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A Long Time Coming - CDM ETCC Rounds 11 & 12 from The Nurburgring

After extending his lead with a very under-the-radar performance once again at Spa, Maciek Sakowicz came to the Nurburgring - and the second half of the season - hoping for more of the same. His championship lead was some 65 points now, with Stephen King and a revitalised Jack Johns nipping at his heels... from about 15 feet away. In all fairness, Stephen and Jack lead the Teams' Championship as Team Mood Springs with a comfortable margin over everyone else, so they could afford to focus on the individual driver's title more intensely.

One of the big pieces of news straight off the bat was Morgan Butler - after competing in the Spa 24 Hour race over the weekend, he was suffering from back pain due to an issue with his seat, so tried putting up with it in Practice, but ultimately would decide not to take part in Qualifying or either of the races. This left us with the smallest grid so far this season - 16 cars - which meant that all you needed to do to score a point, was finish.

Jack Johns proved his pace once again, qualifying fastest for the second time in succession, and the third time this season, with Mats Borge Andersen - who hasn't Qualified lower than 2nd since being in the series - right behind him. Stephen King, Mark Woodhouse and Maciek Sakowicz would complete the point scorers from the session, with Ben Benneyworth being reversed on to pole position ahead of Zack Gould and Donni Henriksen.

Round 11 - Sprint Race

Donni Henriksen got a dream getaway from third place, overtaking Benneyworth and Gould before Turn 1. Mikey Doble got a hit from Jacolette which poked him through the middle of the front pairing but everyone survived. Through the first couple of corners though, drivers seemed happy to go three wide and rub panels, but a two-wide scenario further back ended up with Craig Shill in the wall.

Ben Benneyworth grabbed the lead back for a second but clipped the grass into Turn 5 and ended up off the circuit, dropping down outside the Top 10 for the second meeting in succession. This left Doble and Blake to fight it out near the very front, being disturbed early on by Maciek Sakowicz. Just behind, another incident took place as Mark Woodhouse and Tim Cox got hooked together and smashed into the barriers.

Unfortunately though, after a great start, Henriksen got a slow down penalty coming on to Lap 2 which gave Michael Blake the lead, but less than half a lap later, championship leader Sakowicz was up to 1st place, after starting 8th - it was looking like another incredible performance. Teammates Jack Johns and Stephen King got involved with Zack Gould until they were joined by Jacolette and Andersen as contact aplenty brought them all together.

The lead battle started between Sakowicz and Doble as they started Lap 4 - neither of them wanting to give an inch and Mikey's real world experience of overtaking being called upon a million times over. All the while, Michael Blake and Jack Johns were closing in. Into the final chicane though, Maciek went in a little bit deep and as Doble went for the corner, they made contact and the championship leader was turned around.

This gave Michael Blake the lead back, with Jack Johns going up into second place. Doble was now third with Mats Borge Andersen on their tail. We now had four drivers yet to win a race this season, battling for the top spot, in yet another CDM ETCC race that was evolving quicker than anyone could comprehend.

In Henriksen's resurgence, he made a beautiful move around the outside of Jacolette into the chicane, followed through by Stephen King, but at the very front, Jack Johns would now have to put on the defence display of his life to hold off a very fired up Mikey Doble! He became a bit of a pendulum at points, attacking Blake, then falling back and having to defend from Doble.

None of that mattered to Michael Blake though - Mr. Simmortal himself, one of the series partners, took a fantastic win in Round 11. Johns and Doble were entertaining throughout, rounding out the podium ahead of Mats Borge Andersen, with Stephen King just beating Donni Henriksen across the line. Importantly for the championship, Johns and King both finished well while Sakowicz was 11th after his earlier incident.

Round 12 - Feature Race

Michael Blake bolted from the line like a man possessed at the start of the Feature Race, but very interestingly, Maciek Sakowicz opted to start from the pitlane, hoping to avoid any incidents or chaos early on - he really would need to climb up the order after his worst finish of the season in the Sprint Race. Mats Borge Andersen had a good launch and got ahead of Doble and Johns, with Henriksen trying to do the same.

The two had contact through the Michael Schumacher S and Henriksen would drop back down to 6th. Further up the road, Andersen took the lead from Blake, who would fall down to 4th place by the time they crossed the line. Tim Cox had a great first lap and gained five spots in the first tour, before having to defend from Mark Woodhouse for the second time that evening.

