Three rounds remain in the V10 R-League's first season and it's still all to play for!
Vallelunga produced incredible racing last week and this week's circuit is something special as well. The V10 monsters raced outside of Europe for the first time, as they tackled the challenging Laguna Seca.
Some minor changes were made to the events due to the difference in the distance of the lap. The head-to-head was three laps, the relay race was increased to ten laps, with the team race was run over 14 tours.
Here are all the highlights from the USA!
BMW v Fordzilla
After a slow start, BMW have been making serious ground up on the leaders and sat just four points behind Porsche before this round.
Meanwhile, Fordzilla have been hugely struggling all season, with just a single point to their name. They have shown glimpses of pace though, so who would come out on top here?
BMW: Cem Bolukbasi, Kevin Siggy, Laurin Heinrich
Fordzilla: Pablo Lopez, Soren Jager, Ruben Rodriguez
Laurin Heinrich and Pablo Lopez got us underway in Laguna Seca with the first head-to-head. Heinrich took the lead into Turn 1 and Lopez spun to lose ten seconds as BMW led 1-0.
Kevin Siggy got off to a perfect start but Ruben Rodriguez was on his gearbox throughout the three laps. Rodriguez spun at the corkscrew on the final lap though, to give BMW a 2-0 lead and the first championship point.
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The relay race was up next and BMW got off to the perfect start, but a potential corner cut by Siggy threatened to involve the stewards. Siggy ran long as Rodriguez came in to change for Lopez.
The pair of cars emerged with the Beemer in the lead by less than a second, this final stint was going to be incredibly close! Soren Jager was making his series debut and had a chance to win his team a point, but he had to overtake.
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Laurin Heinrich though, was as cool as a cucumber, as BMW led 2-0. Lastly there was the team race and Cem Bolukbasi led ahead of Lopez. BMW were leading in the points and were looking for a clean sweep.
Heinrich was going for P3 but it's so hard to pass at Laguna Seca. Rodriguez would hand the position to the German though, running wide, spinning and dropping to P5.
Only Lopez was preventing this from being a BMW 1-2-3 and the Spaniard was so close to taking the lead and tying the contest on points. A wide moment for Lopez though allowed Siggy and Heinrich through.
The perfect day for BMW and another nightmare result for Fordzilla. BMW are now tied on nine points with Williams in second place.
Red Bull v Williams
The highest-profile clash this week is between second-placed Williams and third-placed Red Bull. Both were looking for a big points haul in a bid to catch leaders Porsche.
Williams: Martin Stefanko, Nikodem Wisniewski, Michael Romanidis
Red Bull: Joni Tormala, Nils Naujoks, Graham Carroll
Nils Naujoks was making his debut in the V10 R-League but was on the tail of Nikodem Wisniewski throughout this first head-to-head. It was the Pole who came out on top though, to give Williams a 1-0 lead.
Michael Romanidis almost took the lead from Joni Tormala in the first corner but the Finn held firm as Romanidis had a wide moment a lost ground. Tormala would win and tie the contest 1-1.
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It was all down to Martin Stefanko and Graham Carroll and there was drama immediately! Carroll spun Stefanko but the Brit waited for the Williams man to recover so the battle could resume.
Carroll was fast but he couldn't catch Stefanko, Williams took what could be a vital point to lead the series 1-0.
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Stefanko was lightning off the line, Tormala was left in the Czech's dust. However, a mistake at the corkscrew allowed Tormala onto the back of the Williams driver.
Stefanko ran long but would Red Bull be able to undercut? Not quite, but Stefanko dramatically failed to stop his car for the driver change, meaning that Williams got a three-second time penalty.
Williams were leading but all Red Bull had to do was stay within three seconds to tie the contest. Wisniekski won the race but Naujoks had brilliant pace to win after the penalty was applied. 1-1!
It was all down to the team race and it was a Williams 1-2 into Turn 1, but Romanidis and Wisnieski came to blows and handed the advantage to Red Bull.
Naujoks led from Carroll but Tormala was given a penalty for the first lap incident, the Finn to blame for the contact into the hairpin. It didn't affect the result though, as Red Bull completed a brilliant comeback to win 2-1.
