to this. Dodds sits at the side of Blanchimont, devastated.


Wood would hold the position until the Bus Stop. Wood brakes later than Gaffney. Handover would brake later than them both - It was about to be a photo finish.


Woods exits The Bus Stop Chicane first, but Gaffney would get the cutback...it was a drag-race to the line.

Wood finished 4th by only -0.041 seconds.

Behind them it was Handover in 6th followed a fair way back by: 7th: Bradley

8th: Van Weert

9th: Honeyman

10th: Constanduros In close proximity to eachother was:

11th: Truswell

12th: Herring 13th: Verweij

With Riddles bringing up the rear following a last-lap pit-stop.


Dodds would unfortunately not classify since he did not cross the finish line under his own power.


Koster too retired on lap 10 for unknown reasons


and Daman's shunt at Eau Rouge bringing a premature end to his race too.


after his first lap accident Jm L was also an unfortunate early retirement.


Championship Standings After 7 Races

The chapiosnhip point as of Rounrd 7

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