"2017 World GT Series" table of contents
The 2017 season will be the fifth running of the GPVWC World GT Series. Risto Kappet enters as the reigning Champion. Streetfighter Racing Systems elected not to defend their Teams’ Championship.
STAX Racing entered the series with Nico Barclay and Thomas Hinss as its drivers. Originally, they were the only team that opted to run in a Bentley Continental GT3. After the start of the season was delayed, two other teams (Epic Racing and TR Motorsports) switched to the Bentley aswell. After the first round, the mod used in the series was updated and two more cars were added: The BMW M6 GT3 and the Porsche 991 GT3-R. For that reason, the league allowed switching the cars before the second race. We decided to switch from the Bentley Continental GT3 to the Porsche.
For the season opener in Fuji, Nico qualified in 4th position behind Risto Kappet, Argo Teder and Chris Shepherd. While the two Estonian Eval drivers were able to build a sizable gap during the first few laps, an exciting race-long battle began between the two Bentleys driven by Nico and Chris. In the end, Nico finished 3rd.
Unfortunately, Thomas’ race wasn’t as succesfull. After joining the server in the last seconds of qualifying, he was forced to start from the back of the grid. During the opening laps of the race, he was able to gain various places, but not without suffering some damage to the car or being spun round by competitors in the process. After one contact too many, he retired the car.
The second race of the season was held at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos. Nico had a Back of the Grid penalty from the first race and thus started from last position. His teammate Thomas Hinss qualified in sixth position. Both drivers had a good start to the race: Nico was in P9 after the Senna-S and gained two more places by lap 3. Thomas also gained a position in the first lap. After David Jundt and Chris Shepherd crashed due to lag, the STAX Racing drivers were in third and fourth position, closing the gap on Philip Morby ahead of them. However, the race went downhill from there. Nico had major tyrewear issues and had to pit early on lap 15. He rejoined the race in sixth position. Two laps later, Thomas suffered a disconnect while running in third position. He would eventually rejoin the server but was now in tenth position. After Philip Morby and David Jundt made their pitstops, Nico was in third position, however he still suffered from a high tyre wear rate and found it difficult to keep the Porsche on track. He later told the team that it was like driving on ice for most of the race. Morby was able to overtake him on lap 37 and Nico lost another position to Osvaldo Angelone after spinning on lap 37. In the end, he finished the race in fifth position. Thomas was able to gain another spot after David Jundt retired and was three laps down when he finished in ninth place.
The third race of season was held in Imola. In qualifying, there was a lot of rain, which made it difficult to string together a competitve lap. Scuderia Basilea’s Erhan Jajovski set a mega lap, grabbing pole position by over 3 seconds. Because they joined qualifying very late and the bad weather, the STAX Racing drivers were not able to set a lap and thus started from the back of the grid (Nico Barclay) and from pitlane (Thomas Hinss). However, Nico was able to gain a lot of places and found himself in P6 after the first lap. He gained two more places when Osvaldo Angelone spun on Lap 4 and after overtaking David Jundt on Lap 5. Slowly, there was a dry racing line developing. After frontrunner Risto Kappet and his teammate Argo Teder decided to pit for dry tyres, Nico was in second position. After pitting, he rejoined the race in 7th position and started to close the gap to Bret Metcalf infront of him. However, when he tried to overtake the TTF driver on lap 9, Nico lost control of the car and suffered a bent suspension after crashing into the wall. He had to pit for repairs twice. A place on the podium was highly unlikely now, but that didn’t stop Nico from chasing down the cars infront of him. On Lap 15 he was able to pass his teammate Thomas Hinss, and he gained another two spots from other drivers’ mistakes or pit stops. In the end, Nico Barclay finished in sixth place and set the third fastest lap behind the two Eval drivers.
Thomas Hinss started in 15th position from the pitlane and immediately began chasing down the field. By Lap 5, he was in 9th position already, but then he got passed by Chris Shepherd who also started from the pitlane and followed the Aussie driver closely from the start. After both Scuderia Basilea cars spun on Lap 11, Thomas was in 7th place already. Shortly afterwards, he decided to pit and rejoined the race in P8. On Lap 15, Thomas let Nico pass, but was then able to follow the his Peruvian teammate closely for most of the race. Ultimately, Thomas finished the race in seventh place.
