Unlike the Formula 1 race that took place earlier in the day, the track was completely clear of rain for the three races of the mid-way round of the VTCC event at Imola on Sunday evening.
With Andrew Gillone of Ambition Racing extending his lead in the Pro Championship, the battle for second place heated up in the previous round between Roy Grassie of AJR Motorsport and Aran Large of e11evens Racing only separated by a meagre three points.
In the Am class, TCS Motorsport’s Alice Hughes’ success in round two meant she took the top spot from Trev Hummer of AJR Motorsport, who trailed by five points coming into round three.
In the GoBobby.uk championship, Chris Callaghan of Falcon Racing doubled his lead on Colin Dunn of Track & Beyond who now sits seven points ahead of next best Mark Werrell of Squadra di Corse Veloce.
Gillone wasted no time in continuing his win streak after his impressive three successive victories last round by taking both pole position and the first race win at Imola on Sunday evening. The track proved tricky for all though as penalties were handed out across the board. Newcomer Alex Saunders of Full Send Racing had to settle for fifth after accruing time penalties which dropped his result from second place.
The championship leaders played it out in race two with Gillone taking a definitive win after starting 11th in the random grid. Grassie and Large fought between themselves for the second place spoils with Large coming out on top after Grassie picked up a two-second penalty early on in the race. Mark Werrell of Squadra di Corse Veloce produced his highest result of the series with a top-five, only a few weeks after undergoing knee surgery.
Race three saw Gillone complete a hat-trick of wins for the second round in a row as drivers behind failed to contend with the flying Scotsman. Grassie made it three podiums from three as he completed a storming night in the mint and red Renault, and Saunders finished just ahead in second marking a successful debut. Former Am class winner Kiki Mac of Celtic Bromance achieved his best finish yet in seventh, just behind Quentin Chauviteau of Full Send Racing who spent a large portion of his race defending from Joshua Quincy of Falcon Racing who finished in eighth.
Gillone agreed he was in the form of his life at a track that ultimately suited the BMW due to the long straights.
“I can't explain it, it was on form tonight, definitely on pace, I was getting PB's as well. The car was driving nicely, going where I put it, it was right on the line and not over it at all."
Newcomer Saunders’ efforts didn’t go unnoticed, with even the championship leader paying him his due.
“It was a mighty impressive debut from Alex tonight,” added Gillone. “He’s definitely one to be keeping an eye on. I think it might be a good thing we’ve had some race head-starts on him, I think he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with for sure”.
After losing the championship lead to Alice Hughes in round two, Trev Hummer drove like a man possessed as he stormed to victory in race one, leading for almost the entire race. Hughes managed a fraught second place after battling her way from fourth on the grid, with some competition from Teddie Cooper of Cooper Motorsport and Byron Zimmerman of Gummy Motorsports. Hummer’s teammate Tobias Eriksson finished in a series-best eighth place after a close battle with Steven Hilton of K&S Motorsport, meaning AJR Motorsport had two drivers inside the top ten for the first time this series.
The random grid race was a little busier than race one as several drivers found themselves in trouble at one point or another, including championship contender Trev Hummer who's race was jeopardised by no less than two incidents that saw him ultimately finish outside the top five. Alice Hughes snagged herself the win, however, after starting from 15th in a tremendous display of grit and determination after a number of battles with Mark Holmes of Elementary Racing. Adam Bent of Full Send Racing finished in a brilliant second place – his highest this season, after a close-knit battle with Teddie Cooper, who ultimately, although crossed the line first, lost his win after the accumulation of time penalties.
Race three was a much calmer affair, even as the setting sun presented its own challenges. Hummer began the race on pole with Hughes in second and Zimmerman in third, and the race ended in a similar fashion, with Hummer taking his second win of the evening, Zimmerman finishing in second, and Hughes in third. Meanwhile, just outside the top five, Kev Straw of Monochrome Racing locked horns with Ștefan-Andrei Gagiu of Go4it Racing and put on a fantastic show of clean racing throughout the fifteen-minute race. Ultimately Stefan came out on top and finished in fifth place.
Speaking after the evening’s events, Hummer expressed satisfaction with his current form and looked ahead to the coming rounds.
“The amount of wins I have had this season is definitely unexpected. I came into the third season of VTCC expecting to fight occasionally for podiums and maybe the occasional win. To say the least, I'm outperforming my expectations already."
Race two winner Hughes was more reserved in her assessment of the championship fight, knowing that sim racing is fickle.
“I’m pleased with where I’m sitting in the championship fight currently, but I know I have a bit of practice to do to be in with a chance of the championship as anything can happen and it can all change.”
Excited to be going head to head with the series leader, Hummer portrayed a mature outlook for one of the youngest drivers in the series.
“I'm excited to be fighting for wins against Alice Hughes, last season we had the occasional battle, and I am glad to be fighting her more in this VTCC season after changing cars and setups. She is a great driver, handles immense pressure like it's nothing, and has the pace to back up her skills. Looking forward to Oulton and seeing who comes out on top next week!”
Join us next week as we head to Oulton Park for round four of our exciting touring car series. Keep up to date with official streams and replays through the VRCC Facebook and Discord.
About the VRCC:
The VRCC is a community of drivers organising leagues across multiple sim racing platforms including Project Cars 2, Assetto Corsa, and Assetto Corsa Competizione. Races are run throughout the week and are often accompanied by live commentary and broadcasts on various platforms. The community is best known for its Virtual Touring Car Cup, but have also provided race series with Ginettas, MX-5s and Vintage F1 to name a few, alongside occasional stand-alone events. Follow their page on Facebook to find out more, or join in the conversation on Discord.