Touring Pro Series Weekly takes a closer look at the TPS action from across the site with driver interviews, race reports, admin announcements, and even trivia. This week, World Touring Masters steals the headline with a round 6 for the ages. Read how a four-way battle for the lead ends up, and can Toby Davis keep his championship lead from Jesper Taulborg?
WTM: Fight for the Lead!
No one envisions high-noon at 8 o’clock on a Wednesday night. But in World Touring Masters this past week, the atmosphere was buzzing with an impending western-style showdown between Jesper Taulborg and Toby Davis. The gap between the pair was only 9 points for the championship lead. And through qualifying, the question was which of the two would draw first and claim pole position.
Despite his car’s lumbering nature, Taulborg took pole by less than a tenth of a second over Davis, with Chris Butcher capturing 3rd, William Leveqsue on 4th, and Florian Strauss taking 5th.
With the Dane on pole, Toby’s already marginal lead in the title fight had already decreased, so the pressure was on for him to get passed Taulborg in the opening stages of the race. As the lights went green, Toby did exactly that, storming passed Jesper in what could only be described as a lethargic start by the Dane.
Fan favorite Chris Butcher, or “Butchie”, fell in behind Davis, and even Vladislav Burlaka came through to pass the ailing Taulborg.
The first laps of the race then became a pressure-cooker, as the top four drivers fought to hold their positions against attackers, whilst still trying to perform an overtake on the car in front. Chris Butcher tried desperately to squeeze by Davis, as it became obvious Chris was the fastest man on track early on. Meanwhile, Burlaka had an amazing start and was catching up to Butcher with each failed attempt to pass Davis. Stalking behind the Ukrainian was Taulborg, inching ever classer to Burlaka.
The fight for the lead became so intense that fans questioned whether or not all four drivers would make it to the end.
At last Taulborg had made an overtake, snatching up 3rd position from Burlaka, who seemed content with backing off and waiting for an opportunity to arise later.
Knowing Taulborg was through, Butcher picked up his efforts on his friend Davis, but Toby wouldn’t give way. The duo made for some unbelievable side-by-side moments, which gave the spectators a good bit of cheer.
Unfortunately, Taulborg had caught Butcher, and the two had a run-in that sent Butcher into the wall, where he incurred some damage to the front of his car. Jesper allowed Chris to retake his position and Butcher was able to continue on.
Toby Davis then had the gap he needed to seal the deal. In the end, Taulborg got around Butcher to take 2nd, and Butchie rounded out the podium to take 3rd.
The gap now stands at 17 points for Toby Davis. The championship still has two rounds remaining, leaving the fight for the WTM season 3 crown anything but over. Heading into Potrero for round 7 though, Taulborg will be at severe disadvantage in his Holden Commodore, as it will be a wet race, marking the first such occasion in WTM history.
For coverage of round 7 at Potrero De Los Funes, make sure to tune in at 20:00GMT on Wednesday the 8th for the live broadcast.
Following a RaceDepartment club event a week ago, where ATCC championship hopeful Alexander Lauritzen took part, the Dane has had his license suspended by TPS officials. Apparently the young Lauritzen had some on-track misbehavior in the club event, which resulted in RaceDepartment staff taking exception to his driving. RD subsequently levied a one-month suspension on Alexander Lauritzen’s license, effective across all RD leagues, club events, and supported leagues. The decision to suspend Lauritzen will all but end the Dane’s chances of winning his first ATCC title.
ATCC Commissioner Keith Barrick met with Lauritzen to inform him of the decision, a meeting later described as “…very heartfelt and emotional,” where the young Lauritzen begged the Commissioner to appeal RD’s decision. “He was very sad [Lauritzen],” Keith tells us. But Barrick was unwilling to overturn any RD decision, saying, “It’s a sign of good faith that we bite the bullet on this one. RD has been good to us and we try to fall in line where we can.”
The move comes as a shock to a lot of the ATCC drivers. And now the server 1 field losses yet another of its top competitors. This only sets the slate for another Taulborg/Villar/Barrick scrum for the title. We caught up with Bon Accord Ultimate team owner and ATCC big-shot Willie Watt to get his thoughts. “It’s always disappointing to lose a top 3 driver… But with Alexander’s suspension, it opens up the front of the field a little and I expect that BAU’s [Bon Accord Ultimate] server 1 drivers will be able to take advantage of that.” Willie goes on to add, when talking about Alexander’s BMW, “I would have expected the BAU drivers to reel in the BMW’s at the next couple of venues anyway, but the loss of one from the front of the championship is a very welcomed boost for BAU.”
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