And so the final event of this seasons’ WTM has come to a close, and what an event it was. We saw Toulborg shatter the TPS lap record for WTM during the qualifying, we saw Toby Davis put up a great fight for the championship and we saw both old and new drivers show their worth in great fashion. We also get to hear what Toby Davis, Jesper Toulborg and Erik Tveit answered to a couple of questions about the, by then, upcoming event.
- Last time WTM visited Bathurst/Mount Panorama, you were running in a tight battle with Péter Bártfai and Jay Adgie, were you in the end crashed out at The Cutting. Do you think you will end up with a better way of finishing this season?
Yes, I think I will end up much better. Last season was a season where I nearly did everything wrong. And so far this season, I”ve completed 95% of all laps, and I only have one DNF, and that was on Sebring. So, yes, looking to challenge William Levesque for 6th position in the champion(ship). May be a hard task to do, but I will do what I can to make it happen.
- You have had your best season ever in WTM, are you happy with the results you’ve gotten?Yes, I”m really happy with the results so far, of course I could done better at Sebring. But, overall this season is the best so far.
- This is your second season in WTM, how do you rate the competitiveness this season compared to the last?
My competitiveness this season is much better, last season I was happy if I qualed top 30, and happy if I finished the race. This season I”ve been looking for a top 10 overall in the championship, and it seems like I”ve done that.
- Looking at the cars this season (with the changes to the MOD), how hard has it been to drive the Rover this season? Have you felt that it has been competitive and relatively easy to drive or has it been a “monster”?
The Rover is always hard to drive. It”s a qualy drive car if you ask me. Because in the races the car is so unstable when the tire wear comes into play. And then the car gets unstable under braking, and since, this is the only car that we can”t change the brake bias on the track. Portrero (De) Los Funes was a nightmare, also Spa was hard when I decided to go for a no-stopper.
- This will be a 250km race, is this something that is worrying you, since it will be so long?
No, not this season, I”m prepared for it. And Mount Panorama is a track I love, and the Rover feels so great over here. Maybe not in Skyline tho, but no, I don”t think the length will cause me to crash. I will be pushing and making great action like I always do all the 250kms to the finish line.
- Bathurst/Mount Panorama has, in the past, been a track where you have had, let’s call it bad luck. Have you done anything special coming into this Finale, were you can secure your maiden TPS League win?
For the first time this season, I”ve done 90% of my practice offline. I”ve put a good laptime up to worry other people, but I”ve been secretive and done the rest of it offline so as not to show my hand. I”ve also learnt how to take the esses without losing the back end under braking. It”s called going through there not at 110%!
- As this is the Finale, looking back at the season, how would you rate your own performance?This has been my best performance ever in a league. I mean, sure, I”ve taken race wins, poles, fastest laps before, but never have I had the consistency that I”ve had this season. I”ve nearly always had the pace to challenge for the front row and the 4 race wins I”ve taken are reflective of my qualifying performances.
- You have been in every season of WTM (World Touring Masters) so far, how competitive would you say it has been this season comparing it to the past two?Last season we saw a 3-horse race for the title, with Ben Crooks and Duivelaar fighting with myself. This season there”s just the two of us, but that”s mainly because Degreef and Crooks have dropped out. I would say this season is just as competitive, as there have been 5 different race winners.
- What will your tactic for this event be? Will be fighting for every position or will you just try and drive it home safe, keeping a check on what Jesper (Toulborg) are doing?
My tactic is to stick it on pole in qualifying, get a good start, and try and gap the field. I”ll be asking THR team-mate Chris Butcher to help out, and if he can hold onto 3rd and hold the rest of the pack up, I can just sit behind Jesper and finish 2nd. Of course, it probably won”t work out like that! But we”ll see. If I get pole, I only need a 2nd place to take the title, so.
- This will be a 250km race, is this something that is worrying you, since it will be so long?The length of the race is a different challenge but I seem to have got my head around consistency and concentration this year. Even when I made the mistakes at Norisring it was not race-ending and was because of the close proximity of other cars, and of course, I”ve been in other endurance series (RDLMS springs to mind) so it”s not a big deal for me.
- Bathurst/ Mount Panorama was the last event of last year’s season as well, back then you managed to win the race by taking the lead with one lap to go. Looking at that result you must like the track and how do you rate your chances, compared to last season, to take your second consecutive win at Bathurst in WTM?I do like the track, my chances are pretty good I will say. The Holden is really good here, with the 2 long straights of course. It”s sector 2 I’m a little worried about, but I should be okay.
- You are currently second in the championship, how do you rate your chances of making your way to the top of the table after the Finale has finished?I need to win, get either pole or fastest lap and then have 2 cars between me and Toby. And with Toby being on podium at every race except one, the chances are very small.
- You have, with bad luck, been in a few incidents where you’ve lost positions and/or time, where Norrisring is a good example, is this something you are worried will happen in the season Finale as well?Nah, I’m not worried about that.