Racing Point v JAESA Suzuki
With some of the leaders facing each other this week, this was a golden opportunity for both Racing Point and Suzuki to break out of the midfield and join the leading battle.
Racing Point: Lucas Blakeley, Shanaka Clay, Michael Epps
Suzuki: Cesare Penco, Alex Turato, Kamil Pawlowski
Lucas Blakely got off to the ideal start against debutant Kamil Pawlowski. However, Blakely would go wide on the first lap and hand the lead to Pawlowski. The Suzuki man would hold his lead to the finish to see JAESA lead 1-0.
Shanaka Clay was immediately under pressure from Cesare Penco but Clay held firm. Clay extended his lead through the race and tied the contest 1-1.
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Michael Epps was making his series debut but wasn't showing any inexperience. Alex Turato was leading but there was less than second in it through the whole three laps.
Turato held firm as Epps took too much kerb and spun on the final lap. Suzuki lead 1-0 going into the relay race!
Lucas Blakely led the relay race but Turato was hot on his heels. Blakely ran long as Turato came in to change drivers early. Racing Point were leading by just over a second but it was all down to the final stint.
Epps and Pawlowski had three laps to duel it out but there was drama Suzuki were handed a three-second time penalty for Turato speeding in the pit-lane. Racing Point won the relay race and tied the contest 1-1.
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It was all down to the team race and there was drama from the start! Clay spun Turato and the pair collected Penco in the process. Pawlowski was leading the race, as Epps allowed Blakely through to challenge.
Pawlowski though, finally showed his inexperience, spinning at the corkscrew and allowing Racing Point into a 1-2. To compound Suzuki's misery, Penco would spin wide and into the barriers, dropping to last.
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Clay was given a time penalty for his first lap infringement, but it was still a 1-2 for RP. A great win for Blakely and Racing Point, as they won the contest 2-1.
Porsche v Yas Heat
After being clean-swept by Red Bull, things didn't get any easier for Yas Heat, as they took on leader Porsche. Porsche24 Redline were looking to extend their lead at the top after some of their rivals dropped points.
Porsche: Jeffrey Reitveld, Michal Smidl, Atze Kerkhof
Heat: Andrea Capoccia, Eamon Murphy, Jaroslav Honzik
Andrea Capoccia began the first head-to-head on pole with Jeffrey Reitveld in second. Reitveld tried to hang it around the outside but despite contact, Capoccia held firm.
Reitveld was trying everything, but couldn't get past, a wide moment at the corkscrew on the final lap saw Heat lead 1-0.
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Atze Kerkhof tried to go through into P1 but the wide line just hasn't worked in Turn 1. However, Kerkhof powered around the outside of Jarolsav Mozik the following lap, meaning it was now 1-1.
Michael Smidl started on pole and it was down to Eamon Murphy to get a point for Heat. Porsche were imperious though, a big six second win for Smidl earned them the first championship point.
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The relay race was up next and Capoccia was wasting no time in going for the lead. Smidl fended him off though, but could the stewards have something to say?
Smidl's pace was incredible, so it was no surprise that Capoccia bailed into the pits at the first opportunity. Smidl's record-breaking laps were so good that Reitveld and Krekhof had it relatively easy to see Porsche lead 2-0.
Could Heat salvage a point though? The Team race would answer that question!
Reitveld led but Capoccia and Murphy were on the Dutchman's coattails. Porsche had a points advantage and it only got better, as Smidl cut back at the hairpin to brilliantly overtake Murphy for P3.
Porsche made it their third perfect score from five rounds, an incredible record. Yas Heat will be looking to put these last two rounds firmly behind them.
Here are the updated standings after the Laguna Seca ties:
|3||BMW Motorsport Sim Racing Team||9|
|5||BWT Racing Point Esports Team||7|
Porsche maintained P1 but Williams, BMW and Red Bull are all in striking distance!
The Next Round
The V10 R-League returns to Europe next week to take on the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Round 6 will be held in Belgium on 12th October at 7 pm BST.
The entire Season 1 of V10 R-League will be shown on BT Sport in the UK.
Those in the US can watch on ESPN3, while in the Middle East it will be available on STARZPLAY Arabia.