The second round of the 2020 Superleague championship in GPVWC was won by Fabio Sixta, who overtook reigning champion Jannick Bock under controversial circumstances.
The Bahrain event was Sixta’s first race of the 2020 season as he missed the first one due to other commitments. Despite having less experience with the 2020 Formula 1-esque virtual cars than the other drivers he had class leading pace from the outset.
The Australian Grand Prix winner, Adam Maguire, took pole position with Sixta the second fastest and only 14 thousandths off the top.
However Maguire faced a 10-place grid penalty for track extensions in the qualifying session for the previous race, meaning he started the race in 11th and had to use tyres he set his best qualifying lap time with.
Laurent Keersmaekers, a veteran of the series who returned last season 12 years after finishing runner-up in the 2007 drivers’ championship, started second behind Sixta ahead of his Holland Racing Team team-mate Stephane Rouault.
They and Evolution Motorsports driver Bock ran side by side into the first corner, before Keersmaekers took advantage of Sixta’s slow run into the second braking zone to take the race lead.
That lasted until the start of the seventh lap when Sixta used DRS to get the race lead back again under braking for the first corner.
This started Keersmaekers’ decline down the order as Bock overtook him one lap later in the same manner and later contact with Daniel Brewer dropped Keersmaekers to seventh.
The recovering Maguire used Keersmaekers’ off track excursion to continue a charge that soon took him to fifth.
Maguire was the first of the frontrunners to pit and take off the soft tyres and fit on the hards.
Sixta still kept what was the effective race lead through the pitstop but that didn’t last for long as Bock had the superior pace on the hard compound tyres and overtook him on track.
In the final few laps two clear battles began to really heat up.
The first of those was the gaggle of drivers from fourth to sixth – Maguire, Rouault and Brewer regularly running within a second of one another.
No overtakes came from it despite the hard racing between the three drivers.
But that hard racing nearly turned into a hard crash as Brewer in sixth suffered a front right brake failure on the final lap that became apparent down the DRS straight leading to Turn 4.
Luckily for Rouault in fifth place, Brewer was able to steer his car off the track and avoid smashing into the back of Rouault and taking both drivers out of the race.
The fight for first didn’t end so cleanly as with three laps to go Sixta had the run on Bock thanks to DRS and held on around the outside of Turn 4 to be running side by side with the race leader.
In the following S section though the two made wheel to wheel contact. Sixta was able to carry on but Bock half spun and rejoined the circuit just in front of third placed Fabrizio Gobbi.
Sixta continued to win and give his Streetfighter Racing Systems team its first ever podium finish of any kind.
Despite losing the race lead due to a collision with Sixta, runner-up Bock still offered praise for the now four time race winner.
“Congrats to Fabio, I think he deserved it today,” Bock said.
“I’m really disappointed today because we wanted to win and we thought we had the best race set-up, but in the end I think I just worked the tyres too much and Fabio could save enough front tyres and passed me in the end.
“Hopefully we can be better next time.”
The next race in this rFactor 2 based championship is a deviation from the current Formula 1 calendar as Superleague visits Istanbul Park for the third round of the season in two weeks’ time.