For the next round at the Circuit Paul Ricard, Nico Barclay qualified in third position behind Risto Kappet and Chris Shepherd. Uncharacteristically, he lost two spots at the start. On the third lap, Nico managed to overtake Lance Garrasino and, three laps later, he also passed Morby. On Lap 13, Chris Shepherd, who attempted to do the full race without a pitstop, made a driving error which enabled Nico to get close to the Englishman and pass him on the long Mistral Straight. When Nico pitted on lap 17, Risto Kappet was already leading by 13 seconds. After his pitstop, Nico rejoined the race in sixth position. After Thomas Hinss pitted, Nico was able to pass Mark Fuller and Rauno Muru into third place on lap 20. At that moment, race leader Chris Shepherd had a gap of 25 seconds to Nico. However, Barclay was lapping much quicker than the Epic Racing driver, thanks to newer tyres. Kappet was able to regain the race lead when he passed Shepherd, who struggled with worn tyres, in the second to last lap. The last lap provided even more drama: Shepherd spun in Turn 1 and rejoined the track right infront of Nico. The two battled nose to tail on the Mistral Straight, and in the end Chris was able to finish the race 0.391 seconds infront of the STAX Racing driver.
Thomas Hinss qualified in seventh position and stayed there for the opening laps. He gained two places when Morby spun on the tenth lap and Garassino retired the following lap. After Argo Teder pitted on Lap 15, the Aussie was in P4. He gained another spot when his teammate Nico entered the pits on Lap 17. The next lap, he came into the pits for fresh tyres himself and rejoined the race in seventh position behind Teder. On Lap 25, he passed TTF’s Rauno Muru and gained another spot when Teder blew up his engine while downshifting. He then chased down and overtook Mark Fuller to finish in P4.
In a field of just 13 starters, Nico qualified for the German GT Cup at the Nürburgring in second position behind Risto Kappet. Nico had a good start, was able to outbreak the Estonian driver going into Turn 1 and made the move stick in Turn 3. For the next few laps, the two drivers ran very close to each other while building a gap to third-placed Philip Morby. After three laps, the pair was six seconds in front of the Draig Racing driver already. On lap five, Nico had a sideways moment while braking for Turn 1. He went wide and Risto was able to pass the Peruvian for the lead. Nico tried to stay close to the EVAL Simracing driver, but little by little the Championship leader was able to pull away from him. By the start of Lap 15, the gap was about seven seconds. Nico pitted at the end of that lap and rejoined the race in P6. On the next lap, he made slight contact with Rauno Muru when the TTF driver swerved into Nico’s line whilst entering the pits. Epic Racing’s Chris Shepherd decided not to pit during the race. However, unlike the previous race, Nico was able to pass the Englishman and was back in P2 when Osvaldo Angelone pitted on Lap 17. He finished the race 17 seconds behind Risto Kappet.
Thomas Hinss started from fifth position. On Lap 5, Philip Morby spun in Turn 1. At the same moment, Thomas made the slightest of contacts with Angelone under braking. The STAX Racing driver later reported that he didn’t feel any impact and thus thought the resulting half-spin of Angelone was an unforced error. After his pitstop, he rejoined the race in sixth position but gained back two places when Fuller and Angelone pitted in the following laps. While he was able to catch Chris Shepherd by about 1 to 1.5 seconds per lap, the Epic Racing driver had a gap of roughly 26 seconds. Meanwhile, Thomas had to defend his position from Osvaldo Angelone. On lap 22, the Cosmo Autosport driver was able to overtake Thomas. However, in the second to last lap, Angelone missed the apex of Turn 1 and Thomas was right behind the McLaren driver again. Both drivers were running nose to tail through the following corners. The fight for the last step on the podium came to an end when Thomas tried to overtake Angelone on the outside of Turn 6. He touched the grass which resulted in a spin. Fortunately, Thomas had enough of a gap to Rauno Muru to finish the race in P5.
For the sixth round of the season at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Nico qualified third behind Risto Kappet and Chris Shepherd in a field of just seven starters. He was the only STAX Racing driver for this race as Thomas Hinss wasn’t available for this round. At the start, Nico attacked Chris going into La Source but was unable to overtake the Epic Racing driver. However, he was able to use Chris’ slipstream on the Kemmel Straight and overtook him on the outside going into Les Combes. In the following laps, he was able to defend second place from Shepherd while following Risto Kappet. However, the Peruvian was not happy with the balance of his Porsche 991 GT3-R. He later told the team that the car was very understeery and he had to pit on lap 11 since he could make the tyres last for only about 20 minutes. He rejoined the race in fifth position, behind Geoffrey Fournier and Rauno Muru and infront of Mark Fuller. Muru pitted the next lap and Nico set out to close the gap to Geoffrey. In the following laps he was up to 2.5 seconds faster than Geoffrey and on lap 17, after the Frenchman made a small mistake and went wide in Pouhon, he overtook the Epic Racing driver. Eight laps later he finished the race in third position behind Risto Kappet and Chris Shepherd.
On June 17th, the GPVWC announced that the rest of the 2017 World GT Series got canceled because the number of participants were declining for some races now. This decicion meant that STAX Racing finished second in the Constructor’s Championship, behind EVAL Simracing and ahead of Epic Racing. In the Drivers’ Championship, Nico Barclay came third behind Risto Kappet and Chris Shepherd while Thomas Hinss finished the season in eight place.