Band of Others started the second quarter of the season with a bit of a new attitude. After top 5 finishes for Dino’s, at CTMP, and Kyle, at Monza, the team no longer just felt like a “back of the pack” team. Although they claimed to maintain the “…just finish…” attitude that carried them through the first three rounds, B2O left Monza with a little more confidence. They also left Italy with a bit of a budding rivalry! After a few on track run-ins with Newfornia Motorsports, the two teams took to social media for a bit of jesting. As B2O Racing gained speed over the last few weeks, however, the number of on-track battles between B2O and Newfornia drivers has not been few and far between!
B2O’s building confidence showed when the teams hit North American soil for the Superprix of Road Atlanta. Three B2O drivers qualified in the top-10; Marc Gammack 4th, Kyle Breen-Bondie 8th and Ken Lindburg 9th. Dino Topic and Anthony Peeble started the race from 11th and 15th respectively. Aggressive starts saw Marc loose, and then quickly retake 4th position from Newfornia’s Anthony Mino in turn 1 where he would stay for the first half of the race. Kyle maintained his 8th position after the start, leading Dino and Ken around for the first lap. Ken was dealt a controversial stop-and-go penalty that took him out of contention early. Peeble also received a stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start. Dino and Newfornia’s Troy Eddy got together entering the turn 10 chicane, but both drivers were able to continue.
Mid-way through the race, Marc stayed out on old tires to lead a lap before pitting, but it would cost him a position after the pit stop dropping him to 5th. After his pit stop, Kyle began a long battle with Troy over 6th position. The two went back and forth a few times, but the fight was cut short by traffic and Kyle was unable to complete the pass. Dino recovered from the early contact, and a spin in the esses, to finish a solid 10th. Peeble and Ken, unfortunately, both found themselves in the garage at the end of the race, finishing 13th and 16th respectively.
Only two of the teams made the trip “down under” for the ‘dreaded’ Oran Park Superprix. B2O A’s Marc and Ken and the single car effort of Kyle all showed up running a very similar and competitive pace. Marc led the teams’ qualifying effort taking 5th place, Kyle close behind in 7th and Ken next to him in 8th. Kyle had a rocket start but was forced off the track in turn one when the front row collided with each other in front of the whole field. When the smoke cleared, Marc was shown in second position, Ken had maintained his 8th place, and Kyle had dropped to 9th. After battling with Anthony Mino for the first 12 laps, Marc, and a few other drivers, attempted an aggressive pit strategy. Meanwhile, Ken patiently worked his way up through the field eventually finding him in second before he made his pit stop just after half way. He came out of the pits 5th, and once again began methodically marching his way up through the field, eventually crossing the line in an impressive 3rd place, bringing Band of Others their first ever GRAsim Podium! Kyle held on to his ailing tires late in the race and brought home a hard-earned top-5. Marc’s pit strategy failed quickly and he was forced to make a second pit stop for tires. Despite the fresh tires, he was unable to catch Mino, who had also been forced to pit twice, and eventually finished in 8th place.
All three teams, short of Anthony Peeble, made the trip back to Canada for Round 6; the Superprix of Montreal, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. B2O drivers struggled over the weekend to get a handle on the tough street course. Kyle led the way in qualifying taking 7th, with Ken starting 9th, Marc in 10th, and Dino in 13th. Another aggressive start saw Marc race up to 6th place in turn 2, and into the top-5 after the first lap. Lucklessly, three drivers saw strong runs disappear early when Marc and Kyle both received slow downs, and Ken suffered a spin. Tempers and frustrations were high but as the race went on the team slowly regrouped. Marc ran a clean last half of the race to finish an unexpected 7th position. Despite a late race spin that cost him two positions, Kyle would bring his car to the finish 8th. Even with their troubles, Marc and Kyle each finished with a season low 3 incident points! Although a lap down, Ken and Dino survived to the end bringing home 10th and 11th respectively.
Round 7 brought the teams to Belgium for the Superprix van Circuit Zolder! This was another three car effort with a final goal of surviving the challenging, twisty road course. Ken led the teams in qualifying taking 6th place; Marc and Kyle started behind him in 8th and 9th respectively. Another rocket start saw Kyle jump up to 5th in turn one, but he got loose and handed a few positions back getting the power down. Ken and Marc moved up into 5th and 6th with Marc overtaking Ken for the top-5 spot at the end of lap 1. Bad luck strikes fast at this little track, and Ken unfortunately found some at the end of just the second lap; his car taking a weird bounce entering the final chicanes causing him to spin into the wall, ending his race. Later that lap, attempting to hold on to 5th, Marc put a little too much power down exiting Terlamenbocht (T7) and spun into the tire barrier taking heavy right front suspension damage. The team was able to quickly patch the damage and get him back on track, but 9 laps later, while searching for a better line through Lucien Bianchibocht (T4), Marc clipped the wall on the right side, this time damaging the parts beyond just a repair. The team rushed to replace the damaged components this time, and was able to get him back out on track once again. Despite being 10 laps down, he was still able to secure a place in the top-10 before one final incident in the last two laps spelled the end for the motor and he was finally forced to park. After another battle with rival Troy Eddy, Kyle found himself solidly in 6th place, and, thanks to some others bad luck in the final few laps, managed to grab 5th place and racked up an incredibly low 3x incidents along the drive! Despite the frustrating results for Ken and Marc, the team still celebrated a jump in the team standings over Never Quit Racing A, taking 3rd place by 200 points over the Tony Kloosterman/Glenn Sidman duo!
Economic issues have begun to take their toll on several teams in GRAsim, and B2O was not immune to these issues. Because of this, only one car was sent to Bathurst for the infamous Superprix of Mt Panorama, though Marc probably used enough spare parts to build all five team cars due to bouncing it off the wall in practice. Although he was able to show some promising pace in practice, tensions were high as always since the feeling in the car wasn’t “..will we die?” It was more “…when will we die?”
In qualifying, Marc managed a decent 7th right around the pace that he had hoped for. Getting a pretty good jump off the start; he managed to pass Newfornia’s Troy Eddy around the outside of Hell Corner (T1), and he made a lap 2 move to 5th place while climbing the mountain. A great pit stop, by the team midrace, closed the gap between Marc and Mino to just two seconds and the two fought hard for the next few laps. Unfortunately, handling issues toward the end of the race cut the battle short, but Marc was still able to bring home another solid top-5 result for the team. On a track where any mistake can cost you the race, Marc finished with just one single incident point, incurred on the last lap exiting the chase!
With just four races left in the season, B2O drivers Marc Gammack, Kyle Breen-Bondie, and Ken Lindburg still find themselves solidly in the top-10 of 31 drivers! The next three rounds bring the series back to the North American continent; Sebring International Raceway, Virginia International Raceway, and Sonoma’s Infineon Raceway, before the series goes back to Australia for the season finale at Phillip Island.
Be sure to wish the drivers the best of luck! You can follow B2O’s V8 races every Tuesday night here, or join the drivers’ discussions, both reactions to previous rounds and preparations for the next round!