As we look ahead to Round 4 of the WCS $1000 Knockout, let’s have a look at what happened in
Rounds 2 and 3 of the Championship.
Race 1 in Zandvoort saw Kiril Birukov on Pole after a blistering qualifying lap, ahead of a resurgent
The wet conditions made the tricky Dutch circuit even more difficult to navigate, as Vlad Tokarev
found out, dropping it out of Tarzan and damaging his front wing.
Jeroen Kweekel sealed his fate as the first elimination at the same turn, heading straight on into the
gravel. Kweekel was joined by Eros Masciulli and Chris Shepherd as the first eliminations on lap 6.
Kasdorp made a small mistake on lap 7, colliding with Jernej Simoncic, which was enough to
eliminate the front-row starter. Galanomatis, Pavlov and Hoyer all fell on the same lap.
The final lap of eliminations saw Mlynek, Siebel, Zappala and Jordan all retire, leaving the two
championship protagonists in Birukov and Simoncic fighting to the end - the former taking victory by
four-tenths of a second. Rouault took third ahead of a wounded Tokarev.
Race two gave us early retirements after a huge incident on lap 1 - Mlynek, Tokarev, Galanomatis all
out and a hindered Hoyer eventually timed out.
Zappala, Shepherd and third-on-the-road Rouault all lost out at the first official elimination round,
with Pavlov, Siebel, Jordan and Masciulli following one lap later.
It was the same two drivers out front as in Race one, Simoncic chasing Birukov again. A dive bomb
on the final lap almost cost the Jernej second place, as Birukov held on. Kasdorp finished third and
Kweekel came home fourth.
The track was still wet for Race three, so it was surprising to see four drivers - including Birukov -
take the slick tyre option. The call paid off, as on a drying track, the slicks were faster than the
Kweekel managed to make a big enough gap at the start of the race to take the win on inters, but
the bold call for slicks saw Birukov finish second, with Pavlov and Galanomatis an outstanding third
Round 3 saw the series move onto Malaysia and the Sepang circuit, where Simoncic qualified
ahead of Masciulli on the front row.
The first two eliminations on lap 7 saw Kasdorp and Mlynek fall short of proceeding.
The following lap saw second-on-the-road Kweekel go wide at the penultimate corner of the lap to
scupper his chances of reaching the final four – Pinczes, Galonomatis and Shepherd joining him back
Simoncic took race one from Masciulli, with Zappala and Birukov rounding out the top four.
Race two started frantically with a collision between Galanomatis and Shepherd. A further spin three
laps later saw Shepherd drop out.
Zappala and Galanomatis had a great tussle in the middle of the race, but that seemed to count
against them – losing vital tyre life led them to being eliminated on lap eight.
Kweekel made up for his mistake in Race one to take second ahead of Masciulli whilst Birukov picked
up yet another fourth place, but Simoncic was again the leader of the pack when the chequered fell.
Race three had Shepherd on pole once more for the reverse grid, but a messy turn one saw contact
throughout most of the depleted field. Zappala emerged in the lead whilst Birukov and Simoncic
picked up wing damage.
The drivers were definitely punchier in the final race – Masciulli and Shepherd made their way past
Zappala on lap two, who collided with Kweekel, with Jeroen ending up in the gravel.
Simoncic was attempting to get past Zappala on the following lap, but a collision threw Zappala into
the wall on the lead up into turn 4.
On the elimination lap, Zappala threw his race away as he slid wide at turn one to eliminate himself,
whilst another error from Shepherd saw his top four chance slip away.
Masciulli took victory and his third podium of the event, with Kweekel fighting back to take second.
Simoncic edged out his championship rival Birukov to take third and the Event victory.