- You have been in many series this past year, how do you rate the competitiveness of this series and season compared to other ones?The competitiveness is a little lower compared to other series, but this series is very different to the other series due to the difference in car performance. With this season pretty much been a power season, except Lusitana and Potrero, only 5-6 guys have been capable of race wins. But it hasn’t been easy-to-win races’, that’s for sure.
- This will be a 250km race, is this something that is worrying you, since it will be so long?No, I just make a extra pit stop (said this with a blink of an eye)
During Pre-Practice Toulborg was fastest with a couple of tenths ahead of T.Davis with Levesque 3rd quickest. Top speed was held by Toulborg as well in his powerful Holden, at a speed of 280 KPH.
During practice it was mostly the usual going on. Toulborg and Davis were taking up the front of the field with the usual suspects lurking behind them, such as Butcher, Burlaka and Levesque.
But at the end of the practice however, everyone was chocked as Toulborg put down a time of 2.14.8, a time no one had been close to before this, showing his true speed and intent for the race.
This is where it all was sent into a crazy run as Toulborg took pole position to begin with, with a mid 2.15.
Meantime both Butcher and Davis experienced problems with keeping their casino online cars whole during their outlaps, partly due to the immense amount of competitors on track and partly due to their over aggressiveness on the cold tires.
Coming ever so closer to the end of qualifying, Strauss showed what the 635 is worth by putting down a mid 15, taking second place.
Davis got a time in with about one minute to go and took 3rd place, less than a tenth from Strauss.
The Pole was Toulborgs’ as he beat his fastest lap time by another tenth with a 14.7. This Pole meant that Toulborg now is the person with the most poles in TPS history.
Now, where should I start…? There was so much going on, it will be hard to keep it to the lines available.
Davis got his customary good start but the closed up grid made it impossible to go by to take first place. Meantime Toulborg and Strauss fought for first place into and through the first corner with Strauss going round the outside of Toulborg to take first place but on Mountain Straight following Hell corner, Toulborg but the hammer down and flew by Strauss who had to defend heavily from Butcher, who had passed Davis out of Hell Corner, and Davis into Griffins Bend.
The battling was fierce going over the mountain throughout the field. The most noticeable was Strauss, Butcher and Davis who were bumper to bumper during the opening laps.
Going out of Forest Elbow, Butcher got a run on Strauss and challenged him into The Chase but the German took the inside for the lefthander and kept his position with Butcher running a little wide and Davis took the chance and passed him into Morris Corner.
Out of Hell Corner Davis finally got past and Strauss hooked himself to his rear bumper and created a gap between the duo and Butcher. Meanwhile Tveit, Levesque, Jundt, Burlaka and Simons were fighting for fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth positions in a fierce manner showing both speed, will and respect towards each other.
Strauss continued to pressure Davis and he made small mistakes but there were no major ones. Out of Forest Elbow on lap 8, Strauss got a perfect run on Davis and just as he ducked out from the slipstream over the crest on Conrod Straight, he lost the car and he hit the walls hard, fortunately not taking neither Davis nor Butcher with him. He rejoined and was now right in front of Ivo Simons.
Going forward to lap 15, the biggest upset of the race occurred. Davis, now in first place after Toulborg taking his first pit stop, went into the Esses a little too quick and clipped the tire barrier on the outside. This caused a puncture and severe damage to the front of Davis’s Sierra. He had to pit and came back out in 12th place, and losing a lot of time on the cars in front of him and the ones closest behind him.
Coming into The Chase later in the race, Tveit was behind Simons and missed his braking point ever so slightly, locking up his rears and speared off into the infield. Simons who noticed this braked earlier for the left hander at The Chase and with the tiniest of margins this season, he managed to not get hit straight into the side although Tveits’ car touched Simons front bumper a little. Tveit lost a position to Lennon, his Rover compatriot, while he struggled to rejoin the track.
Coming up to the closing stages of the race, Butcher comes in for his second stop from second place. Levesque is far behind but a mishap ruins Butchers stop as he overshoots his stall and has to reverse and hits the wall in the process taking damage which is repaired during the stop, making it a 46 second long one, letting Levesque and also Simons go past which meant Butcher down to 4th.
Davis, who after the off at the Esses and now only able to hope for trouble for Toulborg, were driving the wheels off his damaged Sierra but coming up to the finishing line, he had lost a lot of positions to finish 21st while Toulborg crossed the finishing line in first place and therefore taking the WTM crown of Season 3. He went straight into the Real Life winners circle and started doing donuts in delight while the battles around the track were still raging on. Finishing in second were William Levesque, with a one-stop strategy with his toy for a car, the small and light, but in his hands, immensely fast Alfa Romeo 75. 3rd was Butcher in his Ford Sierra after his pit stop problem and slightly untidy race.
Only one word could ever compile and explain the whole race and that word is: Unbelievable!
Congratulations to Jesper Toulborg for his win and championship title, William Levesque for his second place and Chris Butcher for his third place.
Also a BIG thank you to all the drivers for putting up such great racing as the one we were able to watch during the final round of World Touring Masters Season 3.