Carl Jacolette would overtake Donni Henriksen next as the Danish driver got a slow down penalty. Following him through would be Jon Bayliffe, Ben Benneyworth and Michael Ellett, who had made good progress up to 9th. In the rear view mirrors they'd see a very sideways Scott Malcolm, who got squeezed out wide by Tim Cox coming into the final corner - luckily enough for the Scotsman, he didn't hit anything other than the gravel trap and a few cones.

Stephen King made his move on Michael Blake for fourth place while all of that was going on, setting his sights on Doble in 3rd. Sakowicz was beginning to gain places from the bottom of the order, displacing Malcolm and Shill over the course of Lap 3. Jon Bayliffe was on a mission too, moving up to 6th place past Jacolette at the chicane. Benneyworth would then do the same into Turn 1.

Jack Johns had gotten sick of looking at the back of Mats Borge Andersen's car and started his attack, but the Norwegian driver would fight tooth and nail to hold on to it, even with Doble glued to his rear bumper as well! Stephen King and Michael Blake were brought into the mix too with all of the battling going on, but ultimately Jack Johns would gain the lead with Doble right behind and Andersen now third.

Blake decided to pit in the hopes of getting an undercut and not being held up by the battles up front, and it seemed like the perfect time to do it as Doble and Johns made contact, meaning Andersen went to 2nd and King went to 3rd - it was all starting to kick off. This would've played into Michael's hands had he not sped in the pitlane and earned himself a 40-second penalty.

Jacolette, Woodhouse, Sakowicz and Malcolm would complete their stops on Lap 5, with Johns coming in from the lead at the end of Lap 6. Benneyworth, Henriksen and Shill joined him. Jack had a much longer stop than the drivers behind him though, and came out under real threat of losing his lead once the cycle was completed.

Next time round it was Andersen, King, Bayliffe and Ellett who pitted, with Tim Cox and Mikey Doble the only ones to continue and squeeze another lap out of the car before coming in. When Andersen came back out of the pits though, not only was he behind Jack Johns, against all expectation, but he went straight on and stopped the car - technical issues forcing his retirement.

Jacolette, Woodhouse and Sakowicz had jumped Stephen King during the pit stops, ending up battling for a Top 5 finish despite being outside the Top 10 earlier on. Mikey Doble's stop was a long one so in the end, the battle for the lead and any concern for Johns' advantage, was completely put to bed - Mikey eventually came out of the pits in 9th place behind Benneyworth.

Sakowicz went from 4th to 2nd place in a couple of corners, overtaking Woodhouse and Jacolette in quick succession. After taking a wide line into Turn 2, Jacolette had left the door open and Mark tried to make his way through, but the two made contact, breaking Carl's front left suspension and taking him out of the race. A couple of corners later we saw another retirement - Ben Benneyworth was minding his own business into Turn 5 when the recovering Mikey Doble lost the back end and clattered into him, straightening Mikey up and firing Ben off on to the grass.

Jack Johns stood strong up front though and took his first win of the season - very much deserved after a strong defensive performance earlier on in the evening. Maciek Sakowicz finished second after a great recovery drive from the pit lane, and Stephen King pipped Mark Woodhouse to the line to get two Team Mood Springs cars on the podium - both of them hoping to pull off some form of damage limitation in the championship.

Mikey Doble ended up 5th after overtaking Henriksen and Bayliffe on the final lap, with Scott Malcolm, Tim Cox and Craig Shill rounding out the Top 10.

This sudden turn of fortune for Jack Johns put him second in the driver's championship, 53 points back from Maciek Sakowicz. Stephen King held on to third, only 4 points behind his teammate, while Michael Blake jumped up to 5th thanks to his Sprint Race win and retirement for Ben Benneyworth.

It's incredibly close in the Teams' standings - Team Mood Springs now over 100 points clear of Bladespeed Esports, with Abruzzi Racewear another 29 points behind, followed by 5ADay Racing. The battle from 5th to 8th was separated by a mere 11 points with Simmortal in 9th, only another 12 back.

The series moves on to one of the newest circuits on the iRacing service next - the Hockenheimring! It's going to be a very interesting meeting as a lot of the drivers, no matter how well they know the place, will have next-to-no experience there, levelling the playing field.

Don't forget, if you'd like to re-live the action from the Nurburgring, you can do so by watching the stream that was live on the night, below;


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