Ginetta factory driver and SCWW team member Charlie Robertson won Race Two of the two-race International Lockdown World Challenge series, the virtual GT championship which saw members of two leading on-line sportscar racing communities – Sportscar Worldwide, based in Europe, and Australia’s Shakedown Endurance and GT Racing – going head-to-head at Mount Panorama, Bathurst and the Brands Hatch GP circuit in the UK.
Robertson’s victory, however, combined with teammate Mike Simpson’s second place was not enough to stop Shake down winning the inaugural virtual GT racing ‘Ashes’ by 1,300 points to SCWW’s 1,107.
After the previous week’s race, the Shakedown team took a commanding 197-point lead into Race two, after Australian Dean Allen in his #05 Mercedes-AMG GT3 took the chequered flag over 23 seconds ahead of SCWW’s Charlie Robertson in his Ginetta.
Twelve cars made it onto the grid for practice but, sadly, the winner of Race One, Dean Allen (Brocky05) was not one of the competitors.
The two Ginetta drivers were quickest in practice, Robertson lapping the iconic 2.433-mile (3.02 kms) circuit in 1:21.515, nearly a second quicker than Mike Simpson. Shakedown’s Stewart Westwood was quickest of the Australians with a 1:22.817 set at the wheel of his Porsche 911 RSR.
Robertson continued his domination by taking pole position with a 1:21.963, again ahead of Mike Simpson with Shakedown’s Stewart Westwood completing the top three.
As the race got underway, Robertson led the field away from pole position with the Australian entries of Travis Norman and Justin Van Maanenbergup to second and third respectively after two laps. Calden Batt held on to fourth place for the SCWW team.
By Lap 6 Robertson had extended his lead to over 7.5 seconds ahead of Travis Norman in the #25 car. Van Maanenberg, in third place, was ahead of Mike Simpson by over two seconds.
Robertson continued to pull ahead and, with less than 15 minutes remaining, was nearly 15 seconds of Travis Norman in the Porsche 911 RSR. Mike Simpson, meanwhile, had passed Van Maanenberg for third and was setting about catching Norman in second.
After 15 laps, Simpson, the Commercial Manager for Ginetta was back into second position, ahead of Shakedown’s Ethan Cale.
As the 30-minute race entered its closing minutes, Robertson held on to a commanding lead with fellow Ginetta pilot Simpson continuing to push hard but over 12 seconds back.
At the chequered flag it was a 1-2 for the Sportscar Worldwide team with Shakedown Racing’s Ethan Cale and Travis Norman in third and fourth.
Points were evenly divided for the second leg with Sportscar Worldwide having the small four-point advantage. It was not enough, however, to overturn the Australian’s 197-point lead after the Bathurst round and honours in the first virtual GT racing ‘Ashes’ series went to Shakedown.
Sportscar Worldwide Co-Founder Ian Chicken was delighted at how the series had brought the two communities closer at a difficult time.
“Many thanks to Michael Wignall and Sean Randall for getting everything together quickly, considering how difficult it was for timings, distance and setting up, “ said Ian Chicken.
“The series provided some very enjoyable racing with controversy, speed and close competition, giving people some fun to watch during the current period. I would like to thank team members who took part in both teams. Thanks also to Brad Gordon for allowing it to take place and to David Ralli for streaming them out for us.”
Shakedown’s Michael Wignall echoed Ian Chicken’s sentiments.
“The Shakedown team only came about a couple of weeks ago and we had to run a couple of qualifying races to decide our team,” said Michael Wignall. “The lads practiced hard to get familiar with each other and Ethan Cale has done great work in designing our liveries so the cars looked fantastic.
“The races were tough with plenty of bumps and panel rubs and, whilst we took an early lead in the series, the guys at SCW clearly were well prepared for Race 2.
“Hopefully it was a bit of fun as the world is locked down!”
Sportscar Worldwide is continuing to run regular on-line racing series as the current global lockdown issues continue.